Thursday, April 27, 2006





By Darryl Mason

Iran has announced it will defy any further calls by the UN to stop its program of enriching uranium for civilian, peaceful purposes. At the same time, the US has declared the UN Security Council must act now in order to save its credibility.

But China and Russia have warned the US not to do anything stupid, or dangerous, when it comes to Iran. And Iran has told the US it will strike back "beyond belief" if there is an invasion or round of aistrikes, or even a solid slab of sanctions.

The US has crowed too loud this time.

The UN Security Council is unlikely to impose sanctions on Iran, and certainly won't okay military action, because two of its key members, China and Russia, hold vetoes and don't want any action on Iran, even if they are found to have nuclear weapons in development.

The US and Israel might not be able to live with Iran having nuclear weapons, but Russia and China are not so bothered. Iran is a powerful ally in the region now, where the US has become a dangerous liability.

After a solid month of leaked information about US military strike plans on Iran, and wall to wall television debates on the subject, US Secretary of Defence, Condileeza Rice, is finding it hard to be taken seriously when she declares that the US prefers diplomacy over war. She said it before, but the media didn't notice. They were too fixated on how the US will strike Iran.

Such talk of diplomacy will now be seen as a major backdown by the US, especially back home, even though Rice is singing the same song she has sung since the start of the year.

And the same for Bush. Neither have announced an intention to bomb Iran, but the major media in the US has talked about it ceaselessly - how it will be done, why it must be done, why it can't be done, when it will be done and, occasionally, if it will be done.

Bush, however, hasn't helped the global perception of the US being a war-wanting nation when he has thumped podiums and grinned speciously while talking about how no options have been taken off the table yet when it comes to Iran, "including the nuclear option".

Rice now finds herself unwelcome as she tours Middle East and EU countries. The diplomats may still like her, and trust her, but she is bad for local business. A War On Iran is shaping up, in Europe and the East at least, as the most unpopular confrontation in decades.

Condi Rice's quick "pop-in" to Iraq on Wednesday, teamed up with the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, just as the Iraqi government was breaking a crippling deadlock over leadership and its constitution, was not widely viewed as affirmation of democracy in Iraq, but as further interference by the US.

"What are you doing here?" the uncomfortable Iraqi faces glared at Rice and Rumsfeld, who looked extremely uncomfortable themselves. Rice put on a good show, but Rumsfeld was grim and bitter and obviously had a lot on his mind.

Their visit was widely seen in Iraq, and across the Middle East, as the US giving its blessing to the new moves by the Iraq government, where no blessing was required.

The fact that this visit by Rice and Rumsfeld was undertaken with a wall of US media in tow didn't do much to wind back the idea that these are simply PR trips. The locals don't buy it, and now neither do the majority of Americans.

Rice is having an awfully hard time trying to round up enthusiasm and support for some hardcore UN sanctions on Iran, let alone military action, even now it is clear Iran will not stop pursuing their homegrown nuclear energy drive.

China and Russia are already doing big business with Iran and don't want their profit margins affected by sanctions that would clearly benefit the US, by giving a major leg-up to Iraq and all the US corporations now basing themselves there in the hope that Iraq will serve as a new American gateway to the riches of the Middle East.

"Help us on Iran," Rice says, seemingly desperate now, but so many countries are scared of getting involved with the US, this time.

Rice says "diplomacy", Bush says "all options, including nuclear, are on the table" in dealing with Iran, and suddenly it is the US, not Iran, who looks like the rogue state, the drunken sword swinger in the diplomatic ballroom.

And the US is not getting much help from the media this time.

There was resistance to the War On Iraq in the major media in the US, for a period, but once it seemed a lock-in that the War was on, they fell into line. Once Rumsfeld and then Secretary of State Colin Powell handed out the 'confidential' memos, intelligence reports and fake photos, the media took the bait and ran with it all the way to the front page.

But not this time.

Shocked, mortified, by their original enthusiasm for the War On Iraq, and the hellstorm of response from their readers that followed, and continues still, growing even stronger, journalists and editors across the US are suspicious of everything Rice, President Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have to say about "options" on Iran.

The media is wary. They are stand-offish. "You lied before, how do we know you aren't lying this time?"

Scanning through dozens of newspapers online, from the US, across the EU, along with (translated) Russia and Chinese media portals, it appears the US faces nothing but opposition to any action at all to solve the Iran Crisis.

The international media didn't believe the US on Iraq from the beginning, and they seem to be literally doing everything they can to hammer the US now, to codify them, to nullify their once formidable projection of power and dominance.

Perhaps it's easier for the media to simply believe Iran is telling the truth when it says it only wants to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Or easier to believe the US is lying, and wants to bomb Iran regardless of whether or not they are "nuking up".

