Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Iran on Obama

At Power Line, John Hinderaker posts an important Stratfor analysis on how the Iranian regime views the video message that was sent to it by President Obama last week.

For Tehran, however, the suspension of sanctions is much too small a price to pay for major strategic concessions. First, the sanctions don't work very well. Sanctions only work when most powers are prepared to comply with them. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese [nor the Europeans CiJ] are prepared to systematically comply with sanctions, so there is little that Iran can afford that it can't get. Iran's problem is that it cannot afford much. Its economy is in shambles due more to internal problems than to sanctions. Therefore, in the Iranian point of view, the United States is asking for strategic concessions, yet offering very little in return. ...

Meanwhile, merely working on a nuclear device -- regardless of how close or far Iran really is from having one -- provides Iran with a dramatically important strategic lever. The Iranians learned from the North Korean experience that the United States has a nuclear fetish. Having a nuclear program alone was more important to Pyongyang than actually having nuclear weapons. U.S. fears that North Korea might someday have a nuclear device resulted in significant concessions from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

The danger of having such a program is that the United States -- or some other country -- might attack and destroy the associated facilities. Therefore, the North Koreans created a high level of uncertainty as to just how far along they were on the road to having a nuclear device and as to how urgent the situation was, raising and lowering alarms like a conductor in a symphony. The Iranians are following the same strategy. They are constantly shifting from a conciliatory tone to an aggressive one, keeping the United States and Israel under perpetual psychological pressure. The Iranians are trying to avoid an attack by keeping the intelligence ambiguous. Tehran's ideal strategy is maintaining maximum ambiguity and anxiety in the West while minimizing the need to strike immediately. Actually obtaining a bomb would increase the danger of an attack in the period between a successful test and the deployment of a deliverable device.

What the Iranians get out of this is exactly what the North Koreans got: disproportionate international attention and a lever on other topics, along with something that could be sacrificed in negotiations. They also have a chance of actually developing a deliverable device in the confusion surrounding its progress. If so, Iran would become invasion- and even harassment-proof thanks to its apparent instability and ideology. From Tehran's perspective, abandoning its nuclear program without substantial concessions, none of which have materialized as yet, would be irrational. And the Iranians expect a large payoff from all this. ...

The American demand that Iran stop meddling in Iraqi policies strikes the Iranians as if the United States is planning to use the new Baghdad regime to restore the regional balance of power. In fact, that is very much on Washington's mind. This is completely unacceptable to Iran, although it might benefit the United States and the region. From the Iranian point of view, a fully neutral Iraq -- with its neutrality guaranteed by Iranian influence -- is the only acceptable outcome. The Iranians regard the American demand that Iran not meddle in Iraq as directly threatening Iranian national security. ...

Read the whole thing. Israel is not even mentioned, but it's hinted at in the part I highlighted above. Iran seems to be playing a game of chicken with Israel in which the US is making sure that Israel doesn't take the bait. The problem is that if Iran actually does develop a nuclear weapon (and they definitely have the capability of doing so at this point), Israel will be a likely target.

I don't see Obama's 'strategy' doing anything except buying the Iranians more time to complete their nuclear weapons development. And the Stratfor analysis certainly makes Obama's 'video valentine' look remarkably unsuccessful.


At 8:14 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Iranians want a Persian sphere of influence in the Middle East, which excludes any American role. Of course, this is something the Americans reject. For all the words and hopes of an American-Iranian breakthrough, the two sides remain very far apart. It will take a miracle to get them to even sit down at the same table and talk.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Norman, the mullahs are revolutionaries -- just as the early Marxist-Leninists were. They may be looking for a "sphere of influence" in the ME, actually, hegemony initially, but their long-term objectives are nothing less than a global Islamic revolution with Shia as the imposed and dominant power.

The anticipated eradication of Israel via a direct nuclear attack if necessary, or the safer, albeit slower, approach of demographic decomposition, i.e., massive emigration which would follow Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, is a vital first step in this plan. It would demonstrate to the Sunnis that Shia adroitness and power could achieve what the Arabs had for 60 years, failed to do, and propel Iran into a venerable and commanding position in the Islamic world.

At 2:02 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

FinanceDoc, agreed. In the Middle Ages, the Ottoman and Safavid Empires established an equilibrium of power in the Islamic world. There is no such counterweight to Iran's imperial ambitions from any quarter in the Islamic world today.


Post a Comment

<< Home