X Close

How America can stop Iran War in Israel shows the danger of appeasement

Iranians gather in support of Palestine (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Iranians gather in support of Palestine (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)


November 6, 2023   5 mins

A recent edition of The Tehran Times carried a warning: “If the Zionist regime’s war crimes and genocidal attacks against civilians in Gaza do not come to an end, the region will move towards making a big and decisive decision.”

The message was delivered by Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, upon meeting his Turkish counterpart in Ankara. Modestly, he names the “region” as the protagonist, instead of his chiefs in Tehran. With Iranian-backed Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran’s Houthis in Yemen already launching rockets and missiles into Israel, it only remains for Iran’s militias in Syria and Iraq to add their bit.

And, yet, it seems like only yesterday that Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Advisor, was working hard to further improve relations with Iran, after successfully obtaining the release of five detained US-Iran dual citizens in exchange for $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds. His relentless romancing, despite the failure of every attempt to kiss and make up with Iran’s angry prelates since 1979, makes me think that the Biden Administration has failed to absorbed the implications of Iran’s current stance: it holds itself so utterly secure that it can unleash its proxies to attack US allies and troops whenever it wants to.

Israel can defend itself. But the US-Kurdish garrison in North-East Syria, as well as America’s remaining friends in Iraq, Kurdistan, and, most important, in the Arabian Peninsula, are all threatened and continue to be — unless Biden switches gears to deter Iran instead of trying to appease it.

The President’s backbone is not in doubt. Biden’s immediate reaction to the October 7 assault and Hezbollah’s threat to launch its vast arsenal of rockets and missiles was to send the US Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier and six guided-missile warships to the eastern Mediterranean, as well as a second aircraft carrier task force and US fighter bombers to a base in Jordan.

But in Biden’s foreign-policy team, only Secretary of State Antony Blinken shares his determination to switch from polite conciliation to genuine deterrence — and that is not enough. The US is a Presidential republic, and nothing can be done unless White House staffers translate Presidential choices into well-defined policies that are properly structured to secure Congressional backing. It is, therefore, most unfortunate that both Sullivan and the Obama holdovers who staff the White House are still locked into the former President’s ill-concealed desire to distance the US from Israel and Saudi Arabia, and to reconcile with Iran.

Until June this year, Obama’s all-powerful Mr Iran, Robert Malley, remained in the Biden White House, in charge of Iran policy and at the centre of Washington’s pro-regime lobby. Brought up by a hard-Left and bitterly anti-Zionist American-Jewish mother and Egyptian-Jewish father in Paris, both of whom viewed the US as the source of all evil and Israel as the Devil, and who found congenial employment for the Arab-nationalist Algerian dictatorship, Malley was always viewed with suspicion by those who knew him. Yet because he had been Obama’s college roommate, he was untouchable — until, at long last, lowly security clerks caught him mishandling classified information.

Malley, of course, is an extreme case, but other Obama staffers still in the White House (no choice there: the Bidenites are dead or long retired) are still locked into their resentment of Israel and its friends, which most unhappily for them include the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. More damaging than their ineffectual anti-Israel stance is their hostility to the principal US ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, and its current ruler, Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS). As liberals, one might have expected them to appreciate the liberalisation of Saudi social life swiftly accomplished by MBS, but instead they remain fixated on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Even Biden’s reconciliation trip to Jeddah, following America’s silence after Iran attacked Saudi oil installations, was almost wrecked by White House officials who dragged their feet in preparing the agenda, as if they wanted the President to punch MBS instead of shaking his hand (they eventually settled on a “fist bump“).

Needless to say, it was the CIA’s always-wrong “Middle East experts” — they know neither Arabic nor Persian — who leaked the intelligence that accused MBS of orchestrating Khashoggi’s murder, while their attitude to Israel has always been extremely negative. Meanwhile, the CIA’s contribution to the formulation of a new Iran policy is limited by its outrageous refusal to have even one undercover officer in the country (“too dangerous”), so that it has no way of ensuring that its “assets” — Iranian informants recruited abroad — are actually reliable. (It is only in the movies that the CIA really does what it is supposed to do; its Hollywood outreach is indeed very impressive.)

These are not merely administrative impediments. Only the President can authorise a new policy to finally stop Iran’s armed provocations. And to do that, the President needs an entire team of officials to work out all the angles and supervise coordination with allies such as India, which needs Iran’s cooperation to access its air bases in Central Asia.

To avoid endless re-staffing delays, the only possible solution would be to bring some of Austin and Blinken’s most competent subordinates into the White House, where they can formulate a new Iran policy and coordinate it with both America’s allies and their own State and Defense colleagues. As for the policy’s substance, it is perfectly clear what needs to be done: starve the beast by intercepting oil exports on the high seas. With no export pipelines, the two million barrels a day that Iran’s degraded industry can still export — it was twice that under the Shah — must all leave on tankers that can be easily identified and intercepted, ostensibly to verify that no weapons are carried to supply Iran’s militias. Inspections can be very time-consuming, and few tanker-owners will take up Iran contracts once inspections start. This should not lead to an oil shortage or any price increase, because other producers — from Saudi Arabia to those in West Africa — can easily replace Iran’s oil.

True, there is no possibility of UN Security Council approval, but that is also true of support for Ukraine and Israel. Whatever the complications, it is surely better to hold up tankers than start another war in a vast country where an easy victory would be followed by unending insurgencies, even if it seems certain that a majority of Iranians would love to live in post-Ayatollah Iran. Instead, under the tanker-delay scenario, it would be enough to reduce Iran’s ability to support murderous militias by diverting oil export revenues from the needs of Iranians at large (chants of “no [money to] Hezbollah; no Palestine” are heard at every protest in Tehran). And this is an especially good time to apply economic pressure: the increased prices of food — partly because of the Ukraine war — are already causing real deprivation and even outright hunger.

Such a policy would need to be sustained for several years. The results, though, would surely be worth it: the restoration of American ascendancy in the region and the vigorous assertion of its interests, very possibly including the promotion of the two-state solution that many in Israel already support. It would be a monumental feat, even if other problems emerge along the way. What the US cannot do is to keep appeasing Iran — a nation that continues to attack its allies, its interests and not infrequently its troops.


