Does Washington want war with Iran?

11 Apr

Amid the red mists of war, and swirling uncertainty of times which bear out Lenin’s adage that there are decades when nothing happens – and weeks where decades happen, commentators who’ve earned the right to be taken seriously may differ even on major questions.

Take Israel’s genocide in Gaza and, more to the point here, its many provocations in the region; most recently the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, hence of international law. 1 There’s a broad consensus, among pundits 2 who’ve been right on so many things on which corporate media either lied or simply got wrong, that the only party to want war with Iran – or more precisely, to want a US war with Iran – is Israel. 3 Those pundits may start from diverse points and worldviews, but are of one mind on this. 4

Before I get to an expert of equal stature who takes a different view, let me set out what they and he agree on; viz, that Washington’s public hand-wringing, and assiduously leaked tales of Biden and Blinken raging in private about Netanyahu, are meaningless. All that counts is what they do, and what they do is enable genocide in every way: arming the rogue state, shielding it from UN censure and, where that’s too big an ask, violating international law – which requires that mass murder be prevented.

Not armed and bankrolled.

Prior to Russia gaining the upper hand in America’s proxy war in Ukraine, and all that followed the Gaza Uprising of October 7, my grasp of US-Israeli relations was set out in a 2019 review of Stephen Gowans’ Israel: a beachhead in the Middle East. That tome does what it says on the tin, making the case that Israel is a core part of America’s policy, itself a continuation of Britain’s and France’s, to control an oil-rich and geo-strategically vital region by sowing discord as per the divide and rule playbook. To this end the relationship between the USA and Israel is that of a violent hegemon, whose ebbing fortunes make it more dangerous than ever, to the unruly but subaltern state it uses as hammer and regional crow bar.

I now believe that too determinist a view, its excessive materialism paying too little heed to the role of folly, venality and cowardice, and the extent to which America’s deep state is a snake pit of conflictual and even rogue agendas. In sum I believe the concept of Israel as a beachhead for US imperialism gets things broadly right but there’s devilry in such details as the Israel Lobby’s highly developed capacity to shape US foreign policy even to America’s detriment. 5

(As ever, such assessments are subject to the game-changing caveat that all understandings of a nation’s interest will be wide of the mark when they fail to factor in the divergent agendas of ruled and ruling classes. This is doubly the case under colonialism and imperialism – witness the poverty within Victorian Britain at its imperial zenith; and relative affluence of its workers from 1945-90, even as British colonialism was being dismantled. 6 )

That Israel’s future viability depends on widening the war informs its continual efforts, thwarted to date by Tehran not playing ball, to provoke Iran into a response which would drag in the US. This is the view of most if not all the commentators listed in footnote 2, as crisply summarised by US Colonel (Ret.) Douglas McGregor –“Israel must escalate to survive” – and amplified by Jeffrey Sachs in the first three minutes of a withering indictment both of the Israel Lobby, and Washington’s “grotesque” and “pathetic” deference to it.

Here’s Professor Sachs in excoriating form. Note: almost seventeen of his twenty-one minute tongue-lashing, delivered with characteristic cogence, focus on three decades of Washington contempt for Russia. For current purposes, however, a viewing to the 03:22 mark suffices:

In sum, what Jeffrey Sachs and most other voices critical of US-Israeli relations are saying is that Israel, through the undeniable power of a Lobby most visible in the AIPAC, is bent on dragging a reluctant America into a war it neither needs nor wants.

I’m glad Jeffrey is Jewish when those sympathetic to this view of things include too many openly anti-Semitic voices for my liking. But a very different argument is made by Brian Berletic, the ex US Marine who blogs from Bangkok and features often on this site. Unlike Steve Gowans, Brian shows no sign of Marxism but his thesis is highly consistent with that of Israel: a beachhead in the Middle East. Far from being Israel’s hapless handmaiden, both claim, America’s deep state knows exactly what it is doing vis-à-vis Iran.

Brian’s is a compelling case. Granted, for evidence it draws overwhelmingly on a single source but, besides being logically coherent and consistent with known Washington goals and MO, that source is so authoritative in its breadth and detail as to constitute the smokiest of guns.

