The Iranian Chessboard

Five Ways to Think about Iran under the Gun

Published on Tomdispatch, by Pepe Escobar, May 01, 2008.

… Heading down the New Silk Road:

Reformist friends in Tehran keep telling me the country is now immersed in an atmosphere similar to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s in China or the 1980s rectification campaign in Cuba – and nothing “velvet” or “orange” or “tulip” or any of the other color-coded Western-style movements that Washington might dream of is, as yet, on the horizon.

Under such conditions, what if there were an American air attack on Iran? The Supreme Leader, on the record, offered his own version of threats in 2006. If Iran were attacked, he said, the retaliation would be doubly powerful against U.S. interests elsewhere in the world.

From American supply lines and bases in southern Iraq to the Straits of Hormuz, the Iranians, though no military powerhouse, do have the ability to cause real damage to American forces and interests – and certainly to drive the price of oil into the stratosphere. Such a “war” would clearly be a disaster for everyone.

The Iranian theocratic leadership, however, seems to doubt that the Bush administration and the U.S. military, exhausted by their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will attack. They feel a tide at their backs. Meanwhile the “Look East” strategy, driven by soaring energy prices, is bearing fruit.

Ahmadinejad has just concluded a tour of South Asia and, to the despair of American neocons, the Asian Energy Security Grid is quickly becoming a reality. Two years ago, at the Petroleum Ministry in Tehran, I was told Iran is betting on the total “interdependence of Asia and Persian Gulf geo-economic politics.” This year Iran finally becomes a natural gas-exporting country. The framework for the $7.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the “peace” pipeline, is a go. Both these key South Asian U.S. allies are ignoring Bush administration desires and rapidly bolstering their economic, political, cultural, and – crucially – geostrategic connections with Iran. An attack on Iran would now inevitably be viewed as an attack against Asia.

What a disaster in the making, and yet, now more than ever, Vice President Dick Cheney’s faction in Washington (not to mention possible future president John McCain) seems ready to bomb. Perhaps the Mahdi himself – in his occult wisdom – is betting on a U.S. war against Asia to slouch towards Qom to be reborn. (full long text).

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