Israel, Iran & War

Forget the Eurozone — this is surely the scariest news of the year.

From the Daily Mail:

  • Fears mount that Iran could be ‘nuclear ready’ in a matter of months
  • UN intelligence suggests Iran was helped by foreign experts – including rogue Russian scientist
  • Russia foreign minister says any military action would be a ‘serious mistake’
  • Condoleezza Rice: ‘We must do everything we can to bring Iran down’
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains defiant
Russia and China have expressed growing concern about a mooted American military strike against Iran over its alleged nuclear programme.The UN last week warned it had ‘compelling evidence’ to suggest Iran is secretly building an arsenal of nuclear warheads.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is this week due to publish a damning report on the findings fuelling fears Iran could be ‘nuclear ready’ within months.


Sticking my neck out a little, if a rampant communist dictatorship like the Soviet Union can have nuclear weapons for over forty years without nuclear apocalypse (not to mention ethnocracies like Pakistan and Israel) then I can’t see what the problem is with Iran having them. Surely a last ditch strike on a pre-nuclear Iran would confirm the scary post-Qaddafi reality that dictatorships, autocracies and theocracies are not safe from Western liberal interventionism until they have gained a nuclear arsenal?

More concerningly, a Western attack on a nation at the heart of Eurasia — and a friend to the other Eurasian autocracies, particularly Russia and China — is surely a message that America and Israel will do everything in their power to maintain the petrodollar status quo, something that rising powers like Russia and China find distasteful and disrespectful.

But the emerging reality of a multi-polar world will do nothing to stop the hawks from clawing and shrieking against the reality of change.

From Haaretz:

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she is sure the Israelis will defend themselves against the Iranians if they were to reach nuclear capabilities.

“I don’t have any doubt that the Israelis will defend themselves if the Iranians look as if they really are about to cross that nuclear threshold,” Rice told Newsmax in a TV interview.

I — on the other hand — have no doubt that the era of American-Israeli-British primacy is drawing to an end. The global system of floating fiat currencies is being gutted by years of competitive debasement. The international financial system is a house of cards, swaying in the breeze. Western industry has been gutted, and shipped to the East. Western capital is exported away to the East via humungous Western trade deficits. Western labour markets rot, beleaguered by high unemployment, evaporating skills, and huge inequality between the rich and poor. Western discontent is rising. Most dangerously, the West remains highly dependent on foreign oil — a supply that a new war, or some other black swan might disrupt — wreaking havoc.

So, as I wrote last month:

Sadly, we know how that aphorism from Winston Churchill goes: that Americans will do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.

Which is why I’m coming to believe that the military-Keynesian establishment might try and kill every bird with one stone — a new regional war in Eurasia, probably involving Syria, Iran and Israel. Let’s look at what that might accomplish:

  1. Create a new post-9/11-style hard-to-question patriotism — “There’s a war on — we all need to rally together around the flag — the complainers and protestors must hate America”
  2. Put America back to work — in weapons factories, and on the front lines.
  3. Give the economy a large Keynesian injection — through war spending.
  4. Take out Iran, a powerful enemy of America — and send a threatening message to other uppity Eurasian autocracies like Russia and China.
  5. Curtail civil liberties & censor the internet — “There’s a war on — we all need to rally together around the flag — and those who don’t must be working to undermine America”
John Maynard Keynes noted that in the long run, we’re all dead. I hope that in the short run, we’ll all still be alive.
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26 thoughts on “Israel, Iran & War

  1. Given that all of the UN sanctions and etc. have done nothing to deter Iran from increasing its Nuclear Warhead producing capabilities, Israel probably feels like its pre-emptive strike is the country’s only chance to save itself from a crazy leader who is publicly anti-Semitic and in denial of the Holocaust’s existence.

    Now, I don’t believe that a leader renouncing the Holocaust makes that country deserving of being bombed for that sole reason, but the thought of Iran with nuclear capabilities is rightfully terrifying to those living in Israel. Just because there have been no nuclear apocalypes as of yet does not imply that it could never happen. Making sure Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons decreases the possibility of nuclear apocalypse considerably.

