ANALYSIS: The US’s goal in Iran this week is EU sanctions, not regime-change

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January 3rd, 2017 – Fort Russ News – 
– Joaquin Flores, for FRN – – Support Flores’ Patreon Today!

Briefly, our aim here to break down a few things about the recent protests in Iran. The hope is not to engage in pedantry, or splitting hairs. In general, everyone has understood quite well that the US has its hands all over so many parts of this. 

And while what we propose in turn may appear at first as only a slight variation of other analysis, and insignificant, it will be very important in how these events are memorialized in the public record, moving forward. The devil is in the details.

Partly we’ll recap how Fort Russ News has understood the events, and also add some more points to that after seeing how things have been reported in other substream media. We’ll just combine these together as bullet points. 

  • The goal of the US in distorting the protests was not to start a color-spring revolution. We covered this extensively over the last week, and we were among the first to point at that the smaller, side stunts, were using tactics from the color-spring revolution handbook. Western media coverage also mirrored the media’s historic role in reifying a protest movement into existence, on the holographic level of media-induced reality. This is about the interplay of western audience perception, and the use of ‘twitter storms’. To be fair, that these were used is evidence of a larger color-spring revolution strategy of destabilization and ‘regime change’, being used overall. But other factors lead us to conclude that the US’s aim here was not to create a situation that would directly lead to an increase of instability in Iran, one which would lead to opportune events in Iran which the US could then act on to overthrow the Iranian government in a manner contiguous with last week’s events.

  • The protests were not highjacked. This part is also critical. Rather, there were unrelated events transpiring. Iran is not an irregularly repressive society and anti-government fringe elements are not pre-emptively imprisoned without further cause. They may have big problems finding public sector work, but other than that, are relatively free to be who they are, and they live peacefully – most of the time – in Iran. Iran has most of the same citizen surveillance technology as the U.S. As a result of this relatively liberal policy, these people were available to be mobilized for certain events that were planned, directly with elements of the US government and NGO sector. But these events were stunts whose participation numbered in the dozens, not hundreds, and certainly not thousands. These stunts, with their regime change slogans, became the focus of western created twitter storms, and mainstream media-narrative creation. Often these events took place far and away from the mainstream protest mobilizations, the latter of which anyway and by themselves were smaller in scale than the larger 2009 post election protests. This distinction is important, not only for its truth value alone. In trying to explain the events in Iran, when we say, wrongly, that the mainstream protests were high-jacked, we propose to our interlocutor a very difficult to swallow narrative, which flies in the face of people’s lived experiences, especially if they themselves are activists who have participated in mass protests in their own countries. The first question our interlocutor would right ask is, how and why did the mass of the protesters allow their protest to be high-jacked, if the new regime change slogans were not palpable on some level to them? 

  • The goal of the US in Iran last week was to de-legitimize the government. This is really the follow up to point one. This is all about the warming of ties between the EU and Iran. The US is losing control of Europe in general. We’ve seen this exampled in many cases, and highlighted in any number of conflicts between the US and the axis of resistance. What we have is that back in September, Iran announced officially that it is withdrawing its 1996 bid to enter the WTO. Just last month in December, they announced their aim to eventually join the Eurasian Union. Iran is no longer under sanctions, in Europe. The US is trying to create some human-rights based pretext so that European Atlanticists have a strong bargaining point against European ‘Europeanists’ and European Eurasianists. The point is to get the Iranian government to either over-react, or to react in some way with force, that the US can then convince Europe was an over-reaction. The goal is to re-impose European sanctions on Iran, under the auspices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which can do so under the rubric of “peace, democracy and the respect for the rule of law, human rights and international law”.

  • The Brookings Institution is not the only think-tank, is one among many, and isn’t gospel US policy formation.  To a hammer, all problems are nails. To a Brookings Institution expert, all US policy can be properly understood from it. Just because one has spent the vast bulk of their analytic work on deconstructing Brookings Institution papers which are publicly available online, a deconstruction which is no doubt highly laudable and valuable work to be clear, doesn’t mean that US policy is based on this institute’s papers. In fact, think this one through. Think of the stakes. While the Brookings Institution papers have in many cases been in line with US policy, correlation isn’t causation. Actual US policy formation documents would generally be classified documents, distributed on a need to know basis, and furthermore details would be compartmentalized. There are many think tanks working on this subject, with board members who are also cabinet members, US armed forces congressional and senate committee folks, and high ranking generals. They secure grants to work out policy, and many of these work on the same questions at the same time. Some of this has to do with avoiding what’s called Abilene paradox, and at the same time it’s about corruption and tree shaking, as well as policy papers that suggest strategies that ‘talk the books’ of the other military industrial or media industrial resources whom the given think tank’s board members have meaningful ownership shares of. Their substantive work is often not available for download online. 

  • The US hasn’t failed to grasp its chances at overthrowing the Iranian government. Once the above point is understood, along with 1 and 3 above, not very much needs to be added to that. In fact, the reality of the Brookings Institution’s own ‘in house expert’ Suzanne Maloney getting so much wrong, is not evidence of what some are saying it is. This isn’t why the US failed to get the color spring tactic to work in Iran, and isn’t why the US failed to get these to avalanche into a destabilizing process. (So many presuppositions built into that thesis, just trying to untangle this here – there isn’t a failure in the first place, not along these lines anyhow). Yes, Maloney was one of the authors of the public document which mirrors in some ways the US’s operating concepts on Iran, titled, “Which Path to Persia?  Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran”. The point here is that there is an underlying tendency to underestimate the opponent (the strategists of US policy), and perhaps this is wishful thinking or just a carry over from a similar concept in protest politics – ‘the people in charge aren’t just evil, they’re stupid.’ They may be whatever they are, and mistakes are made, but they are not stupid. 

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Joaquin Flores is Editor-in-Chief of Fort Russ News, as well as the Director of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies. He was educated at California State University, Los Angeles, in the field of International Relations. He previously served as Chief Negotiator and Internal Organizer in several jurisdictions for the SEIU labor union in California. Flores has twenty years experience in community, labor, and anti-war organizing.  Flores has appeared regularly on Iran’s ‘PressTV’ and Russia’s ‘RT’ news to share his expert opinion and analysis on current geopolitical matters. 

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