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US strategy in the Middle East « Previous | |Next »
April 17, 2006

This article makes something explicit about the Middle East that needs to be said. It talks about the three concentric circles that have been forming for the past six years of the Bush presidency around the "Iran question". The key concern for me is that at the:, at its very core, is the US agenda of dominating the region. Put another way, it is about securing Israel's dominant position in a New Middle East......Beyond these regional equations in the Middle East lies the inner core, the first circle, of the Bush administration's strategy toward Iran. It is, and has always been, securing Israel's regional dominance. Here any unfinished business is simply impermissible since it can have catastrophic effects on Israel's security.

That overlaps with the argument by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the effects of the Israeli lobby on US' Middle Eastern policy.

They say that:

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state..... the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

The inner core of the geopolitics of the US in the Middle East is to ensure the hegemony of Israel as a regional power. So Iran's power and influence needs to be curtailed and rolled back as it is seen as a major threat to Israel.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:20 AM | | Comments (5)


Israel's interests today are, of course, radically different from what they were in the past. Israel has made peace with the key countries of the "Arab core" - Egypt and Jordan. Israel has contained its foes. But Israel is still far from transcending the Arab-Israeli conflict and becoming the most important element in the history of the Middle East, which would lead to a truly New Middle East.

Why is it so important that Israel become the most important element in the ME at the expense of the aspirations of larger Arab populations?

If as he says that Israel (read America) has largely contained it's foes there must be another reason for the US belligerence toward Iran. A desire to protect Israeli interests is only one aspect of this and I think something that is largely a smoke screen used by those seeking to obscure Americas true intentions.

It's incredible that any article mentioning the Middle Eastern dynamic vis a vis Iran does not mention energy security.

It's this that is at the core of American attempts to secure not just Israeli aspirations (as an important client state with useful and highly evolved localised strike capabilities) but their own desperate bid to control not just their own energy security, but also the aspirations of serious energy competitors in China and India.

So rather than looking out for Israeli aspirations, it's really about maintaining their own and thwarting those of their percieved competitors.

Now I am no Zionist, nor am I a right-winger, but why do we ignore the stated aim of Hamas or the recent comments of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; "Israel must be wiped off the map," "Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated," or his recent denail of the holocaust?

If such comments were being made about Australia from say, Indonesia, America, regardless of the party in power, would be attempting to get both countries to live in peace. Now what if Indonesia had nukes?

In this debate, the left likes to forget about Israel and ignore the realities of a country that will show a state-sponsored Ballet of Uranium as they rattle their sabres and promise the extinction of another country. At least the US agrees that a Palestinian State should exist. But that is not good enough for Hamas or Iran. They want it all.

It's as if people are saying "Israel deserves this. Let them fend for themselves." That will time. And it won't be pretty.

the post was about the way the Israeli Lobby in the US identifies the interests of the US with those of Israeli; and it then argued that the core of US policy in the Middle East is ensuring the regional dominance of Israel.

There was nothing in that post about "Israel deserves this. Let them fend for themselves" nor any implication that Israeli does not have a right to exist, nor to defend itself from attack.

Phil's comment was about energy not being a key consideration in the public debates about the future of the Middle East.

We do have an Israeli lobby here in Australia---it is The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC.) It claims to represent the interests of the Jewish community in Australia and that there is an affinity between Australia and Israel, almost an overlapping destiny.

It is rightwing: it is pro the expanionist settler movement, a strong advocate of the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and military strikes against Iran. The AIJAC's agenda has dovetailed seamlessly with the Howard Government's views abaout the war of terror after September 11 2001.

Contesting this kind of identity is the purpose of the post--to distinguish the interests of the community in Australia, or Britain or the US from the policies adopted by Israeli governments.

Israel regards Iran as its only major threat in the entire region, and has done so more or less continually since the fall of the Shah 27 years ago. Iran is not a major threat to Australia.

yeah the energy security of the West depends on the Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields--that is the geopolitical reality. Installing a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad and vastly increased Iranian influence, not only in Iraq, but throughout the Shi'a world, is a disaster of U.S. foreign policy.

The energy question is beginning to surface around the question of a US military strike against Iran.

The US is resisting pressure to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions through direct talks with Tehran, rather than sanctions or military strikes.However, Republican senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Iran, as the world's fourth-largest supplier of oil, was "part of the energy picture". He urged President George W. Bush to play "cool" and seek direct negotiations with Tehran about its nuclear ambitions instead of pushing for economic sanctions.

It was energy that was a key consideration for Lugar, in that the Iranians ties with India and with China, quite apart from others, are really critical.

So we can say that the US antagonistic relationship with Iran remains deeply connected to oil security across the region. With the United States and China increasingly reliant on Gulf oil, and with the rest of the industrialised world similarly dependent, the Persian Gulf is just too important for Washington to allow an independent, anti-American state--- a "rogue state" --- to enhance its power base.

The view from the Bush administration is that there are no circumstances under which Iran can be allowed to become a nuclear weapons power.

on the Iranian issue re your comments about Israel being wiped out.

If such comments were being made about Australia from say, Indonesia, America, regardless of the party in power, would be attempting to get both countries to live in peace. Now what if Indonesia had nukes?

Sure a bellicose Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is saying some crazy, unacceptable things re holocaust denial and threats against Israel, but he doesn't run the country. And sure, if Iran can master enrichment to fuel grade, it can also master enrichment to weapons grade. Sure the mullahs have sponsored terrorist groups abroad --the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas-- fiddled elections and engaged in political killings of Iranian expatriates in Europe. And, in all likelihood, the Iranian hardliners (Revolutionary Guards) are probably itching to cause more trouble in Iraq, threaten tanker lanes in the Straits of Hormuz and set Asian opinion further against the west.

However, Iran is not a nuclear power it is a good 5 years away from having a bomb (between 3-10 years is the consensus); it is a member of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty; it has a perfectly legal civilian nuclear energy research program; and it hasn't militarily moved against anyone.

Most of the US media reports about a "nuclear Iran" are a beatup, and are part of a media campaign to get a war up against Iran. Regime change in Tehran looks doable is the neo-con script---doable means something like an air campaign against Iran that would quickly lead to a popular rebellion and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Dobale also means that the United States, not Iran, is preparing to engage in a deliberate, calculated war of aggression.

Maybe I'm wrong about this. I sure hope I am. Maybe it is all just sabre rattling and bluff by both the neo-con imperialists who believe America can be secure only if the rest of the world is remade in America's image, and the assertive nationalists who hold that America's security demands, foremost, the defeat of its enemies and the elimination of the threats they pose.