Major newspaper confers cold warrior status on Iran


In a recent article in The Washington Post, Robin Wright quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling Iran the state that presents “the single most important. . . strategic challenge to the United States.” Wright concluded: “After three decades of festering tensions the United States and Iran are now facing off in a full-fledged cold war.” [Emphasis added]

What an honor! One of the United States’s premier newspapers has elevated Iran to the position vacated by fallen superpower Russia. Oh well, we all know how much nature abhors a vacuum. China had its chance, but it has failed to act with sufficient belligerence to claim the prize.

Though Iran lacks China’s, or even Russia’s, economy, it’s leapfrogged ahead of them, if Ms. Wright’s assessment is correct, to attain most feared nation status in the eyes of the US. How does this work to the administration’s benefit? Should use of the term “cold war” become widespread, it would, as Kaveh Afrasiabi explains in his most recent column for Asia Times Online, allow the US to continue forging new military pacts with Eastern Europe and the Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf states. It also, he writes, allows for “Israel’s inclusion in the security calculus of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states considered front-line states in the new cold war.”

If the idea of Israel in bed with the Saudis sounds far-fetched, you must have missed the memo that its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is backing the proposed US arms deal with the Saudis.

But how, aside from forcing the rest of the world to give Iran — the new gun in town — a wide berth, does being designated the US’s cold war opponent benefit that state?

Labeling our relationship with a country a cold war implies that, as with Russia, the immensity of the threat we pose to each other is too great for us to attack each other. Or, as Afrasiabi writes, “it softens the ‘military option’ openly entertained against Iran by some in the US and Israel.” The two countries, he adds, are then more susceptible to “enhanced communication that would help avoid ‘accidental war,’ given the tight corners [quarters? Ed.] of the Persian Gulf crowded with US warships.”

Thus the likelihood we’ll attack Iran may be reduced. We’ll allow Afrasiabi, in his elegant language, to sum up: “The ‘cold’ aspect of this war has, in other words, certain and unmistakable advantages, and the pertinent question is whether they trump the disadvantages.”

6 replies »

  1. An interesting concept, Russ – if this is indeed the strategy of the Bushies, it’ll show more intelligence in handling Iran than they’ve shown in their other Middle East – or international – dealings. And it defuses the growing tension that has propelled Bush’s approval ratings downward. One has to wonder if this is just a stalling tactic for Rove and company….

  2. Iran’s huge, geographically. The nuclear manufacture they’re up to is spread out and not all of it may be known. There is no way either of the US or Israel can take the place on and so some form of real politik was inevitable. At the same time Iran only sells one product. The rest of their economy is an embarrassing mess. So they too have an incentive to keep the nuclear option subdued.

  3. Assume this theory is true. It actually serves even MORE purposes. The Cold War frame allows us to stay out of direct conflict, but at the same time it fuels any drive to build up the military, and that serves the interests of a lot of people, doesn’t it?

  4. Re #3: Yup, the Pentagon got rich on the Cold War.

    One of my all-time favorite books, which came out last years, was “House of War” by James Carroll. It’s a history of the Pentagon, revolving around nuclear arms, and explains exactly how this situation came into being.

  5. Condeleeza Rice is full of crap! A strategic threaat to this United
    States? They have NO, long range weapons – no, bombers, missiles,
    or subs that can launch missiles. Name a way that Iran threatens
    the American people?

    Madam, you are dismissed!

  6. who is this Afrasiabi whose name pops up every where in connection with Iran these days? I just googled him and found out he has taken Harvard University to US Supreme! Quite a credential!