Will The U.S. Actively Pursue Regime Change In Iran?

Yves here. I would not underestimate the stupidity of the US, given that our strategy in Venezuela, and potentially in Iran, seems to be based on the same fallacy as our invasion of Iraq: “They will welcome us with flowers.” And John Bolton seems even more than most neocons to enjoy breaking things just for the hell of it. One thing that have kept our confrontation with Iran from getting more stupid is that Iran has made very clear that it can and will torch Saudi Arabia if attacked, and with all that above-ground oil equipment, that would not be hard. The other is the that government appears to have done a good job of attending to the needs of the public despite the sanctions. I am told by people who visited that the markets had a lot of food, people are well dressed, the streets are tidy, women are well educated and have a lot of freedom, and the country had put a lot of emphasis on scientific and technological development. The impression I have from a recent visitor (who travelled around freely) was that there was a high degree of social cohesion despite or maybe due to the US sanctions.

By Nick Cunningham, a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. Originally published at OilPrice

While all eyes are on the unfolding crisis in Venezuela, the Trump administration is laying the ground work for its next target: Iran.

The greatest source of pressure has come from sanctions on Iran, aimed at disrupting the country’s oil sector. To date, Iran has been able to weather the sanctions although the impact has been painful. Iranian production and exports plunged in the third and fourth quarters last year, but have stabilized since the U.S. granted a series of waivers to eight countries importing oil from Iran in November. In January, Iran’s production and exports appear to have held up, not posting any more additional losses.

According to Reuters, exports are averaging around 1.25 million barrels per day (mb/d) so far in February, which may actually be slightly higher from the 1.1 to 1.3 mb/d exported last month. Some countries may have opted to increase purchases, both because they secured waivers and because the expiration on those allowances expire in a few months. “We think people are taking more ahead of the deadline,” an industry source told Reuters.

Now comes the hard part. The Trump administration has vowed not to issue any new waivers, although there has been little details disclosed into whether or not the existing waivers will be extended.

The regime change effort in Venezuela will make the campaign to impose “maximum pressure” on Iran much more difficult. The acceleration of supply disruptions in Venezuela could and would tighten up the oil market. Oil prices are already at a three-month high, with Brent inching closer to $70 per barrel.

On its face, then, it would seem that the U.S. has little room to tighten the screws on Iran, having already used up the slack in the oil market on its Venezuelan campaign. There is not a ton of excess surplus in the market left over that could be used to knock Iranian oil offline.

However, we should not underestimate the possibility of a reckless push for confrontation with Iran. Discerning the intentions of the Trump administration is notoriously difficult, but that is especially true when there is a high level of disagreement even among officials within the government.

The New York Times reported in January that top Pentagon officials are concerned that national security adviser John Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran.” The National Security Council, on Bolton’s orders, reportedly asked the Pentagon last year to draw up military options for strikes on Iran. The request “alarmed then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other Pentagon officials,” the NYT reported.

The campaign against Iran didn’t end there. The recent U.S.-led summit in Warsaw, Poland was widely criticized as a meeting to gin up global action against Iran, so much so that the title and the agenda of the meeting had to be changed because of opposition in some European capitals. Billed as a conference on Middle East security instead, the meeting was still transparently aimed at Iran.

What to make of all of this?

It may all seem ham-handed, especially since much of the world is not playing along, but as Foreign Policy warns, this all sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003. Indeed, the Trump administration may be scouring for ways to link Iran to Al Qaeda so that it can use the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). In other words, Trump officials are trying to find a way to legalize a war without having to turn to Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu did not help matters when his office tweeted – and then removed – that the Warsaw summit was intended “to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

On February 11, the official twitter account of the White House tweeted out a video of John Bolton accusing Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. To be clear, there is no evidence of this. Trump’s own intelligence services, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, dispute that fact, and indeed all evidence suggests Iran continues to remain in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, even after the U.S. pulled out.

Nevertheless, referring to the 40th anniversary of the revolution in Iran, Bolton seemed to threaten the Iranian government. “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy,” he said.

