The Real Threat From Iran

John Glaser, March 12, 2012

The conflict with Iran is framed as a conflict over nuclear proliferation. So important is it, we are told, that Iran does not get nuclear weapons, that we could risk war and death and suffering and trillions of dollars to prevent it.

But the story gets bizarre after we find out that U.S. intelligence has repeatedly concluded with high confidence that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so. Even the supposedly controversial IAEA report found that there was no evidence Iran had enriched uranium beyond the 20 percent threshold and in fact no evidence that Iran had diverted any nuclear material for a clandestine weapons program.

So why the aggressive posture towards Iran? Why have we heaped the harshest set of economic sanctions in the world on Iran – which Columbia University Professor Gary Sick has called “an act of war”? Why do we have Iran militarily encircled with military bases and client states? Why have we supported Israeli proxy terrorism on Iranian soil? Why is it that not a week goes by without an explicit threat of preventive attack on Iran? It can’t be for the nuclear weapons program: it doesn’t exist.

In the years following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which brought the current rulers to power, the framing of the conflict with Iran was quite different. It’s true, U.S. and Israeli officials have been falsely claiming an Iranian nuclear bomb is right around the corner since the early 1980s. But the conflict was framed more with the Islamist movement and the possibility that it might spread across the region, changing the governments throughout the Middle East.

In a secret memo written in 1982 to the National Security Council, this framing was recognized. But it was taken an important step further.

The memo goes on to explain that any interruption in the flow of oil “if prolonged for months, would result in a fall in world-wide economic output comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s in the U.S.” It says “whoever is in control of the Gulf’s” oil, “is in a position to have a very large political as well as economic influence in the world.” Iran’s war with Iraq at the time raised concerns in Washington that a possible Iranian victory could lead it to “exert influence” over Iraq and Kuwait and even Saudi Arabia. “We may soon be faced with a situation,” the memo continues, “in which a significant portion of the oil supplies to the West are heavily influenced by Iran or by political forces hostile to the West or by forces unable or uninterested in maintaining the flow of oil.”

Power and influence in the Middle East, and thus the world, was of primary interest in 1982. The same was true in 1954, as a  Top Secret National Security Council briefing explained, “the Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance,” as it “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world” as well as “essential locations for strategic military bases in any world conflict.” And the same is true now.

The aggressive postures, military encirclement, and constant threats of attack make much more sense when framed in the terms actually employed by those who craft our foreign policy, instead of the politicians’ pretext of nuclear weapons proliferation, which is fabricated in the case of Iran, as best we know. Iran is a would-be powerhouse in the region, that must be subdued. Hegemony is ours, not Iran’s or anybody else’s. “Blood for Oil” has become a trite framework for thinking about U.S. policy towards the Middle East; it is dismissed out of hand as not useful for the analysis. Less useful, even, than an imaginary nuclear weapons program.




12 Responses to “The Real Threat From Iran”

  1. It all boils down to one thing after all is said and done. MONEY. Our soldiers are dying and being maimed for stinking money. It makes me sick.

  2. [...] It can’t be for the nuclear weapons program: it doesn’t exist.” – John Glaser, “The Real Threat From Iran,” March 12, 2012. “Just a few days ago I met a well-known American journalist, Mr. Seymour [...]

  3. I think one element of the "concern" here, albeit it not the only 'concern', or even necessarily a controlling one, is similar to a situation where a man beats his son while his son is growing up. When his son gets older, goes through puberty, matures and gets bigger, the man may start to worry about potential payback simply for all the #@$% he did to his son when he was small and couldn't fight back—things that are in the past and cannot be changed, even if what was done in the past is regretted. This isn't a perfect, or even necessarily a "good", analogy for Israel/Iran/US relations; however, I think the general underlying "concern" does factor into the calculus here to a certain degree, and has some merit in the sense such a "concern" isn't out of hand "irrational"—putting aside all of the moral and "justice" questions which may be associated with such a 'situation'.

  4. [...] [...]

  5. [...] The Real Threat From Iran [...]

  6. [...] East – a deal Iran has repeatedly proposed – the tensions would surely vanish, along with the pretext for war. But this remains out of the question for Tel Aviv and [...]

  7. [...] approach, so paralyzing them with fear of attack has little to do with having a nuclear program and much to do with refusing to be subservient to [...]

  8. Unlike Israel, oil companies have not been lobbying for "regime change" in Iran. Unlike Israel, oil companies have a history of working amicably with Muslim countries. Unlike Israel, oil companies have not occupied Arab territory. Unlike Israel, oil companies were not insisting upon taking out Saddam Hussein and bringing democracy to Iraq. Glaser is ignoring the most troublesome part of the picture.

  9. The amazing thing is that so called small government "conservatives" are in favor of this military madness. Soldiers, cops, firefighters, they're all just another form of a government union thug.

  10. What is the The Real Threat From Iran > please share the complete information, I want to know more..I am very very curious to know this.

  11. I heard that thing news.According to this, this is the biggest threat from Iran.Most of the people suffers from this situation.Please save those person who had affected.

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