Wednesday, March 08, 2006

U.S. to bomb Iran in two weeks?

A couple of weeks ago, I was very disturbed to read Gwynne Dyer's article, Iran, Oil and Euros: the War Scenario.
Here's the scenario. On 20 March Iran opens a new "bourse" (exchange) on which countries all over the world can buy and sell oil and gas not only for dollars but also for euros. It also establishes a new oil "marker" (oil pricing standard) based on Iranian crude and denominated in euros, in open rivalry to the existing West Texas Intermediate, Norway Brent and UAE Dubai markers, all of which are calculated in US dollars.

The Iranian bourse is an instant success with countries and companies that are unhappy about having to hold huge amounts of overvalued US dollars to finance their oil transactions, all of which must presently be conducted in that currency. Very large sums start to shift from the dollar to the euro, although exactly how much is unknown because the US Federal Reserve System (by pure coincidence, of course) has chosen late March as the time to stop publishing the data that would make it easy to know how fast the haemorrhage was.

But the US government knows, and is deeply alarmed by the danger that the dollar may be losing its status as the world's only reserve currency. Given the huge deficits that plague the US economy, the US dollar's value would collapse if other countries began to see it as just another currency, so the euro must be prevented from emerging as an alternative reserve currency. In practice, that means the Iranian experiment with a euro-denominated oil bourse must be stopped -- and the only way to do that is to attack Iran.
Dyer goes on to say that such complex reasoning is far too cunning for the likes of the Bush administration, and concludes that if Iran is to be attacked, it will be for "other motives". Nevertheless, I have been trying to pay close attention to news reports about the ongoing standoff with Iran over their nuclear intentions (and this new bourse), but it has been such an eventful two weeks, little news has surfaced recently. And then I noticed this article from the Guardian:
The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has told British MPs that military action could bring Iran's nuclear programme to a halt if all diplomatic efforts fail. The warning came ahead of a meeting today of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which will forward a report on Iran's nuclear activities to the UN security council.

...According to Eric Illsley, a Labour committee member, (Bolton) told the MPs: "They must know everything is on the table and they must understand what that means. We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."

...The Pentagon position was described, by the committee chairman, Mike Gapes, as throwing a demand for a militarily enforced embargo into the security council "like a hand grenade - and see what happens".

(On March 5th) Mr Bolton reiterated his hardline stance. In a speech to the annual convention of the American-Israel public affairs committee, the leading pro-Israel US lobbyists, he said: "The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve ... we must be prepared to rely on comprehensive solutions and use all the tools at our disposal to stop the threat that the Iranian regime poses."

...According to Time magazine, the US plans to present the security council with evidence that Iran is designing a crude nuclear bomb, like the one dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. The evidence will be in the form of blueprints that the US said were found on a laptop belonging to an Iranian nuclear engineer, and obtained by the CIA in 2004.

Well, here we go again. It seems it's Bolton's job this time to stir up the Security Council. And now Cheney has heightened his war-drum beating rhetoric in lock-step:
...Vice President Cheney had already issued a blunt threat that Iran will face "meaningful consequences" if it fails to cooperate with international efforts to curb its nuclear program. Cheney told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday that the United States "is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime" and is sending "a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

Note the almost identical terminology between Bolton's "Everything is on the table" and Cheney's "keeping all options on the table" sound-bites. In Rove's White House, that's a clear sign there is a major selling game afoot with the American people. And if you really want to stay up late, browse through some of the articles cobbled together by NewsGateway on "the War on Iran". Most commentary I've seen agrees that an iInvasion seems unlikely as long as the U.S. military remains overstretched and bogged-down in Iraq; but major airstrikes are a piece of cake, and by at least one account (from three weeks ago), the order of the day:
Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

"This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

I'm not liking this one bit.

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CathiefromCanada said...

Very useful summary -- I had read about the bourse but hadn't seen this additional information about it. I wonder if the Bush administration thinks they can use the same rhetoric with Iran as they did with Iraq -- bomb plans on a laptop, for crying out loud! -- do they think the public will still support them?

Anonymous said...

Bush is going to bomb another genocidal regime.

Let the Left start seething...

Scott in Montreal said...

There's our friend anonymous again. Look, I have no great love of Iran's current regime, believe me. It's oppressive and theocratic, and I have voiced concern about what direction they're headed in. But the Bush doctrine of force just stirs thing up and makes a bigger (and much bloodier) mess of things, such as Iraq. War and bombing is not the answer to all of life's geo-political problems. Bushco always says they'll use as a last resort, but this has proven to be empty rhetoric. It is truly sad that we are so willing to put up with these shenanigans.

Gazetteer said...

As soon as they start mentioning tables you know something bad just might happen....