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Aijaz Ahmad: The main reason is the geopolitics of the region and the global economy

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ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: US Central Command leader Admiral William Fallon resigned this week after reportedly being at odds with a White House eager to go to war with Iran. Observers are now debating whether Iran will be another Iraq, and if the military option that the White House has put on the table will be put into play.


GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision. I wish I didn’t have to talk about war. No president wants to be a war president. But when confronted with the realities of the world, I have made the decision that now is the time to confront, now is the time to deal with this enemy, and now is the time to spread freedom as the great alternative to the ideology they adhere to.


AIJAZ AHMAD: Admiral Fallon, commander of the US forces in the Middle East, has resigned, and his resignation has been accepted with great alacrity. Were there to be a military strike against Iran, he would be the man leading it, and yet among all the serving high officials in the US military establishment, he is the man best known for opposing the policy of a military option against Iran. The force with which his resignation was sought and accepted reopens the question: is a military strike against Iran in the offing? One should have thought not. The US is mired in Iraq. There is at best a strategic stalemate in Afghanistan, with advantage going to the Taliban. There are major crises in Pakistan, Lebanon, and the occupied territories of Palestine. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran neither has nor has had in the near past a nuclear weapons program. The National Intelligence Estimate inside the United States has said more or less the same thing. And yet there may still be a possibility of a war against Iran. A military strike against Iran before the elections of November this year may help elect a Republican candidate by releasing all kinds of patriotic altruistic nationalist sentiments in a war hysteria. Even if a Democratic president comes in, whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, they would be bound by the policies already set by a military strike of that nature. But the main reason appears to be in the geopolitics of the region and of the global economy. Iran sits on the second largest pool of energy resource, second only to Russia. Russia has nuclear weapons, so not much can be done about that, but Iran has no such weapons, and therefore it’s vulnerable to military action by the United States. After five years of occupation by the United States in Iraq, it emerges that the main beneficiary of it has been Iran, as was demonstrated most visibly very recently during Ahmadinejad’s visit to Baghdad, the only head of state in the world who has so far been actually invited by the Iraqi government to visit. Unlike Bush, who goes there uninvited and leaves without spending a night anywhere, Ahmadinejad actually spent the night in the home of Jalal Talabani, his Kurdish counterpart, the president of Iraq. But above all it is Iran’s emerging role in the world economy of oil and dollar which is creating the greatest problem. Chavez and Ahmadinejad proposed in the last summit meeting of OPEC that OPEC countries should be trading not in dollars, but in a basket of currencies. Iran itself does not trade its oil in dollars but sells it for other currencies, in the yen for Japan, in Euros to China, and so on. Now, in February this year, Iran has opened a bourse in Tehran to challenge the two major bourses, both controlled by US corporations, where the prices are set and trading is done. For now, payments would be received only in Irani currency, but it is projected that this bourse, unlike the ones controlled by the United States, would accept payments in Russian ruble, in the Chinese yuan, in Japanese yen, in various currencies of the world, bypassing the dollar. This proposal of Iran, which would have fallen on deaf ears some years ago, is being received with the greatest seriousness in the Arab world. And given the precipitate decline of the dollar, they also wish to diversify their reserves, and they’re listening to the Irani, the Russian, and the Chinese proposals about diversifying not only the reserves, but also the medium of oil trade, which at the moment is the dollar. This is the beginning of a process in which Iran is playing a major role, which can spell the beginning of the decline of the US economic power in the world. And the real hatred of Iran in fact resides not in any nuclear issue, but in this rising power of Iran in relation to Iraq, in relation to the region, and in relation, indeed, to the geopolitics of oil and the dollar. We may yet see, towards the end of this administration, a great bonfire of vanities in the form of an attack on Iran, even though all indications are that a war on Iran, if and when it comes, will spell, probably, the beginning of the end of US dominance on a global scale.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.