It seems that Benjamin Netanyahu, the unofficial but de facto leader of the world’s Neoconservatives, wishes to tie up his loose ends with Tehran– he has been trying to overthrow the Iranian regime for over 20 years now. Yet, overthrowing the Iranian regime by force would undoubtedly increase the possibility of a nuclear conflict in the whole region. It would also provoke an unprecedented chain of catastrophe throughout the entire region.
It is enough to remember for just one minute what happened as a result of the Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria campaigns, to understand the sheer scale of events which will unfold if a strong country like Iran will be attacked. Nothing will be the same in the world after such a war, even if it remains conventional.
But there is also a strong probability such a war won’t remain conventional for a very simple reason… It is more than clear, based on the experience of the Iraq war, that the US Army does not have the capacity to defeat Iran by conventional military means.
The contingency plans drafted by the US military for the use of nuclear weapons in Iran had been revealed in 2006 by Seymour Hersh in the Washington Post. At the time, however, US-Russia relations were in much better shape and the risk of a conflict escalating at a regional or global level was nowhere as high as it is today.
For over two decades, Netanyahu has been held back in his most reckless plans by the opposition of Israeli and U.S. high ranking military personnel, by successive heads of MOSSAD and U.S. secret services and, of course, by President Obama and Zbigniew Brzezinski. But now, the Israeli prime minister is more than ever before in control of his general staff, of MOSSAD and of Washington itself! The neocon – “nationalist” faction of the western-Israeli establishment was never so powerful as it is today, even in Europe through Bannon and the majority of the European “radical right”– first of all Italy’s Salvini, who pretends to be a close friend of Russia, but is Israel’s best friend. He is also close to Netanyahu and the Americans (his positions on the Middle East, on Venezuela and his opposition to the Chinese – Italian agreements are crystal clear for that matter).
The role of the European “Radical Right”
It is outside the scope of this article to examine the deep and interesting question of the international policy of the European Radical or Far Right, which seems to have replaced Jewish bankers with Islam as its enemy No 1, something quite convenient for the Israeli party of War, which has suddenly forgot its anti-antisemitism in dealing with them. If we speak, for instance, about Le Pen, she seems rather genuinely pro-Russian, as she is trying to pretend to be an heir to Gaullism, at least in part. But even then, we cannot be sure what she will do under pressure. Words are cheap, especially in our historical context. Politicians of all kinds seem to be more the product of behind the scenes “conspiracies” and palace manipulations and intrigues than to represent genuine socio-political currents. Sometimes they are even obviously unconscious of the role they really play. As for Salvini for instance, no one can have serious doubts that he wants to be the best ally of Israel and the US. He says he is pro-Russian, but what position he would adopt in a new Middle East conflict or in a US-Russia conflict? That is the only serious criterion.
The only genuine friends and allies of Russia in the West have been historically Communists and genuine Gaullists because they had important, organic reasons of their own to be friends. On the other hand, we must not forget the enormous and tragic experience of the interwar period. German National Socialists, for instance, portrayed themselves as an anti-capitalist force (as today’s radical nationalists pretend to be anti-globalization forces), accumulating thus enormous political power which they finally put at the service of the German (and international) Big Capital!
German Nazis pretended they were friends of Stalin’s Russia and even wished to conclude with Moscow a kind of co-dominion over Europe. Marshal Zhukov himself describes in great detail in his Memoires the tragic wake-up that followed those delusions.
By the way, the Tsipras – SYRIZA U-turn phenomenon is not especially Greek or leftist. It could easily be repeated on the Far Right tomorrow just as it occurred on the Greek “Left”, whose leadership was eventually successfully (and unconsciously up to a point) manipulated by the Americans and “Deep Finance”. And it is under President Trump, the supposed friend of Russia and anti-war politician, that we approached more closely than at any other time since 1963, the prospect of a world nuclear conflict!