At issue is a 2009 report of 226 pages by a US Government funded think-tank, The Brookings Institution. Entitled: Which path to Persia? : options for a new American strategy toward Iran, even its list of contents exudes malice and exceptionalist perfidy:

The trouble with Tehran : U.S. policy options toward Iran — Dissuading Tehran : the diplomatic options — An offer Iran shouldn’t refuse : persuasion — Tempting Tehran : the engagement option — Disarming Tehran : the military options — Going all the way : invasion — The Osiraq option : airstrikes — Leave it to Bibi : allowing or encouraging an Israeli military strike — Toppling Tehran : regime change — The velvet revolution : supporting a popular uprising — Inspiring an insurgency : supporting Iranian minority and opposition groups — The coup : supporting a military move against the regime — Deterring Tehran : containment — Accepting the unacceptable : containment — Crafting an integrated Iran policy : connecting the options.

Before handing over to Brian Berletic, who dissects the Brookings paper with trademark clarity and attention to detail in light of subsequent events, it’s worth noting that Washington, in its ‘indispensable nation’ hubris, has a habit of thinking out loud with remarkable candour. It does so via think-tank reports few Westerners will read, and whose key take aways our systemically corrupt media, which lie more by omission than commission, reliably fail to draw our attention to when ruling class agendas require selectively induced amnesia.

Just as Iran, unlike compliant Arab regimes, is an obstacle to US control of the Middle East, so is post Yeltsin Russia an obstacle to US control of Europe, Central Asia and ultimately the asset-rich Russian Federation itself. I only mention this because Washington has commissioned other think-tank reports, equal to the Brooking paper in carefully detailed and chilling prescience. My post, Kazakhstan: why is the steppe on fire? was written in 2022, on the eve of Russia’s SMO of February 24, and recognition two days earlier of Donbass autonomy. That post draws on a 2019 Pentagon-commissioned Rand Report, Extending Russia, offering a smorgasbord of ways to weaken the RF, up to and including provocations in Central Asia and Ukraine.

All have been attempted by Washington. Like the 2009 Brookings paper, the 2019 Rand Report sets out frankly its aims and methods. Again that’s because it will have few readers outside the US ruling class, and foreign governments who already know far better than Elm Street America the true nature of the US Empire.

Back to Brookings and Brian Berletic. I’ve already written too many words, and his glittering but calm lucidity requires no interpretation from me. But allow me one last point.

Brian is not the only empire critic to damn the actions of Hamas on October 7 (something I and others – notably Yanis Varoufakis and Jonathan Cook – refuse to do). But his condemnation differs from that of those, like Alexander Mercouris, who deplore October 7 for its savagery and the genocidal response it knowingly evoked.

It also contrasts with Scott Ritter, who does not condemn Hamas but insists the IDF response played right into its hands. Au contraire, says Brian. Hamas played into Israel’s hands. As with the central question – does the USA seek war with Iran? – he backs this up forensically, through written reports and historic events, to remind us of truths many of us spoke of in the days after October 7, only to lose sight of in all that ensued. These being that:

  • Hamas was a joint Israel-US creation to weaken secular anti-Zionism;
  • Linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, it had close ties to a Qatar regime which, stripped of the pro Palestinian rhetoric all the region’s autocracies must spout as part of a delicate balancing act, is one of the Arab world’s most Israel-compliant;
  • Just as Israel and the US weaponised Islamic State and Al Qaeda, so have they done with Hamas; most glaringly in Syria in their failed efforts to topple Bashar al-Assad.

Again, Brian’s case – that (a) the USA does seek war with Iran and (b) used Hamas to that end – is impressive. All but irrefutable, I’d say, in its evidence assembled. So are all those other voices just plain wrong? Not necessarily. The Brookings Report, recall, is dated 2009. Since then huge weaknesses in US might have been exposed in Ukraine, while Yemeni disruption in the Red Sea affords a mild foretaste of what Iran – before we even get to its daunting defensive capability – might do in the Hormuz Strait. Also painting a very different global picture from that of 2009, the BRICS go from strength to strength, with the writing on the wall for dollar rule – not least by China fast reducing its US Treasury Bond holdings while Janet Yellen, in passive-aggressive mode, half pleads and half threatens Beijing over its too too successful economy.

