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October Surprise: War or peace with Iran?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 08:49:12 AM EST

It's a pity that Chris Cook doesn't post here anymore, but his latest piece on the front page of the Asia Times on secret US Iranian negotiations is an excellent discussion of what might yet become a positive "October Surprise" prior to the US Presidential election on Nov. 6th.

Asia Times Online :: Iran talks denial adds debate spice

Firstly, we saw an Iranian ex-Revolutionary Guard insider outlining - in remarkable detail - discussions he claimed had been held between the United States and Iran. These apparently culminated within the past three weeks in high level contacts in Qatar between a close confidante of President Barack Obama - Valerie Jarrett, who was actually born in Iran - and one or more high level Iranian officials.

The outcome of these talks, in respect of which the source was allegedly at the highest level in Iran, was that an agreement between the US and Iran would be announced before the US presidential election takes place on November 6, provided that Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei receives the written guarantees he requires from President Obama.

Given that Romney has made his hawkishness on Iran a centrepiece of his foreign policy, it might also give the President some ammunition for tonight's Presidential debate on foreign policy. However there is one point on which I would disagree with Chris. He goes on to state:


Asia Times Online :: Iran talks denial adds debate spice

President Obama is in a position, if he has the killer instinct, to make life very uncomfortable for the challenger in the upcoming final debate, which will cover foreign policy.

Firstly, Romney would be forced to agree that he too will be prepared to negotiate bilaterally with Iran since he would find it very difficult to hide behind the coat-tails of the 5+1. Secondly, he would find it very difficult to explicitly support a negotiating position that leads to regime change, such as imposing zero enrichment.

Once these issues have been publicly conceded, I have no doubt that Iran will make - whoever is elected - whatever concessions are necessary to meet the requirements of Russia, China, and above all, the European Union. I do not believe that the US is any longer in any position to act unilaterally in the way desired by its long-standing Israeli partners.

Perhaps Romney, if elected, will become more nuanced. Who can say considering he has adopted so many conflicting positions on so many issues? However prior to the election he will be anything but. Determined not to allow any daylight between his foreign policy and Bibi Netanyahu's wet dreams, he will be asking Obama at the debate why he hasn't bombed Iran's nuclear facilities yet, or at least encouraged and enabled Bibi to do so. Romney is for regime change in Iran, so imposing impossible negotiating positions on the Iranian Government is not a problem for him or his Bush era foreign policy advisory team including neo-conservative war mongers like John Bolton.

It remains my nightmare scenario that Netanyahu, despairing of a Romney victory, might launch a nuclear strike on Iran's nuclear facilities prior to the election - to make it very difficult for Obama to respond robustly to what would be the most outrageous use of nuclear weapons of all time - a surprise peacetime attack on a neighbour who has not yet got, nor is close to getting a nuclear bomb or a missile capable of delivering it effectively whilst draconian economic sanctions are already in place and diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse are ongoing.

Netantanya might be forced to resort to using a nuclear warhead because he doesn't have conventional bunker buster bombs capable of destroying Iran's deeply fortified underground facilities, but how would the rest of the world respond to such a provocative and unprecedented use of nuclear weapons? Would it not break the long sustained doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction which has long inhibited the nuclear powers from doing the same? What would happen if Iran's key ally, the Russian Federation, decided that this was an unacceptable attack on its near neighbour and proceeded to launch missiles intended to destroy Israel's long denied nuclear facilities? Civilian as well as military casualties on a large scale would be unavoidable in the case of both attacks.

We would be right back in a cold war scenario - and with a US President denied the means of any nuanced response short of attacking Russia's nuclear facilities and threatening Armageddon. After all it was a US ally which launched the first attack and the Russian response could be construed as no more than a proportionate response. And what then if Iran threatened to send its huge army to its ally Syria (conveniently shoring up its tottering regime) as a base for a possible invasion of Israel? All hell would break loose and the geo-political order which has been relatively stable since the Cold War would once again threaten to collapse - particularly with a President Romney at the helm...

I leave you to discuss such awful but not entirely implausible scenarios...

