Imagine the classic United States neo-conservative wet dream; staring at Iran on a map and salivating about the crossroads between Europe and Asia, between the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent, between the Arabian Sea and Central Asia, with 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves (over 150 billion barrels) and 15% of proven gas reserves – an energy complex bigger than Saudi Arabia and arbiter of the energy routes from the Persian Gulf to the West and Asia via the Strait of Hormuz.
It’s like a pudgy armchair action man mesmerized by a nimble lap dancer. I’m gonna make you mine, honey. It’s regime change time, gotta snuff out the owner of this joint. Otherwise, people will start talking; what kind of chicken global hegemon is this?
So the neo-cons got their New Year’s Eve Barack Obama administration’s Iran sanctions/embargo package, duly replicated by the European poodle parade. But it was not supposed to be like this. The lap dancer leapt from the stage and applied a neck scissors on the armchair action man; he’s suffocating, not her. The whole thing is … misfiring! Just like the latest neo-con Big Idea – the invasion, occupation and inevitable defeat in Iraq, to the tune of more than US$1 trillion.
Baby, sanction me one more time
Let’s review some of the latest evidence. Tehran has just sent two of its warships through the Suez Canal towards the Mediterranean; they docked at the Syrian port of Tartus – no less. Not so long ago, disgraced dictator and close House of Saud pal Hosni Mubarak would have probably bombed them.
Tehran cut off oil exports to the top European war poodles, Britain and France. That’s only 1% of British imports and 4% of France’s imports – but the message was clear; if the depressed Club Med countries insist on following Anglo-French warmongering, they’re next.
Brent crude is hitting $121 a barrel – an eight-month high. West Texas Intermediate, traded in New York, is hovering around $105. Brent is crucial, because it sets the consumer price for gasoline in most of the US and Western Europe. The neo-cons swore on their Bibles and Torahs there would be no oil spike. It happened – like clockwork, proving once again their knowledge of market speculation is of a two-year-old (no offense to lovely two-year-olds).
The funds Tehran is losing because of the sanctions – in terms of less exports to Europe – are being largely compensated by the oil-price spike caused by the neo-con-driven warmongering. On top of it, Tehran is bound to sell more oil to its top Asian clients – China, India, Japan and South Korea, and even Turkey, all of whom, with varying degrees of diplomacy, have told Washington to mind its own business.
As Asia Times Online had advanced, it took some time but Iran and China have just closed a new oil pricing deal. And the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is a definitive go. And Afghanistan and Pakistan – as well as Iran – badly want to be admitted at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), accelerating regional economic integration.
The fact that the Israel lobby drafters of the sanctions package couldn’t foresee any of this proves once again they live the vegetative life of armchair “action” men.
Neo-con parrots are left to the “sanctions are biting” blah blah blah. Or to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, married to neo-con Robert Kagan, assuring pressure is being put on all these countries so they may do “what they can to increase sanctions, particularly to wean themselves from Iranian crude”. Nobody is “weaning” from anything – apart from the self-defeating European poodles.
Also exposed is the myth of Saudi spare capacity. There is none. Saudi reserves are falling at a rate of 3% a year (it’s exporting 11.8 million barrels a day, and falling). Moreover, the House of Saud does not want to pump more oil; it needs high oil prices to bribe its own population out of noxious Arab Spring ideas.
Then there’s the strawberry on the cheesecake, too delicious to pass up. Goldman Sachs has just placed Iran as one of the “Next 11” in the developing world after the BRICS, only one among five developing nations with above average “productivity and sustainability of growth”. Perhaps a Persian Britney Spears should be singing “Baby, sanction me one more time.”
Baby, I’m coming to get ya
From the point of view of Washington, the only thing that really counts in the interminable nuclear charade is whether Iran may reach the ability to build a nuclear weapon in record time in case the leadership in Tehran is absolutely sure the US/Israel axis will attack.
That’s exactly what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the US Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday; Iran is “more than capable of producing enough highly-enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders – specifically the Supreme Leader himself – chooses to do so.”
What Clapper didn’t specify is that Tehran is enriching uranium to a paltry 3.5%; a nuclear bomb needs 95% – and that would be immediately detected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
If that happens – and that’s a major if – there’s no way regime change from the outside may be imposed. Thus bye bye to the Big Prize in oil and gas coveted by anyone from realist Dr Zbig Brzezinski to former Darth Vader, Dick Cheney.
So it’s Ouroboros all over again – the serpent biting its own tail. We need to bomb to get regime change, so that oily dancer will dance on our wealthy lap.
The problem is neither the Obama administration nor key Pentagon generals are convinced this is a good deal.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E Dempsey, thinks, “It would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us.”
And Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress last Thursday, “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.” No wonder; Dempsey himself admitted that the leadership in Tehran – contrary to relentless neo-con media spin – “is a rational actor”.
Does this all matter for the neo-cons and their legion of media shills? Not really. Until they find a sucker to fight a war for them – as in a Republican US president – real cowards will keep going to Tehran, all day and all of the night, in their wettest of wet dreams.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org