The world has changed irreversibly from unipolarity to multipolarity. 7

So while Brian crosses the reasonable doubt threshold with ease, Washington elites who once sought war with Iran may now be less sure of themselves. This might reduce the differences I speak of but, with miscalculation posing a likelier threat of WW3 than calculation, offers small comfort. There are those within the US Empire Hub – their deepest loyalties not to any Party but to fellow Neocons on both sides of a transparently bogus democracy – who are psychologically incapable of accepting the end of US Exceptionalism. A deep state in confusion and paralysis can only embolden them.

We live in interesting times.

* * *

  1. The UN Security Council failed to censure Israel when the USA, UK and France dissented from a motion to do so. The USA advanced the absurd argument that it wasn’t sure the building was  Iran’s embassy in Damascus, while the other two acted as the Washington puppets they have repeatedly proved to be, whatever the cost to their own citizens.
  2. The list includes but is by no means confined to: Scott Ritter, Alexander Mercouris, Karen Kwiotkowski, Larry Johnson, Richard Wolf, Michael Hudson, Dimitry Orlov, Radhika Desai, Doug McGregor, Jeffrey Sachs, Alastair Crooke and John Mearsheimer.
  3. In this summation, Beltway wingnuts like John Bolton are disregarded but the propensity of Donald Trump, the likeliest Oval Office occupant nine months from now, to wade into matters he does not understand cannot be ignored when (a) we are closer to WW3 than ever before – Cuba 1962 not excepted – and (b) WW3 is more likely to be triggered by the incompetence of a deranged Joe Biden, or a know-nothing Donald Trump, than by minutely calculated evil.
  4. A case can be made for saying China and Russia would gain from a USA drawn into a wider Middle East war, further weakening its ability to stage provocations on Russia’s borders with Europe and Central Asia, and in the South China Sea. But in sharp contrast to the USA, neither has form on such reckless calculations, nor by word or deed shown any appetite for fanning flames which could yet go nuclear. Nor is there need for such cavalier brinksmanship when, as Brian Berletic points out at 32:35 in the featured video, time is on their side rather than the fading hegemon’s.
  5. One factor driving such material determinism was my resistance to idealist analyses in the form of virulent anti-Semitism. But many prominent Jewish voices – Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Aaron Maté, Max Blumenthal and indeed Jeffrey Sachs – are fiercely critical of America’s Israel Lobby.
  6. Complicating the picture here is that while the direct rule of colonialism was ending, not least because overheads were outweighing gains, the indirect rule of finance-imperialism was filling the vacuum. Another confounding variable is the relative strength of organised labour in the two periods compared, though greater labour bargaining power in postwar Britain is as much an effect as a cause of rising prosperity.
  7. “The world has changed irreversibly from unipolarity to multipolarity.”  One voice I take seriously says different. John Mearsheimer concedes that the rise of China, Russia and other non-Western actors is inevitable. He adds, however, that these face demographic problems which will allow the USA, with its pro-immigration culture, to mount a late 21st century comeback in a world of renewed unipolarity. I find this excessively idealist. (In the sense of ideas, not material forces, as history’s primary engine.) Yes, even after the end of a fiat dollar as the world’s reserve currency – hence of what Valery Giscard d’Estaing called America’s “exorbitant privilege” – English will remain its lingua franca  for decades if not centuries to come. But a “culture of immigration” may be developed by any great power with sufficient incentive. Indeed, one theme of Mr Putin’s February 29 address to the Russian Federation was this very question.

10 Replies to “Does Washington want war with Iran?

  1. I can’t share Jeffrey Sachs belief that European leaders should have gone to Washington to protest the advance of NATO and the war in Ukraine. For one thing they were right behind the first, thinking it would increase their power and security, and two, when the US buys someone, they stay bought, or else they don’t stay. They may be a cowardly lot of dunces in the EU, but they know that much.

