What Will Happen With Iran?
Will there be a war in the Persian Gulf in 2012? Will America provoke Iran, or secretly encourage an Israeli attack? There is a way to answer these questions with a high degree of confidence.
For the last several years there has been a persistent rumor that Washington plans to preemptively strike Iran (to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power). Despite all the hand-wringing, no attack has occurred – and for good reason. The United States learned a hard lesson after the invasion of Iraq. War is expensive and the path to victory is not easy. Furthermore, there are economic consequences for attacking Iran; namely, higher oil prices.
In the long run, short of massive military strikes or a revolution against the clerical regime, Iran is going to become a nuclear power. This inevitability is something that frightens many people in Israel and the United States. There is the feeling that the clerical regime is willing to martyr itself, to use nuclear weapons without regard for consequences. The central concern can be framed as a question: Is Iran led by dangerous fanatics?
Since American military power is decisive in this matter, the answer must come from President Barack Obama. He is the Commander-in-Chief. He is the man with ultimate authority. What does Obama believe about the Iranian government? First, he has repeatedly expressed the desire for improved relations with Iran. “We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs,” says the President’s Web site. “We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community.”
Obama does not appear to relish the idea of a war with Iran. He does not even appear eager for sanctions. Consider a recent report from Reuters (Netanyahu deputy “disappointed” with Obama on Iran). Here the vice prime minister of Israel is quoted as saying that Obama now hesitates to actually impose sanctions “for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations.” Consider, as well, the Los Angeles Times story of last month, Senate challenges Obama on Iran. According to this story, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved new sanctions on Iran despite “heated warnings from administration officials that such a move could shake oil prices and jolt the struggling economy.”
On 31 December Obama was forced to sign the Senate’s new sanctions. In response, Iran initiated military exercises in the Gulf and threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. Afraid that the situation might spiral out of control, Obama wrote to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asking for direct talks. White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor outlined the president’s position as follows: “The U.S. remains committed to engaging with Tehran and finding a diplomatic solution.”
President Obama is not going to war with Iran if he can help it. He does not particularly like sanctions, though he has authorized them. The Iranians are fully aware of the president’s attitude. They know that the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Israeli leaders on Friday against an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They also know that Israel is bound to comply with Obama’s wishes. And so, the Iranians have little to worry about aside from sanctions (which they will weather with help from their Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan friends).
With a fairly high degree of confidence I can say there will not be a war in the Persian Gulf this year. If sanctions bring the Iranians to the bargaining table, negotiations will not lead anywhere. As for closing the Strait of Hormuz, why should the Iranians do this? Such an action, like the seizure of the American hostages in 1979, would only assure the election of a Republican. Naturally, the Iranians know on what side their bread is buttered.
With the U.S. president emphasizing diplomacy, every effort will be made to keep oil prices low. This is the cornerstone of Obama’s policy, and important for his re-election. The logic of all this is basic, and easy to follow. America will not provoke Iran, nor will she secretly encourage Israeli to do so – in 2012.
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