    • Well the Arab and Iranian response to that is that the thought of an Israel with nuclear capabilities is terrifying to other middle eastern nations who (rightly or wrongly) see Israel as a colonial European aggressor with an extremist mentality and a fundamentalist interpretation of its religion. Who can blame them for seeking some means to defend themselves from Israeli thermonuclear capabilities when the Israeli government contains anti-Arab lunatics like Avigdor Lieberman and Binyamin Netanyahu every bit as crazy as Ahmadinejad?

      And it’s not just Israel that is a nuclear-armed state with lunatics in charge — look at Pakistan, North Korea. Heck for eight years America was led by George W. Bush — a religious fundamentalist former cocaine user who believed he had a private line to God.

      The point is that unless both sides make a real effort to understand each other and work together without prejudice then all there will be is more suspicion, more distrust, and more of a scramble for armaments, and while Israel are grabbing nukes, the Arabs and Persians have every right to do the same thing to defend themselves.

      But that’s not even the real issue. The real issue is dragging the rest of Eurasia into a new global war. There’s so much pent up tension and aggression…

      • By the way, as this is a sensitive issue I’d just like to clarify something about my personal background:

        My ethnicity is mixed Anglo-Saxon, Arab and Ashkenazi Jewish, and I was raised secular, so I have no particular favouritism, other than a personal dislike of war, a dislike of nuclear weapons, and a dislike of religious fundamentalism of all kinds.

  2. No need to describe your ethnic background, but your transparency is well-noted. I agree with you in that a new global war would be terrible, and should be completely avoidable. Do you think a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran would result in an all-out global war? Also, what are the repurcussions if the UN’s sanctions and threats are completely ignored (which they have been)? That could render the UN completely powerless. Then again, does the UN really do much in terms of creating peace globally – not really.

    I suppose if North Korea has nukes and hasn’t blown up the world yet, then I guess it’s unlikely that anyone will in the near future. Still, do you think the world would be a safer place if every country had nukes?

    • First of all I think there needs to be a balance of power, and that there will probably never be peace between Israel and the Arabs while one of them vastly overpowers the other. Israel won’t give up its nukes, so for a balance of power, some other middle eastern state would have to acquire them. I honestly believe that (like with India and Pakistan whose relations improved somewhat after both acquired nukes) there would be much better chance of peace.

      Globally, I might compare the situation now to the situation before World war 1: lots of regional rivalries and empire building, and the rise of a new industrial behemoth (Germany, China) against the background of the fall of a highly-indebted global hegemon (Britain, America).

      The danger as it was then is of a burst of disorder turning into a chance for nations to grab what they can get to establish themselves in the new world order. Whereas before World War 1 the race was for naval supremacy (essential for maintaining an empire) today it is for the global reserve currency (essential for being the nexus of global trade). America has it (Britain had it) and China wants it (Germany wanted it). Clearly, today it is a supremacy of a more abstract and financial kind, but I think the Eurasian conspirators (China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan — humorously referred to as the “PRICSs”) who want to end American dominance know America’s weakness — its addiction to foreign oil — and are getting ready to exploit it.

      As we have seen with every nation that has tried to get off the “petrodollar standard” (Iraq, Libya — and now Iran) America’s response has been swift and brutal.

      And we have seen how vulnerable America is to oil spikes — a much understated aspect of 2008 was that many of the defaults on mortgages that put a lot of the “AAA” tranche MBS underwater and led to the downfall of AIG and Lehman were caused by homeowners not being able to afford their mortgages as a result of the price of gas (obviously there were other factors too, but there is no doubt to me oil played a large role).

      I don’t claim to know what the PRICs plan is (they probably don’t have a concrete one) but I think China will be leveraging its credit, and America’s addiction to Chinese goods to get paid off in blue chips (AAPL) and gold rather than dollars and more rolled treasuries. OPEC and Arabia will want to switch off the petrodollar standard and move to convert their treasury and dollar holdings to gold and blue chips.