Bolton has been at the forefront of the regime change campaign in Venezuela. It is clearly his hope that President Maduro is toppled quickly, after which, Venezuela’s new government, with the help of American oil companies (Chevron and Halliburton), revive the country’s dilapidated oil sector. A rebound in oil production would ease market pressure, which would conceivably smoothen the path for Bolton’s regime change plan in Iran.

It may not work out that way, not least because a revival of Venezuela’s oil sector won’t be a short-term affair. Moreover, if oil prices rise too much, there is an enormous risk of applying excessive pressure on Iran, to say nothing of a more aggressive military option. Trump has made clear that low gasoline prices is a top priority, so Bolton may even run out of political room to maneuver.

Still, at this point, he’s not exactly hiding what he has in store for Iran.

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  1. Altandmain

    Basically the neoconserviatves are determined to repeat the same mistakes that they made on Iraq in 2003 all over again. Bolton is almost like your typical movie or cartoon villain these days.

    It’s pretty crazy if you ask me. Let’s not forget that in 1953, the US overthrew the Iranian government and installed the Shah, which at first operated like a puppet regime. The Islamic Revolution that followed in 1979 was a classic case of Blowback.

    The sad thing is, and I have known an Iranian first hand, that most Iranians actually think relatively favorably towards the American people. They dislike the US government for obvious reasons, but seem good at isolating the American people from the US government. I bet if the US apologized for the 1953 CIA coup, the US support of Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, and the sanctions, it would lead to a new chapter in relations between Iran and the US.

    I suppose that these days America’s foreign policy is to maximize the profitability of its energy and arms manufacturing industries, no matter the consequences. None of this is about freedom or keeping us safe from terrorism or anything like that. The system is working for the 1%, which is why it is being perpetuated.

    This will weaken the US and put the US closer to bankruptcy. I suspect that the wars will reach a point where even MMT spending, were it used in this manner (think of it as a sort of Military Keynesianism), cannot sustain spending on this Imperialistic project.

    Thus far, 6 trillion dollars and counting ….


    I have a gut suspicion that much like the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan and its flawed economic system played a role in its demise, in a rather bizarre case of irony, the American wars abroad and its even more flawed (in many ways) system could also lead to a similar collapse. With people like Netanyahu and Bolton in charge, the risk of collapse is all but assured.

    1. notabanker

      I’ve known a number of Iranian nationals and spoke to them at great length about Iran and the Iranian government. Some were in the US since the Shah was exiled and were obviously heavily biased. Those I knew overseas were young men, late 20’s – early 30’s. They held great resentment against the US government, mainly for the sanctions, which forced a cash only black market economy on their people / families. Being merchants that traveled all over Europe and Asia they felt tremendously disadvantaged by this. I never met anyone that harbored any ill will towards Americans, although they were rather upfront about targeting them as customers because they were stupid with their money and generally didn’t know much about what they were buying. I never experienced anyone who had good things to say about their government or the mullahs that ran it. They knew it was corrupt to the core and played the system because that is what they knew. And what choice do they have?

      I spent hours over tea talking about our countries, families, sharing mobile phone pictures of kids, spouses, relatives, modest yet beautiful homes and verandas on the hillsides of Tehran surrounded by fruit trees. Listening to them was really no different than listening to someone from Spain or Italy or the Sierra Nevada hillsides. My wife and I have had Iran on our bucket list of places to visit knowing that with US passports that will probably not be possible in our lifetimes.

      On the politics I’ll add this. Visiting Istanbul and spending hours talking to moderate locals greatly influenced my view of the Middle East. The Turks I met viewed their secular role in the region not as a statement against religion but a check and balance in preventing a radical muslim caliphate. None are more radical than the Saudi’s, and they viewed them as the main threat. Iran’s Shia population also plays a huge role in this, and although their government is an experiment in Islamic government, there is no chance of a unification of those sects. US intervention created the current Iranian regime. Further intervention that shifts power to the Saudi’s is a doomsday scenario, IMNSHO. Neocons think this can be manipulated for profit when nothing is further from the truth. They are kids playing with matches inside a barn full of hay.

