by Steve Brown
In a symbolic move, the United States will deploy a token force to Saudi Arabia and re-establish its air presence at the Prince Sultan Air Base near the shuttered city of al-Kharj. The US removed its troops from the closed city in 2003; but subsequent to the US withdrawal from the JCPOA – and the US initiating aggressive new tensions with Iran – Saudi Arabia has requested a re-deployment of US troops there.
The US intent to re-establish its presence at Prince Sultan air base is a demonstration of force, and a renewal of the aggressive militarist policy that the US pursued during the Cold War.* While Americans view the world from their US-centric point of view and believe that the US global hegemon can maintain its projection of power indefinitely, most of the rest of the world disagrees. Including Russia and China, which we shall address.
Via increasingly close trade and diplomatic relations, Russia and China have formed a formidable bloc. Russia has provided a safe haven for persecuted US dissidents and Russia has opposed US regime change efforts in Syria and Venezuela, and is further devolving Pakistan from its US orbit.
China, locked in a trade dispute with the United States, is leveraging US tension with Iran to its own trade advantage, and has significant clout via its trade with North Korea, by 5G technology, and by selling US Treasury bills to buy gold and impact the US dollar. US actions have forced China and Russia closer together as partners, and Russian exports to China are expected to double by the end of 2020.
Iran apparently understands the above global power shift. Khamenei says, “National independence means that the nation and the regime are not subject to the bullying and domineering of the world superpowers” apprising Iran’s ability to stand alone, as a sovereign state, without outside help. However, as noble as those words may be, Iran knows that it can only prosper by its trade relations and cooperation with other states, especially when crude oil is its primary export. So, will Iran refuse assistance from Russia and China?
Rather than explore the arcane details on why the US leadership is threatening a new war in the Middle East, by withdrawing from the JCPOA, by renewing sanctions, and pressing for a military build-up versus Iran – not to mention the UK’s own seizure of a tanker containing Iranian oil – let’s take it as given that the US seeks regime change in Iran, just as it has since August of 1953. But by Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero tanker Iran has now taken the initiative.
Today, the western press says that Iran miscalculated with the tanker seizure, while the US openly hopes to blunt Iran’s initiative by calling for “international help” to secure the Hormuz Strait. According to Central Command on international patrols: “While the United States has committed to supporting this initiative, contributions and leadership from regional and international partners will be required to succeed.” Thus, the US noisily and publicly calls for a global uprising versus Iran, cloaked under the guise of securing the Strait of Hormuz.
So, with the Stena Impero seizure, has Iran played into Neocon hands? Probably not. Iran knows that its seizure of one chemical tanker is not akin to the US hostage crisis of 1979, and that the seizure is considered retaliatory action for the UK’s taking of the Grace-1 near Gibraltar on July 4th. The UK seized the Grace-1 on charges of “violating EU sanctions” regardless of the fact that Britain has pledged to leave the EU.
Then, just after Iran seized the UK ship, the UK ‘asked the US not to sabre rattle over tanker seized by Iran’. Next, Germany and France have mildly condemned Iran’s Stena Impero seizure on twitter. The muted response could be due to Europe’s half-hearted willingness to work with Iran subsequent to US treachery regarding the JCPOA, or could be a significant sign that Iran’s diplomats know something that none of the rest of us do.
Iran’s reciprocal move has provided an opening to expand initiative for states willing to oppose US hegemony. In the background, reports have been received that both Russia and China may intervene, to prevent a US military strike on Iran.
According to the South China Morning Post, China may tacitly endorse Gulf patrols while not participating in them. For China to endorse Gulf patrols may appear to be Iran’s loss of an important partner, but instead China’s move could present a significant challenge to the United States.
Assuming China favors such a Gulf patrol agreement, China’s role as a major contender to the existing hegemonic can be confirmed, since any subsequent US attack on Iran will likely bring China into play, to protect its interests. That’s because China has substantial infrastructure investments in Iran, and receives significant resources from the country, so China will not contemplate losses to the US… especially when in the midst of a major trade dispute. And if Iran is attacked by the US when China agreed to Gulf patrols, the treacherous nature of US double-dealing will be further exposed.