    The Russophobia from England is interesting – basically just infantile jealousy. The same for China – US. We really are just jumped-up monkeys, despite all the Beethoven, etc. If Freud wasn’t so out of favour today his followers could mine a very rich seam in the corridors of power.

    Well, no doubt the caravan will trundle on, over a road paved mainly of women and children, but at least the future seems to promise the end of the Anglo-Saxon hegemony. Then we’ll just have the climate and pollution to worry about. Always look on the bright . . .

    PS Like your re-make of the visuals of the blog.

    • Like your re-make of the visuals of the blog.

      Thanks Jams. It took a two minute make-over, applying the less-is-more principle; removing shadings which made it too dark and needlessly ‘blocky’.

      I agree with your assessment of Europe’s leaders, whom I consider compradors.

  2. “Hamas was a joint Israel-US creation to weaken secular anti-Zionism;”

    The key word here is ‘secular.’ Which is hardly relevant: the reason why Hamas, in its early days was encouraged by Israel and the West was that it was anti-communist. That was the important thing, as it was with all the Muslim fundamentalist groups – from the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan or the Albanian, Bosnian and Chechen guerrillas supported by imperialists.

    It is not that they want to see the growth of popular religious movements but that anything that is not calling for socialism or inclined to seek alliances with the Soviet Union or China is preferred and encouraged. Which is why, in the 1960s , Britain (and Israel) supported the Houthis in Yemen, with SAS advisors, bases, arms and air cover against the Nasser supported revolution in Sa’ana.

    “…Just as Israel and the US weaponised Islamic State and Al Qaeda, so have they done with Hamas; most glaringly in Syria in their failed efforts to topple Bashar al-Assad…”

    It is all part of the same thing. But as current realities indicate in the longer term all the anti-imperialist currents are driven together.

    After all October 7th (the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war) was an operation carried out by a broad front, including the very secular, very socialist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other militias including Fatah’s. Over the years the politics in Gaza have boiled down to for or against the Israelis. And that, I suggest, is also true of 99% of the West Bank today. As would be broad sympathy for Assad’s nationalism. As is the burgeoning alliance between Hamas’ Sunnis and Hezbollah’s Shia.

    Divide and Rule has, at long last, been dissolved by the realities of struggle.

    • Agreed. And I’m glad you draw attention to Assad’s (Ba’athist) nationalism. Far too many on the left and in pro Palestine circles swallowed hook, line and sinker the propaganda blitz on Syria. I went into this at some length with my 2017 post, Monbiot, Syria and Universalism.

  3. Hi Phil,
    Whilst I agree with both Jams and Bevin, one article of truth has received no mention, even though a wise and knowing author once penned a piece entitled “It’s all about the oil”

    The Leviathan gas and oil field is massive and has been known about and discussed within Israel. It did, until recently, belong to the Palestinians, but only if they continue to be an obstacle to the wealth Israel could call theirs. BP and British Gas along with Egypt who has recently won a 10 billion deal with the IMF and Ex President of Turkey Erdogan have been lining up and discussing their investment interests to benefit from the Palestinian owned Leviathan.

    It is no stretch of the imagination that, given what we know of Hamas, Israel allowed the Hamas plan to bear fruit. It is known that Israeli fanatics are quite willing to sacrifice their fellow Jews* and in doing so, kill two birds with one stone(no pun intended, just badly worded) the elimination of the Palestinian people and acquisition of the Leviathan and the UN will happily allow it. All the Israeli entity required was a less than plausible reason to slaughter and further their ethnic cleansing they have been practicing for the last seventy+ years and play their usual victimhood excuse.

    With so many other regimes standing to benefit from the intended genocide Israel, despite it’s pathetic claim of justification, has probably been waiting for since 2002, why has their been no mention of this gift Israel has been given?

    I do believe that this genocide was planned all along, merely awaiting the opportunity to make their claim to the Leviathan, at whatever cost.

    Susan 🙂

    *The claims I have made are not anti-Semitic since the information is from my Jewish sources.

    • A wise and knowing author, moi? My 2019 post – Yes it bloody well is about oil! – featured a brilliant sketch by comedian turned social commentator Robert Newman to that effect.

