My Wild Speculation on Iran

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

LBJ liked to leak escalations, then deny them–two or three times over. When they actually occurred, it was already Old News. Such sequences can easily have a six-month or two-year time-line, if you wish to align them with elections.
Is there an Iran strike in the pipeline? There is no good reason. It will be some ten years before Iran can have a weapon, during which international consensus will solidify, the physical targets will become more definite and vulnerable, and sanctions–with Iran’s bordering Arab neighbors fully engaged in them–would have plenty of time to work.
It’s true that China and Russia have economic stakes that have made them cautious and deliberate about Iran, but over time neither of them will just forget about a nuclear threat, nor about their reserved parking spaces in the world nuclear oligopoly.
The Bush neo-cons would certainly love to strike/invade Iran, but the difficulties are formidable: guaranteed political catastrophe in Iraq, entailing huge slaughter among US forces–who are, in effect, military hostages there. US domestic resistance, including panicky Republicans, utter diplomatic isolation, and Oil, Oil, Oil–soaring prices and economic free-fall.
On the other hand, US neo-imperialism desperately needs an invasion, because an invasion implies its own necessity. It establishes that unilateral warfare by the sole superpower is indispensable to the safety of the world. Successful UN diplomacy, backed by international sanctions, would, on the other hand, be an neo-imperial disaster. Already the power to affect Iran, the premier global crisis, has been too obviously in the hands of Russia and China, with the US as an impotent bystander.
It has not yet really sunk in politically that sanctions work, but before too long, it must come into focus. Sanctions devastated Iraq and effectively prevented Saddam from pursuing WMDs. It was the prospect of sanctions, not US military threats, that prompted latest softenings in Iran’s nuclear stance. It was sanctions that turned Libya around. And they are the subtext of all current pressures on North Korea.
Sanctions are inherently multilateral, and they make the UN, rather than the US, the center of international power. Effective sanctions and multilateral military pressure devalue America’s uniqueness. They reduce the US to just one among a number of Great Powers. If sanctions and multilateral power should succeed in Iran and North Korea, it will be the neo-imperialists’ downfall.
So, yes, they need to attack Iran. On the other hand, they may not be able do so. So, is it in the pipeline? I guess it would have to be: “Very unlikely, but could happen.”