The basics of the recent history of American-Iranian relations go something like this. In the 90s during Clinton’s Presidency and the Presidencies of Rafsanjani and Khatami, Iran was on the back burner for the US. Kosovo. Monica Lewinsky. Those were the important issues. This continued until 9/11. In early 2001, China was the issue. North Korea, too.
In 2002, as the US went into Afghanistan, the US had every reason to make Iran feel at ease. At the same time, Iran was probably a little frightened of the possibilities and also was no fan of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
In 2003 after the US went into Iraq, this non-situation intensified, if that makes any sense. As far as Iran’s nuclear program went – and this is extremely important – the US stayed almost completely out of the works until some point in 2006. They left it entirely to the Europeans. The US meanwhile concentrated on North Korea. There was a pretty obvious reason for this. US intelligence had really fucked it up in Iraq, so for it to lead the way in Iran would look silly to say the least. The Europeans who felt vindicated by their mostly opting out of the Iraq WMD mess took the opportunity to show some back bone and their worth.
Ahmadinejad took office in August of 2005. That’s when things really started to change. In the summer of 2006, Hezbollah provoked an Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon and the complete destruction of Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut. There is ample evidence to show Iranian material support for Hezbollah and it is widely believed that Nasrallah was taking his orders directly from Iran and Ahmadinejad.
Tipping, It’s a good thing you are familiar with Huffington Post, because it will give some of the things I say an anchor. Under that oil tag you showed me a few weeks ago I found an article by Michael T. Klare.
[This next section somehow ended up here and I need to figure out where to move it to. It relates to Klare because I strted tracking the Intrade contracts around the time I read the first Klare Iran war prediction.]
My response to Max Keiser:
“The news is that that oil futures are up based on renewed chatter regarding stiikes on Iran. The ‘Strike Iran’ contract on InTrade is up today. Looks like my analysis on Press TV was pretty good. ”
No offense, but your analysis is horrible. I’m glad you are looking into this stuff and writing about it, but I’ve been following these “current event” Intrade bets for a long time, and what your analysis seems to miss is that many of these 3-month Airstrike Iran contracts have come and gone. All cashing out at ZERO. But at some point they all were trading at between 30-50 cents, or 30% “probability” as you call it.
Another point, often missed is that the liquidity on these contracts is about as bad as you can get. Look at the published ask-bids and the spread. Look at the volumes.
Based on the past performance of these contracts and the details I wouldn’t place much faith in them. Your conclusion of the chances rising to 30 percent in December is faulty. Most likely as we get closer to December that contract will fall to 10% Does that mean the chances are getting less?
Every day the financial press needs a new story about WHY the price of oil is what it is. One day it’s Nigeria, the next, speculators. Today it’s Iran. The bigger news pushing this fearmongering is the Seymour Hersh article.
– ZuluKilo 07/01/08
Klare is the “Blood For oil”/political goto guy for Peak-Oil. He’s a favorite at The Oil Drum and another one of these guys who knows very little about oil but has quite successfully used the topic to sell his books, theories, and stardom. He has to be the biggest warmonger I’m aware of, but teaches at an Eastern liberal arts college for a “Peace Studies” department. He fools pretty much everybody.
The timing is interesting. Do you think he would have included Iran in this piece if he had known about the hype that was to surround his favorite country in just one more day? Or maybe the editors said, you can write about oil, but just leave the nonsense about Iran out of it.
Here’s Klare in 2007 predicting war with Iran:
“Sometime this spring or summer, barring an unexpected turnaround by Tehran, President Bush is likely to go on national television and announce that he has ordered American ships and aircraft to strike at military targets inside Iran.”
He wrote this is February 2007. I believe he has repeated the prediction several times since. I had been following the prediction markets since around the time of the Hezbollah/Israeli War the previous summer. I opined that if Klare was so sure of this outcome he could make himself rich on Intrade. I think I put the proposition to him directly on some blog I saw him post on, I can’t remember. Either way, he never got back to me :-)
Here’s another one. This “3 carriers in the region” thing created quite a fuss on places like the Oil Drum at the time. Everybody was sure it meant war.
Where is the USS Nimitz ?
Where is the USS Nimitz now? How many carriers are in the region in July 2008?
“Keep in mind that Israel does not have strategic bombers,” Oren said. “The Israeli Air Force is not the American Air Force. Israel can not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.”
The U.S. with its stealth bombers and cruise missiles has a much greater capability. Vice President Cheney is said to favor a strike, but both Mullen and Defense Secretary Gates are opposed to an attack which could touch off a third war in the region.
U.S. intelligence estimates Iran won’t be able to build a weapon until sometime early in the next decade. But Israel is operating on a much shorter timetable.
“The Iranians, according to Israeli security sources, will have an operable nuclear weapon by 2009. That’s not a very long time,” Oren said.
For now, the Bush administration is counting on new economic sanctions which took effect Tuesday to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. But nobody’s counting on it.”
