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Iran: regime change « Previous | |Next »
June 6, 2006

The fundamental contradiction in the US stance towards Iran is this: why is it that Iran cannot have what the other NPT allies of the US such as Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina can have---the right to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy? Isn't this Iran's legitimate right under the National Proliferation Treaty? That right is a key reason why the Chinese and the Russians will not in the end support serious collective action against Iran in the form of sanctions or a pre-emptive strike.

Not so for Israel. It describes the Iranian government as an existential threat. At a joint press conference on the White House lawn on May 23 with President George W. Bush, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a hard-hitting statement about Iran:

"The Iranian regime, which calls for Israel's destruction, openly denies the Holocaust and views the United States as its enemy, makes every effort to implement its fundamentalist religious ideology and blatantly disregards the demands of the international community. The Iranian threat is not only a threat to Israel; it is a threat to the stability of the Middle East and the entire world. And it could mark the beginning of a dangerous and irresponsible arms race in the Middle East."

The question to ask: does Israel still drive US policy and strategy in the Middle East?

Isn't the primary reason for the American push against Iran’s nuclear program and for “regime change” about maintaining American hegemony in the oil-rich Persian Gulf Region? What do things look like from the perspective of maintaining U.S. hegemony?

It does look as if Washington, and the neo-cons in particular, will accept nothing short of the complete removal of the clerical regime, and to reduce Iran to the status of an American protectorate alongside other oil-producing states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) of the Persian Gulf Region.

Tom O’Donnell, in an article entitled, The political economy of the U.S.-Iran crisis: Oil hegemony, not nukes, is the real issue traces the history of the strategy to maintain American hegemony since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 by constraining Iranian oil production. This has caused a chronic economic crisis in Iran, while its Gulf neighbors are all enjoying economic boom times at the present time O’Donnell says:

The U.S. has invested considerable effort and political capital in preventing Iran under the mullahs from attaining the Iranian nation’s natural position of influence in the Persian Gulf Region and in the larger oil order. Moreover, the U.S. has not only undercut Iran’s ability to challeng American regional hegemony, the U.S. has waged economic warfare against Iran, systematically breaking down Iran’s ability to support its rapidly growing population and causing a chronic internal economic crisis, one which is shaking the regime. In all this, the U.S. has been so far successful.

The Iranian regime has its back to the wall with few options. On O’Donnell's account the equation is simple: if Washington doesn’t want to allow the mullahs to develop Iran’s oil, then they have to remove the mullahs. He adds:
It is crucial to recognize that this is ....the objective political-economic realities of the oil order today which are impelling the U.S. to take the offensive, and soon, if the oil order is not to be undermined by a demand crisis. Such a crisis could, in turn, spell disaster for global capitalism generally as transportation is universally dependant on oil – oil is the basis for well over 90% of all transportation.

If supply needs to stay well ahead of rising demand, then that means opening up the Iranian oil fields to global capital.

This account undermines the imperial overreach thesis, doesn't it.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)