There has been some extraordinary changes in the world since the start of the War On Iraq, and a huge slab of those changes have come directly from new energy and trade deals forged between the rising mega-powers which are China, Iran and Russia.

And there is the boom in Latin America as well, with new socialist democratic governments storming through, rich with fat oil dollars and major investment capital from China and the East.

All the while that this new order has been cutting deals and firming fresh ties, the US has been distracted by Iraq War fallout back home - 2300+ dead soldiers, torture scandals, intelligence scandals, battles over who lied about what and when, and the wall of opposition to the wartime implementation of hard security measures on freedom-focused Americans.

And perhaps worst of all, the money is now running out. The US can barely afford another War, and the American people now know this. It took a while, but once fuel prices leapt above $3 a gallon, suddenly every American wanted to know why.

China and Russia are working together and working with Iran, cutting energy deals for gas and oil worth half a trillion amongst themselves, and bringing India and Pakistan (two nations that most definitely are nuclear) into their breezily formed zone of energy security.

China has also made stunning inroads into Africa as well, just this week, locking up major supplies of oil from Niger.

The new global order of China, Iran, Russia, with India and Pakistan almost on board, and the leftist Latin America unification, is rich and powerful and popular.

The US, the UK, Australia, these countries are neither needed, nor especially wanted, in the new global order. We might have some resources they can use, but to not get coal and gas and uranium from the West will not cripple the new global order's rise and dominance. China and Russia will just go elsewhere to get what they need, which is why Iran and African countries like Niger are now so important to them.

But the US wants to freeze out Iran, shut down their rising world status, and isolate them from their ties with China and Russia, and pipeline deals with Pakistan and India.

Iran with the bomb is a country that will be hard to hold back from dominating the Middle East, particularly with China and Russia standing tall behind them, if that is actually what China and Russia will allow.

Iran has more readily available oil and gas today than Iraq does, and far more stability, for now, in the face of US pressure, which has caused the dissenters to go quieter, instead of rising up as might be expected, to cash in on the US pressure.

And Latin America, led by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, is gradually pulling out of the US oil market and finding new customers, in the Bahamas, in Iran, in China and Russia.

In the Middle East, outside of Israel, it is not Iran that is viewed as the greatest danger, or the most repressive of the regimes. That black honour falls on the Saudi Kingdom, one of the strongest US allies in the world. And yet is a brutocracy that appears to be fragile, a few shoves away from finally toppling over.

The US doesn't want this, of course. The Saudis are friends, and good business partners, despite the torture and brutality used to hold onto power, and despite being the producer of September 11 terrorists and Osama Bin Laden.

The US shouts for freedom and democracy, and Bush sermonises about how every human soul longs to be free, but young people in the Middle East wonder why they don't start with the Saudi kingdom first, and then perhaps Syria, and then move on from there.

How will the US get back on top? How will they regain their position as the stable, most trustworthy, mega-power in the world? No-one seems to know, including the US.

They are being played for fools by Iran, by Venezuela. While demand for oil, and refining problems, are bumping up the cost of oil, the insecurity borne of the talk of war has added substantially to the storming rise in fuel costs of the past three months.

Iran threatens the US and appears dangerous, and unstable, and oil goes up. Iran makes money. And so does Venezuela, another so called 'wild-card' nation in the Americas that is cleaning up from the US' current vulnerability, thanks to the Iraq War fiasco.

The US has been set up, quietly, subtly, by all these countries that now point out how exposed they are, how vulnerable. Did the US walk into a trap by invading Iraq? Perhaps. Osama Bin Laden himself said it was what he wanted, and he stated that the price of oil was too cheap, when it was only $50 a barrel, that it should in fact be closer to $100.

Right now it's almost too easy for Iran to destabilise the US simply by banging together a few swords and raging against Israel. They must be laughing oil heading towards Bin Laden's preferred market price. Who gets rich from all this? Not the average American. But the chiefs of the oil companies do, no matter in which country they are based. They're all cleaning up.

Does a War On Iran loom larger today? Hardly. Russia and China would not allow it, for starters, let alone the US Congress, let alone every other country in Middle East, with the exception of Israel.

There was the appearance that Iran was buying time, baffling the UN and the IAEA, delaying the inevitable while it rushed towards building nuclear weapons. But perhaps next week it will will be revealed that it was actually the US buying time.

Time enough to prove invading Iraq was the right thing to do, that it would be a success.

Time enough to show the world that they are still in control, that they are still number one.

Or time enough to buy their seat at the table of the New Global Order, the New World Order that they were leading, initiated by President Bush's father in the early 1990s.

President Bush may well say that time is running out for Iran, but Iran knows the truth, that the exact opposite is, in fact, true.

With Russia and China as friends, business partners and allies, Iran has all the time in the world now.

(This piece has been corrected since its original publication)