– CBS News, June 24th
Look at the excellent website that Yarra posted –
[I’ve added this site to the blogroll on the right]
The link I provided takes you to the page with the very first post in August 2006 – 2 years ago. The first post starts like this:
The US and UK supported war waged by Israel against Lebanon has been the prelude to an imminent massive military attack against Iran. Urgent mass action by Iranian people in and outside the country and million strong protests by the antiwar movement around the world, in particular in the US and UK, are absolutely imperative to stop a US pre-emptive strike on Iran in the coming weeks and months.
a US pre-emptive strike on Iran in the coming weeks and months. Sound familiar?
Now basically everything that is being said today about the Bush administration, Dick Cheney, the neocons, Israel, Iran, Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s nuclear weapon program, oil, peak-oil, Iraq, Afghanistan, you name it – was being said in 2006 (and before, but I have no inclination to look up references at this time).
With one important difference – Robert Gates. [See article by he and Brezezinski – campaigniran(fall2006?)].
Another thing that was happening back then and way, way before was Seymour Hersh’s articles in the New Yorker with a heavy critical/conspiratorial view of the Bush Administrations policies in the Middle-East/Southeast Asia. Always with accusations from unnamed sources. But rarely with anything that ended up happening. This isn’t to say that Hersh or his sources were wrong, just that it has to make you wonder what happened?
So the question I have to ask is – If all this stuff was in place 2 years ago, why did they wait until now? Basically, the last minute, before Obama becomes president. Remember, in 2006 it was far from clear who would be the new President. It can be argued that “those who will make this happen” viewed Clinton….. ( I lost my train of thought here, I’ll come back to it)
And this is exactly the “new” argument being made about why Bush and/or the Israelis are going to attack before January.
To me this is a story that has existed for a long, long time and goes through cycles. It seems to be pushed by the same people and the same types of people whenever it comes up and the media loves it. It sells papers and the talking heads love to scream about it. Very interesting stuff. How would such an attack take place? Do we have the troops? What if Iran blocks Hormuz ? Thousands of Iranian zodiacs destroying the US Navy. Sunburn missiles. SA-20 anti-aircraft missiles. Natanz. Bunker-busters. The Revolutionary Guard. Oil. Gas Prices. Centrifuges.
If you look at what is actually happening, violence is way down in Iraq. Violence is way up in Eastern Afghanistan/Pakistan. Ahmedinejad is not making any belligerent speeches. The tough-talk/bullshit is coming from the US and Israel. Iranian officials have simply been “reacting” to this with boilerplate – “we’re preparing graves for the infidels” – yada, yada. The feel of things is different from 2 years ago. Iran is very wary of provoking anything. Who do you think they want to get elected? McCain or Obama?
Now the Israelis and the neocons I’m sure are also aware of this dynamic and are now trying to be more provacative themselves – because they obviously want McCain but see the writing on the wall. Maybe they believe the fearmongering itself will be good enough to get McCain elected.
But will Cheney and Bush actually do this thing to get him elected ? And how much explaining will Gates have to do to make it happen and then afterwards ? What if it goes wrong (I can’t imagine it working out well, but hey, weirder things have happened) ?
Do you thing the Israelis could pull it off alone (whatever “it” is) ? Do you think the US would let Israel do it alone? If the US were to let Israel do it alone or if it were to decide to do it with Israel, this would mean that the US was allowing it, and accepting that it was going to happen. In this case, does it make any sense that we would want Israel along for the ride? Recall the Israeli mine-clearing equipment sent to Saudi Arabia for the First Gulf War. Therefore, why wouldn’t we just do it alone. But then if things went wrong the administration would stand accused of being Israeli puppets. Maybe we want Israel to do it so they can take the fall. But what purpose would that serve?
So many questions. Give it a few weeks, it’ll blow over, only to resurface later.
Just randomly flipping through the posts on the CASMII site, I found report in Feb 2007 (I think) where the scoop from the BBC at the time was that they had somehow uncovered the Iran attack plans and the two supposed triggers. One was an Iranian nuclear bomb and the other large-scale(death toll) attack in Iraq that could be traced back to Iran. Are there more triggers now? Is there an Iranian bomb? Do you think Iran is suddenly going to “reveal” one before January? I’m not seeing many large-scale attacks in Iraq period, even though Iran supposedly provides weapons and support to pretty much every “insurgent” group in the country. Hmm? Think they might be telling their surrogates to lay low til after the election?
I think war with Iran before January is unlikely. But I don’t rule anything out. The recent belligerency of Israel is troubling, but we need to look hard at why it might be happening rather than simply take it as evidence that bombs are going to start dropping. Why would you listen to me or put any faith in my analysis (or lack thereof)? Well … your other option is to go with the analysis of people like Michael T. Klare and the rest of these “experts” who have a proven track record of being wrong the last two years.
One thing I’m positive about is that you will never learn anything from the pundits and hysterical bloggers everytime Iran makes the headlines. Or even Hersh, who himself often creates the headlines. You’ll will learn things from reading the long articles in publications like the Atlantic over the years and from books about the countries involved and the history.
Good link, just throwing this in here for now –
Former Mossad chief: Israel must attack Iran
Next: Iran and Oil…Oh, and uhh Hersh, I’ll talk more about what he said.