      1. pretzelattack

        one problem is they are outside the barn; when the inevitable fire starts, bolton and abrams, et al. are never in danger.

  2. The Rev Kev

    I think that the worse thing about a war between Iran and the US, as pushed by John Bolton, is that fact that if there were catastrophic consequences resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iranians and Americans with the world economy shoved into a deep recession, that Bolton would not have to pay a price for it. Sure he might lose his job but that would mean that he would just go off to a think tank somewhere and pull a high salary elsewhere. Probably after this fiasco, he would then push for military conflict with China. A factor is that there are now about twenty months until the next US Federal election and no way will Trump want the consequences of such a war dogging his election chances. Not so much winning here.

    The invasion of Iraq is not a real good model here of what could happen. Iran has over 80 million people – about the same as Germany – while Iraq had only about 25 million at the time of the invasion. A lot of Iran is mountainous like the Coalition has encountered in Afghanistan which is notoriously difficult to invade. As Iran cannot match other countries in tanks or modern aircraft, they have invested heavily in missile technology. If Assad could gift Hezbollah two container loads of anti-tank missiles (ATGMs) from stocks captured in Syria, then how many of these anti-tank missiles have made their way to Iran. And man-pads too for that matter to shoot down aircraft and helicopters.

    In addition, there is no way that the Iranians would not attack Saudi Arabia who they would rightfully see as an author of this attack and probably the other Gulf States as well. And most of Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities is facing the Gulf – and Iran – so is within easy range. I do not think that Patriot missiles will be able to stop a barrage on these facilities nor attacks on water-filtration plants for that matter. The US could not station picket ships to try to stop these missiles as they are far too vulnerable in those narrow waters to anti-ship missiles and there is no way that the US could ever risk a carrier there either. The Millennium Challenge 2002 war games proved what can happen here.

    Don’t expect another Coalition of the Willing as the Europeans dropped the hammer on that idea in Warsaw. Israel would not be able to give direct help as they are at risk of Hezbollah slamming Israel with their own missiles. And supposing that Russia decide to put a stop to this attack by stationing S-400 missile networks in Iran to supplement Iranian defenses. A war that would shut down all oil through the Gulf and smash all those oil production facilities is in no country’s interest. Perhaps this partly explains the present attempted grab for Venezuela’s oil. Trying to make sure that the US has oil enough for itself before any such attack. And how does this war end? What is the final goal? And if you thought that the waves of refugees has caused chaos in the middle east and Europe now, wait till you see the refugee steams stemming from this war. This sort of war can never end well.

    1. fajensen

      And how does this war end? What is the final goal?

      Armageddon – Somebody with too much power, influence and money in America (and perhaps Saudi Arabia too) are probably quite crazy enough to believe that kicking off Armageddon is a ritual to summon Jesus and in return the summoners get to ride up to Heaven on little beams of light. Gets them out from under climate change too, that’s without uploading to a magic computer (which we deplorable left behind will eventually find and have some fun with hacking and tweaking the power supply).

      From the Saudi Perspective the US wars follows a nihilist logic, one that I think that any hardline Wahhabi thinker would agree with: First Kill the Apostates (secular Arab states), Then Kill the Heretics (any other brand of Islam, like the Shia), Then Kill the Infidels (Christian states, Russia w. Return Strike), Finally Kill the Jews (Israel).

      “Finally” because the end of the Jews completes the ritual of Armageddon and this is really the end for all the debauchery and whoring around that goes on with “the pious” in places like Dubai. They want their “fun” too.

      Religious nuttiness on a civilisation-ending level is the only explanation for the persistent US warmaking that really makes any sense.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The irony is that many of the neocons are proud atheists who are really doing the dirty work of religious crazies. As the philosopher John Gray has argued, the problem with western New Atheists is that they are so proudly ignorant of religious thought that they don’t realise how much religious ideas have infested their own enlightenment ‘free thinking’.

