Closing in on Iran

Modified Map of World War IV Diplomacy Variant by Tom Reinecker

The recent months have seen increased tensions between the West and Iran. Actually just heard the news of Iranian protesters attacking the British Embassy in Tehran in response to new sanctions. This is particularly because of the fact that the world is convinced that Iran has developed the capacity to build nuclear weapons, as their nuclear program has been underway for quite some time now. Having another “Islamic bomb” in the region is an idea that the world is not comfortable with of course, which is one of the reasons why attacking Iran is widely seen as something acceptable.

Israel has the greatest concerns about Iran and because of Israel, the United States is the most concerned party. Although the Iranian rivalry with Israel is nothing new but the recent threats have further escalated the tensions. Israel has been known for its tendency to carry out preemptive strikes against possible threats, such as the Operation Opera in 1981, which involved more than a dozen F-16s and F-15s flying deep into Iraq and pulverizing the Iraqi nuclear reactor, which was allegedly a step to achieve Iraqi nuclear ambitions.

The question is whether it will be as easy to carry out such an attack on the Iranian nuclear plants. However, that hardly matters. What we should be concerned about is whether the conflict of Iran with the United States and Israel will develop into something larger or not. It surely has the potential to, even if it doesn’t. Iran,  like Pakistan but not as pathetically, is surrounded by enemies. Iran will also have to indirectly engage with Saudi Arabia and the UAE should such a conflict break out in the form of a war.

Should the United States and Israel attack Iran, it would be interesting to see how other powers would react to it. Most of the powers around the world except for the United States have been avoiding conventional warfare for quite some time now. Probably the only exception in recent times has been that of the Russian campaign against Georgia in the South Ossetia War in 2008. Other than that, the wars in the world has been pretty much about Terror, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also it would be interesting to see if Pakistan is also included as a target, which is not something out of the ordinary.

Israel has no direct threat from Pakistan. Pakistan has almost never threatened Israel but the United States has serious doubts about its commitment against fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. And perhaps rightly so. However, the conflict in Pakistan has been something of an everyday routine, especially ever since President Barack Obama has assumed office. This has been further escalated by the assassination of Osama Ben Laden in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad, and the very fact that the world’s most wanted man was present there. But anyway.

The world is pretty much losing patience with America’s wars, though not everyone has the power, the influence, the money or even moral courage to speak against it. The only powers which could offer the United States a tough time in convincing the world to take action against Iran are Russia, China, France and Germany. India, an emerging global power, can certainly not be trusted in this regard, although India and Iran enjoy good relations. Actually, even better relations than Pakistan.

But then again, India hardly has poor relations with any country in the world. Even her relations with China are not as bad as many perceive. But India has done a great job in the area of diplomacy for decades and is now harvesting the fruit of its efforts. India would certainly not mind an attack on Iran as long as its interests are not harmed, especially since it is aimed to protect Israel. So would not Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have their interests aligned with the United States and Israel and are not really fond of Iran.

France and Germany may go ahead with the war plan too, since after all, they are not comfortable with the defiant and reckless Iranian President in office and the intentions of the state with a nuclear bomb at its disposal. After all, Iran has a record of threatening Israel directly a number of times and enjoys great influence in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza Strip, Israel’s adversaries for a long time. Now, that leaves us with China and Russia.

China is an interesting case. It is pretty much like India. It focuses on its economy and tries to distance itself from armed conflict. China wants more buyers instead of more enemies, so it could allow the attack on Iran as well. This leaves Russia as the only hope that Iran has in the world. Alright, war is nothing new in the Middle East. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former American National Security Advisor, actually calls the Middle East and West Asia region the new Balkans in whatever he refers to as the Grand Chessboard. So we have had wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why is Iran important?

Fall of Iran will mean a complete shift of the balance of power in the Middle East in the favor of the United States. Iran is the second largest oil exporter in the world. Saudi Arabia is the first. If Iran attacks Saudi Arabia, it could mean great problems for the United States. Even more if Iran has enough capability to strike back at Israel. We have often heard about the possibility of a “Third World War”. Well, this is as close as we can come to a Third World War in the present scenario.

Even if China does not directly get involved in the war, it will certainly not approve of the idea of an attack on Iran. Not that China likes Iran too much, but because it would not want the absolute hegemony of the United States in the world. Russia, also, is not as weak as many perceive it to be and would want to do all it can to block the United States to develop its influence in the parts of the world hostile to it. And with Putin back in office, it means a tougher Russia as far as opposition to the ambitions of United States is concerned.

So what if Russia actually comes to Iran’s help. Although it looks unlikely if you think about it. As Pakistan is also attacked every now and then by the NATO forces and I also expect more of that in the future, it is also possible that Pakistan sees a US attack imminent on its soil and joins hands with Iran for a war against the US forces in the region, especially in Afghanistan.

It is possible that such a conflict could expand to such an extent but it is also a good possibility that it could remain confined to the minimum, such as further imposing economic sanctions or maybe even operatives in Iran carrying out attacks. However, you can safely say that a US or Israeli attack on Iran could have some serious consequences on world peace. Especially if Iran has already developed nuclear weapons.

Whether or not Iran attacks Israel with its nuclear arms, if it is capable of that in the first place, it certainly can be expected to retaliate in a brutal manner if the US openly declares war against it. The safety of Israel will be the primary problem for the United States. Even Syria could jump into the conflict and it would also be interesting to see Turkey’s reaction, especially with the current conservative regime.

But looking into the sequence of events, the so-called war on terror has been actually a systematic and organized establishment of US fortifications in the Middle East. This looks like a careful plan to take further action in the Middle East and any power in the shoes of the United States would really have no reason to stop, despite pressures at home and a troubled economy.

Governments and states around the world are, or seem to be, more concerned with their larger role in the world instead of the welfare of their people, at least those of the major and minor geostrategic powers which regularly engage in armed conflicts. So it is safe to say that the wars of the United States are not going to end in the Middle East any time soon enough and the stage is all set for action against Iran.

However, it would be a good idea for other powers to block the United States from taking any such action to keep the balance of power from worsening, especially Russia and China, or even France and Germany. But that is needed even more so to avoid the possible destruction that could result from it.

The question to ask is this. Can the world afford a war against Iran?

Not because it is plausible or not, but because of the cost and the effect.

Or should we start preparing for World War III.  Middle East Style.

Hope not.