Professor Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations.

ELuttwak

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

105 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
8 months ago

Iran has a clapped out oil industry shifting mainly crude and condensate through just 6 ports on the Persian Gulf coast. The article is correct when it suggests it is incredibly easy to apply controls on Iranian oil exports.

The difficulty the author overlooks isn’t applying an embargo on Iranian oil, it is the de facto declaration of war this would entail. Iran would swiftly put to sea its own (and its proxies’) improvised attack dinghies and drones and attempt to sink absolutely any and all shipping moving through the Strait of Hormuz. Difficult to defend against, Iran could quickly turn the Strait into a ship graveyard and block oil and gas exports from Iraq, Qatar and the KSA.

For obvious reasons, Qatar and the KSA would consider this as a loss of the security the USA is supposed to provide them. The already fraught security-for-foreign-policy-support tradeoff with the USA would become meaningless. The USA’s projection of power in the Middle East would be fatally weakened, and with it the petro dollar oil trades that are a critical cylinder in the global dollar engine. Not to mention the effect on the global economy of the loss of up to 20% of global gas and oil supply.

The Persian Gulf is Iran’s trump card. A medium term strategy has to be to take that card out of Iran’s hand. A 7-year investment plan could solve Europe’s energy crisis, dilute Iranian threats to Persian Gulf oil exports, and greatly diminish the international relevance of Iran: build two new oil and gas export pipeline routes North West into the Mediterranean from Qatar and the KSA. Two would give geographic redundancy, stop a monopoly at the Med coast, and give Egypt, Jordan, perhaps even a future Palestinian state, very useful transport revenues that would help keep their foreign policies aligned with European consumers.

The American empire in the Middle East wasn’t won by war, but through investment and construction by the likes of Bechtel and Morrison–Knudsen. The American empire can survive if it again chooses to invest in itself productively.

Last edited 8 months ago by Nell Clover
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I agree. Luttwak’s suggestion is ludicrous. It would probably result in all oil flowing out from the Gulf being blocked and both an energy crisis and a deep recession in the West – even if the Americans escalated and occupied the coastal regions of Iran in order to prevent boat and missile attacks on the tanker traffic (which seems unlikely). The tacit rules of the Gulf were established in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war and no major state has an interest in disrupting the modus vivendi. This is especially true of Iran’s ally, China.

This is not the first time Luttwak has written an article which proceeds logically and with some interesting points – if with vigorous partisanship – before lurching off into an utterly loopy policy recommendation as a finale. A recent essay on Ukraine took a similarly disconcerting turn in the last paragraph. I am beginning to suspect that Mr Luttwak is either an ironist with a very dark sense of humour or, more likely, trying to make the point to his fellow neo-cons gently that they have lost the plot on some issue by taking their views to their logical but absurd conclusion. I intend to file his works in future next to Defoe’s Modest Proposal.

So far the embargo on Russian oil exports has hurt the West more than Russia. Only fools repeat their mistakes. The rest of us are content to make new ones. Iran needs to be contained and countered but this is not the way to go about it.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Have you read his “Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire”?*

(circa 1976.)

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Yes. Very good book despite – or because – it annoyed so many classicists. He has also written some other very good books and demonstrated that he had a rigorous and subtle mind. This may explain why I was so disappointed by his articles on Ukraine and now Gaza – and why I came to suspect he was writing tongue in cheek. He has form given he once wrote a manual on how to organise an African military coup. I do not think that was supposed to be taken literally either.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

It annoyed many classicists because much of it was fantasy, if only because of the dearth of original sources.
It also suffered from that American obsession to over complicate everything. As your father may have said:- “Keep it simple
.stupid!”

Rather like many journalists* I suspect he writes’ to order’, as this piece so blatant shows.

(*Our own, dearly beloved, Simon Jenkins might be a good example.)

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

Thanks for the book recommendation – if nothing else there are some good books recommended in the UnHerd comments.
In my experience, Americans tend to over-simplify rather than over-complicate. Indeed, I’d suggest many of their problems are caused by over-simplification. I well remember a BBC reporter asking an American about 20 years ago (around the second Iraq War) whether Americans really understood the complexities and sophistication of the Middle East.
The way they over-complicate may be their touching belief that every problem has a technical fix and that throwing more resources and technology at something will ultimately solve any problem. On the military side they probably do over-complicate. But at heart they simplify.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Would you rather say “Improvised Explosive Device” (IED.)

Or “Home Made Bomb.” (HMB.)?

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

Not quite sure of your point. Perhaps that the Americans can’t resist a euphemism. The thinking may be simplistic, but the expression is often over-verbose.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

They are inebriated by the exuberance of their own verbosity.

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

But they still couldn’t write with quite your style there ! They’d beat your for quantity – but never quality.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Thank you, but I must admit that I pinched that off Disraeli who was addressing the remark to Gladstone!

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

Quite: it’s a veritable festival of flatulent and pretentious sesquepedalianism.

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Similar to the inability to resist an acronym.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
8 months ago

Three years at an American army HQ was a literary revelation for my husband. A description of the aftermath of an explosion included ‘the translational motion of prone personnel’ (PMPP).
Fabulous. How to write a military report and sound like a genius.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

You mean, ‘they got knocked sideways’?

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Specifically it relates to how you can get killed/injured in a nuclear blast by being flung into immovable objects by the violent movement of air. Obviously it should have been TMPP..Sorry.
Truth is, it’s hard to find a shorter, simpler way to put it. Less entertainingly, they used ‘line of departure’ on joint exercises instead of the standard UK ‘start line’.

Last edited 8 months ago by Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

PS I feel I must be fair. In my own field, I listened to some excellent academic presentations with very clear breakdowns of complicated topics. Plus I enjoyed a memorable three years. Of course, it was Texas. How could one not?

