[Given the noteworthy responses from our readers, we will here post those letters—as many as possible, both positive and critical—as we did in the past for CovertAction Quarterly. Feel free to write your letters as responses to articles we publish, or on other matters you see pertinent. Our goal is to provide a space for lively debate. Please send your letters to info@CovertActionMagazine.com.—Editors]

RE: Iran in the Crosshairs: Tracing Overt and Covert Action, by Eric Walberg – November 28, 2020

Terrific piece in CA magazine. As you are well aware, the US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading military and economic power. Since that time US hegemony has been predicated on: 1) unrivaled military power, 2) control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the ME), and 3) maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. All of the pillars supporting US power are now threatened by decades of neoliberal economic policies and spending large sums of taxpayer money on the military.

The US/UK have not recovered from the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran has two things the US covets: 1) the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and largest natural gas reserves, 2) geostrategic position in the Middle East—between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia and abuts the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic “choke point” through which circa 25% of the world’s energy transits. In a prescient piece published several years ago, Dan Glazebrook pointed out—“The reason for this obsession with destroying Iran—shared by all factions of the Western ruling class, despite their differences over means—is obvious: Iran’s very existence as an independent state threatens imperial control of the region—which in turns underpins both US military power and the global role of the dollar.” (See: Trump’s delusional Iran oil gambit is decades too late by Dan Glazebrook RT July 9, 2018; Link: www.rt.com/op-ed/432418-iran-trump-china-tariffs)

Despite facing continuous military threats and economic sanctions from the US, UK and other western Imperialist powers since 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has developed a formidable defensive military capability which has no doubt deterred direct military attacks from the US/Israel and positioned Iran as a major power broker in the region. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has concluded that- ‘Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe.’ (See: Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of Iran,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, last modified July 16, 2020, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/iran). The comprehensive energy and security agreement recently negotiated with China will provide Iran with much needed investment to further develop their energy and technical sectors and allow Iran to bypass US economic sanctions and further decrease their reliance on the US dollar for international trade. In addition, this agreement will increase Iran’s national security by backstopping them with Chinese, Russian and potentially Pakistani nuclear weapons.

The ‘changing of the guard’ at the White House replaces Trump with Joe Biden (aka ‘Credit Card’ Joe), who throughout his 5 decades of ‘public service’ has been a dependable representative of the State, carrying water for the Pentagon, Military contractors, large banks, insurance companies and Wall St. Biden was the clear choice of the financial elite running the country, as The Biden/Harris campaign received the majority of Wall St. donations, including Michael Bloomberg’s $100 million pledge. 

Biden heads an American state in economic decline, accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment has soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression, with millions of American families facing financial ruin, eviction from their homes, food insecurity and loss of medical insurance. As a result, the CBO estimates 2020 Fiscal deficit of $3.1 Trillion, obviously unsustainable. At the same time, the continued functioning (and very survival) of the American Empire requires a constant infusion of taxpayer-backed funds to- keep equities on Wall St inflated (circa $7 trillion from FED in 2020), support the Pentagon and looming strategic debacles in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, from which they have derived little imperial rent. To put this in perspective, post-911 conflicts have cost US taxpayers circa $6.4 trillion, while displacing/killing 37 million people (likely low estimates; See: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar).

No amount of jingoistic and bellicose rhetoric from politicians in Washington changes this reality. The Pentagon is incapable of extricating itself from these conflicts, as doing so is an admission of failure and by extension military weakness. Given these financial and geopolitical realities, one would hope that the Biden administration will think twice about escalating tension with Iran. Unfortunately, Empires in decline do not always behave rationally.  

Paul B.
Swarthmore, PA

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