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There are apparently some Americans who are so interested in bringing about a war with Iran that they are willing to do or say anything to achieve that aim. A lead op-ed appeared in today’s New York Times written by Reuel Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz of the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The article “Don’t Give Up on Sanctions” begins by asserting the usual unprovable, i.e. that Iran has a “progressing nuclear program.” In fact, of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that that is the case. The op-ed then goes on to shoot its own assertion in the foot, asking if one wonders “whether 30 years of sanctions have helped to thwart – or even stall – the country’s nuclear designs.” Well, given that speculation, one might well wonder how long a time period might be required to suggest that (a) Iran might not actually want a nuke and might not be building one and (b) that international pressure might have already worked to derail the program since at a best guess it has been vegetating for thirty years.

The tale might have ended there with Gerecht and Dubowitz drifting off into the usual neocon fantasy that Iran will have a weapon in six months or a year unless something is done etc. etc., but there was more to come. It seems that the United States can put more pressure on Iran and simultaneously lower oil prices for the American consumer according to a clever Foundation for the Defense of Democracies plan. The US should stop all its friends and allies from buying Iranian oil. That would mean that the Chinese would buy all the oil and, because they would not be competing with other purchasers, they would be able to pressure the Iranians to reduce their prices. At one stroke, oil prices would fall worldwide and the Iranians would have that much less oil revenue to make mischief.

It does not take much of a genius to figure out that oil is a fungible commodity that does not necessarily rely on one buyer or group of buyers. Many countries that are not US allies apart from China also consume oil and would buy what is available on the market. So why write such nonsense? I rather suspect that it is something like a psyops ploy, to convince the US public that a good result in the pocketbook could actually come out of pressuring Iran. Of course, if one actually bombs Iran or damages its economy so severely that it is provoked to a point at which it decides to retaliate, then all bets are off.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Neocons 
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  1. Ah yes, remember “The Iraq occupation will pay for itself? And in the meantime our President can’t make up his mind on a pipeline from Canada.

  2. Aaron says: • Website

    Sanctions have in the past forced Iran to sell its oil below market prices, but obviously without significant impact on world oil prices. We would see history repeat itself.

  3. tbraton says:

    The comment about how a boycott of Iranian oil would reduce the price of oil brings to mind the reaction of my neighbor friend who favored the war with Iraq back in 2003, when I was strongly opposed. As you may recall, the price of oil did drop initially following the beginning of the war and the initial “victory” over Saddam Hussein. My friend said, with a smile on his face, flush with victory, that “we should have invaded Iraq years earlier” if the price of oil was going to drop so much. That, of course, was thousands of American lives, even more thousands of Americans maimed, more than a trillion dollars of U.S. expenditures and 10’s of dollars upward in the price of oil ago. It seems like only yesterday.

  4. Jim Bovard says: • Website

    NYTimes has been losing a lot of money lately, so they had to lay off all of their fact-checkers.

  5. George says:

    Sanctions has become the favored means of war for the mass murdering neocons and the politicians that listen to them, such as Madeline Albright with her mass murder proclivities. It is a particularly insidious and odious form of war in that it appears bloodless with only the intent to bend the will of the population to that that of the “virtuous” regime imposing the sanctions. But it is far more effective than a missile barrage, both in direct effect by causing the deaths of members of the targeted population, but primarily the most vulnerable, as occured with Iraq in the 1990’s. Itis simply the modern version of the U.S. policy of forcing American Indians onto reservations and permitting them to starve or, if they should rebel, shooting them down with Hotchkins guns. Another example would be the British policy of sending the Boers into concentration camps during the British-Boers War. Any resemblance this policy has to mid-20th Century policies is strictly coincidental.

    What sanctions are best analogized to might be The Simpsons Movie, where basically a giant fishbowl is placed upside down over an entire nation and then allow nature to take its course. And if you control the formulation of international law; no one will call it a war crime!

  6. Tom Meehan – – Was G W Bush taken in by the nonsense claims of neocon warmongers that Iraq War “would pay for itself”? I think chances are good. Condoleezza Rice certainly was gullible enough to buy such rubbish.

  7. Gerecht and Dubowitz obviously never took Econ 101 or observed how the oil market works. If Iranian oil is lower in price than similar crudes, lots of folks, including oil trading companies in Russia and else where, will step up to buy it. And for oil, as for all other major commodities, it is the marginal barrel which sets the price. Clearly the folks at the NYT want war with Iran. The legacy of Judith Miller lives.

  8. TomB says:

    It really is a remarkable piece to be published in a supposedly intelligent, sophisticated paper, much less a big “national” one. Had to read it over myself because it was hard to believe it being as simplistic as Giraldi represents, but if anything it’s worse.

    In the first place just as Phil notes it just reeks of being a PR product trying to overcome a (researched) oil-price concern on the part of the average American in whacking Iran.

    In the second note how utterly cavalier it is in being willing to harm our allies … and then too in tremendously benefitting China whose rise, everyone seems to agree, presents possible problems for the U.S. After all, what an opportunity for China to secure a great, long-term and very stable supply of oil and natural gas, while harming our own.

    And in the third, other than indeed certainly aiding China it’s extremely questionable whether it would work. Yes, if you lower the demand for Iran’s product it will likely have to sell it cheaper to China. But how much would giving China all that oil lower demand internationally for other oil thus lessening its price? Well, that’s unexamined. And while you might indeed be lowering that demand by taking China’s off-line, you are also lowering the international *supply* of oil too by taking Iran’s off-line, very possibly more than enough to off-set the cost pressure downward due to that lowered demand.

    And then there’s just simply the uncertainty premium it would place on the oil market generally.