      To do this, I expect some kind of co-ordinated move at some time of stress — like an Iran-Israel war — to expose America’s oil weakness. Some kind of trade move, some kind of embargo, new taxes and tariffs, perhaps.

      The question is whether America values its gold and its prestige as the world’s hegemon over world peace. The PRICs (like Qaddafi and Saddam before them) are setting up to blackmail America into accepting a multi-polar world. Unlike Iraq and Libya, they have a powerful position, because of their size and strength, because of America’s dependencies, especially oil, and America’s debt.

      Maybe a Rick Perry or a Mitt Romney would be willing to try and maintain the status quo with military force — and that would definitely mean some kind of conflict. Perhaps the Pentagon is wiser — and will accept America’s new role as one of a number of powers in a multi-polar world.

      In a worst case scenario, the Russians and Pakistanis (not so much the Chinese) instead of merely retaliating against America and Israel with a trade war might actually attack Israel in defence of Iran (or threaten to attack in case they do — as they did over Kosovo). They see Israel as a bastion of American power in a fundamentally un-American continent — and they might believe that America is too weak right now to respond to a war where the Eurasian powers gang up to force Israel to back down and accept a nuclear-armed Iran. In that scenario — quite unlikely, but not totally out of the question — this could quickly escalate to thermonuclear war.

      Essentially, the best thing that could happen in my view is that Iran gets the bomb, there is no new war, and Israel has to accept a less dominant position in the middle east. I genuinely believe that the new balance of power would be good not only for resolving the war of the Muslims and Zionists, but also would force America to accept that it cannot forever go on wasting its taxpayers’ dollars on excursions into Eurasia for the petrodollar standard, and force it to develop a proper alternative energy strategy, and a reduced global military presence.

  3. We can’t stop war now. I have been writing to Editors of Australian papers, our Politicians and our Australian Consumer and Competition Commision (Body responsible for administering our misleading and deceptive practice laws) to try and force truth in our media. To stop the peddling of lies and half truths about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    To no avail.

    The Zionist Neo Cons are in control, like they were in control when they went to war with Iraq.

    Brace for some turbulence. The dogs of war are being unleashed.

  4. Chirac nailed it. Iran having nukes is not a threat in the terms of an unprovoked attack on Israel or the west. The second the nukes launch, Iran would be vaporised.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/world/europe/01france.html?pagewanted=all
    Iran’s real threat is the control of the oil spigot and importantly the currency that trade is transacted in. The greatest threat to the US is not military but a challenge to the capacity to exchange an iou that has no limit to the number in circulation.
    Iraq, and latterly Lybia, found out what happens when you openly profess a preference for exchanging oil for anything other than dollars.

  5. I think people are forgetting that atomic weapons are very expensive. Uranium reactors are a huge liability compared with thorium reactors. Atomic weapons are an even bigger liability, for insuring and protecting. If a stray bomb were to be stolen, and set off in another country, the resulting loss of wealth (and probably human life in your own nation from reprisals) is basically suicide for a government.

    So why do governments want to spend huge amounts of money and risk their existence? Simple: for defense. When a nation feels threatened, such as Iran, this is a way to protect itself. How do we ensure nations like Iran drop their atomic weapon programs? Again, its very simple: don’t threaten them.

    An attack may cause a 2 or 3 year setback in Iran’s program, but it won’t end it. It might even cause a resurgence in the idea for Egyptians, Turks and Iraqis, who knows?

  6. Russia and China are not going to standby and watch Iran attacked. China and Russian are both arming Iran, china is selling iran missles, russian is selling iran radars. Iran is one of china’s major energy suppliers.

    • “Russia and China are not going to standby and watch Iran attacked.”

      Hmm, I disagree with that statement. Russia made out fairly well from the Iraq War, when it was able to sell it oil for elevated prices.

      As for China, I don’t think they will interfere, either. I’m convinced they have learned from Sun Tzu:
      “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

      American is flushing trillions down the toilet. They are en route to a Roman Empire in the 4th century style fragmentation. All China has to do is sit back and eat popcorn.