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

I find it quite hilarious how so many Brits make silly comments about USA army.
At least USA has functioning military, whereas UK would struggle to assemble two armoured divisions.
But uk has many more generals and admirals.
One former officer told me that uk has more admirals than Navy ships.
So splendid…

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

George Orwell and George Carlin would both have said the latter.
‘Short words are best.’

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

I would put it differently. GSRE was an interesting hypothesis. Since I did Science A levels before reading History at a university, I was always as comfortable proceeding by hypothesis as by traditional Rankean historical methods – which, as you imply, was not true of most classicists.

This is not the forum for a detailed book review but I think even classicists eventually accepted that GSRE had provoked a vigorous and productive debate about Roman strategy. I think they saw themselves as oysters and Luttwak as a useful piece of grit who had provoked them into producing some pearls of wisdom. Not that they felt he deserved any credit.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

As I recall Dr Adrian Goldsworthy was one of those ‘oysters’ and as such has produced much admirable work ever since.

The GSRE was in fact well received at the time by Dobson, Mann, Birley, etc and was the source of much lively debate, much of it positive, if only for its originality. However lacking empirical evidence (sources) would always be a handicap, coupled off course with the fact that L was an outsider! An unforgivable sin for the inhabitants of the hallowed portals of All Souls and elsewhere, including ‘the other place’!

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Why are we both being downvoted for discussing a book about events sixteen centuries ago? Outraged Luttwak fans? Classicists? Demented bot? Upset the UH software? Weird.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Veered off-piste perhaps?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 months ago

Always follow the money. Complicated means lawyers, more and more lawyers. Lawyers turn into congressman. Congressman make things more complicated to employ more lawyers. And time marches on.

R Wright
R Wright
8 months ago

An enjoyable book, but only matched by John Morris’ Age of Arthur for its delusions

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

A perfectly sensible post. But ‘A Modest Proposal’ (an essay making the impeccably rational and utilitarian suggestion that the starving Irish solve their nutritional problems by, er, eating their children) wasn’t Defoe: it was Swift.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Plucky little Portugal managed to control both the Straights of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea in the 16th century. They were even planning an assault on Mecca before being diverted (sadly) by ‘other matters’. Thus I feel that the USN should be quite capable of doing the same. Iranian talk may be ‘big’ but very poor in substance.

Incidentally I would have thought allowing your two pipelines to disgorge in say Egypt, Jordan, Turkey or even Israel would be fraught with problems. Will the North African coastline to Gibraltar always remain friendly? Aren’t the newly discovered oil/gas deposits found off Cyprus/Egypt/Israel likely to prove problematical?

POSTED AT 10:17 GMT.

Last edited 8 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
8 months ago

Over 30,000 ships pass through the Strait every year, and an uncountable number of smaller craft. The Persian Gulf / Oman Sea coast of Iran is 2250km long.
It is impossible for the US Navy to protect even a small fraction of shipping in the Gulf from attack by small boats and drones. The US Navy would face the same problems the US Army faced in Afghanistan.
In just the last 2 years Iran has attacked over 15 ships in the Strait without response by the USA because the attackers melt away amongst the thousands of civilian small craft.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You imply that the US Army was defeated in Afghanistan, where as in fact the US quite correctly just gave up on the wretched place. In reality it wasn’t, and still isn’t worth the ‘bones’ of a single American Grenadier’.

Given complete air and naval superiority I think the US Navy would be able to subdue the Iranians in fairly short order. It would be a repeat of Gaugamela.

Last edited 8 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
8 months ago

The objective for invading Afghanistan was the removal of the Taliban. The Taliban still control the country. This is the definition of defeat.
The USA wasn’t able to subdue either Iraq or Afghanistan and its actions in Libya and Syria have done the exact opposite of subduing the insurgencies across large parts of the Middle East against US proxies and allies…

Last edited 8 months ago by Nell Clover
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

The object for invading Afghanistan was killing Osama bin-Laden, destroying Al-Qaeda and generally reminding the world that the US can bomb whoever it wants to into oblivion at any time and there’s very little anyone can do about it, so whoever is in power in any given country has a strong incentive not to attack America or allow anyone associated to do so. The former was finally accomplished in 2011, with the latter having been generally achieved quite soon after the outset of hostilities. Ousting the Taliban was only ever a temporary strategic objective. They had ruled the country years before 9/11 with little interest from America’s government or citizens, and they will likewise be ignored in the future so long as they don’t attack America or allow anyone else associated with them to do so. Charles is right. America simply took the same path as the Soviets and British before them, gave up trying to civilize the place, and bailed out. The only defeat lies in the fact that it took way longer than it should have once the mission was accomplished to get our boys back home, a failure I attribute to our idealistic globalist leaders rather than our military.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I recall interview in Sunday Times, 20 years ago, with one of the generals commanding Soviet troops in Afghanistan (Gromov?)
He said that they did not learn lessons from British attempts to control damn place and Americans will not learn lessons from their failure either.
He was right.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Not winning in CI is the same as losing. There was supposedly a conversation between two retired colonels in the 1990s: one US and the other NVA. The American said the US Army never lost a battle during the Vietnam War. After a pause, the Vietnamese colonel replied that this was true but also irrelevant.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I don’t believe the US had any intention of permanently removing the Taliban or ‘Teletubbies’ as I prefer to call them from Afghanistan. Ms CLOVER may well believe they did, but to my mind it was just part of the jingoistic rhetoric that followed on from 9/11.

The same for Iraq, no plan to subjugate the place just cause utter devastation and chaos and hopefully ignite a vicious internecine religious civil war that would ensure that the place remained in the Middle Ages for the foreseeable future. (and thus no threat to Israel). On that basis “mission accomplished”.

As to Libya same again, just provoke sectarian barbarism. (Pity about the magnificent Roman remains, but who really cares.)

Finally Syria, we’ll all things considered hardly a threat (to Israel) in the first place, so a rather faint hearted effort to reward the loathsome Saudis for their earlier ‘loyalty’. Fortunately that does seem to have failed.

Did we loose the CI war in Northern Ireland, or is it still on the payroll? An acceptable level of violence was how the late Reggie Maudling described it. He was right.

