Libmonster ID: UK-1298
Author(s) of the publication: S. M. ROGOV

S. M. ROGOV

Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences

1.The confrontation between the United States and Iran has been going on for 33 years. This is one of the longest-running international conflicts, considering that even the Soviet-American Cold War lasted just over 40 years. In this regard, the question arises: is there really an irreconcilable conflict between the United States and Iran, a clash of their interests?

Yes, there are undoubtedly ideological contradictions. The Bush administration even promoted Islam-fascism as the main ideological threat to the free world instead of communism. But this thesis, to put it mildly, does not stand up to criticism, and the Obama administration has completely abandoned it, although Republicans repeat it during the current election campaign.

Undoubtedly, there are geopolitical contradictions between the United States and Iran. It seems that Iran still sees itself as a regional superpower in the Persian Gulf region. And under the Shah, the Americans not only did not object, but also strongly encouraged Tehran to play such a role. But when Iran took an anti-American stance, Washington's position changed dramatically.

A very interesting question from the point of view of ideology: why in the competition between Sunni monarchies and the Shiite republic, America takes the side of much more reactionary, anti-democratic, restricting any human rights, including women, Sunni kings and emirs, although Iran against the background of Saudi Arabia, probably looks almost like a semi-democracy.

2. The role of the energy factor in American politics is very often greatly exaggerated in our country. The United States does not particularly need the energy resources of Iran, and indeed of the entire Persian Gulf, at present. America has diversified its sources of energy, plus the boom that domestic production is currently experiencing: sources of shale gas in the United States and possible cooperation with Canada. But there is no denying that control over the energy resources of the Middle East, on which Europe, China, India, and Japan depend to a great extent, is a very important factor in American geopolitics and geoeconomics.

Particularly noteworthy is the impact of the very serious economic sanctions that have been imposed over the past six months against Iran. This affects the position of Tehran. Now the US Congress is discussing another anti-Iranian resolution, which further tightens the so-called "crippling" sanctions.

There is a situation that is the opposite of what happened during the oil embargo and the energy crisis of 1973. Then suppliers imposed an embargo, and now - buyers. Recent economic sanctions have forced Iran to show more flexibility and undoubtedly played a role in the decision to start negotiations on May 23.

Undoubtedly, there are behind-the-scenes games between Washington and Tehran (remember the famous Iran-Contra case), but I would not exaggerate them. Obama undoubtedly tried to start a new dialogue with Iran, recognized Iran as an Islamic republic in his speeches, but the dialogue did not work out very well.

3. Israel's influence on the US approach to Iran. I will not dwell in detail on the specifics of the military-political alliance between the United States and Israel. But we all know that Israel, in fact, is a serious domestic political factor in America itself. This is primarily reflected in the US approach to the Middle East region. The consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on for more than half a century are, of course, reflected in American policy towards the Middle East as a whole. The anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic rhetoric of the Iranian leaders is undoubtedly being used effectively by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

There is a situation where both parties (Democratic and Republican) consider Israel as a reliable ally of the United States. On the one hand, 60-70% of American Jews consistently vote for the Democratic Party (Jews are the most liberal sector of the American population, and the percentage of support for Obama is twice as high among Jews as among all other white Americans). On the other hand, pro-Israel posy-

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positions are also held by conservative Republicans, which is due in no small part to the role of Protestant fundamentalists. In addition, the foreign policy views of the Republican Party are determined by the so-called neoconservatives, who are inextricably linked to the Israeli lobby.

4. One more point concerns Israeli policy. After its creation, Israel pursued a policy of close ties with states on the periphery of the region, that is, behind the back of the Arabs: Turkey, Iran, and Ethiopia were actually Israel's allies in the 1950s and 1960s. But this strategy failed: Iran dropped out first, followed by Ethiopia, and most recently Turkey. This, of course, increases the nervousness of the Israeli leadership, since it has neither allies nor fellow travelers in the region. True, relations with Azerbaijan are developing, but still Azerbaijan as an ally of Israel is not very serious.

