Thursday, May 02, 2019

Boys Go to Baghdad. Men Go to Tehran.


The red arrow shows the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most important shipping lanes (and bottlenecks) in the world. It's also within Iran's UN-defined "territorial water" if it wishes to make that claim.

by Thomas Neuburger

"'Anyone can go to Baghdad; real men go to Tehran', an administration official was heard saying shortly after the fall of Baghdad" (source).

This quip was then widely transmuted to the much more macho (and euphonious) "Boys go to Baghdad. Men go to Tehran":
My first encounter with the phrase came late in 2003 when, newly enrolled in graduate school, I gathered in the department lounge with a group of first-year students for an ad hoc session on foreign policy. With the Bush administration still mobilizing consent for America’s second go-around with Iraq, a very conservative, very well connected classmate shared with us what he was hearing from his friends inside the government. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was but the first step in a larger project, he said in a whisper, as if to make us accomplices in a tragic conspiracy. Iran would be next. “Boys go to Baghdad,” he intoned, “but men go to Tehran.”
The Trump administration is the latest to ride that train. It's now the stated policy of the United States to aggressively reduce all Iranian exports "to zero":
“President Donald J. Trump has decided not to reissue Significant Reduction Exceptions (SREs) when they expire in early May,” the White House said in a statement. “This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.”
Strong words indeed.

Yet it's one thing to declare a sanctions regime that tries to prevent all Iranian oil from reaching the market; Iran has dealt with sanctions before and survived. It's another to classify all oil owned by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), an affiliate of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as the property of a terrorist organization, as the U.S. has in effect done — and then declare an international sanctions regime against that oil, with no waivers, sanctions that affect China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

Those sanctions started May 1. If no one backs down, this path leads to war.

From a good analysis by Scott Ritter of the latest U.S. assault on Iran (emphasis added):
What if Iran Retaliates and Shuts Down the Strait of Hormuz?

Some 18 million barrels of oil transit through every day. The economic impact would be catastrophic.

...There is a major difference between 2018 and today, however. The recent decision by the Trump administration to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC) a terrorist organization has complicated the issue of Iran’s oil sales, and America’s reaction in response.

The IRGC has long been subject to U.S. sanctions. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), determined that National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was an “agent or affiliate” of the IRGC and therefore is subject to sanctions under the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (ITRSHRA). Other Iranian oil companies have likewise been linked to the IRGC, including Kermanshah Petrochemical Industries Co., Pardis Petrochemical Co., Parsian Oil & Gas Development Co., and Shiraz Petrochemical Co.

While in 2012 the United States determined that there was insufficient information to link the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) as an affiliate of the IRGC, under the current sanctions regime imposed in 2018 the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and the NITC have been blacklisted in their entirety.

By linking the bulk of Iran’s oil exporting capacity to the IRGC, the United States has opened the door to means other than economic sanctions when it comes to enforcing its “zero” ban on Iranian oil sales. Any Iranian oil in transit would be classified as the property of a terrorist organization, as would any Iranian vessel carrying oil.

Likewise, any vessel from any nation that carried Iranian oil would be classified as providing material support to a terrorist organization, and thereby subject to interdiction, confiscation, and/or destruction. This is the distinction the world is missing when assessing Iran’s current threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. It’s one thing to sanction Iranian entities, including the IRGC—Iran has historically found enough work-arounds to defeat such efforts. It is an altogether different situation if the Unite[d] States opts to physically impede Iran’s ability to ship oil. This would be a red line for Iran, and a trigger for it to shut down all shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.
Ritter points out that, so far at least, "U.S. naval and commercial vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz continue to respond to the queries transmitted by the IRGC naval forces responsible for securing Iran’s portion of the strategic waterway—an awkward reality given that the IRGC has been designated a terrorist organization, which means the U.S. Navy freely communicates and coordinates with terrorists."

But what will happen when the sanctions inevitably fail? As Ritter points out, Iran’s Foreign Minister has bragged that “Iran has a PhD in sanctions busting.” Will the "real men" in the Trump administration — the Pompeos, the Boltons, and Trump himself perhaps — be forced to "do something" or sacrifice their manhoods on the altar of pointless threats? 

