Monday, September 10, 2012

Joschka Fischer on global economic risks of an attack on Iran

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wonders if we're looking at An Autumn Abyss? Project Syndicate 08/29/2012. His worry in this column focuses Middle East unrest and especially on the possibility of a war with Iran:

No one can predict the direction in which Egypt's Sunni Islamist president and parliamentary majority will lead the country. But one thing is clear: the Sunni Islamists are decisively altering the region’s politics. This regional re-alignment need not be necessarily anti-Western, but it surely will be if Israel and/or the United States attack Iran militarily. ...

A war in the Persian Gulf – still the world's gas station – would affect oil exports for some time, and energy prices would skyrocket, dealing a severe blow to a global economy that is teetering on the brink of recession.

China, already in economic trouble, would be hit hardest, along with the whole of East Asia. With the US also economically weakened and facing a presidential election, America’s leadership ability would be seriously constricted. And could a weakened Europe cope with an oil shock at all? A regional and global security shock caused by asymmetric warfare could add still further to the world economy’s troubles, causing exports to slump even more. [my emphasis]
The Western standoff with Iran won't end tomorrow, and there has been ebb and flow in the current phase, the dispute of Iran's nuclear capability, for years already.

Armin Azad argues that the recent summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations in Teheran has bolstered Iran's negotiating position (What Cable News didn’t Tell You: The Non-Aligned Movement Meeting Strengthened Iran’s Hand vs. US, Israel Informed Comment 09/04/2012):

No matter how the Iranian authorities present the results of this conference, the wide participation in the meeting could also be indicative of another point: many countries feel unhappy about being pressured by the U.S to take positions and/or act in ways in which they are not comfortable with or do not serve their interests. In this sense, their positions in the meeting might be interpreted as a sign of protest to the US and Israeli policies – rather than enthusiastic support for Iran.

However, the strong support of Non-Aligned movement for Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy and particularly the right to have a full nuclear fuel cycle (uranium enrichment) may have the immediate impact of strengthening Iranian hand in its show down with the West over its nuclear issue. It may also make it more difficult for Israel to push forward its campaign to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
And Jim Lobe and Gareth Porter report for After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat Inter Press Service, 09/05/2012:

... Obama has gone further than ever before in warning Netanyahu not to expect U.S. backing in any war with Iran. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in Britain Aug. 30 that an Israeli strike would be ineffective, and then said, “I don’t want to be complicit if they (the Israelis) choose to do it.”

It was the first time that a senior U.S. official had made such an explicit public statement indicating the administration’s unwillingness to be a party to a war provoked by a unilateral Israeli attack. ...

One of Romney’s senior advisers, former CIA chief Gen. Michael Hayden, has even partially echoed Dempsey, telling the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Thursday that an Israeli raid against Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely be counter-productive.

Both Hayden’s and Dempsey’s remarks about the futility or counter-productivity of an Israeli attack on Iran echoed those of a broad range of Israel’s national-security elite, including President Shimon Peres and the former chiefs of Israel’s intelligence agencies and armed forces, who, provoked by Netanyahu’s and Barak’s war talk, have come out more strongly than ever against the idea.
But that doesn't mean that there is no pressure for making war on Iran. Nor that the Obama Administration is being publicly unambiguous in its opposition to war. Reuters reports in U.S. admiral visits Israel, discusses Iran with Barak 09/06/2012:

A top U.S. general visited Israel's defense minister on Thursday and discussed Iran, in a display of solidarity after the two allies differed publicly over what they fear is Tehran's drive towards nuclear weapons capability.

The vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld smiled broadly, exchanging pleasantries with Ehud Barak in his office in Tel Aviv in a brief video released by the Israeli Defense Ministry.

Barak later said that they had "discussed regional issues and Iran, of course".
And the fact that Obama scrambled last week to restore the foolishly reckless Democratic Party platform position accepting Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a reminder of how deferential this Administration is to hawkish Israeli policies.

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