POSTED AT: 16.32 GMT.

Last edited 8 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

We won in NI albeit by some distasteful tactics e.g. Stakeknife and the like. The IRA was forced to conclude the gun was no longer any use and they had better focus on the ballot box. Enter Tony to supervise the talks and take the credit.

I am not sure what one means when one talks of the US government “intends” to do something. It is a collection of agencies and departments each struggling to maximise their own budget and therefore pandering to the simplistic nostrums of their allies in Congress and other influential constituencies. America finds it difficult to run a CI campaign in a coordinated or coherent manner.

Specifically on the Taliban, I think rhetorically Bush did aim to eliminate them but on the ground no coherent strategy ever emerged to do so. Petraeus came closest but even his approach did not add up.

In reality, Bush was wrong. Lord Roberts was the only man to successfully “conquer” Afghanistan in the last two hundred years and his view was that the trick was to invade, win a battle, depose your enemy, cut a deal with the strongest – not the most congenial – local warlord, appoint him ruler, declare victory and then get out as fast as possible. Bush would have done well to follow this advice.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I think Mr Bill Clinton, and NORAID, might dispute the fact that we won.

NI now has a Catholic women as Lord Chief Justice* and their judiciary is still perusing a vexatious prosecution against one Soldier F of 1 Para, and even managed to ‘kill with COVID’ a previous defendant from the Life Guards. That doesn’t sound like victory to me!

I think the RAF would claim to have WON the Third Afghan War by dropping a bomb smack in middle of the Emir’s palace in Kabul.

The US adventure in Afghanistan was rather spoilt by its precipitous exit and those scenes of Afghans ‘free falling’ from those transport planes. However the whole thing was fairly cheap in terms of blood, at least by comparison with the Soviet Union’s previous effort. It also demonstrated that the US can hit anybody, ANYWHERE if they so choose, which is quite encouraging.

(* For the first time in recorded history.)

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Wonderful story

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Excellent response. Beyond all that, there is a distinct possibility that the Russians, who are already buying drones from the Iranians, would declare common cause with Iran and force the US to support simultaneous wars on two fronts possibly broadening the war in Europe. Then there’s China, Iran’s other notable ally who could seize the opportunity to launch their long anticipated invasion of Taiwan that we would have had trouble thwarting even if half our fleet wasn’t tied up in the middle east. There’s a non-trivial possibility that this turns into WWIII leaving NATO-Turkey+Japan/Australia/SouthKorea against an axis of Russia/Iran/China plus several other middle eastern nations. The results of such a conflict would be devastating, win or lose, even assuming it didn’t go nuclear. The US should be making every conceivable effort to keep this conflict isolated to Israel vs. Hamas. A broader conflict, no matter how it starts, is not in anyone’s interest.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Jolly
Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Great point. It seems the US will have to be a bit more cunning and inventive…

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
8 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

If Iran tries to close the Straight of Hormuz, the US Navy could turn Iran into a non-oil exporting country. Further, Iran would be missing any Navy. Further, Iran might be missing a few Mullahs due to drone strikes. The only reason this hasn’t happened so far is that no US President has ordered it.

There’s no 2 state solution possible. Any Palestinian state will want to kill all the Jews. The only solution is a 1 state solution with limited local Palestinian government.

If you want to silence Achmed the dead terrorist, you need to silence Jeff Dunham, not the dummy. Attacks on Iranian proxies are useless. Only attacks on Iran will solve the problem.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

The article could have more accurately been headlined, ‘How Biden & Obama’s policy of cosying up to the Iranian regime got us to where we are now’
No one is disputing, presumably, that the Oct 7th atrocities were an Iranian proxy mission? Hamas couldn’t possibly achieve such an outrage without the arming, training and financing provided by the Iranians.
With the Abraham Accords, Trump achieved more progress on the chances for Middle Eastern Peace than any President of recent memory. Far, far more than the Camp David or Oslo deals. Trump had torn up Obama’s appalling Iran deal, that was a straight-up appeasement of a rogue terror-sponsoring state, and applied pressure through economic sanctions. As a result he disempowered Iran and oversaw Bahrain and the UAE normalising relations with Israel – a previously unthinkable development.
Far more importantly – and a potential game changer – Saudi Arabia was on the verge of doing the same. No president of my lifetime came closer to achieving more in the region. So, naturally, on gaining the presidency Biden, nominally in response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, vowed to make Sunni Saudi Arabia “a pariah state” and instead focused on strengthening relations with the Shia regime of Tehran. Of course it wasn’t long before Biden was crawling back to the Saudis, fist-bumping the Crown Prince, begging him to increase fuel production so he’d have more favourable US gas prices in the run-up to mid-term elections. 
So has Biden woken up to the disastrous Iran-facing policy that he and his Democratic predecessor followed? Doubtful. It was surely significant that Joe Biden, in all his supportive statements towards Israel, and his condemnation of Hamas, never once mentioned Iran. Why? Was it from a sense of guilt?
If you wanted to be uncharitable, you could easily make the case that Biden both armed and financed the terrorists that attacked Israel. He recently gifted (unfroze) $6billion to the Iranian regime in a hostage release deal. Incredibly, for a Govt so tuned to “optics”, the money was freed up on September 11th.
Republicans were quick to warn what might happen next – A furious Senator Tom Cotton called it â€œShameful” and accused Biden of â€œdesecrating” the anniversary of 9/11 â€œby paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.” â€ŠAdding prophetically .. “I don’t think the radical Ayatollahs in Tehran are going to use this ($6Billion) for children’s hospitals. They’re going to use it to fund more attacks on Israel, more attacks on American troops in the region through their proxies.” 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul said he was â€œdeeply concerned that the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds for Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking,” adding that â€œThe administration is demonstrating weakness that only further endangers Americans and freedom-loving people around the world.” 
But Sec State Anthony Blinken was quick to refute any suggestion that the $6bilion might fund further terror, insisting that the money was specifically going to the Iranians â€œto buy food, medicine and other humanitarian items”.
Oh yeah? The Iranians appeared not to have got that particular memo. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that â€œThis money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” Asked by reporters if the money might be used for anything other than ‘humanitarian items’, Raisi stated: â€œHumanitarian means whatever the Iranian people needs, so this money will be budgeted for those needs, and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government.” 
Critics of the Biden deal argued that simply by gifting the Iranian regime access to the funds that had previously been blocked by Trump, Biden was allowing the Mullahs to free up money that would be used to buy arms and support their terrorist proxies across the Middle East. 
And where did the Iranians source the weapons that their Hamas proxies used to gun down Israelis? According to several analysts the M4 rifles that Hamas terrorists were seen toting in their raids on Israel were from the $7billion cache of materiel left gift-wrapped for the Taliban after Biden’s panicked withdrawal from Kabul. Another unintended but woefully predictable consequence of Biden’s foreign policy disasters.
It seems clear that the timing of this attack on Israel was to destabilize the region and to sabotage the chances of Sunni Islamic states like Saudi Arabia normalising relations with Israel. Biden’s actions (and inactions) have played a major role in undermining the best chances for Middle Eastern peace we have seen in a generation. Another notable foreign policy failure of this most calamitous presidency.
As the world order shifts, what are the priorities of the Biden administration? Do they even recognise the dangers facing the West and its allies around the world? 
The day before handing over billions to Iran, Joe insisted that â€œThe only existential threat humanity faces — even more frightening than a nuclear war — is global warming!” Perhaps we should be grateful that, when he sat down with Netanyahu last week, Biden didn’t mention his concerns about the size of Israel’s carbon footprint.
Having stumbled his way through another excruciating public appearance, Biden just about managed to read the prepared statement from his cue cards, but still couldn’t avoid his usual gaffes, describing the murderous thugs of Hamas as â€œthe other team”. But for sheer crassness he really outdid himself later, talking to reporters about the rocket fired from Gaza that landed on their own hospital, suggesting that Hamas â€œgotta learn to shoot straight”. Who, in their right mind, could ever say such a thing after the savage murder of 1400 Israelis?
In an increasingly dangerous world, we need strong leaders who project strength, resolve and good judgement. Biden’s obvious weakness emboldens the enemies of the West.
Military power, now we are beyond the era of empire building, is mainly about deterrence. If the President truly is “The Leader of the Free World” then nothing about Biden’s presidency would deter anyone. Weakness merely invites attack – and Ukraine, Israel and potentially the rest of the free world are paying the price.