If the U.S. attempts to deny or restrict traffic through the Strait, Iran could enforce the 1982 United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea that grants all countries the right to declare its "territorial waters" out to a maximum of 12 miles from the coastline, and then close the Strait to all U.S. shipping. Ritter is certain this is their next step if the U.S. tries to "do something" to enforce its failed sanctions.

What then? Do "real men" back down or respond with force? If the U.S. does respond militarily to Iran closing the Strait to U.S. shipping, the U.S. will be the aggressor under international law, and this time few nations that matter will support us.

Stay tuned. 

Labels: , , , , , , ,


At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporate America is in serious need of a slap-down. The world isn't their oyster to shell. Billions of people on this planet do not exist merely to shove massive profits into the gaping maws of greedy capitalists.

If there is to be a war, we need to send Trump, Pompeo and Bolton to fight it themselves. We'll reinforce them with the Gulf warmongers like Dubya and Abaddon Cheney, Condi Rice, and anyone else who can be located. The average American citizen shouldn't be penalized since none of us benefit from these piratical and aggressive wars for profits.

Never a Nuremberg Tribunal around when you need one!

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Let's face it. Trump would love to start a war with Iran, which would be a HUGE distraction from his current woes and efforts to cut off criticism and garner more public support of his administration (or so he thinks). Does anyone at all doubt that he would start a war, impulsively and with maybe two seconds of thought? Of course he would, and he very likely will, with the likes of John Bolton whispering in his ear. This will be the next "phase" of his awful presidency. Each year the drama and nightmares are compounded. What makes anyone think that major new horrors are not ahead of us? We still have a year and a half to go. More damage is to come, worse than before. We are so screwed by this man, McConnell and the rest of the stinking Republicans and administrative staff who support and defend this monster. Barr included - the "Cover up General," said William Safire, a Republican, in 1992.

I suspect that a new war will not be supported by the public and this will be a rude shock to Trump and his crew. Americas are not eager for another war. And Iran is not Iraq - they have more more to put in play. It will be awful, just awful, if this comes to pass. Massive destruction and bombing. Would Trump even drop a nuke? Uh, yeah, probably. He'd be proud to be the first President since WW II to do so.

The Dems need to start impeachment procedures NOW. Not that it would stop this disaster, but hey, they have to do what they should do.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Freudian slip contained herein?

"Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was but the first step in a larger project"

I'm a little surprised that GP/TN didn't expand that to "project for the new American century (PNAC)", formed in 1997. If GP/TN hasn't already, he should read their work product... and then remember who they were (cheney, wolfowicz, Rumsfeld, Bolton, kristol...).

I will not summarize PNAC here... not enough space. However maybe GP/TN can do so in a subsequent piece.

All I will do is mention that Iraq was, indeed, one "domino" of many that PNAC wet-dreamed of "doing". Iran was to have been a subsequent "domino" in that wet-dream.

Perhaps after GP/TN's piece we can ponder why Iraq was actually invaded, all the lies and false flags flown by the cheney admin that promoted it, and each and every opportunity the democraps wasted in oversight and correction after the fact.

This will serve only to reinforce what you already should know about the Nazis and their pure evil party and principals... but it should equally reinforce three more things:

1) the democraps, who certainly knew about PNAC's principals and wet-dream, refused to pick even the lowest-hanging fruit and, in fact, played the part of co-conspirators in the build-up and execution of the ILLEGAL Iraq invasion. Not only this, they refused to do thing one about torture and pillage of the Iraqi economy after the fact.

2) the media refused to do their jobs and, in fact, joined the conspirators. they refuse to honor their place in our (erstwhile) democracy to this day.

3) the voters were the dumbest motherfuckers in the history of earth far before 9/11 and the 2003 invasion. They supported them then and still support that horse shit now.

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posters at 9:50 AM, 10:30 AM: Is it that difficult to realize that its not just the GOP (rump, Pompeo and Bolton) that wants wars? The Dem party is as much complicit if not more.

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump et al are ACTIVE in seeking war. Most of the democraps are complicit by NOT doing or saying anything about it any time they have the chance. After all, they are wannabee Republicans.


Post a Comment

<< Home