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I find it hard to believe that the Israeli deep state would allow Binny Yahoo to push any important buttons. They're not suicidal.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 09:43:53 AM EST
They're not suicidal, but happy enough to play Romney and a gullible US electorate for all they're worth so long as they can get more military hardware and "aid" out of it...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 11:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But wouldn't even the gullible US electorate blame Netanyahu for the burnt US embassies afterwards? Can Netanyahu really rely on US support even after such an attack? I'm not sure, but I rather doubt it.
by Katrin on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 11:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US power establishment support Netanyahu, then burnt embassies are always the consequence of Muslem Rage.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:03:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Russia were to bomb Israeli nuclear weapons caches, then a few burnt embassies would be the least of anyone's problems...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If, yes. I don't believe they would though. They would certainly, er, offer help to Iran and its allies by enlarging their Syrian navy base and open one in Iran, I guess. And the US would have Netanyahu to blame. Hm.
by Katrin on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:22:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have thought that their history would have made the Iranians suspect the Russians as much, if not more than, the Americans. The Chinese might be another matter.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Will the US electorate even remember the burnt embassies after the next American exercises his 2nd Amendment rights somewhere in the US a few weeks later?  A more serious problem for Netanyahu might be higher gas prices at the pump.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 12:09:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're not suicidal, but happy enough to play Romney and a gullible US electorate for all they're worth so long as they can get more military hardware and "aid" out of it...

But for that purpose, they don't actually need to damage the Iranian reactors, just make a big, noisy, flashy air strike (in fact for that particular purpose, it would be even better if they fail to damage them).

Which is why I still predict that the Israelis will limit themselves to launching a few desultory air raids and then declare victory and go home. While the Iranians will shoot down a plane or two develop a few Israeli planes some unexplained mechanical malfunctions and declare victory. That way, both sides get a bloody shirt followed by a victory, and it only costs a couple of hundred Iranians and whatever number of Israeli pilots is forced to eject and end up in a sound-proofed basement somewhere.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 03:56:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Efraim Halevy, ex-Mossad chief.
Striking a deal with Iran will be "extremely difficult," Halevy said. "It needs a lot of creativity. And courage, political courage."

"The perception is that Israel is going through the stages of sanctions, etc. not with the idea or conviction that at the end, the other side will yield," he said. "If the purpose was to exert pressure to bring the other side to the table, the rhetoric should be different.

"Obama does think there is still room for negotiations," Halevy said. "It's a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere. In the end, this is what I think: Making foreign policy on Iran a serious issue in the US elections -- what Romney has done, in itself -- is a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel."

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 10:14:52 AM EST
Concocted WND story with source - see October Surprise, A Bogus Story About Iranian Deal. Are these two traitors Hamid Reza Zakeri and Reza Kahlili working for Issa and King?
by Oui on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 02:43:10 AM EST
Note that the Khalili story purported to be based on high level Iranian contacts, while the NYT story was apparently based upon high-level US contacts.

I think both contain elements of truth.

Anyone who thinks that the US government has not been pursuing a very high level back-channel dialogue with Iran (and with an agreement imminent) is living in cloud cuckoo land, and for Obama to use Valerie Jarrett as trusted intermediary (she was born in Shiraz and is very close to Obama) rings true.

The Iranian top brass are in deep shit, and they know they are in deep shit. They have no good moves, as I said here.

Ahmadinejad is a busted flush having flown too near the sun last year when he attempted and failed to get control of the Intelligence Ministry. The Sepah came down against the President, and what we are seeing now is the emergence of new factions within the ruling conservative clique.

At the moment no new faction has a uniting ideology, although it is quite clear that Islam will not be it.

Iran is no more ruled by Islam now, than Russia was Communist under Yeltsin. What we are seeing is a clone of the oligarchic power struggles which took place in Russia in respect of privatised natural resources.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 08:56:52 AM EST
option at link. Why has China suddenly become $ poor - surely its oil bill with Iran is relatively small change for them? Are they annoyed the Iran risk premium is keeping oil prices up?
 

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 06:37:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Krugman has recently covered the issue of China's dollars.

An Issue Whose Time Has Passed - NYTimes.com

In 2010 an undervalued renminbi was a significant drag on advanced economies, including the United States. Since then, however, two big things have happened: relatively high inflation in China, and some appreciation of the renminbi against the dollar. As a result, the real exchange rate of China against the United States (based on consumer prices), has appreciated significantly:

At the same time. China's surplus has come way down:

(Follow link for graphs)

So while China does still have a ton of dollars (if they have not exchanged them for some other currency) they are not gaining dollars as fast anymore.

No, it don't answer your question :)

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 07:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Izabella Kaminska is good on this.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 06:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far from trying to manipulate the value of the  Renminbi downwards as a means of boosting China's trade surplus - as alleged by the US and Romney in particular - China is actually trying to shore up the value of the Renminbi as best it can, and running out of dollars in trying to do so?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 07:04:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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