Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iran 2-- Hegemony

By Lloyd Agte
Midway through the Jim Morrison 1967 song "When the Music's Over," he sings/chants the lyrics, "We want the world and we want it . . . "  Then after a dramatic pause quietly asks the question, "Now?" and answers with a screaming "Now-w-w-w-w."  And then presciently, his next line lines are:
Persian night babe, see the light babe
Save us babe, Jesus, save us babe.
How uncanny. Forty-five years after The Doors album "Strange Days," here in this Spring of 2012, an Iranian (Persian), night is steadily descending upon them.  Thanks to the greed looming in the hearts of the politicians, oil executives and neocons who have led us into crippling sanctions on their country, we are now being herded into bombing Iran into the dark, amoral heart of war. Is the chaos that currently floods wrecked and refugee wracked Iraq, who in the midnight gloom of their country is still in mourning over their million dead is not enough?  Must the United States and Israel shock-and-awe another Mid Eastern country into submission?
"We want the world and we want it now"--this mantra of the United States imperialistic foreign policy is altered a bit in the case of the Middle East to "We Want Your Oil and We Want it NOW."  The mantra, of course, is sung not on stage but only behind the curtain.  The smoke-and-mirror filled on-stage media presentation is a performance of talking-head retired military brass, government spokesmen, AIPAC and other Israeli think tank representatives, political office-seekers, political pundits and others, all singing about "creating democracy," "regime change," "nation building," "anti-terrorism," "humanitarian crisis," "stopping weapons of mass destruction," "demonic leaders," "anti-terrorism," "nuclear program," and, well, I could go on, but we all know the song routines by now. And let us not forget the Christian Zionists singing hymns and banging war drums in the lobby about when the Jews have re-conquered Zion and Jesus comes back to convert them, rescue the believers and throw the unconverted into hell, after which Christ begins a thousand-year reign.  Is that the music that Morrison is referring to?  If so, is it perhaps time we heeded the last line above and "see the light, babe?"
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines Hegemony as 1: preponderant influence or authority over others: domination: < battled for hegemony in Asia>
2: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.

Adding the word World to Hegemony creates the phrase "World Hegemony," a phrase that pretty much sums up the U.S. foreign policy aspirations following the collapse of the USSR in 1989.  The U.S. indeed had world hegemony after WWII-- for a few months or years.  But when the USSR began expanding its borders, insulating themselves with a buffer zone as defense against another attack on their homeland like the NAZI attacks which had cost Russia over 20,000,000 lives, then began our Cold War with the USSR over world hegemony.


With the collapse of the Soviet Communism in 1989, the U.S. psyche entered an era that in c. 1991 I labeled "Floating Paranoia."  When the cold War ended, I was looking forward to an interim of deserved peace, rest and prosperity.  But no. The neocons quickly dusted off some old grudges, drooled with lust and greed over Mid Eastern oil and gambled (correctly) in Gulf War I that Russia would not stop us from getting it. Thus began the plots to takeover of the Middle East.  President Bush 1's use of the phrase "New World Order" set the backwoods loonies on fire and their paranoia found a new home. Fear of a world-government takeover, of confiscation of personal fire arms, of control by the U.N., of a minority uprising, etc. inspired various vigilante groups, neo-nazis armed militias, and countless conspiracy theories (punctuated with exclamation marks by the murder of Denver D.J. Alan Berg by white supremacists in 1984 and the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal building by terrorist Timothy McVeigh in 1995).  The New Paranoia on the international level eventually settled on our old "enemy" Iran, a country which had the audacity in 1979 to overthrow one of the Palavi Shahs we helped install following the CIA overthrow of Iran's democratically elected Mossadeq in 1953, after he nationalized their oil.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, some of Bush the First's neocon pals were busy hatching plans to conquer the entire Middle-east, starting with Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran and so on.  Jeff Greenwald reports of a 1991 conversation General Wesley Clark had with Wolfowitz, a conversation that revealed the "plot" to take over the Middle East:

"He then recounted a conversation he had had ten years earlier with Paul Wolfowitz — back in 1991— in which the then-number-3-Pentagon-official, after criticizing Bush 41 for not toppling Saddam, told Clark: 'But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran [sic], Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.' Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: 'the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?'”

RISE OF THE NEOCONS: Project for the New American Century

Greenwald reports how in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Clark recalled the continuation of these neocon plans as they emerged ten years later, in 2001, a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks,  "He recalled encountering a Pentagon source who told him the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq notwithstanding its non-involvement in 9/11.  In a coup hatched by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and what he called “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”:
"Six weeks later, I saw the same officer, and asked: 'Why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we still going to attack Iraq?' He said: 'Sir, it’s worse than that.' He said – he pulled up a piece of paper off his desk – he said: 'I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.'” Wes Clark and the Neocon Dream" by Jeff Greenwald--
Ten years plus down the road (somewhat behind schedule, tsk, tsk) the score is three countries down (smashed, wounded or rendered dysfunctional) and four to go.  Iraq is a failed state, Afghanistan is coming apart (and it may yet be a "Last Helicopter from Saigon" ending), and Libya is shattered into an anarchic cauldron of gang, religious, sect and tribal warfare.  And now a plan is being carried out to get two birds with one stone--bring Iran down by bringing Syria down (an apparently recent [March 2012] shift in plans).  As the map of U.S. bases below illustrates, the U.S. military base power in the Middle East is aiding and abetting the fulfillment of the neocon's dream of a total Middle East coup. Map from Bruce K. Gagnon, "Remembering His-Story Iran Attack Next?"