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

TLDR

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

You should have.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

So what happens to the Palestinians in your scenarios?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 months ago

Would you also cheer for the cancer cells during a tumor extraction surgery?

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Well, that’s a revealing comment.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

In the short term I would favour allowing Palestinians to leave Gaza – once vetted to ensure no Terrorists were among them – and temporarily house them in some guarded encampment in the Negev or Sinai. Then, alongside anyone who actually wants peace, I would support the IDF crushing Hamas, destroying their ability to launch attacks and killing or capturing their leadership. Preferably killing.
If you support the right of Israel to exist then you must support their right to defend Israel’s inhabitants and borders. There seem plenty on these pages who, once you scratch the veneer of their argument, do not support the right of Israel to exist. They couch it in terms of being Pro-Palestinian, yet many seem more naturally Anti-Jew. If you are Pro-Palestinian you should be, a the very least, anti-Hamas. The lack of condemnation of Hamas by “Pro-Palestinians” speaks volumes.
The longer term solution must involve neighbouring Arab states – but currently they have no wish to house Palestinians as they are well aware from a long history that they harbour terrorists and would foment trouble in their host country. Jordan wants no part of the West Bank Arabs, and Egypt are even more vehemently opposed to housing Gazans – however, when you look at the vast empty territories across the Levant and around the Persian Gulf, and the wealth of the oil-rich Arab states, there should be pressure from the global community to house their co-religionist, fellow Arabs, which could be achieved with good will and a desire for regional stability.
The chances for such an outcome took a severe blow when the US under Obama and Biden shifted support away from Israel and Sunni Islamic states onto Shia Iran.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago

I can’t help but wonder how different this whole story would be if Saudi Arabia and Israel had come to some genuine agreement. Perhaps the Saudis could have begun the process of providing new lives for the Palestinians; that is, the ones that were more interested in the future, of which there are many.
The others, the ones who just wanted to fight could stay behind and get their wish.
Who would a young Palestinian women rather see herself married to? A forward-facing, gainfully employed Wandering Palestinian, or a heavily armed nut fighting over the ruins of an “open air prison”? Within a couple of generations, life for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza could be completely different.
Just dreaming, I suppose.

Last edited 8 months ago by laurence scaduto
Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago

Nothing different to what happened to Germans during ww2 Allied bombings.
They can unconditionally surrender, Hamas will be eliminated and they can become democracy.
Obviously last bit will not happen, Muslims don’t understand or desire democracy.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Brilliant post.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

“The president’s backbone is not in doubt.”. Has a more preposterous sentence ever been written? Joe Biden, the senile life-long corruptocrat installed illegally in the White House by equally venal incompetents, can’t stand upright without being pumped full of drugs, and the entire world knows it.
These silly articles in which the authors pretend Biden is making decisions, let alone running the country, are beyond tedious. They are a complete waste of time and an insult to the readers.
The Abraham Accords intended to normalize relations between Israel and the Arab world threatened to marginalize Iran. They had to be derailed. Everything else is column inches.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
8 months ago

“The Abraham Accords intended to normalize relations between Israel and the Arab world threatened to marginalize Iran.” That’s it. Plus there’s the sneaking suspicion that a domestically weakened Bibi would have to do exactly what the Iranians want him to do. Bibi’s not dumb – he must know his chain’s been jerked but perhaps he thinks at least it’ll keep him in power a bit longer.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
8 months ago

The enduring danger to the world of having the Left in power, particularly at the higher echelons. At least, we are starting to see more substantial institutional evidence of why Obama’s foreign policy was such a disaster and that, if anything, these failures have worsened under the Biden regime.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Biden is arguably Obama’s third term. Yet you could reasonably argue that Obama was a poor President as far as foreign policy was concerned. I cannot think of any cases where appeasement has ‘won’ in the longer term. It merely delays the reckoning – which may be enough for a politician.