    Plus of course it assumes the ban on Iranian oil would work, which bad didn’t work with Saddam due to disguised oil deals made with him, and that we wouldn’t again see a bunch of Marc Rich types working their disguised deals and making fortunes from same. (With Mr. Rich still managing to do so much for the Mossad that Israel still put the arm on Clinton to pardon him in thanks for whatever services he rendered it.)

    None of any of this substance matters though: All these … hasbara-type pieces are nothing more than giving rhetoric points to the political hacks and politicians out there the neo-cons have a grip on. The rhetoric itself doesn’t have to have an iota of validity to it; all it has to do is sound good enough to last until those politicians do the “right” thing. After that, no matter what disaster for the U.S. has resulted, some new rhetoric will be invented. New lies for old, as the saying goes.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    @TomB “All these … hasbara-type pieces are nothing more than giving rhetoric points to the political hacks and politicians out there the neo-cons have a grip on”

    You got it. For 20 years Israel’s agents in the United States have been whining about Iran getting nukes “next year”, or “in two years time”. Always accompanied by somber tones, even ashen complexions.

    Perhaps one of these decades Mossad will finally pick a winner, but neocon nagging about sanctions cannot be taken seriously. Israel specializes in circumventing Western sanctions, enriching itself via covert and third party arrangements. Israel also continues to briskly trade with Iran, the erstwhile “existential threat” to its existence:,7340,L-4075900,00.html

  10. Do these birds think that the last decade has so corrupted the American world view that people will now accept that it is all about oil afterall, embracing their own cynicism. Or do they think people are stupid enough to believe that, whaddya know, big thinking Gerecht and Dubowitz have discovered an American oil weapon. Or do they simply think American self absorption has left everyone oblivious to the fact that imperial promises haven’t delivered, so not to worry, no idea is too cockamanie if it will keep the war buzz alive; and eventually we’ll get our war.

  11. TomB – – In 2008, Japan bought slightly more oil from Iran than did China and India. One would expect these three countries to continue to buy Iranian crude. US, of course, has foolishly tried to prevent extension of Iranian natural gas pipeline to India (crossing Pakistan). And Pakistan suffers badly from chronic shortages of energy!

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    A friend sent me a link about a “very good article” about Iraq (Eric Margolis’). But why is it a “very good article on Iraq”? Because it confirms views you have, or because it is a good analysis of what and how it happened? This is a journalistic opinion not a serious analysis; it is more of an op/ed. As I said, and by reading the commentaries, it adds nothing to a serious analysis but just more of the same that has been rehashed over and over. The premises and terms used by the writer are so loaded that one doesn’t even need to go past the second sentence (although I read the whole thing).
    He for examples uses the term “neocon” but doesn’t mention that this magazine is known as the paleo-con magazine (this is a fight between contemporary conservatives, both of which do not represent the serious intellectual conservatism, as there is the same in liberalism).
    1. “A war that fails to achieve clear political objectives is merely an exercise in violence and futility.” Well, that is not the only reason why and for what wars occur. This is a very limited understanding of war based on a view of war as prescription. What does he mean by “clear” political objectives? He decides what is “clear”. The geo-political objectives were achieved in Iraq.
    2. “phony threats” to America and the world from President Saddam Hussein? That is not how the Security Council saw it. Saddam, it was determined by the IAEA, was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, and was in the final stages of development of a super cannon that could hit Tel Aviv. Saddam did have WMDs and had used them before, and he himself bragged that he had them up to months before the invasion.
    3. “The Bush administration’s neoconservatives played a leading role in engineering the Iraq conflict. Media acted as megaphones for the war party. Thanks to the drumbeat of lies and insinuations, over 80 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.” Bush came to power in 2001. Since the late 90s the people who established and promoted the policy of “regime change” in Iraq was the top establishment of the Democrat Party and the NY Times! I still have the sources were they made the connection between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Once a Republican came to the White House those articles moved from front page. Bush could not have gone to Iraq if not for the vote and approval of Democrats in Congress.
    4. “Iraq, a nation of only 24 million, was shattered by U.S. military power.”? This was one of the most surgically conducted military operations in history!
    5. “Absurdly, Iraq was even denied lead pencils for its schools lest they be somehow turned into weapons of mass destruction.” The only thing absurd here is this absurd sentence! Who denied those pencils to Iraq? Bush? This happened during the Clinton years and with the approval of the UN! And what does that sentence have to do with anything, or is in any way prove or not prove of Saddam’s WMDs program, especially when such a dictatorship, just like Gadaffi, or North Korea could care less about their people as long as they can have WMDs?
    6. “In a supremely idiotic act, American proconsul Paul Bremer fired all Baath Party military and civilian officials, gutting Iraq’s organs of government.” Yes. But Bremer was basically implementing the State Department plan, which is what liberals and others wanted and assured will work!
    7. “So what’s the bottom line on the “liberation of Iraq?” “Burning hatred for America across the Muslim world.”? Where? Did you see the signs in Tahir Square in Egypt and in Libya when Obama went on for months dithering and being undecisive as to who to support? People had signs that said “Bring back Bush”! Yes, maybe we didn’t see that on MSNBC or CNN, but the rest of the world saw it.

    This is article is nothing but a rant. So I’ll stop here. Terms like “idiotic”, “grubby” especially when applied to a Jewish person, “bribes”, are nothing but a rant. I just have one question: If Iraq has been such a geopolitical failure, why have Obama and Biden trying to take credit for its success now?

  13. er says:

    @J. A. Amoros: your obvious enthusiasm for your subject seems to have caused you to fire at the wrong target:

    This comment area is for Mr. Giraldi’s post on neocon idiocy in the New York Times.

    Mr. Margolis’ post on neocon idiocy in Iraq is here:

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