Dr. Binoy Kampmark
HEGEMONS are never going to sound too sensible when they lock horns or joust in spats of childish anger. Power corrupts, not merely in terms of perspective but language, and making sense about the next move, the next statement, is bound to be challenging.
The Iran-US standoff is finding a surge of increments, provocations
Despite not being part of the JCPOA anymore, the Trump administration persists in sticking its oar in the matter.
With such moves to strangle Iran’s economic feelers, it is little wonder that Rouhani has called on “surgery” to be performed on the JCPOA, one far more effectual than “the painkiller pills of the last year”. Such a process, he promised, was “for saving the deal, not destroying it.”
News this week that Saudi Arabian oil tankers had been sabotaged near the Strait of Hormuz had its effect, even if the Trump administration has yet to pin its
What if Iran retaliates and shuts down the Strait of Hormuz?
“The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack”.
To reporters in the Oval Office, Trump was keen to make his usual remarks about happiness, or its absence, if things turned out to be darker than he thought. “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that.” What, pressed reporters, did the president mean by a “bad problem”? “You can figure it out for yourself. They know what I mean by it.”
A campaign of “maximum pressure”
Brian Hook, the US State Department’s special envoy on Iran, has been doing the circuit in Europe with Washington’s allies, hoping to stir some action against the meddling mullahs in a campaign of “maximum pressure”. “Everything we are doing,” Hook tried to reason with the Sunday Times, “is defensive.” Secretary of State Mark Pompeo also journeyed to Brussels to stir the matter. According to Hook,
“The secretary shared information and intelligence with allies and discussed the multiple plot vectors emerging from Iran.”
What a boon Iran is proving to be for the parched hawks, an endless well of threat, much of it imaginary, to draw upon in the hope of actual military engagement.
National Security Advisor John Bolton is making do with the situation, creating much mischief, turning the furniture and belongings of the entire diplomatic stable inside out like a brat in search of attention. He blames Iran, naturally, for “a number of troubling and
B-52 bombers in the Persian Gulf
Washington is certainly keen to make it a bad problem, a habit it has fallen into during stretches of its violent and imperial history. At Bolton’s instigation, an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are being deployed to the Persian Gulf on the supposedly clear grounds that Iran and its proxies are readying themselves for a strike on US forces in the region, bringing to mind similar provocations sought to stoke a potential conflict.
The planning of Operation Prairie Fire was one such ignominious example, designed to provoke Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya into a military incident in 1986. In what seemed to be a true overegging of the pudding, US Navy Task Force 60 involved three aircraft carriers operating in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast. They were involved in exercises falling within that most stretched of terms: freedom-of-navigation. Prairie Fire turned out to be a bellicose affair, with Task Force 60 put on essentially a wartime footing. Military exercises were duly conducted to stir the beast; patrols along the coast were conducted. The beast responded with some six surface-to-air missiles. A Libyan patrol boat was duly obliterated with some satisfaction, along with two more naval vessels and a missile site in Sirte.
“We now consider all approaching Libyan forces,” claimed the White House note with some smugness, “to have hostile intent.”
US-Iran encounters in the Strait of Hormuz are also not new: the Iran-Iraq War, one which saw the US throw in its lot with Saddam Hussein’s invading armies against the Iranian Republic, featured a fair share of attacks on merchant shipping. The importance of the Strait to shipping and international traffic is again coming into play.
Trump has remained inflexible and obstinate regarding Iran. In these calculations, the silver lining of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un shines far brighter than any the Islamic Republic of Iran might have. But by any referee’s estimate of recent conduct by Trump and company, Washington must be seen as responsible for the most aggravating fouls.
[Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]]
(Source: Global Research)
Dr. Binoy Kampmark