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
8 months ago

It is extremely strange that the Biden administration cannot find smart, like-minded people to hire to curb Iranian terrorist expansion, it seems more like a lack of will, than anything else.

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

Why do you want to fight wars for Israel ?

Its really dumb

If you asked an Israeli to fight a war for your country, he’d laugh in your face and call you a fool, and he’d be right

Burke S.
Burke S.
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Let’s see, we have a fleet in Japan, a division guarding the DMZ, major defense commitments involving our Boys to Europe, a permanent presence in the Persian Gulf


But unlike these other peoples, not a single US soldier has ever actually fought for or against Israel. Ever.

Usually it’s the opposite: The US plays the role of telling the Jews they’re playing too hard against the feckless Arabs, and orders them to make a ceasefire until the next round. At least Uncle Joe is letting them off the leash a bit.

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Burke S.

The US removed Saddam for Israel

The US has troops in Syria because of Israel

The US will attack Iran for Israel

Burke S.
Burke S.
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The US removed Saddam because W was an idiot, but we have troops in Syria because ISIS stormed Iraq from there and the Iraqis begged us to come back and stamp that out in 2014. And we’re not handing it back to our enemies.

When Iran seized and tortured our diplomats, it wasn’t because of the Jews. It was because we allowed the Shah to get cancer treatment.

The only thing we’ve done for Israel, aside from letting them buy our weapons and even use them sometimes, is the Lebanon peacekeeping meant to cover their withdrawal. Stupidly the US didn’t understand how Arabs work yet and instead of installing a good dictator like all the nice Arab nations have we left a weak nation that was taken over by Iranian paramilitaries.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

You forget:-
The US will destroy the World for Israel.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

Quite possibly. Many of the people at the top of the US Government seem to feel a deep personal stake in the place, and would sooner cede Florida to Cuba or Hawaii to the Chinese than ‘trow Iswael under da bus’.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Well, that’s what Bibi has been pushing for, for some years now. But despite Bill Kristol’s best efforts, the US hasn’t been biting: the increasingly impoverished and immiserated American public is getting mightily sick of these ‘forever war’ entanglements which are a. unaffordable b, fundamentally unconstitutional c. of no possible benefit to them and d. continually backfire.

Last edited 8 months ago by Peter Joy
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Burke S.

Tell that to the crew of the USS Liberty…. Though to be fair, they weren’t fighting ‘for or against Israel’: they were just where the IDF didn’t want them to be.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

It may not be a bug, but a feature.

A D Kent
A D Kent
8 months ago

It’s as funny as it is predictable that Professor Luttwak in his list of American interests in the Gulf failed to mention the US troops who are illegally occupying a third of Syria and who have built at least 3 military bases there. They’re the ones who are currently taking and selling the Syrian’s oil. Likewise he could have mentioned that the Iraqis voted in 2020 to demand that US troops left their country, but yeah – it’s the Iran ian ‘armed provocations’ that need to be stopped.  

As for Austin & Blinkin’s competent subordinates – there aren’t any. Those that might be wouldn’t get anywhere in their neocon captured institutions – I think the Professor might get on swimmingly though – his last paragraph here could have been written by Kristol or Kagan themselves.

Burke S.
Burke S.
8 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

For those who forgot the context
The Iraqis begged the US to return in ‘14 because their Army as well as the “Axis of Resistance” was good for nothing against ISIS and Baghdad was on its way to being overrun once the Sunni Blitz was on. It was after Trump defeated ISIS and then turned Colonel Salami into mincemeat that the Iraqis “voted” for the US to leave. By “voted” I mean the Iranian paramilitaries threatened to start terrorizing anyone who didn’t vote their way now that the US had taken care of ISIS (this is how “voting” works in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, or Yemen fyi, and why nobody cares how they vote).

The land occupied by the US in Syria was held by the aforementioned ISIS. I would rather we give it back to them than the Iranians, personally.

Then they’ll be begging for the US airpower to save them again in no time


Last edited 8 months ago by Burke S.
Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago

So here’s a useful role for the “Just Stop Oil” enthusiasts currently plaguing London…

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
8 months ago

I understand Mr..Luttwak’s sentiment that “something must be done”. Many of us agree but I’m not sure he’s thought this through. To me the Muslim states of the ME are like a loose confederation of mafia families. They don’t always agree nor are they always friends but they tend to avoid activities that are “bad for business”. They are also aware that takeover plots are a fact of life.
So “This should not lead to an oil shortage or any price increase, because other producers — from Saudi Arabia to those in West Africa — can easily replace Iran’s oil” is a gamble at best. SA can replace Iranian supply but they’ll certainly weigh the pros and cons before they do so. It’s all well and good to try and convince ME leaders that Hamas and Hezbollah are “bad for business” but there’s also the risk of regime change.
IMO there are two problems. One is that despite some leaders saying the right things the pro-Palestinian street protests in the West and the reluctance of many in the MSM – not to mention the UN – to denounce Hamas are indications that support for Israel is not universal and is not without political risk. Clearly and sadly anti-Semitism is alive and well.
Another problem is economic. There still seems to be an attitude in the West re: ME oil that “they’re screwed if we cut them off” when facts suggest otherwise. The West is A customer, not THE customer and Net Zero zealots don’t want us to be a customer at all in which case why would the ME states listen to anything we have to say? Business plans are not formulated for the needs of former customers.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
8 months ago

Is this guy insane? No mention of the buyers of Iranian oil? They’ll be like “sure”, we can live without energy for a few years. China be like, even though our Navy is larger than the U.S.’s we’ll bring ’em all home. We only build warships for fun. This isn’t Unherd, this is Untenable.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

UnHinged might be nearer the mark.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
8 months ago

The assumption that there’s a difference between the Obama administration and the Biden one may be essentially flawed. The personnel remained the same as did its allegiance. Someone is running this disaster that has weakened and betrayed american values at every turn; someone who despises western power and could care less about this presidency. Hmmm, who could that be? Possibly the man who left the Middle East in the hands of Iran and Russia?
Your solution is a good one, but there’s no way it’s coming from these
blathering, gutless proxies in DC.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

‘Someone is running this disaster that has weakened and betrayed american values at every turn; someone who despises western power and could care less about this presidency. Hmmm, who could that be? Possibly the man who left the Middle East in the hands of Iran and Russia?’
Not being funny here, but I’m not clear who you mean.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
8 months ago

The US national security establishment is long overdue for a serious shakeup, and if Luttwak is correct I’ve misjudged Blinken and Austin. I hope he is right about them.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
8 months ago

It’s reassuring to know that this writer is not in a position of power. Maybe he should put his energies into computer Strategy games?

