Friday, September 25, 2020

A global threat

Botswana’s economy is in a soft recovery phase from the global financial crisis of 2008. But there are dangers ahead. The Eurozone crisis could drag the world’s economy into further mayhem.

This year, the international diamond market will likely be patchy at best, given that major consumers of diamond jewellery are in countries facing risks to their economies. Sluggish Japan wobbles on. A groggy United States is caught in a monstrous debt trap that threatens the country’s very existence as global economic super star.

Increasingly, as tensions between Iran and the West soar, the danger of a major war in the Middle East is seen as a growing threat to middle income economies like Botswana’s. The trigger for that war could be a confrontation between the US (or Israel) and Iran that appears increasingly inevitable, given the sabre rattling going on.

As analysts point out, 70 years after the bombing of Pearl Habour on December 7, 1941, and the beginning of World War II, the world sits on the verge of a thermonuclear war and holocaust.
Both Russia and China, key allies of Tehran, have warned against an attack on Iran. Current fears are that should an assault on Iran start, the Russia-China axis would come to its defence, pitching the world headlong into World War III.

Recently, United States President Barack Obama signed a bill to penalise foreign companies or institutions dealing with Iran’s Central Bank ÔÇö a move that carries the potential to scuttle Iran’s oil exports. This came amidst fresh US-Israeli talks aimed at working out a joint military response to Iran’s refusal to stop its nuclear programme while France and the European Union called for tough measures to punish the Islamic Republic.

These measures, in concert with western moves to oust Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, a key Iranian ally, appear to have jolted Tehran. Initial signs that Iran’s economy is feeling the heat of sanctions came with warnings to the US and war games near the narrow but strategic Strait of Hormuz through which about 40 per cent of the world’s oil supplies flow from the Gulf states. The war games saw Iran test firing medium-range missiles and issuing a warning to a US aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf area. In addition, Iran threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, if the latest sanctions were implemented.

According to analysts, the issue at stake is not just Iran’s so-called nuclear weapons programme. It is also about Iran’s growing military power. Iran’s weapons development has spooked the West, Israel and the Gulf states. To boost the defence of these Gulf countries, the US has signed a $ 30 billion deal to supply latest fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and a $ 3.5 billion anti-missile deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Israel has appeared at times to be in a hurry for military action against Iran before the intricacies of the election year in the US set in to wreck war plans. US President Barack Obama appears to have few options. Evidently, he cannot yet take the US to a war that could spell global danger at a time the US and European economies are in a major crisis. Moreover, reelection for him will depend on his commitment not to repeat a mistake on the scale of an Iraq war.

On the other hand, analysts say, if Obama ignores what Israel wants him to do ÔÇô support the war effort against Iran ÔÇô his reelection bid will falter with powerful Zionist lobby throwing its weight behind Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum to ensure a Republican victory in November. So Obama’s strategy appears to be to get Iran to throw the first punch.

In the meantime though, election-year politics is plenty of rash statements about Iran, much in the same manner in which war drums were sounded for attacking Iraq. “So, my view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program … but to sink their navy, destroy their airforce and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard,” said Democrat Sen. Lindsey Graham at an international security forum in November.

Republican presidential candidates have likewise added to the pro-war debate. Mitt Romney describes Iran as “the greatest threat that the world faces over the next decade.” Rick Santorum has called Iran’s nuclear scientists “enemy combatants,” like al-Qaida. He would work with Israel on pre-emptive strikes, being “very clear with Iran that we are preparing a military strike, an airstrike, on those facilities.” Newt Gingrich believes a bombing campaign to take out the nuclear program is a “fantasy,” but he would launch such a campaign “as a step toward replacing the regime.” Jon Huntsman believes war with Iran is inevitable: “You can layer sanction upon sanction and I think in the end the sanctions aren’t going to have much of an impact.”

The real story, according to Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria, is that Iran is weka and getting weaker. “Sanctions have pushed its economy into a nose-dive. The political system is fractured and fragmenting. Abroad, its closest ally and the regime of which it is almost the sole supporter ÔÇô Syria ÔÇô is itself crumbling. The Persian Gulf monarchies have banded together against Iran and shored up their relations with Washington.”

Other analysts have said that allegations against Iran have set the stage for a war. “There is now a cascading of allegations regarding Iran, as there was with Iraq, with the momentum rushing toward war,” said one analyst, noting that “tougher and tougher Western sanctions against Iran have pushed the various sides closer to war… as happened with Iraq ÔÇô when harsher economic sanctions merged with a US troop build-up.”

A former US official says an American nuclear attack on Iran would cause China and Russia to think they could suffer a similar fate, and possibly lead to a nuclear Armageddon.

“The consequence would be that the world would face a higher risk of nuclear Armageddon than existed in the mutually assured destruction of the US-Soviet standoff,” wrote Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, in an article titled “’IRAN: The Next War on Washington’s Agenda Politics” on ?Roberts added, “The raised level of Washington’s rhetoric and demonization of Iran” is one of the signals pointing to Washington intent of a military strike on Iran. “Only the blind do not see that the US government is preparing to attack Iran,” he said. ?The US is preparing for a military confrontation with Iran as it is financially, economically, politically and morally bankrupt, a political writer says. “America is now bankrupt: financially, economically, politically ÔÇô and morally. Its criminal aggression towards Iran is just one of many parts of a jigsaw that add up to a clear and grotesque picture of what the United States of America now represents in the 21st Century world,” Finian Cunningham wrote in an article published on Global Research. ?Terminally in debt, mass poverty at record levels, rampant militarism, and draconian curbs on civil liberties are the signs that the US is bankrupt, according to Cunningham. The analyst said that “all options on the table” statement by the White House for Iran comes despite the knowledge of US officials that Iran is not after nuclear arms. “The US is pushing the world into possibly a World War III scenario on the basis of a totally spurious claim that even its own top brass do not believe,” he wrote.


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