Our Hegemonic thinking seems to be: the U.S. owns the world and all the countries located thereon; we can violate any border that we think poses a security threat to the United States of America (thank you, but WE will decide what is a security threat). That is unspoken U.S. policy.   As the map above illustrates, Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Turkey (in red) on the West and Afghanistan and Pakistan on the east (in red) flank Iran (in blue).  Iran has natural alliances with Shia Iraq (now in power thanks to Bush2), with Alawite Shia Syria and with the Shia in the oil regions of Saudi Arabia (which makes the Saudis very nervous).

It is no accident that of the 13 U.S bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 7 are at or near the Iranian border.  And 4 bases are huddled in or adjacent Kuwait and the same number in and around Bahrain and Qatar with another 4 in Iraq.  All these serve the dual purpose of keeping the oil spigots flowing in and near the port cities while also surrounding and isolating Iran Now if Iran were brought to heel, singing the American and Israeli song, then a huge contiguous block of the mid-east would be under The U.S.-Western Europe-Israeli control. (Israel and the U.S. surely have a share-the-wealth plan already worked out behind the scenes).  Syria, called "part of Iran's heart," could also fall under U.S-Israeli-Western Europe dominance, which seems to be the emerging 2012 power game parallel with the "No Nukes for IRAN" power game that has been going heavily in 2011. (See Efraim Halevy's op.ed.,"Iran's Achilles Heel," NYT Feb 7-2012. Halevy, the director of Mossad from 1998-2002, here as a war hawk sees Syria's fall as key to crushing Iran.)


M-m-m-m-m, look at all that land and all that oil just under it.  Oil is money. Money is power. The Empire runs on Oil. "Hmm, how much taxpayer money could we rustle up to launch a strike on Iran, depose the Ayatollah and grab their oil?"  And, "Let's see, how would that sum compare to our buying million or billion dollar drilling rigs and trekking to the Arctic?"  So goes, no doubt, the conversation of top-level politicians and oil executives in their clubroom chats over cocktails.

One word is key to what is behind the U.S and Israeli fear tactic of lying to us that that Iran is making a nuclear bomb to attack Israel.  That word is OIL.  As Michael Klare recently reported on, "Why High Gas Prices Are Here to Stay," the "easy oil"--that which lies near the surface in large pools--has been mostly consumed--except in the war torn Mid East; and that which is to be harvested in the future--deep sea drilling, fracking, Canadian tar sands, Arctic oil--all will be considerably more expensive to find, capture and harvest.  We think gasoline is expensive now, but we probably have not seen anything yet.  The CEO of Chevron in 2005 warned that the era of "easy oil" is over and that future production would be considerably more expensive. Klare continues,

Further evidence for this shift was provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a 2010 review of world oil prospects. In preparation for its report, the agency examined historic yields at the world’s largest producing fields -- the “easy oil” on which the world still relies for the overwhelming bulk of its energy. The results were astonishing: those fields were expected to lose three-quarters of their productive capacity over the next 25 years, eliminating 52 million barrels per day from the world’s oil supplies, or about 75% of current world crude oil output. The implications were staggering: either find new oil to replace those 52 million barrels or the Age of Petroleum will soon draw to a close and the world economy would collapse.
With the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we have already seen the environmental downside of harvesting "risky oil."  No doubt the worst is yet to come.  Dismal news like this of course elevates the value of existing "easy oil," particularly that in the Middle East, driving commodity prices higher on the economic exchanges.  Thus, as the greed for the "easy oil" climbs, so does so does its economic value and so does the budget for military expenditures to preserve or to steal it, as the chart below of the 2012 increased Iranian military budget illustrates.

The above chart also shows how it is silly to look upon Iran as a serious world, U.S. or even regional threat. Compared to the U.S.'s military expenditures, Iran is a dwarf.  But given the lust and greed for Iran's oil, it is also easy to see why Iran would want to build nuclear defensive weapons for its own protection against the Oil Pirates, though there is yet no evidence they are doing so.  Sadly, for the current Republican Presidential candidates, bombing Iran is an open and shut case: (Romney; "As president I wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iran." Santorum; I'd bomb Iran on Election Day." Gingrich; "I'd bomb Iran on my first day in office.")

So to come back to the definition of Hegemony in the introduction, in the case of Iran (and now Syria as a means of toppling Iran), it means domination over the oil fields.  It means regime change to accomplish it.  It means oil is the lifeline for continuing the outdated U.S. consumption habits and fueling the global imperial expansion over the world's resources.


Morrison's lyrics immediately after he sings the title words, "When the music's over" are "turn out the lights, turn out the lights." Given our expensive, energy intensive interference in the Mid East, inspired by our greed and lust for oil, and given the rate at which oil is being consumed by our own and an increasing number of rising industrial nations, Morrison's instructions after the title may seem somewhat superfluous.  In a few decades, when the oil runs out, the lights will go out on their own.  Perhaps Jim Morrison is not a prophet after all.