        1. Thuto

          True, religious beliefs weave themselves into the fabric of many a society, even those societies that consider themselves “secular and free” (or those that proclaim to “separate church and state”) and thus fundamentally influence life for the religious and non-religious alike. In many Islamic countries, there’s very little pretense about civil law being directly inspired by religious law as laid out in the Koran. It’s in the western (and westernized) world where there’s very often denial around this even though a careful inspection of civil laws in these societies would reveal trace elements of religious laws as laid out in holy scriptures.

      2. gordon

        It isn’t really nuttiness, though in a sense it is religious. Israel wants to reduce all its Arab neighbours to illiterate impoverished helpless misery. They very much don’t want neighbours who are educated and economically and technologically strong. The strategy is simple devastation and destruction. And of course they achieve this my manipulating US foreign policy. In time, all ME Islamic countries will be reduced to the status of picturesque neo-Biblical backwaters, and the Israelis will be content. Maybe then they will exploit those ruined husks in much the same way as the US has historically exploited Latin America. Maybe we’ll get remakes of such classics as “The Thief of Bagdad” or “Son of Ali Baba” – all shot on location!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump isn’t bright. One thing the Pentagon does well is sell electeds with bits of trivia such as megatons, something the marks have no sense of context but sounds cool, example MOAB.

      With the narrative helped along by Team Blue that activities such as Iraq were flawed because management wasn’t SMRT enough, I’m not sure Trump grasps consequences. For Trump,, was the Iraq War stupid because there was no Al Qaeda/WMD conspiracy theory or was it stupid because we didn’t have a plan to divvy up the oil for Americans (rich ones of course)?

      I still think the most illuminating story of recent years was Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that Syria could and would retaliate. Belief in wunder weapons matters. The other side is the soft racism that dominates US foreign policy. Dempsey might have not been a disaster, but there are plenty to of nuts willing to grab at a chance for glory.

    3. Kilgore Trout

      And then there are the Russian cruise missiles that Iran likely possesses. According to the link, and playing out the Millennium Challenge war game scenario, Iran’s use of Russia’s advanced anti-ship cruise missiles would make short work of US naval vessels in the Gulf. Should that happen–and it isn’t like the Pentagon hasn’t been warned that it could, in light of the war game’s fair outcome–would the temptation to “go nuclear” be then irresistible?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Then there is the build up process. Iraq in 2003 was largely possible due to the pre-positioned equipment and no-fly zones already in place. All they had to do was move the soldiers.

        Desert Storm required a world wide effort, including the USSR, and a good deal of expectations on the part of Iraq that a deal was possible.

        Oh I know Afghanistan is part of being surrounded, but its entirely different to have a base in a place like Diego Garcia where the locals were relocated and Afghanistan where you can barely protect the few safe zones from militants.

    4. California Bob

      “… Sure he might lose his job …”

      Yeah, he’d be back in the Pence presidency; Republicans always fail upwards.

      1. RMO

        “Bolton would not have to pay a price for it”

        Bolton is just one of the people in DC that should have come to an end like Mussolini. The fact that none of the neocons have ended up against a wall at the hands of a mob after it’s been shown that US or international law aren’t interested in serving up justice to those with the blood of thousands on their hands says something sad about the state of the world.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    I think the real danger is not Trump ordering some sort of attack – clearly this is not the way he operates. He likes to bluster and threaten and then get a deal when he thinks he’s scared his opponent enough. The danger is that the lunatics he has put in key positions of power can and will precipitate an attack – they are certainly doing all they can to provoke Iran into giving them an excuse.

    A more complex question I think is what the likes of Bolton have in mind? An Iraq type attack is surely not on the agenda. Even the most crazy neocon must know that its too militarily risky as none of Irans neighbours will allow their territory to be used to launch one. So it would have to be a sea based assault and that would be both mind bogglingly expensive and may be beyond the logistical capacity of even US military. In short, the Pentagon would not permit it to happen.

