Monday, July 24, 2006

Dead End

J.R. Nyquist has a sombre prognosis for the worsening crisis in the Middle East. In particular, he points to Moscow's support for Syria and Iran:
Russia’s senior Middle East expert, Yevgeny Primakov, publicly offered his opinion that Syria and Iran “probably” did not encourage Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel. As a former KGB general and head of Russia’s SVR (Foreign Intelligence), Primakov feels a protective impulse toward his Syrian and Iranian friends. The Russia alliance with Syria goes back many decades. The Syrian government buys most of its weapons from the “former” Soviet Union, and receives technical help from the Russians. At the same time, the Iranians purchased more than $1 billion worth of military equipment from Moscow. Some of these weapons are undoubtedly passed on to Hezbollah.

It is well known that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities with Russian assistance, and everyone can see that neither the United States nor Israel have bombed the Iranian nuclear industry. The United States and Israel cannot safely attack Iran without risking a larger conflict in the Middle East, including the disruption of oil flowing through the Strait of Hormuz, and an oil embargo organized simultaneously by Venezuela. Furthermore, it is believed that Iran can push Iraq’s civil strife into outright civil war. Iranian agents pepper the Shi’ite majority leadership in Iraq while Shi’ite militias stand ready to embarrass the Bush administration by demolishing the frail superstructure of Iraqi democracy.
Nyquist predicts that either Israel or the United States will eventually have no option but to bomb Iran - and the energy crisis that this is likely to precipitate will reveal the strategic dead end towards which he believes the U.S. is headed. The U.S. will suffer not a military but a financial catastrophe
due to military-related disruptions. The Iranians cannot defeat the U.S. Air Force, but they can damage the U.S. economy by triggering a financial implosion. The timing of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran depends on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. If the Israelis determine that the Iranians are dangerously close to becoming a regional nuclear power, the Israelis will insist on a strike. The United States will have to support the strike with silence, or participate in the strike – and ultimately take the consequences of a strike.
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