It has been proven, time and again, that nobody can win over Russia in a direct clash. The only way to attempt to “conquer” it, is by trying to exploit the enormous wish for international stability of the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian elites and pretend to recognize them as equal partners. This is what happened before WWII and this is also what happened with the Gorbachev and Yeltsin teams of “reformers”. Of course, it seems very improbable and unlikely that such a scenario could be repeated under the present leadership of Russia, especially with the enormous accumulated experience, including the experience of three decades of Western interventions in Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Ukraine.
Neocons and Globalizers
There are now two camps competing for influence on the Mount Olympus of the Global Empire of Finance; the Globalizers of the Soros / Fukuyama type and the Neoconservatives the “Nationalists” of the Huntington / Netanyahu brand.
Both are committed to the same strategic goal, the domination of the whole planet by the dictatorship of Finance, of the Bankers, or, to be more precise, by the politically and strategically coherent wing of the international Financial Capital.
Both, whatever they pretend, are absolutely hostile to the idea of huge entities, like Russia or China, or anybody else for that matter, commanding any serious degree of autonomy. Both understand the world globally and not regionally, as do sometimes their opponents. Both are radical and not conservatives like many of their opponents, which makes them more adapted and effective in an era of deep systemic crisis and radical change.
Where those two camps inside the Empire differ sharply is in the methods and ideologies used to attain their strategic goals and dominate the world.
Globalizers believe they can attain their goals by mainly economic tools and by pushing the world towards a multi-national melting pot, where Homo Economicus will prevail over other elements of human identity, like national identity, any strong non-economic system of values (like traditional religions and strong ideologies) or even gender. They keep somehow a (rapidly declining) shadow of the optimist and progressive form (not content) of post-WWII capitalism of mass consumption and a kind of dedication to the values of political liberalism, even if it tends to be devoid of any content.
On the opposite end, the Neocon-“Nationalists” are fundamentally pessimistic, they don’t believe in the progress of humans, or humans themselves. The most important point of the classic essay by Odet Yinon, on an Israeli strategy for the ‘80s, is not so much its opposition to socialism, or the adoption of a strategy inspired probably by Haushofer’s ideas for the Middle East: it is his deep contempt of the human race itself and his denunciation of Humanism.
For them, only violence matters. We are playing with the rules of Mars in order for you to be able to live in the world of Venus, one of the architects of the Iraq War, Richard Perle used to say to the address of the Europeans while launching this military campaign. The neocon argument goes like that: Until the time the globalizers attain their goals, Nations and Religions do exist, so instead of pretending they don’t, it is better to use their differences and to rule by dividing them and pushing them to wars between themselves. For this, Huntington drafted a complete hierarchy of civilizations, beginning from the absolute enemies, Islam and the Orthodox nations (that is Russians and Greeks in particular) to possible allies like the Anglo-Saxons, behind a world center of final power, a Dictator in the sense of Carl Schmitt, who remains invisible and unnamed in his works.
Chaos is the best method to justify and bring their Dictatorship. They are not really against Globalization, because Globalization is not anything else than the world domination of capitalist relations of production and distribution and the accompanying culture and they cannot be really against it. They simply want to rewrite its rules to the advantage of the US.
They don’t need any of the democratic, optimistic, progressive elements of early Capitalism. Their ideology reflects the characteristics of the Financial “Disaster Capitalism”, a kind of Financial neo-Feudalism. They don’t apply the traditional Imperialism of Conquest, but a new form of Imperialism of Catastrophe, destroying the countries – victims. Their more extremist wing, in the form of Christian Zionists, Evangelicals and others, is professing clearly an Apocalypse, using the language of Jesus Christ to describe a religion of Death.
Netanyahu knows that there will be no better opportunity to strike Iran than now, when his like-minded friends, the neoconservatives Bolton and other national security advisors to president Trump, rule over US politics. If not now, then when? If not with them, then with whom?
