The Path to War with Iran is an analysis by Robert Merry, editor of The National Interest and a historian. (I reformatted it to highlight its main points but did not change any words or the order of his words.) Merry analogizes the current situation with that facing FDR in the late 1930s, and he introduces a fascinating vignette, which if true, adds substance to those who claim Roosevelt was trying to push the Japanese into war. But the analogy is really beside the point. Merry’s focuses the substance of his argument entirely on the nuclear question. At first glance, this appeared to me to be very well argued and important, but for some reason, I was a little uneasy about it. So, I forwarded to my good friend Pierre Sprey and asked him for his take on Merry’s argument. Pierre has a very different view; he thinks a war with Iran is very unlikely for reasons unrelated to the nuclear question. In effect, nucs may be a red herring that keeps populations lathered up and distracted from more fundamental issues. For the record, I agree and am familiar with Pierre’s arguments “a” (about the war weariness) and “b.” — the fact that I needed to be reminded of these more fundamental issues is a yet another example of how nucs can capture one’s thinking.
I urge readers to think about both points of view.
——[Response from Pierre Sprey]——-
Most interesting (and new to me) is Merry’s vignette of FDR deliberately moving to lock up all the Japanese-Americans on the same day that he pushed the Japanese government over the brink–just one more testimonial to FDR’s boundless lust for power and utter cynicism when it came to right, wrong, justice or causing the death of millions. Reminds you of LBJ, doesn’t it?
As for the rest of Merry’s argument, it is hopelessly off the mark. That’s not because it’s an argument by analogy, but because the analogy he uses is so vapid and historically shallow. I say that because Merry’s argument shows a complete ignorance of a) why, from 1937 on, FDR relentlessly fomented war with Japan, using sanctions as a key tool; and b) why two of Obama’s most powerful support groups–Israel and Big Oil–urgently need the continuation of sanctions without war.
Regarding a), I think most historians who are not defenders of FDR or admirers of the American Empire now understand that the crash of 1936 marked the failure of the New Deal and made it obvious to FDR that he needed a war to end the Depression and save his presidency.
By now it must be as obvious to Obama as it certainly is to big business (and even to our economists) that the Iraq and Afghan wars have hurt, not helped, the bailing out of our economy–and that a third and much larger war with Iran would hurt even worse.
At the same time, regarding b) continuation of Iranian oil sanctions is crucial to propping up the now-shaky world price of oil, currently under heavy assault from massive increases in domestic American oil production accompanied by recent record-breaking Iraqi oil output increases [e.g., see Daniel Yergin’s America’s New Energy Reality). If Iran’s huge potential oil production were unleashed by Merry’s utopia of “confidence building gestures” and “gradual lifting of sanctions,” the world price of oil could crash from $85 per barrel down to well under $40 (which is still way above the price under a non-cartelized, competitive oil market). And if ensuring the failure of “gradual lifting of sanctions” is crucial to propping up the world price of oil, then, as sure as the sun rises in the east, Obama’s campaign will include an Oil-Lobby-crafted plank denouncing concessions to Iran.
Enthusiastically helping Obama to nail down that draconian sanctions plank will be an Israeli Lobby committed to Netanyahu’s cynical saber-rattling program. Keeping the Israeli-fabricated nuclear boogeyman alive and flourishing and undefeated is, of course, essential to Netanyahu’s long term political survival: it creates an essential smokescreen for unending settlement-building and ethnic cleansing while keeping the Israeli voting public terrorized enough to never stop clamoring for Bibi’s lion-hearted leadership.
Merry is under the illusion that Obama’s present posture, sooner or later, will lead to a shades-of-FDR ultimatum followed by inevitable war with Iran. I say that Obama’s (and Bibi’s) lust for continued power guarantees the longevity of sanctions, the strangling of ultimatums in the crib, and the near-impossibility of war with Iran.
>———[Attachment 1] —————–
Robert W. Merry, The National Interest, June 14, 2012
On November 26, 1941, a White House aide named Henry Field was summoned to the office of Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary, Grace Tully, for what seemed like a bizarre assignment. Tully instructed Field, one of the president’s bright young staffers, to produce, as quickly as possible, the names and addresses of all Japanese Americans, whether born in Japan or America. The assignment was “of the utmost urgency,” said Tully, adding, “Use your own judgment to achieve results causing the least possible chance of a breach in security.”
Phi Beta Iota: The US Government, at the political as well as the senior civil servant and flag officer levels, has a number of “rackets” that it perpetuates in the interest of the two-party tyranny and the various special interests that consume both the US Treasury and borrowed or fabricated money. All of those rackets require the burial of intelligence and the shunning of integrity. If the US Government had intelligence with integrity, it would be eradicating the 50% across every policy area that is fraud, waste, and abuse; it would be creating a prosperous smart nation at peace, and it would be rapidly implementing all of the sustainability technologies that have been kept off the market to the exclusive benefit of the elites and cabals that “own” the legacy structure.