    So what do they have in mind? I can only assume that in the fevered private conversations between the neocons and the Saudi’s and Israeli’s they have in mind a mix of infrastructure attacks, ‘decapitation’ attacks on Iranian leaders, and perhaps seizing strategic islands in the Gulf, along with full military and logistical support for the various anti government factions (Baluchistani, Kurdish, etc). The aim would be to economically cripple the country while leaving it broken up into competing mini-States.

    The result of that is quite predictable – Iran would look like Syria or Yemen, but on a much larger scale. The human suffering would be enormous and in the end, quite likely (going from previous recent history), the Iranian people would win, just as they have in Syria, but at enormous cost. But it would keep the Saudi’s and Israeli’s happy, they revel in the agonies of their enemies, real or imagined.

    1. False Solace

      If we look at Trump’s actions in N. Korea and Syria he has a pattern of behavior.

      1) Ramp up tensions to such an extent he gets lots of criticism for being a crazy warmonger
      2) Negotiate some sort of deal/reduce tensions to wide applause
      3) Deal gets sabotaged by the crazy warmongers he surrounds himself with and so has little effect

      Trump followed the same pattern with China trade, except the crazy warmongers have less incentive for sabotage there.

      The reason I think Iran and Venezuela may go slightly differently is because Trump has told us many times he wants their oil. (If Western corporations get in there it’s not like oil magically becomes free for American citizens, we pay the same we always do, so I’m not too sure why his voters think this is good for us). Trump has a clear psychological need to destroy Obama’s achievements and has systematically set about doing so. Killing the Iran deal is a priority for him.

      I also think that Trump declared his campaign theme for 2020 in the SOTU. No matter who the Dem nominee is, Trump intends to run against “socialism”. It is necessary to destroy Venezuela as a case in point. Sadly for Trump he has not achieved anything of note for his voters. His campaign will consist of a lot of handwaving and demonizing his opponent for wanting “free stuff” (that people in every other developed nation have). Obama was able to get a second term thanks to tribalist Dem supporters and because his opponent was a PE billionaire. I’m not sure Trump will be so lucky in his opponent, but if he runs against Kamala Harris or another corporate hack he has a decent shot. I doubt voters would look kindly on bombing more countries but Trump may not care.

    2. California Bob

      “A more complex question I think is what the likes of Bolton have in mind?”

      Probably a bombing campaign (starting with the nuclear facilities; we’d be doing Israel’s bidding). Generals since Curtis LeMay in WWII have always guaranteed that ‘we just need to step up the bombing’ to subdue any opponent.

      Perfect opportunity for the Chinese to make a move in the SCS.

  4. a different chris

    If the Democrats were who they say they are, people who believe Trump is the Worst President Ever (they aren’t, but if they were), they would be banging on doing a repeal of the AUMF. Congress needs to take its responsibility back. That would be, I would predict, wildly popular because every voter from the Center to the Left would support it because of it’s war-fever-cooling capabilities, and everybody to the right, Trumper’s and Never-Trumpers both, would be also support it because they have the Senate and the Presidency and are not real far off from all three branches again.

    But again the Dems aren’t that and thus it’s not even on the table. Calling AOC….

    1. California Bob

      ‘Rational’ Republicans–are there any left?–don’t want another war either, from what I’ve seen.

  5. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    I don’t know, but looking at the geography perhaps the Neocons see an opportunity to destabilise the underbelly of Russia ( silk road too ? ) & perhaps the region generally, by way of causing a mass exodus of refugees.

    The tragedy is that I would not put anything past the likes of Bolton, who if not a personification of evil, I am at a loss to know who could or would be.

    1. John Wright

      I have a different view of Bolton. From my reading over the years, he is an always wrong “Chicken Hawk” who continues to be viewed as important, not for the wisdom of his bad advice, but because he advocates for policies that other people under the radar want.

