This is why I reacted to the report that Iranian boats had “provoked” US ships in the Strait of Hormuz with a “WTF????”. Let’s look at a few things here, just to make heads or tails of things.
- Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003, and there is no evidence that they are much closer to developing a weapon anytime soon.
- Ayatollah Khamenei recently indicated that he would be willing to restore diplomatic relations with the US in the future.
- There were recent reports that Iran was cooperating with the US in Iraq with respect to the decrease in violence.
- Iran has recently divested from the US dollar - a move that is more threatening to the US than many of the items that we have been hearing for years.
- To further keep its independence from the US (and strengthen its own position in the global economy), Iran has recently made deals with China on oil, has been cozy with Russia for a number of years and has been making trade deals with Nicaragua - not to mention potential deals with Venezuela as well.
So what is the common thread here? Well, pretty much all of these are a threat to US economic interests, not to mention partially avoidable had this administration acted differently back in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Additionally, all of this has happened despite (or as a response by the global community) the saber rattling that Mister Bush, Dick Cheney and the other neocons have been doing for the past few years.
The US economy is getting rapidly worse – pretty much by any metric. The Iraq occupation is an unmitigated disaster, with the only “success” being a decrease in violence to an already unacceptable level, while there is no political success in any way, shape or form. Afghanistan is getting worse, as is the situation in Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda are stronger than ever (but being Sunni, there is really no reason for the Shiite Iran to cooperate with them to begin with).
In short, the US foreign and domestic policies are miserable and with miserable but predictable results. Another parallel is the fact that this is election season, and with republicans getting slammed left and right by an apathetic (at best) population, it is about time for the “tried and true” fear card to be played yet again.
And if this is “provoking”, as Mister Bush (or an unnamed and anonymous official says it is), then what about this action from May 2007 when the US sent nine warships through the Strait, along with 17,000 Marines and sailors in what was called a ”show of military force”? How is that NOT a threat or “provoking” Iran?
This makes absolutely no sense for Iran to take action. But with the other actions taken by Iran over the past few years that threatens US economic “might” and our ability to pull the strings in the global economy – but even if these actions were designed to strengthen Iran’s position or to weaken the US’s position – it is not a threat that required lies about weapons parts, nuclear weapons programs or whatever else has been conjured up about Iran being a direct and immediate threat (or growing and gathering threat as Iraq became) to the US.
As with the convenient bin Laden tapes that always surface at opportune times, we should be very mindful of the timing here, as well as what else is going on that is damning or damaging to the republicans or the Bush administration. Could it also be that by sending 9 ships and 17,000 servicemen and women to the Strait back in May that could be construed as a “provocative act” or that the Bush administration was threatening Iran then? And couldn’t the continued presence of US military ships in the Strait, along with the tough words, lies and threats coming out of Washington at least every week be construed as “provocative” or “threatening”?
Now, I am not the only one, surely, that has figured out what looks like the obvious here. The editors at Foreign Policy had this to say::
There's no story yet, but I think it's a safe bet that hardliners in the Guard are seeking to create an incident on the eve of U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to the region. Why would they do that? Well, it makes for good distraction from their sinking popularity ahead of March's legislative elections. It forestalls the admittedly dim prospects of a U.S.-Iran rapprochement. It complicates Bush's efforts to buck up the United States' Arab allies (though depending on how they react to this news, it may simplify his mission). And as an added bonus, it'll probably send oil prices upwards for a short while. We can't exclude the possibility that some Guard higher-ups are speculating in the oil markets and turning a tidy profit from these sorts of incidents.
So, back to my original question – what does Iran really have to gain by doing something like this? And what does Iran have to lose by doing something like this? On the flip side, who does gain from a report such as this?
It seems pretty obvious here, and the timing is doubly suspicious in light of Bush’s visit to the Middle East, his approval ratings, the rise of Obama and the general apathy and implosion of republicans in general.