August 06, 2009
Hamid Dabashi at CNN points out that the
(the Obama administration's) plans to engage
come up against Congress's desire to act aggressively
toward the country, either through crippling sanctions
or covert operations. A recent congressional hearing on
of the Neoconservatives, 4 to 2 (with discredited
outfits such as the Washington Institute for
Policy and the American Enterprise Institute, which were
big players in bringing us the
components of the
Iran experts, such as
from testifying? Why is it that the ideological points
of view were so narrow?
It should be admitted that the Obama administration
itself may be considering attempting to choke off
Iranian gasoline imports.
by building a couple refineries, which it probably needs
to do anyway. But it takes 5 years and billions of
dollars to build a refinery. As Press TV notes, however,
the scheme would need Russian and Chinese cooperation,
which is a little unlikely to be forthcoming.
Robert Naiman at the Huffington Post reviews all the
reasons for which the idea of blockading Iranian
gasoline imports is a stupid one.
Dabashi makes the excellent point that the sort of
severe sanctions being dreamed up for
in Congress resemble what was done to
country to fourth world status, killing some 500,000
innocent infants and toddlers, while signally failing to
remove the regime. In fact, destroying civil society has
the effect of bolstering the state, especially when it
is an oil state.
Saddam Hussein's regime under sanctions stashed away
tens of billions of dollars from smuggling, and
established and implemented massive domestic
surveillance, to the point that weeks after the fall of
American television correspondents asking them if they
were happy Saddam was gone, and the Iraqis were too
afraid to say anything (they kept looking over their
shoulders.) What they knew and the clueless Americans
did not was that the Fidai Saddam (those who sacrifice
themselves for Saddam) paramilitary was still around,
watching, and ready to assassinate open collaborators.
That public fear, which persisted like a phantom limb
even after the fall of the Baath, was instilled during
the UN/US sanctions regime.
So no, Congress, you and the Neocon think tanks cannot
overthrow the government in
Let me just add to Naiman's list of Reasons for Which
this is Another Brain-Dead Neocon Idea.
You may have noticed that just last week, and despite
Iran's political crisis,
naval exercises in the
Russian (and Chinese) investments in
derives from a desire to avoid being hostage to
Draconian sanctions on
with regard to supplying natural gas to
Moreover, the Iranians can play spoiler for the
unleash the special groups of the Mahdi Army. As the
military draws down over the next year, it becomes more
and more vulnerable in
of clients in
for US and NATO troops there. Obama could go into the
2012 election season with two quagmires on his hands if
gasoline embargo on
to smuggle gasoline into their neighbor, both on
economic and ideological grounds. And
other potential exporters would not cooperate. Since
gasoline is easily transported and transformed into cash
(what the economists call 'fungible'), a gasoline
embargo would be among the more difficult policies to
implement that you could imagine, especially if much of
the world is against it.
As Naiman notes, if the
from delivering gasoline to
of war in international law. We've got two or three too
many wars going on as it is.
The Neoconservatives, as with any cult, work by
gradually drawing their victims into an unrealistic
world view with assertions that in their own right seem
reasonable. The regime in
do the Iranians themselves a favor to get rid of it. It
is vulnerable on gasoline imports. The regime is a
threat to world peace (even though it has not launched
any wars of aggression), just Because It Is. It is
trying to get nukes (even though all the evidence points
to the opposite conclusion). There is therefore a window
within which the West must move. Now, now, strike now!
And then the victims drink the cool-aid.
But in fact, the Iranian opposition inside the country
universally opposes forceful Western intervention in
doesn't have any near-term capacity to produce nukes.
There is no crisis, and what problems exist cannot be
The Neoconservatives promised Bush that the route to
peace in Israel/Palestine lay through
promised him inexpensive gasoline. They promised him
spreading democracy. In fact, they were in part
responsible for the killing over 4,000 American soldiers
and the maiming of over 30,000, the killing hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis, the displacing of 4 million of
them, and they helped provoke two civil wars. Make no
mistake. They would gladly do exactly the same thing to
Jewish, whether Bolton or Rubin or
sociopaths who lack the basic ability to empathize with
people not exactly like themselves, and who exalt
instrumental goals over basic human welfare.
Of course Bush did not need any pretty promises to impel
him to launch desperate adventures. As the Arab Times
reported, a bewildered French President Jacques Chirac
told a journalist in a book published this spring that
Bush had tried to enlist him in the
last time in February, 2003, by emphasizing that the
threat of Gog and Magog had gathered in the
against the West and only overthrowing Saddam would
forestall a catastrophe of biblical proportions. (See
also Clive Hamilton, and James Haught, and Jacques Sterchi.
Chirac called a Swiss theologian to have him explain
what this Gog and Magog was whereof Bush spoke. Chirac
complained that the problem with people in the Bush
administration was that none of them knew anything about
the really existing Arabs. Chirac reads Arabic, and he
used to ask the Bush people he dealt with to name one
Arab poet. None could.
in the Arab world since Bonaparte invaded
so French political leaders could only lament the
earnest evangelical nonsense spewed by crazies who had
A lot of the crazies who insist on stealing Palestinian
land and resources in the
interpretations of Bible verses. Our world is being
poisoned by irrationality in the service of narrow self-interest.
With regard to the 2003
take advantage in
War, fought ostensibly as a part of the 'war on terror,'
to produce exactly the opposite result of the one
So too would aggressive
including any attempt at a gasoline boycott.