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
8 months ago

The war in Israel shows the danger of appeasement? I’d say the war in Ukraine had done that pretty convincingly already.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

Quite. Russia tolerated the mass-expansion of NATO westward in 1999; and again in 2005, when it swallowed up not only more ex-Warsaw Pact countries, but also ex-Soviet ones. What did that get it? Plans for NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine, a 2014 US coup d’etat in Kiev, an attempted colour revolution in Belarus and a large NATO-trained and -equipped army east of the Dniepr, lobbing shells into the ethnic Russian Donbas.
Putin took long enough to learn the lesson. But he understood in the end – and all signals about ‘red lines’ having failed, finally decided to put his foot down before he ended up with a US Navy base in Sebastopol, US ICBMs in Crimea and a WEF nominee occupying his office in the Kremlin.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Total rubbish.
Russia tolerated nothing.
Russia collapsed economically and former Russian slaves jumped at the chance to join NATO for protection.
As we see with Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was sensible choice.
Why do you think Finland and Sweden joined NATO?
There was no coup in Kiev.
Russian stooge refused to sign EU cooperation agreement against wishes of Parliament.
There is nothing for anyone joining “Russian World” apart from poverty and violence.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
8 months ago

Unbelievable, not one mention of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This article is insane. Luttwak’s half measures would not deter anything, they would spur Iran on to developing a nuclear weapon as quickly as possible.
What conservatives have always called appeasement was and is a diplomatic attempt to keep a nuclear bomb out of the hands of a state that supports the worst kind of jihadi terrorists.
There really are only two alternatives with Iran, continued diplomacy, made harder by the Hamas attack on Israel or a massive preemptive war between NATO and Iran which is highly unlikely but probably inevitable.
Luttwak’s strategy would only guarantee a nuclear armed Iran sooner rather than later with catastrophic consequences.

Last edited 8 months ago by Benjamin Greco
El Uro
El Uro
8 months ago

It amazes me how much the two-state mantra robs the public of a minimum ability to be honest.
It is clear to everyone what will happen tomorrow. But all in no case want to even imagine what will happen the day after tomorrow. Such vile cowards make me want to puke.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

Still waiting for a Palestinian/ Arab writer’s perspective on the current unpleasantness to appear on ‘UnHerd’….

Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
8 months ago

Such a policy would need to be sustained for several years. The results, though, would surely be worth it…It would be a monumental feat, even if other problems emerge along the way. What the US cannot do is to keep appeasing Iran — a nation that continues to attack its allies, its interests and not infrequently its troops.

Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Consistency and consensus, both of which are impossible to achieve in the United States – at least as the concrete political circumstances and American political institutions (in other words, what determines policy, domestic and foreign). As things stand, there is no consensus on Middle East policy (or really any other policy).
It is not that the two main parties have different views on how to achieve the same goals (as it was during the Cold War), they don’t even agree what those goals should be. This wouldn’t matter if one of the parties, either Republicans or Democrats were in a sense dominant, if they were in power a lot if not most of the time: then there at least would be consistency and contiuity in foreign policy. However, this is not the case and it hasn’t been that way for decades now. Ever since Richard Nixon/Gerald ford down to Joe Biden, Republicans and Democrats have been taking turns in the presidency (allowing for the two-term limit). Elections between two very different parties (and hence policy) are decided by narrow and unstable majorities: any kind of long-term policy is impossible to sustain in practice. Unitl that changes, what we will have is what we have now.
Just in the XXIst century every president has been succeeded by someone from the opposite party. And with every change, Middle East policy changes drastically. At least, both George Bush and Barack Obama managed to stay in office their full two terms, despite their profound differences with regard to the Middle East. But Donald Trump was in office just four years, and Joe Biden is only serving his first potential term as president, which did not prevent either from drastically changing American foreign policy (even in equal and opposite directions). “Grand Strategy” is something one cannot ask from the American political system as it is right now.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
8 months ago

Edward, “even if it seems certain that a majority of Iranians would love to live in post-Ayatollah Iran…” No, I suspect not. Iranians aren’t stupid. They’ve seen the promised land delivered by the US and its allies in Iraq, Libya and, arguably, Syria. ‘Better the devil I know’ is what I suspect most will think.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

‘Needless to say, it was the CIA’s always-wrong “Middle East experts” — they know neither Arabic nor Persian — who leaked the intelligence that accused MBS of orchestrating Khashoggi’s murder…’
I don’t quite understand. Did the Bonesaw Sheikh order the brutal, cowardly and gruesome slaughter of Khashoggi, a US resident – or did he not? The Turkish Government say he did. Are they – and the CIA – lying?
Or is Mr Luttwak saying they should have covered it up, for reasons of geopolitical expedience?

S Smith
S Smith
8 months ago

UnHerd has become the useless idiot of the warmongers, the neocons, the military industrial complex and the Christian Right fanatics in the U.S. What a load of bollocks this rag has become. I cancelled my subscription, but still have a chance to call this place out for what it is–possibly helping to lead us to a firey death as the nuclear sheen melts all our faces off.
What a horrible place this has become.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
8 months ago
Reply to  S Smith

Unless you keep contributing, we miss your point of view. Let’s not all retreat into silos.

