To the outside observer, the intensifying conflict between the United States, Israel and Iran (along with some lesser bellicose nations, like Britain) may appear like a classic “prisoner’s dilemma.” The best option for both sides seems to be to pacify their domestic constituencies by escalating the conflict, which will ensure the worst possible outcome.
The Israeli right-wing government is seemingly beholden to its extremist and terrorist voting blocs, while the American government is seemingly fenced in by the Israel lobby, neoconservative candidates vying for the imperial throne, the US empire and merchants of death, and the Israeli government itself. Meanwhile, the semi-totalitarian Iranian government is seemingly obliged to “stand up” to the aggressive Americans and their “Zionist client state,” lest it be seen as “soft” or “weak” by its own citizens.
As in a classic prisoner’s dilemma, both sides are ostensibly ensuring the worst possible outcome by focusing on their own domestic political agendas at the expense of the bigger picture and saner solutions.
If this conflict did indeed represent a classic prisoner’s dilemma, we would have little reason to think that the conflict will not worsen dramatically in the future. We would have to assume that both sides would continue to escalate the conflict to a point from which it would be completely impossible to pull back. World War III would be virtually assured.
Fortunately, however, the conflict between the United States, Israel and Iran is not a prisoner’s dilemma situation, because the Iranians hold a trump card that they can eventually use to unequivocally “win” the conflict. The trump card that the Iranians hold, and one prays that they are aware that they hold this card, is to completely dump their nuclear program.
Before you guffaw or snort at this suggestion, recall that this conflict between the Americans and Israelis on the one hand and the Iranians on the other is not about nuclear power or nuclear weapons. As the American intelligence agencies and the American government itself have assured us, to say nothing of the IAEA’s redundant assurances, there is absolutely no evidence that the Iranians are currently attempting to build or acquire nuclear weapons. Nor is the Iranian government an “existential threat” to Israel even if it did acquire nuclear weapons, as even the head former head of the Mossad has assured us. Nor still is there any need for the United States to aid in the defense of Israel, as Benjamin Netanyahu himself informed the American congress.
Bearing all this in mind, the conflict between the United States, Israel and Iran has absolutely nothing to do with nuclear power or nuclear weapons. Instead, the pointless conflict is all about cold, hard political power in the Middle East, with the Israelis hoping to secure a vice-like grip on the region.
The Iranian government itself is surely aware of this, and you can bet your last dollar that the Iranian people are aware of it too. The media in Iran is run by the government, which means that the government has undoubtedly informed the Iranian people that it is complying with IAEA regulations and that even the American intelligence agencies say that the Iranian government is not pursuing nuclear weapons.
Why should the Iranian people doubt the sincerity of the Iranian government’s pleas of innocence, when even the IAEA and American intelligence agencies assure them that the Iranian government is not pursuing nuclear weapons? More importantly, why should the rest of the Islamic world doubt the sincerity of the Iranian government’s pleas of innocence, when even the IAEA and American intelligence agencies assure them that the Iranian government is not pursuing nuclear weapons?
The answer is that they have absolutely no reason to doubt the Iranian government’s sincerity, and therein lies Iran’s trump card in this conflict. The Iranian government will not lose face with the rest of the Islamic world if it decides to terminate its nuclear program completely, as Israel and Washington demand, and diffuse the entire situation.
Obama and Netenyahu would be so caught off guard by such a move that peace would be virtually assured, and the reputation of the Iranian government would be magnified a thousand fold in the region. The Iranian government would be viewed as a sane, peaceful and, most importantly, trustworthy government by the rest of the Islamic world.
Instead of toppling their regional rival, the Israelis would find themselves confronting a newly lionized giant. Forget the Arab Spring of 2011; the Iranian Spring of 2012 would transform the world.
The Americans and their European underlings would have little reason to continue their unjust and bellicose sanctions if the Iranians did precisely what was demanded of them. Continuation of the sanctions would only appear to be unjust and Iraq-like meddling in the Islamic world in the arrogant hope of “regime change” for Washington and Tel Aviv’s benefit.
The reversal of sanctions, on the other hand, would almost instantaneously revive Iran’s economy, as petrodollars once again flooded the economy. Hillary Clinton and her chickenhawk confreres would no doubt still whine that the Iranians don’t “recognize” Israel, (as if it matters to the nuclear-armed Israelis whether another country “recognizes” them, whatever that even means), but poor Hillary would be at a complete loss as to what else to do.
For the sake of the entire world, especially including the hapless citizens if Iran, Israel, and the United States, one can only pray that the Iranians are politically savvy enough to recognize that they can win this conflict without even firing a shot. They don’t need to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, and they don’t need to fire a single Silkworm missile at an American aircraft carrier. All they need to do is shut down their nuclear programs in toto, and they will emerge from this conflict as the dominant and respected regional power of the Middle East.
Most importantly, they will thereby avert World War III and the spilling of much innocent blood.
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.
Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com.