      The USA warmongering problem is far, far deeper than the caricature Neocon John Bolton.

      It extends to many quietly powerful people who have pushed him to be the public face.

      Bolton is the waterboy for the team, who will be discarded if he varies from his script.

      Removing John Bolton from the Trump administration might help somewhat, but another would be found to pursue “regime change” even more effectively.

      I look at the selling of the Iraq war as significant because GWB’s administration brought the media, Democrats and much of the public into the requirement that something immediately had to be done.

      Few people asked, how is this legal? Why the rush?

      And about the only people who lost employment were those opposed to the war (Chris Hedges, Phil Donahue) while cheerleaders at the New York TImes and Washington Post kept their jobs.

      Judith Miller is about the only media figure who paid a price for her war promotion efforts.

      And George W. Bush is in the process of being rehabilitated rather than being permanently reviled as one of the worst screw-ups ever in the White House.

      The establishment choice for the Presidential election last time was a “well-connected mediocrity” who joked about killing a foreign leader and destabilizing his country, saying “we came, we saw, he died” and after another foreign country had an election with unacceptable results, “we shouldn’t hold an election unless we can determine the outcome.”

      Rather than Bolton as the personification of evil I believe Bolton is direct evidence that the USA political rot extends far, far deeper than this one person.

      Taking a term from my prior manufacturing employment, one could say the warmongering process in the USA has a lot of “built in margin”.

      1. shinola

        That quote from the “well-connected mediocrity” should be:

        “we came, we saw, he died (cackle!)”

        The quote is just not complete without the cackle.

      2. thesaucymugwump

        I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to Bolton. He’s the visible part of the iceberg for the neocon deep state, to borrow a Trump phrase (and mix my metaphors). The military-industrial complex is far deeper than most people know.

        I would agree with your assessment of Bush the Younger, but Obama was not much better with respect to international affairs. Remember he sat in his hands, leading from behind, as Islamic State solidified, with Yazidis (and Christians and others) being murdered and enslaved.

        I watched the famous UN meeting where Colin Powell stated that the aluminum tubes were proof of Iraq’s nefarious intentions, when anyone who understood anodizing — it’s highly useful in some applications, but not the one referenced — immediately realized that what he was saying was utter nonsense. The media demonstrated its utter ignorance in scientific and/or engineering matters.

        It’s tragic that the US cannot learn that eliminating Hitler led to an enlightened Germany because it could revert to its cultured past, but replacing dictators in countries that have only known violence and ideology will require full-blown occupation and rebuilding.

      3. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I am in total agreement with your main point, but it does not change my view of him or anyone else who can justify policies that lead to the death of many & just off the top of my head, I would extend it to include the likes of Boot, Perle. the Kagan’s, Kristol, Wurmser, Netanyahoo, Cheney, Blair…….

        If the guys paraded at Nuremburg who were & are still are seen as human representations of evil due to their crimes against humanity, then I personally do not see any difference between the two groups, except one is in the ascendant & the others when charged, were not.

      4. California Bob

        “… continues to be viewed as important, not for the wisdom of his bad advice, but because he advocates for policies that other people under the radar want.”

        I always suspected John Bolton and Larry Kudlow were brothers!

  6. Reds

    My partner and I visited Iran in 2013, but when we were there, our tour guide wanted to convey in the strongest terms what they collectively lost in the Iran-Iraq war and who they fought.

    In each town we visited, banners hung from the lamp posts honoring every fallen soldier from that town with at least their name and photo. We were also told that most people of fighting age signed up to help defend their country and even some who were too young or too old. They very much remember their lost generation.

    Our tour guide also said that they had found enemy dog-tags from every nation, and that every day Iranians believed that they defended themselves in a world war.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Nobody knows for sure how many died, but it was certainly in the hundreds of thousands, so proportionately the death rate was of WWI type scale for Iran. Its unsurprising they find it very hard to forgive the rest of the world for giving so much covert support to the aggressor, Iraq.