S Smith
S Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

“UnHerd” my ass. The only people “heard” are the oligarchs who support these wars.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  S Smith

Clear off to Guardian, then.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
8 months ago

This is a surprisingly unbalanced attack for Luttwak, who usually chooses his words carefully. Obama’s words that “we all have blood on our hands” seem more even-handed than Luttwak makes him appear.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

Walter, just think on the situation that was coming about during Obama’s 2nd term and the opportunities for peace that it offered the region – and the world.
Israel had formed an unlikely – and not much publicised – alliance with several historical adversaries in the region, based on their mutual fear and mistrust of a soon-to-be nuclear Iran. Obama could have fostered those relationships – but instead turned towards Tehran – presumably thanks to the influence of Robert Malley.
Israeli and Saudi Arabian diplomats were openly questioning whether the Obama administration were simply naĂŻvely appeasing Iran with a nuclear deal or actually if the US was deliberately courting Iran as an ally. It is still unclear what they hoped this disastrous policy might achieve.
Over that time, according to a former State Dept special advisor on Iran, Malley and his negotiating team “purposefully funneled billions of dollars to (Iran) through lack of sanctions enforcement and provision of sanctions relief that has given them somewhere between $50 and $80 billion over the last two and a half years.”..adding .. “There is a straight line from Obama’s giveaway to Iran, to Biden’s enriching of Iran — to Iran’s war on Israel.”
So when you quote Obama’s words “we all have blood on our hands”, if he was describing only his own (and Biden’s tribute-act) administration then I think he was absolutely right.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago

If Israel wants to fight Iran, best of luck

Why should Americans fight wars for Israel ?

Your foolish oil embargo scheme will clearly fail, just like the price cap for Russian oil

Last edited 8 months ago by D Walsh
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

“Your foolish oil embargo…”

“Your” ??

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well its his stupid Idea, I don’t doubt that other neocons would support it, and I would expect it to fail, failure in the past never stops the neocons coming up with more dumb ideas/schemes

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Yes, Luttwak’s idea is stupid, but America has a genuine national interest in keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of states that support terrorism.

David Harris
David Harris
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yeah, he’s only on 7 roubles an hour. Ivan was the best Vlad could get for the money.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He just reveled himself as Russian stooge.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The oil embargo was working fine until Biden came into office. Iran only had $4 billion in the foreign exchange when Biden took office. They now have $70 billion. Iran only produced 400,000 barrels of oil a day when when Biden took office. They now produce 3 million.

Last edited 8 months ago by Jim Veenbaas
D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sorry Jim but, your numbers are way off, Iran produces millions of barrels of oil a day, the lowest point was way back in the 80s, but even then they were still over 1 million

Most of their exports go to China now, if you think China will go along with this foolish embargo scheme, lots of luck
And BTW Iran has said in the past if they can’t export oil from the Gulf, then nobody else will either

Last edited 8 months ago by D Walsh
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

We’ve had 40 years to build export pipelines West from Iraq and Saudi to the Mediterranean and take the away the Iranian threat to Persian Gulf oil exports. The risk was always Iran getting the hump and escalating insecurity in the Middle East. Well, Iran has done that anyway. Pouring concrete for a pipeline in Saudi isn’t a reasonable casus belli for Iran and given how belligerent Iran has become, it is hard to see how Iran can escalate and keep enough of the world onside to avoid bringing complete ruin on itself.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

We can quibble about the numbers, but any report I find says Iranian oil production and sales have exploded under Biden – with some experts suggesting that the US is turning a blind eye in an effort to keep oil prices down. Iran has to ship oil to China. The US can easily interrupt those shipments.

D Walsh
D Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not with out wrecking the US and global economy. like I said its a very bad idea

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Yes – but these neocons simply don’t care.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Iran has started a fight with Israel. Hamas are funded and trained by Iran. Hamas publicly thank Iran for their support.

The USA is rich because it runs a huge dollar-based financial empire. The huge financial empire only exists because the USA is a global super power. It is a global super power because it projects security abroad and many countries align their interests with the USA in return for some of that security. Europe, Israel, KSA, South Korea, Japan, etc. all have some sort of military pact with the USA and frequently defer to USA foreign policy as the price. Of course the USA can end its military support for Israel today, but the costs will be a greatly weakened confidence of others in the security offered by the USA and a shrinking of the USA’s global authority, swiftly followed by a further diminution of the dollar.

There has never been a USA embargo on Russian oil exports. There have been Russia oil sanctions. The USA isn’t directly fighting Russia so Russia remains physically free to export its oil and gas through its very many ports / pipelines in its West, South and East. Quite obviously Russian oil sanctions were only ever going to force Europe to buy American gas, not stop Russia from exporting oil and gas, let alone refined products. The sanctions were an example of the USA using its security umbrella for Europe to further its dollar interests and reassert its European control. Europe can’t complain too much as it has shown precious little interest in providing its own security or securing its energy supplies.

In contrast to Russia’s diverse and highly developed oil and gas export infrastructure, as the article does explain, Iran has a clapped out oil industry shifting mainly crude and condensate through just 6 ports on the Persian Gulf coast. It is incredibly easy to operate an embargo against Iran.

The difficulty the author overlooks isn’t the embargo of Iranian oil, it is the de facto declaration of war this would entail. Iran would swiftly put to sea its own (and its proxies’) improvised attack dinghies and drones and attempt to sink absolutely any and all shipping moving through the Strait of Hormuz. Difficult to defend against, Iran could turn the Strait into a ship graveyard and block oil and gas exports from Iraq, Qatar and the KSA.

For obvious reasons, Qatar and the KSA would consider this as a loss of the security the USA is supposed to provide them. The already fraught security for foreign policy support tradeoff with the USA would become meaningless. The USA’s projection of power in the Middle East would be fatally weakened, and with it the petro dollar oil trades that are a critical cylinder in the global dollar engine.

Last edited 8 months ago by Nell Clover
S Smith
S Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Yes–and what a load of bollocks this rag has become. It’s a neocon’s wet dream.

Andrew F
Andrew F
8 months ago
Reply to  S Smith

Why are you here, then?
Clear of to Guardian, that is place for morons like you.