The only serious argument against such a war they may take into account is the probability of Iran responding by attacking Israel, putting at stake its very existence. But we are not in a position to be sure about the way Israeli planners do quantify such a risk and how they react to it and also of the real capacity of Iran to do that or of the Israeli perception of such a risk. Much will also depend from the signals emanating from the other capitals, like Moscow and Beijing.
One argument which is also pushing Neocons to action is that the alternative is maybe even worse, from the point of view of the Israeli and American Parties of War. The Neocons did not begin the chain of interventions to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. to end with the Middle East dominated by Iran, Russia and their allies and constructing Chinese commercial corridors!
The Middle East is a complex region. It is also a kind of “fractal” for world antagonisms. The same arguments used to substantiate the case of a war against Iran, are also used for going to war with Russia or China. After all, China must be stopped before its economic and technological rise makes it unstoppable. It is already too late to stop it and the same seems true about the reaffirmation of Russian military might. If you want to do it there is not much time left, if any.
This is one fundamental factor which is pushing Israeli and American planners to a kind of “Madman strategy”.
But even if all that is a bluff, it is nonetheless e trapping all the sides ever more imperceptibly into a situation where there will be no easy way back, even if the initial intention was not to launch a war and where the risk of miscalculation or mistake will increase exponentially. This is particularly the case in an environment of extreme cyber insecurity, defying the capacity of the human mind to control the situation.
The Venezuelan example
The neocon lobby has so far failed to materialize a coup in Venezuela or to bring about an invasion, for the following reasons:
First, Maduro’s government enjoys the support of the majority of the people and the army. Even though they may have their own problems with their government, they are fully aware of the type of regime that the US wants to impose on them.
Second, because of the decisiveness of Russia.
Third, because of the reaction of the US military, which, being an instrument in the service of the American empire, may occasionally find itself in opposition to the interests of the Empire of finance, especially of extremists such as Netanyahu and the neoconservatives.
Army against Neocons and the Lobby
The same thing happened in the summer of 2018, when Defence Minister Mattis and General Dumford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put a halt to the plans for wider airstrikes in Syria. All things being equal, the role they played appears as a striking parallel to that of President Kennedy and his brother, when they prevented a nuclear world war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both Kennedy brothers were subsequently murdered while Mattis was forced to resign.
We probably see another episode of the same crisis those days with the replacement of the acting Defence Secretary Shanahan who, only a month earlier, went on record to say that US goal is deterrence, not war with Iran.
Deep down there are forces in the American state which continue to view things differently from the neoconservatives. Will the same thing that happened in Venezuela, happen in Iran? Or will there be an “Apocalypse”?
The opposition of the US military to the prospect of wars in Iran or Venezuela is a reflection of two deep contradictions. The first one comes out of the opposition of the US military to the growing influence of the pro-Israel lobby. US Military personnel does not understand why their country has to wage Israel’s wars in the Middle East. As simple as that. The second is the inevitable opposition between the North American State, even if Imperial, born after all out of a bourgeois revolution two centuries ago and the invisible, but getting quickly stronger than any state, world Empire of Finance. Military people and, to some extent, secret services personnel, are not like Wall Street financiers. They are educated to serve a State, a Nation, a Country, even if it is an Imperial one.
So far the Trump administration has proven to be a “dog that barks but never bites”… but one can only go so far. It’s like playing with fire, in this case, the fire of nuclear war. Some of the most important names amongst the American elite status quo have warned about this possibility.
In the mid- and long- term, only the emergence of political and social forces, both in the North and in the South, oriented towards a democratic, social, ecological multi-polar system and a fundamentally new civilization paradigm will be able to offer a viable alternative for dealing with the risks facing humanity; risks, which undoubtedly are at the most serious point in its entire history.
Unless we produce a different social and international order and a different civilization in short order, Humanity will not survive this century. Both aspiring Dominants and likely Dominated won’t survive, no class and nation. Even in times of massive “fake Realities”, “real Reality” is stubborn and we don’t have much to gain by adapting our plans to our wishes or filtered perceptions.