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The Grand Chess Game

colin buchanan | 10.02.2006 23:07 | Anti-militarism | London | World

Analysis of state of play in US/UK drive for war against Iran

The Grand Chess Game

Today( Sunday 5th) has seen the beating of war drums raised to a new crescendo. Senator John McCain made the following remarkably bellicose statement:

“ There is only one thing worse than military action; that is a nuclear armed Iran”. In the context this amounts to saying “ we will use nuclear weapons rather than allow the possibility of Iran even having them”

This is disturbing, but fully compatible with the now firmly established principles of “ full spectrum dominance” and pre-emptive aggression which now inform US foreign policy.

For his part Rumsfeld came out with this piece of hysterical fantasy

“They seek to take over government from North Africa into Southeast Asia and to re-establish a Caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent. They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist empire”

I wonder where they got that idea from.

Iran, as they say, remained defiant.

“ We are not seeking a military confrontation, but if that happens we will give the enemy a lesson that will be remembered throughout history.”

One could be forgiven for thinking that war is imminent and who would dare say otherwise. But is diplomacy in fact really finished?

The media obviously seem to think so after yesterday’s vote at the IAEA and after Iran’s apparent cessation of co-operation. The key to understanding the situation is the attitude of Russia.

Many people seem to have picked up the idea that Russia, as well as China, have simply caved in to US/UK demands and are deserting Iran. That is a misconception that has to be immediately corrected: there is absolutely no chance of Russia or China abandoning their absolutely crucial alliance with Iran. What is happening is something a bit more complicated- something more like, well….a grand chess game, to coin Brezizinski’s perhaps unfortunate metaphor for the struggle for power and resources in Eurasia. (Who, after all, would expect to win at chess against the Russians?)

That there is more play in this situation than meets the eye, is evident from the Russian view of yesterday’s events. As RIA novosti put it

“ The IAEA Board of Governors has adapted a resolution Saturday to inform( my italics) the UN Security Council on the Iran issue”

Not even the hint of the possibility of sanctions. At the same time the Russian ambassador to Tajikstan reaffirmed

“ his countries full support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme”

A Russian emmissary, Kislyak, visiting Tehran, said that he had conveyed Russia's "friendly advice to Iranian colleagues: to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency."

None of this conveys much sense of a rift between the two countries whereby Russia is setting up in ally for destruction by the US airforce. Significantly, after appearing to rule this option out yesterday, Tehran now says it will hold further talks on Russia’s proposal to enrich uiranium on its own soil( for the background to this possible agreement see Thierry Meyssan’s invaluable article translated on this blog)

That Russia had something up their sleeve was clear already by Wednesday. As Reuters put it.

“Delaying action until March would allow time for Russia and Iran to work on details of Moscow’s offer to purify uranium for Tehran - a joint venture aimed at preventing diversion of nuclear fuel to bomb-making.”

In other words, after appearing to tow the US/UK line on Monday and Wednesday and leaving Iran facing the option of total surrender or the wrath of the UNSC, it became clear that sufficient concessions had been extracted to allow still for a negotiated solution to the crisis. Surely, this was good news!

Not, alas, for the US/UK coalition. They had already set the juggernaut in motion and were prepared to sweep all before them in a drive for war mascarading as a diplomatic process: the goal of the process being war, the diplomacy providing the trigger in a rerun of what we saw before the Iraq invasion.. The point is that even US/UK, inveterate warmongers though they are, need a trigger, some kind of justification for another genocidal (or suicidal) adventure. The Russians may well have played a deft gambit or rather a variant of the Reti opening, which allows the opponent to occupy the centre of the board in an illusory show of strength. The subtlety about this play is that by posing as an honest broker and even a friend of the US, Russia is avoiding putting itself in the firing line and the demonisation which is a necessary prelude to being targeted by the the empire. Thus the US will find itself unprepared when suddenly the Russia- China – Iran alliance gels around the Russian uranium purification proposals. As a bonus, in Europe the atlanticist faction has taken, or been given, the reins and are naturally running with the Americans. They could be in for a fall.

What then has been the response of the US/UK coalition to the sudden realization that, despite their advance formation their position is crucially flawed. Could they adjust their strategy and, if so, to what?

By Thursday ominous noises were emanating from the office of John Negroponte, not the Director of Central Intelligence but the new supremo, the National Director of Intelligence, to the effect that

“the terror network’s core elements are making preparations for terror strikes against America and other targets”

Not to be outdone, the BBC announced that Lord Carlyle, no less, had condescended to view documents purporting to establish that similar attacks would occur over here. Note that this not the usual wolf-cry from one of Tony’s dodgy , masonic police friends but a lord of the realm and therefore, one would be led to suppose, a man of unimpeachable integrity( in contrast to Blair’s impeachable lack of integrity).

So, a big effort was being made hit the write buttons, to elicit the due Pavlovian responses from the respective transatlantic communities by parading two archetypes of their respective cultures viz. the cowboy and the squire. The message was being made more absorbable: there will be another terrorist attack.

To whom would such an attack be attributable?

I don’t really see why I should be obliged to answer this question. I’m sure most of you could have a stab at it. But, guesswork apart, those of you who have seen the trailers to this particular film should have no doubt. In their heart of hearts the directors must have known all along that it would come to this so we’ve had some pretty remarkable footage on show for some time. That Scottish daily Express deadline comes to mind “ Maniac plots WWIII”. Then there were Frank Gaffney’s Jules Verne like fantasies about Iran attacking the US with EMP’s( electro-magnetic pulses for the uninitiated). And, of course, the Times on how Iran was behind the London bombings.

But are they really desperate enough to find a pretext to attack Iran that they would be prepared to do what they always do i.e. arrange for them to attack us first. It does look like it; terrorism is the only way to deal with the diplomatic threat which could stop them from attacking Iran before Iran sets up its Euro spot market. That’s set for 20th March. Time is running out for the Americans. Time is running out for all of us. If we allow dark forces to synthesize a pretext for war we risk sinking into a mire from which we may never emerge.

colin buchanan
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