      • Well the fall of Rome was aided by Arminius and his “industrious barbarian hordes”…

        Plus, I’m pretty sure China and Russia don’t want to see any further encroachment into Eurasia. War on Iran might be a case of crossing the rubicon — not into a full-on war with China and Russia, but to the really damaging kind of war — a trade war, with the prize for the “winner” being global reserve currency status.

      • @azizonomics I was thinking about future wars after a US stock and bond collapse, very high inflation and a loss of the US$ as reserve currency. I tend to think wars in the future won’t be like the big ones in the past (i.e., WWII). I think they will be much more subtle.

        People in the US seem delighted with the idea of aiding rebellions in Libya, Egypt and Syria. So, I think they would also be in favor of supporting rebellions in Tibet and the Uyghur people. China could probably find people in Alaska, California, Hawaii and New England who would want to secede if SHTF and we are stuck with a $100 trillion debt that must be repaid a.s.a.p. Of course, Iran and Saudi Arabia could end up fueling internal rebellions, the same with India and Pakistan. I think people are much more willing to support these rebellions than the old style State vs State attacks.

        What do you think?

  7. @Gavin you said “I was thinking about future wars after a US stock and bond collapse”

    I agree with you. It is not the State versus State now, but what contracts can aid a certain corporation who has influence in Foreign Policy. So yes I think smaller wars in strategic areas that will encourage regime change or succession.

    I think Alaska could easily succede if China or Russia sponsored the people with Generous welfare reforms in exchange for resource access. The USA bought Alaska off Russia when it was broke, why not the reverse? Many Russians argued that the Czar had no right to sell Alaska. Many want it back. The USA as a country makes no sense in the traditional view of a country being a connected territory by language race etc.

    E.G Hawaii is such a clean and beautiful Island, and if it devalued the Dollar it would be better for the State to succede and hand power back to the Natives.

    • Yes — to be clear I highly doubt that America will exist at the end of this century.

      Colin Woodard did an incredible 5-part series for Bloomberg recently charting the future-history of this fracture:

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-29/real-u-s-map-a-country-of-regions-part-1-commentary-by-colin-woodard.html

      On the other hand, the Germanic, Russian and Chinese models of dirigisme and strong centralisation and industrialism seem to be doing relatively well while the laxer Anglo-American corporatism is slumping.

      Ian Bremmer made the point a while ago that it’s hard for free market corporations to compete against a state monopoly ten times its size (e.g. Saudi Aramco vs Exxon Mobil, etc).

      I think the 21st Century will probably include both more centralisation, and more secessionism and revolutions than we see in the world order today (fast-crumbling) that could best be summed up as Fukuyama’s false End of History, or the post-Soviet consensus, or whatever.

      • Well, I have about 4 hours of reading to do just from this article. It’s difficult to get any work done!

        By the way, I do see a way forward for the U.S. as a single nation that no one is talking about: a federation. It works extremely well for the Swiss. The Constitution was a Statist power grab and I’m pretty sure its days are numbered, mostly because of Nixon. The question is, will Americans cling to the past so hard that secession or violent suppression is inevitable? Or will this nation allow a real federation of states, maybe allowing each to choose a currency.

        My last thoughts. Thanks all.

  8. f war occurs, and if Russia and China to show off to the world and helping Iran to halt the arrogance of Israel and America, of course, will change the course of the countries in the world, will open a new chapter, and probably will feel the sovereignty of all countries in their respective countries , which today are still intimidated as.
    and no longer the nation that likes to oppress bansa israel palestine,

  9. Pingback: America’s Military Weakness? « azizonomics

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  11. You’re a clown. You accuse me of? being a war megonr when my commentary advocated no such conflict among various nations and then you go on to contradict yourself by justifying US’ involvement in a? former war. Before you respond to someone else’s comments, make sure your response is well-organized in thought. And by the way, I don’t touch myself at night, your mother does it for me.

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