The National Attack Authorization Act?

We all know that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve contained a now-struck-down provision to authorise the indefinite detention of American citizens on US soil.

But did you know that the NDAA also paves the way for war with Iran?

From Dennis Kucinich:

Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment.

This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible.

At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.

The Former Chief of Staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell has stated that this resolution “reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war.”

The notion of a “nuclear weapons capability” seems like a dangerously low standard. Let us not forget that Mossad, the CIA and the IAEA agree that Iran does not have a bomb, is not building one and has no plans to build one.

But the bill clearly spells out its intent:

SEC. 1222. UNITED STATES MILITARY PREPAREDNESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

Section 2 (A) pre-positioning sufficient supplies of aircraft, munitions, fuel, and other materials for both air- and sea-based missions at key forward locations in the Middle East and Indian Ocean;

(B) maintaining sufficient naval assets in the region necessary to signal United States resolve and to bolster United States capabilities to launch a sustained sea and air campaign against a range of Iranian nuclear and military targets, to protect seaborne shipping, and to deny Iranian retaliation against United States interests in the region;

(D) conducting naval fleet exercises similar to the United States Fifth Fleet’s major exercise in the region in March 2007 to demonstrate ability to keep the Strait of Hormuz open and to counter the use of anti-ship missiles and swarming high-speed boats.

As Kucinich notes:

This is an authorization for the use of military force against Iran. It ignores the warnings of both current and former U.S. top military brass who have spoken in opposition to the use of military force against Iran, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. A February 2012 poll demonstrated that less than 20% of the Israeli public supports an Israeli strike on Iran if approved by the United States. Congress must avoid the same mistakes it made in the Iraq war and reject any language that can be construed as authorizing war against Iran.

It seems like the framers of the bill are exceptionally keen on striking Iran as quickly as possible. Maybe they are receiving lots of money from defence contractors?

Unsurprisingly, the biggest Congressional recipient of donations from defence contractors was Howard “Buck” McKeon, the chairman of the armed services committee who also happens to be the sponsor of the NDAA:

The fact that Ron Paul is the number two recipient is a sign that not all defence contractors are keen to hit Iran. But some are.

Still, even though the bill hints very strongly toward it, it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen. Congressmen might be hungry for a war but the military — already overstretched — isn’t. Admiral Fallon was reportedly the force that kept Bush from hitting Iran, and it would not be surprising to see the Pentagon put up fierce opposition to a future war with Iran. It would be a long, expensive war, with the potential of massive negative side-effects, like dragging in other regional powers, disrupting global trade, and squeezing the US economy by spiking the oil price.

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The Uniting States of Eurasia

I have, these last few months, been documenting the current state of geopolitics — specifically the growing isolation of the West, the ditching of the dollar as the global reserve currency, the growing unity between the authoritarian Eurasian nations, and the brewing storm in the middle east between Israel and Iran.

Now another piece of the puzzle falls into place.

From The Sun:

Pakistan yesterday warned Britain to help stop the American “Drone Wars” that are slaughtering hundreds of its innocent civilians.

The nuclear power chillingly declared it “has the means” to retaliate unless the carnage ceases.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan told The Sun in an exclusive interview that his country’s relations with America are at their lowest ebb.

He said: “Patience is definitely reaching exhaustion levels.” Mr Hasan said Pakistan backs the War on Terror waged by Britain and the US.

But he urged PM David Cameron to condemn US drone attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban training camps in the north west of his country — dubbing them as “war crimes” and “little more than state executions”.

Tough-talking Mr Hasan also declared Pakistan would have no choice but to support Iran if “aggressive” Israel attacks it

This isn’t a joke. This isn’t “just rhetoric”. This is Eurasia uniting to keep America out, to trample American and Israeli interests, and to dominate geopolitics. Let me be clear: this is the systemic and complete failure of 40 years of American foreign and domestic policy

From Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard (pp. 31):

[H]ow America manages Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.

With Eurasia uniting around Russia and China (exemplified by their joint veto on Syria) it seems like America — stripped by globalisation of her productive base, and thus dependent on Eurasian resources and manufacturing — is about to lose the colossal free lunch she has enjoyed since the 1970s. And American aggression to impose its will on the Eurasian powers is becoming less and less viable. America is not only deeply in debt to her enemies, but would find herself gravely injured by any future trade war.

Of course, there is a path forward for America. But it is not the path desired by the current administration:

A sensible American plan going forward would recognise [these issues], and would be developing the means and the infrastructure to end America’s free lunch — specifically, through redeveloping American manufacturing capacity and supply chains, and scaling back America’s role as global policeman. Unfortunately, I see no such thing from government, and very little from private industry. America is clinging onto the old foreign policy doctrines — that if America is powerful enough, and if it can retain its role as global hegemon and world policeman, then it will always be free to consume a chunk of the rest of the world’s production and resources, because its currency will forever be the global reserve. But that simply isn’t true — Russia and China have already ditched the dollar for bilateral trade.