China possesses significant advanced weaponry, surface-to-air missile systems, and the technology to assist Iran in its defense. China has already exported advanced weapons systems to Iran, much to the consternation of the Israeli regime. Whether China will significantly come to Iran’s aid in the event of an US attack on Iran is a matter for speculation, but is the quandary for the US to be addressed here. The next largest arms supplier to Iran is Russia, although the full extent of Russian Federation arms sales to Iran is known only to the two parties.
The Russian leadership is certainly aware that “making America great again” means the US will engage the world in another major arms race, just as it did in the 1960’s and 70’s. Should the US prevail in its aggression in the Middle East, a dangerous new world arms race is guaranteed. For that reason, Russia has already provided S300’s to Iran, but Iran’s request for upgraded S-400 systems has so far been denied. But in the event of a US-led attack, Russia will no doubt permit S-400’s to Iran — just as Turkey has now received — and that leads to our analysis of the projected US feasibility for war.
When the US goes to war or attempts regime change, a tirade of twitter posts advertises the event and admonishes the receiving miscreant, as Bolton and Pompeo do today with their never-ending social media posts about Maduro. But there is no such US State signal chatter about Iran and the Stena Impero tanker matter on twitter. For John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, their silence on Iran must characterize remarkable restraint for their part. Such restraint can only mean that Bolton and Pompeo were ordered to keep quiet, while the Trump regime is concerned with bigger things brewing.
We know about US calls for “allies” to join a US coalition vs Iran, and that those calls have so far been ignored, with the exception of Argentina, but Argentina does not have much of a military. And regardless of who or whom chooses to join any “US coalition” versus Iran, that is all bluff since the US has already computer-tested all coalition war scenarios. And the result of those Iran war games always ends in stalemate or worse, with major collateral damage done throughout the Middle East, and especially with damage to the US economy via gold and oil prices.
The Pentagon employs highly-paid analysts to test US v. Iran war scenarios, factoring-in multiple variables, from best case to worst. The Pentagon’s recent war game results versus Iran have not been made public, however wargame results from seventeen years ago were made public and the outcome did not look promising for the United States. A more recent report by the Military Times gives a realistic view of how a US-led war versus Iran might unfold.
But the real question, the true question, is why we are speculating about a US war with Iran at all… after Afghanistan, after Libya, after Iraq, after Lebanon, after Gaza, Yemen and Syria. For well in excess of twenty years the United States has attempted to bolster its position as a failing superpower by any genocidal means possible, whether via the use of force or by the weaponization of the US dollar. The United States created a monster in 1979 by fomenting terror as a weapon of foreign policy, and like Dr Frankenstein consumed by his own monster, the United States is aided by the virtual Igor of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Briefly, the United States proved itself to be a treacherous Bad Actor with regard to the JCPOA, by shafting Iran’s allies the Palestinian people with a ridiculous joke of a “deal” proposed by Trump’s son; by renewed sanctions, by weaponizing SWIFT, by provoking and inciting the public with war rhetoric, and by transferring troops and carriers to the Gulf region.
And that is why it is so important that Russia and China – ironically considered authoritarian regimes by the west — must step in to assist Iran. But what can Russia and China truly do? So far Russia has come out with strong public statements about its support for Iran, but has not publicly revealed how it will counter US sanctions versus the country.
Russia has not yet revealed strategic plans to arm or assist Iran in the event of a US attack, but that could be a matter of state secrecy. In typical fashion, China has issued more tangential public statements about Iran, urging the west to exercise restraint, while it has provided advanced missile technology to Iran that has so concerned the US.
Will Russia and China do more to reign back the global Hegemon? They must. Because the two nations so ironically considered to be authoritarian by the west, may be the only hope for the west – and for the world – to finally vanquish the Frankenstein monster of war and destruction that Dr Frankenstein’s Washington created so long ago.
*Somehow the current US State ideology of militarism has become associated with “anti-Globalism” but the core ideology is forcefully-imposed Mercantilism. https://www.britannica.com/topic/mercantilism
Steve Brown is the author of “Iraq: the Road to War” (Sourcewatch) editor of “Bush Administration War Crimes in Iraq” (Sourcewatch) “Trump’s Limited Hangout” and “Federal Reserve: Out-sourcing the Monetary System to the Money Trust Oligarchs Since 1913”; Steve is an antiwar activist, a published scholar on the US monetary system, and has appeared as guest contributor to theDuran, Fort Russ News, and Strategika51.