  7. MIKERW0

    This is shaping up to be another blown opportunity. Most of Iran is pro west. They are Persians, not Arabs. Saudi is a way more radical and destabilizing regime.

    A friend, who lived in Tehran for a long time and still has ties there, tells me that the neocons ate empowering the corrupt, ideological right that want swat with the west. Their aim is to sink a US capital asset in the Gulf, which they would view as a huge victory. We are virtually defenseless against their small boats.

    1. johnnygl

      I think this is on the right track. Awhile ago i saw that president rouhani plunged in polls as trump made him look like a fool by ripping up the agreement and throwing it in his face.

  8. Steven

    Possibly the worst mistake you can make dealing with the likes of John Bolton and his fellow neoconservatives is taking what they say seriously. Anyone who doesn’t know by now all their war mongering isn’t about ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, the defense of Israel or some other such nonsense is either stupid or not paying attention. It is about OIL and money – just like it has always been at least since the end of WWII. For Trump and most of Western Civilization’s 1% it is all about money, adding ever more zeros to the dollar value of their net wealth.

    Like mindless little amoeba they continue to pursue policies that vindicate their obsession, including not just acquiring more money but protecting the ‘value’ of what they have already accumulated. This is where the Saudis enter the picture. What ‘backs’ the money the West’s 1% has accumulated is Saudi oil NOT the security of US government debt. To acquire ever more money as rapidly as possible the West’s 1% has already burned through its modest endowment of fossil fuels through conspicuous consumption and needless wars. It has off-shored the wealth creating potential built up by previous generations to the point where all it has left now are the unpayable debts of the US government and a military-industrial complex rotting from the inside out.

    Its real purpose is making more money for the West’s 1% as fast as possible, not national defense or even procurement policies that would allow it to enforce the global military hegemony upon which, along with Saudi and perhaps now Venezuelan oil, the value of US and Western money now depends.

    Maybe the likes of Bolton really believe what they say in public. But I find it hard to believe anyone, even neoconservatives, could be that stupid.

    1. Steven

      Perhaps the way to sum this up is the old saying “you dance with those who brung you” – no matter how physically and morally reprehensible they have become.

  9. Peter T

    I have no doubt Bolton et al would like a (limited) war with Iran. I doubt they will get one. Such a war has no backing in Europe (and the reaction might well be strong enough that US forces would be barred from using US bases in Europe). Iraq would be hostile, as would Turkey. Saudi would be in – but is vulnerable and tied up in the ructions created by MBS’ push for dominance. Israel would cheer the US on, but would it base US forces?. In short, any try at laying the diplomatic groundwork is going to crash and burn, as at Warsaw.

  10. David Mills

    If Trump’s objective is to renegotiate the JCPOA, he is out of luck. Iran, as a matter of prudence would have to insist that it be ratified as a treaty by the house and the Senate BEFORE they sign. Otherwise the next president could just rip it up.

    Obama, for all his many flaws, got the best deal that was to be had. Now Pompeo (the peon) is making ridiculous demands ahead of another possible set if negotiations.

    This was also well covered in an interview with Scott Ritter by Chris hedges.

    As for going “kinetic”, not only is the bulk of Saudi’s pipeline infrastructure a sitting duck, but so is the Pearl GTL facility in Qatar…

    May we live in interesting times.

  11. David Mills

    If Trump’s objective is to renegotiate the JCPOA, he is out of luck. Iran, as a matter of prudence would have to insist that it be ratified as a treaty by the house and the Senate BEFORE they sign. Otherwise the next president could just rip it up.

    Obama, for all his many flaws, got the best deal that was to be had. Now Pompeo (the peon) is making ridiculous demands ahead of another possible set if negotiations.

    This was also well covered in an interview with Scott Ritter by Chris hedges.

    As for going “kinetic”, not only is the bulk of Saudi’s pipeline infrastructure a sitting duck, but so is the Pearl GTL facility in Qatar…

    May we live in interesting times.

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