Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Iran, Obama, The Election

It was inevitable, no? As we move, precariously, towards the election of 2012, Iran fucks with President Obama just as it fucked with President Carter. Iran, mind you, is where the game of Chess was invented; Iran, mind you, is on the verge of The Bomb.

Further, Iran fucking with President Obama means that the President has to clamp down because the Jewish vote -- of which Obama got upwards of 70% in 2008, influencing crucial states like Florida -- as well as his own strong reputation on foreign policy is at stake. Also, our Sunni Muslim allies in the region -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, et al -- will be involved in an escalating arms race to get the bomb the moment Iran has it in order to set the balance-of-power equation back in equilibrium. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East -- the most unstable and volatile region on the planet -- is a nightmare. So the fact that the President has to clamp down for his political own survival means that Bibi Netanyahu has an unnatural leverage over the White House. And Netanyahu -- for reasons that he perceives to be existential for the state of Israel -- wants Obama to make sure Iran never gets The Bomb.

Then, of course, there is the question of oil prices. Nothing gets the middle class more infuriated than high or rising oil prices. And Obama -- attentive to his base, the middle class -- has done quite well, with the help of the immensely evil Saudi royal family -- in keeping oil prices down. But tamping down on Iran in the ramp up to November could fuck this whole shit up.

Holy fuck! So what is a President to do? From STRATFOR:
"When Iran began the year with military exercises to highlight the threat it could pose to the Strait of Hormuz, Stratfor laid out the basic framework of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Both countries have defined their red lines. Iran raises the prospect of closing the Strait of Hormuz or detonating a nuclear device. The United States moves its naval carriers into the Persian Gulf to raise the prospect of a military strike. Both remind each other of their respective red lines, yet both stay clear of them because the consequences of crossing them are simply too great.
"The situation calls for a broader accommodation. Over the past decade, Iran and the United States have struggled in negotiations toward such an accommodation. At the heart of the negotiation is Iraq -- a core vulnerability to Iran's western flank if under the influence of a hostile power and Iran's energy-rich outlet to the Arab world. The United States has tried to maintain a foothold in Iraq, but there is little question that Iraq now sits in an Iranian sphere of influence. With Iraq now practically conceded to Iran, the other components of the negotiation are largely reduced to atmospherics.

Iran's biggest deterrent rests in its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The leverage Tehran holds over the strait allows Iran room to negotiate over its nuclear program. Of course, the United States would prefer that Iran abandon its nuclear ambitions and will continue efforts to impede the program, but a nuclear Iran might in the end be tolerated as long as Washington and Tehran have an understanding that allows for the free flow of oil through the strait. Everything from the sanctions campaign to U.S. covert backing of Syrian rebels to the nuclear program becomes negotiable. As the Iranians put it, a path has been created for a 'face-saving solution' that would allow both to walk away from the dialogue looking good in front of their constituencies, but would also require the sacrifice of some of the levers they have gained in the course of the negotiation.

With only four months until the U.S. election, it is difficult to imagine that this negotiation will reach the point of a strategic understanding between Washington and Tehran."

Of all the stories about the upcoming election, from the foreign policy angle the Iran-American relationship will be the kost interesting. Read more: Negotiations Behind U.S. Sanctions Against Iran | Stratfor

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