5. The global war against Terrorism, which was declared by the George W. Bush administration after September 11, 2001, has had a very serious impact on Iran's position in the Middle East region. While Tehran remained an enemy of Washington, the United States clashed with bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and Sunni radical terrorist groups that were at odds with Iran's Shiites.

Bush made a very important decision when he abandoned Clinton's policy of "double containment" of Iraq and Iran and set a course for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, as well as the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. As a result, Iran's regional rivals were defeated, which to some extent balanced Iranian influence and power. Today, inside the" Greater Middle East", Tehran has no deterrents left. Moreover, due to the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, time is on Iran's side.

The current Iraqi regime, a Shiite-controlled government that maintains close ties with Iran, may not be a puppet of Iran, but it has become to some extent Iran's "little brother." It is no coincidence that the meeting* on May 23, 2012, was decided to be held in Baghdad at the request of the Iranians, on a more convenient platform for them.

With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan now underway, the question arises of how Iran will behave: will it support the Karzai regime, will it continue to compete with the Taliban?

6. As for the American assessments of Iran's nuclear missile program, the discussion that is going on in the United States is dominated by panic-stricken overestimations of Iran's capabilities and intentions. Even 14 years ago, an important role was played by the report of the Donald Rumsfeld Commission, which investigated the nuclear missile threat from North Korea and Iran and announced then that in 5 years they could create intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with nuclear weapons. Since then, "worst-case scenario" assessments of the Iranian threat have prevailed in the United States.

The statements made at congressional hearings and in their public reports by the heads of US intelligence and the heads of the Pentagon are extremely interesting. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, clearly stated that it is not Iran that is the main threat to the United States, but Russia and China, because only they can destroy the United States, and Iran cannot. The CIA and the Pentagon are quite calm about the Iranian program, considering that Iran has significantly slowed down its military nuclear development, although it has not completely stopped.

J. Clapper and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, also claim that Iran's top leadership, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians want to reach a level where nuclear weapons can be created, but they have not yet decided whether to create them.

Dempsey and Clapper said they considered the current Iranian leaders to be"rational people." This is very important from the point of view of assessing Iran's intentions, because both Netanyahu and supporters of the pro-Israel lobby say that Iran is behaving irrationally, so it cannot be contained, so it must use preemptive military force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear missiles.

There are also questions about the Iranian ICBM program: whether the Iranian industry, despite its undoubted achievements, is able to create such complex technologies as are required for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Many experts, and I share this opinion, believe that it will take Iran at least 10 years to develop an ICBM.

7. It was the Rumsfeld Commission report that played a pivotal role in U.S. missile defense policy. The Iranian threat became a pretext for withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and deploying the US missile defense system.

At the same time, Russian-American relations have become sharply complicated due to the fact that we at the official level interpret this as a threat to our strategic nuclear potential. In particular, the third position area in Poland or the fourth phase with the deployment of SM-3 Block 2B interceptors is assessed by us as the creation of a strategic missile defense system, although the Americans claim that this is against Iran. Indeed, what the Obama administration is doing, at least in the first, second, and third phases, is basically protecting against the short-and medium-range missiles that Iran does possess. Iran's current missiles, according to some estimates, can reach the Balkans and Italy. It is clear that Israel is quite achievable for Iranian missiles.


* Meeting of the " six " international mediators (permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) with representatives of Tehran (editor's note).

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It should be noted that in the field of missile defense, America works very closely with Israel. This year, in addition to $3 billion. The House of Representatives of the US Congress voted to allocate an additional $1 billion in economic aid that Israel receives annually. on the Israeli missile defense system. Previously, US spending on Israel's missile defense system was about $100 million a year, but now it is a billion, which is a lot.

The United States also signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates on the sale of THAAD interceptors to protect against short-and medium-range missiles.