      No one worth taking seriously would accuse you of anti-Semitism.

      My review of Steve Gowans’s book included this in a footnote:

      Other than the years between 1973 and early noughties, the USA has been self sufficient in oil. Gowans does a good job of showing that its desire to control production in the Middle East and Venezuela, and supply in the case of attempts to dictate the route of Syria’s pipeline and bully Europe into buying American energy rather than cheaper Russian gas, reflect the geopolitical calculations of the planet’s foremost imperialism rather than fear of shortages.

      That still holds. No matter how much the US has, over and above its needs, hydrocarbons continue to give huge leverage and that’s yet another reason the US wants a more pliant Russian Fed. Moreover, US oil production has surely peaked – hence the fracking – so the Leviathan deposits have to be part of the equation here.

      It is foolish and ignorant to rule out conspiracy.

      • “Other than the years between 1973 and early noughties, the USA has been self sufficient in oil.”

        Self-sufficient in oil is not necessarily the same as self sufficient in energy if you consider the ratio of energy per unit volume of oil to the energy needed to extract that unit volume. This is said to be particularly bad for shale oil as per what this lady says, i.e. more energy is used extracting and processing the oil than is present in the final product:

        • Spot on Johnny.

          The EROI (Energy Return on Energy Investment) for fracking is about as inefficient as you can get compared to almost every other source of energy extraction.

          About five or six years back – and I doubt anything’s changed since then – the fracking industry had not made a dime in decades. In fact it had lost money to the tune not far short of $300 billion to the best of my recollection. Totally dependent upon selling junk bonds to pension funds.

          And we have even got into the externalised (as in off the books) pollution costs and the colossal amounts of fresh water required. for the operation.

          No wonder the collective West elites are mardy arsing about the free market model not being able to compete with the alternative offered by China (see the last but one posting from Simplicus about Yelland’s trip to China).

  4. Something else that must be considered, though not everyone thinks as I do of the IPCC CO2 crisis, but facts will out!


    April 11

    Wow, the pushback on the “net-zero” initiative seems to be gaining speed and failures of investments made to move in that direction are becoming more frequent! These are a few to catch my eye in the recent period! Before highlighting the failures, I would invite you to view the following chart from “A joint report from Northwood University’s McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy” and how it grades US Energy Production!  Please note it gives a “failing grade” to wind and solar as well as geothermal which is the reputed answer to replacing our furnaces with heat pumps! The full report can be found here: MCPP-NWU_Energy_Report_Card.pdf (

  5. While I may hesitate to broach a very divisive subject, certain aspects of it are relevant.
    Given Genocide Joe’s and the mentally challenged US & The Collective West’s hitching their wagons to an economically suicidal transition:

    Science Matters Ron Clutz April 14. UK Crippled by Own Climate Policy (Darwall):

    “It’s very difficult to disentangle the long-term effects of the financial crisis and the so-called energy transition. But it is unquestionably the case that mandating very aggressive decarbonization worsens the productive potential of the economy. To give you an idea of how bad is the energy transition for a Net Zero: The International Energy Agency produced a net zero plan, and by 2030 under its Net Zero assumptions, the global energy sector will be employing 25 million more people using 16 and a half trillion more dollars of capital.
    16 and a half trillion dollars more Capital using vast land areas of the combined size of Mexico, France, California, New Mexico and Texas to produce 7% less energy.”

    The US now has a debt of $34 Trillion and is sinking ever deeper into a hole of its own making as is the collective west. These countries are relying on somehow buying their way out using carbon capture (extraordinarily expensive), carbon offsets (cheating) and carbon credits(even more cheating) in their race to be the most “Green” to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, which few of them have now they have used them all up.

    Neither BP nor British Gas has any qualms about extracting the wealth of the Leviathan if it can sell to countries who have sided with the US and collective west who don’t have any or are poor and desperate to access that energy. As a certain African President made clear, the West’s hypocrisy knows no bounds (and neither do giant corporations).

    I have tried not to offend people on this site and apologise if they would dispute my thinking, but facts are facts.

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