But this is bigger than just the implications for America. We are moving into a new era; a new world order, a multi-polar (bipolar? tripolar? apolar?) world.

What will this mean for the rest of the world and all her citizens? I have very little clue — but hopefully not world war, or trade war, or proxy war. Hopefully America will gracefully accept the end of American hegemony. Hopefully the new powers will be gracious and fair toward the old ones. Hopefully the new world will be friendlier to liberty, friendlier to freedom.

But given that the new bloc’s powers all exude authoritarian rhetoric, I doubt it.

Most concerningly, regular readers will be aware that Pakistan are the second Eurasian power to pledge military support to Iran in the case of an Israeli attack. These nations know the score:  the last hope for American imperial hegemony is to bring the Arab Spring to Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Islamabad.

“China Will Not Hesitate To Protect Iran Even With A Third World War”

From Zero Hedge:

Fast forward to 2:08: “It is puzzling to some that Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor from the Chinese National Defense University, said China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War. Professor Xia Ming: “Zhang Zhaozhong said that not hesitating to fight a third world war would be entirely for domestic political needs….”

Now, I don’t think a Third World War will really be of much benefit to China right now: they are strengthened by the status quo; power and wealth is flowing from West to East. They have humungous treasury and FX reserves that would be better discharged into productive assets, physical assets, etc.

But perhaps I underestimated the strategic importance to China of keeping America out of Eurasia, and retaining access to Iranian oil.

Ultimately — unless America unleashes a nuclear holocaust — it is a war that I think China would be certain to win, slowly, painfully and excruciatingly. The key card China holds is that it retains control over many American supply chains, not just for finished goods, but for components and resources. America has grown hugely dependent on importing energy and resources through the global trade web; a global trade shutdown would trigger hyperinflation in America, and force a long, painful transition period. America — even with European support — does not have enough manpower or enough leverage over global resources and energy to win a conventional war against Russia, China, and Iran.

I hope that sanity prevails, and there is no new war against Iran.

Kinetic Peace Action #2

Following NATO’s war in Libya, hawkish commentators have been salivating over the prospect of more “liberal interventionism” in the middle east.

Now, thanks to the Arab League, they might just get their wish.

From Zero Hedge:

Yesterday we reported that the Arab League (with European and US support) are preparing to institute a no fly zone over Syria. Today, we get an escalation which confirms we may be on the edge. Just out from CBS“The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart “immediately,” and Turkey’s foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria.” But probably the most damning evidence that the “western world” is about to do the unthinkable and invade Syria, and in the process force Iran to retaliate, is the weekly naval update from Stratfor, which always has some very interesting if always controversial view on geopolitics, where we find that for the first time in many months, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush has left its traditional theater of operations just off the Straits of Hormuz, a critical choke point, where it traditionally accompanies the Stennis, and has parked right next to Syria.

The point, I think, is that the Arab League and NATO would be very happy to see Iran’s wings clipped through regime change in Syria. I’ll be absolutely clear: I think that this is an attempt to get Iran to directly intervene in Syria, and get their fingers burnt by a humiliating NATO counter-offensive. The preferred outcome would be a resurrection of the Green Revolution, a bringing of the Arab Spring to the streets of Tehran, and regime change.

I don’t think Ahmadinejad is that stupid. He long ago absorbed the lessons of Saddam Hussein (now confirmed by the demise of Qaddafi). As I wrote last month, these are:

  1. Nuclear weapons are an essential prerequisite to holding off NATO-sponsored regime change.
  2. Western nations and organisations — including NATO, the United States, Britain, France and the UN — cannot be trusted.

Ahmadinejad would not respond. Iran is preparing for the coming Israeli-NATO onslaught, and doing everything in its power to urge China and Russia to heavily discourage any such move. China and Russia — strong Iranian trade partners (and to some extent ideological partners) — already have a strong interest (energy and resources) in resisting regime change in Tehran.

But this is all part of a greater game: America and the West are locked in a proxy war with the Eurasian autocracies (Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China — for short, the PRICs) for both Eurasia’s huge resources and manpower, and global military and financial supremacy. American policy is to retain the petrodollar-standard, and continue enjoying the free lunch such a system yields.

Iran’s fall could give America — as heavily indebted and zombified as America is — a significant boost toward retaining primacy in years to come, and scare the other autocracies into compliance. For that reason, Russia and China — who have gained a very strong position through accumulating American currency, and become hubs of global trade — will not be keen to see further American encroachment into their back yard.

Forward-thinking readers are urged to get a copy of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s masterpiece The Grand Chessboard, and study it.