From a November 2nd story by Steve Guttermanneocon and Edith M. Lederer of the Associated Press:
Russia and China indicated that they will not support a draft U.N. resolution imposing tough sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear enrichment program.
Shiver me timbers and blow me down. The only person on the planet who didn't see that coming was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On October 24th, she told conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity "I think we'll have a Security Council resolution with sanctions against Iran in the next few weeks."
The failure of diplomatic efforts regarding Iran's nuclear program was not only predictable, it was inevitable.
The Last World Order
"New world orders" are nothing new. Pecking orders among nations and civilizations have been evolving since one of Adam and Eve's kids killed the other one. The last world order lasted from the fall of the Berlin Wall until Saddam Hussein's statue came tumbling down in Baghdad, a period of roughly ten years in which America was a more or less benign global hegemon.
As the paper trail of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) illustrates, the neoconservatives were set on invading Iraq years before they and their poster boy George W. Bush came into office. Their goal was to establish an America friendly government in that country and set up a military base of operations in the center of the Middle East from which the U.S. could control the region's oil flow.
Had we been greeted as liberators, as charter PNAC member Dick Cheney predicted, America may well have been able to sustain a thousand-year global empire. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and neocons often go awry, and the non-existent plan for the post hostilities phase went the way of most non-existent plans--to hell in a bucket.
The Lost World Order
America's end zone fumble in Iraq took our eye of the real terrorist threat, but more importantly, it gave our Cold War nemeses the opening they needed to reemerge as major players on the world stage.
By the time the U.S. sprang Operation Iraqi Freedom on the world, China, Russian and Iran had already formed an energy partnership that included assistance from the two larger powers in helping Iran develop an independent nuclear energy program. The jury is still out on whether or not Iran seeks to develop nuclear weapons, but the weapons aren't the key to that country's aim to become a dominant regional power. The more Iran can fuel its industrial growth with nuclear energy, the more of its oil it can sell to jumpstart its economic growth. What's more, as the rest of the world weans itself from oil dependency, Iran will become the portal through which the rest of the Middle East makes the transition to nuclear power and creates an industrial base to replace its petroleum revenues.
At that point, the "axis of energy" (which now includes Venezuela) will have all but shouldered the western nations out of the Middle East, and America won't have a friendly shoulder to cry on because the other western nations will have crawled between the sheets with the axis of energy.
The Next World Order
America's best chance to emerge in the Next World Order as a nominal "first among nations" is to coax Iran and Venezuela away from China and Russia, but the Bush administration's foreign policy is leading to the exact opposite result.
Condi Rice's offer of direct U.S. negotiations with Iran on the condition that Iran suspend its enrichment program was a non-starter from the outset. Iran has a right to develop a nuclear energy program, and has consistently refused to surrender that right. Forcing the issue in the UN Security Council was always a non-starter as well, because China and Russia were never likely to slap meaningful sanctions on their best little buddy in the Gulf region.
Unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. aren't likely to make a rial's bit of difference to Iran. They have enough customers to buy all the oil they can pull out of the ground. The U.S. doesn't have a viable military option for Iran, and even if it did, unilateral attacks on Iran based on no other justification than Dick Cheney's say so that they want to develop a bomb would permanently eliminate what little is left of America's credibility in the world.
That brings us to the elephant in the middle of the living room that nobody wants to talk about. The real justification to "stay the course" of our botched Iraq strategy is that it's the only option we have left to salvage our botched Iran policy.
Young Mister Bush began hinting at this back in August of 2005. During a World War II commemoration speech he gave at Naval Air Station North Island, Bush said, "If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq…they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions."
As with most of Mister Bush's public statements, there's a ton of bunk in this one. If the U.S. leaves Iraq, al Qaeda isn't likely to gain control of it, or even major portions of it. Even if it did, al Qaeda doesn't have wherewithal to operate Iraq's oil fields.
But Iran and its partners China and Russia do.
And the folks most likely to gain control of Iraq's oil fields are its Shia political parties and their associated militias, who would be happy as camels in an oasis to invite Iran's friends to run Iraq's oil operations.
The Elephants in the Living Room
Through their delusional and incompetent foreign policy, the administration's neoconservatives (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith, Bolton, etc.) have painted America into a corner, and the only solution they offer is to keep painting. This is false limited choice rhetoric that argues we've gone so far down their crooked path that there's no finding our way back.
That's not true. Yes, undoing the Bush administration damage will be a daunting, perhaps Herculean task, but it not only can be accomplished, it must be accomplished, and the way to accomplish it lies somewhere between "stay the course" and "cut and run."
At the end of the day, we'll likely do something that combines John Murtha's proposal of redeploying to the periphery, focusing whatever troop strength we leave in-country in Baghdad, and a sea change in our diplomatic efforts with Iran and Syria. And the sooner that day comes, the better.
But that day won't come any time soon if we leave the elephants in charge of Congress next week. Neoconservative rule has already put America's ship of state bow down in a sand dune. Two more years of it, and the United States will have guaranteed its fate as a footnote in a Mandarin language history book.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.
The Next World Order series.