However, the question arises: is the Pentagon preparing to defend itself against Iran or to launch a preemptive strike? After all, Washington has repeatedly stated that it will not allow Tehran to create nuclear weapons.

8. As for military scenarios, there is, of course, the option of an Israeli strike. And in fact, this is exactly what Netanyahu has been calling for since the end of last year. This means that Israel will strike, as it did more than 30 years ago in Iraq, this time at Iranian nuclear facilities, although Iran, according to some estimates, has more than 100 such facilities. It is believed that Israel can use up to 50 F-15 and F-16 aircraft to strike. But Israel has big problems, one of which is related to the fact that Israel has only a few tanker planes, despite the fact that it has to fly far, and the second is that powerful bombs capable of destroying underground targets require heavy strategic bombers, such as the B-2, which it has There is no Israel, and front-line F-15 fighter-bombers cannot deliver them to the target.

Three variants of an Israeli strike on Iran are being considered: the Northern one - through Turkey, the Central One - through Jordan and Iraq, and the Southern One - through Saudi Arabia and again Iraq. The distance is very large, it is about 2 times farther than when the strike on the Iraqi reactor "Osiris" in 1981. At best, Israel can hit several targets, but it is not able to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

9. If we talk about a US strike, then several options are being considered among American experts, and I have chosen several of them.

First, this is a demonstration strike, as if a warning, its purpose is to destroy any one important target, plus several small objects.

Secondly, the strike is more powerful, which will require several hundred cruise missiles and sorties lasting 10 days.

Third, a large-scale campaign that can last for 2 months, as was the case with Kosovo or Iraq. This will require several thousand sorties and several hundred cruise missiles. This is necessary to defeat practically not only nuclear, but also all serious military and economic goals of Iran.

There are also fantastic plans, such as the landing of Marines on the Iranian islands in the Strait of Hormuz. But, of course, a ground war with Iran is a delusional option, although America has shown that it is capable of such a thing.

Various options for regime change are also being proposed, although after 2009 it became clear that this would be very difficult to do.

Finally, a kind of cyber war is already underway, and other special operations are being conducted that the US and Israel have been able to put the brakes on Iran's nuclear program.

10. But Iran has a very serious set of retaliatory measures in the event of the use of force against it by both Israel and the United States:

- Rocket attacks on Israel directly or with the help of Hamas and Hezbollah;

- Attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz;

- strikes on American bases and ships in the region;

- Attacks on US Arab allies in the Gulf;

- use of "dormant" terrorist cells in the United States and Europe.

In addition, a war with Iran can cause a sharp jump in oil prices and destabilize the global energy market.

Thus, it is not necessary to imagine the case in such a way that a military operation against Iran is a "one-way street".

11. The election campaign in the United States, of course, leads to a competition between candidates from both parties in support of Israel, hence the extremely harsh rhetoric. The latest resolution of the Congress contains a very serious innovation: for the first time, as a pretext for the possible use of force against Iran, it is mentioned that Tehran has created "capability to develop nuclear weapons". That is not the creation of nuclear weapons, but the potential to create them. This is such a broad formula that everything that Iran does today, did yesterday and the day before yesterday falls under it. This is the first time the threshold for using force has been lowered so low.

Many experts in the United States recognize that it is unlikely to completely destroy Iran's nuclear missile program and a military conflict with Iran may take a protracted character. In this regard, there was a discussion about the alternative to a military strike: why can't we contain Tehran, even if Iran has nuclear missiles? The logic goes like this: if the US nuclear deterrent worked against Stalin and Beria, then why can't it work against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad?

Barack Obama absolutely does not need a war in the Middle East this year. Most likely, Obama, if re-elected, will continue to focus on economic sanctions and diplomatic measures, as well as providing full support to Israel in building up its missile defense.

If Mitt Romney wins, then there is a very sharp turnaround, because his team of military and foreign policy advisers are neoconservatives from the Bush administration. They had already engaged in a delusional adventure in Iraq once. Whether they learned anything like the Bourbons is debatable.

 


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