Iran, Syria, & Pakistan: Feint, Bluff, or World War?

Gold has shot up again and is close to $1,790 an ounce even as the U.S. Dollar strengthens at the same time. That’s somewhat unusual. Dollars generally go up in value as gold declines, and gold strengthens as the Dollar drops. (See http://www.kitco.com/ for details). In addition both Crude Oil commodity prices are up (WTI or West Texas Intermediary, the global oil benchmark, and the Brent from North Sea deposits, but see http://www.oil-price.net/ for details).

This is not simply because the European Union is tanking over the euro, anti-austerity rebellions, and internecine squabbling between its member states. There has been a parade of recent disclosures revealing much more regarding Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program, the covert war between the U.S.A./E.U./Israel/Saudi Arabia and the Iranians as well as mounting tensions between the U.S.A./NATO and Pakistan. The Libyan War winds down as Syria plunges into civil war as President Bashar al-Assad threatens to go down fighting and take the whole Middle East with him. It’s Monday, November 7, 2011.

While the mainstream mass media is preoccupied with riling up opinions over Kim Kardashian’s divorce from Kris Humphries or Justin Bieber’s alleged sexual dalliances with older young ladies, it ignores or whitewashes the massive military buildups currently underway across an expanse of territory and nations from Europe to North Africa through the Middle East into Central and South Asia. Not to mention Africa. Or East Asia. Or Latin America. Or back home on the streets of America and Europe and their Allies.

What’s going on? What’s really going on that is either being downplayed or ignored by the mainstream mass media? Or cast in a certain patriotic or threatening light?

Rumors of wars including expanded regional wars and conventional world wars have been circulating ever since the terror attacks of 9/11 cast a pall of doom and gloom over the planet. The euphoria that swept around the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Empire crashed with the towers. All that heady talk of peace dividends so we can finally end poverty, pollution, hunger, wire all of Earth on-line, and get back to the Moon and rocket on to Mars vanished. The emergence of the Cultural Creatives was squashed. A global but disorganized and violent uprising against international banker-and-corporate driven globalization was harshly suppressed as 9/11 provided the extreme excuses even democratic governments needed to unleash their police and surveillance regimes.

The military and geopolitical engines driving the Euro-American Global Empire has been for some time been spreading military and intelligence bases around the world. Such bases used by the US and NATO alone numbers in the thousands with no one able to provide the exact number and definition as these “bases” run from clandestine black-ops sites and secret detention centers in underground basements in old, supposedly-abandoned buildings to vast, sprawling fortresses to small-unit combat outposts.

Rumors of wars between the USA-EU and Iran or North Korea have been circulating for some time. In addition China and India as well as Pakistan and India rattle their sabers at one another. Israel threatens periodically to attack Iran in an all-or-nothing assault for reasons of “extreme survival” labeled “existential.” Horrific warfare ebbs and flows across Central and East Africa, threatening to suck in other nations. And foolish pundits in America jabber about “the Chinese threat” while bumbling and tactless spokesmen do the same in China about “American imperialism.” Venezuela agitates for attention as well.

It is unlikely America and China would come to serious military blows. Skirmishing and calculated pseudo-brinksmanship once in a long while is likely to continue. The two economic giants are too tied together in mutual co-dependence. There appears the global “New World Order” cabals of central banks, big Wall Street banks, transnational corporations (TNCs), and the UN Bretton Woods 3 are spreading the tentacles of the Octopus into both China and India and have no desire for these two to be destroyed but exploited for the benefit of the super-elite ultrarich and their breakaway civilization.

This is what has been and is happening, though. Things are quiet on the Korean Peninsula. The Obama-Biden Administration is seeking to re-engage the unstable North as many South Koreans now regret their relatively recent aggressive leadership as it invited Northern military retaliation with the threat of devastating physical destruction of Seoul with economic ruin. The North Koreans refused to back down and demonstrated the ability to lob missiles into Japan in a self-destructive tantrum. The Euro-American Global Empire and its financial overlords know any military and subsequent economic involvement on the Korean Peninsula would be an expensive, even disastrous distraction. The tyrants of North Korea have plundered the wealth of their petty rump state and pumped what was left into bristling armaments and nuclear weapons while waves of famine sweep through their farms and cities.

Things are quiet between China and Taiwan. They continue a delicate dance of signing peaceful mutual agreements with one another even as China pack in more missiles to launch across the Straits while Taiwan’s heavily armed military refuses to blink. It is not an area anyone wants combat yet China will occasionally push international buttons to intimidate Taiwan and test American resolve. This delicate dance is likely to continue without open warfare. Let them rattle sabers, but otherwise ignore this. However, if the United States and the European Union were to become distracted and bogged down in expanded regional warfare in the Middle East, such as with Iran, or an Indo-Pak blowup, or perhaps a new Korean war that “goes bad,” expect the Chinese military to consider barrage and invasion of Taiwan.

The ethnic insurrections in the Southern Philippines have become more radicalized with and by Fundamentalist Muslims. The Filipino armed forces in October 2011 began bombing “renegade criminal gangs” that allegedly broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These air strikes were the first in several years. It had seemed peaceful rapprochement was on the way between the formal leaders, but extremist elements on both sides including factions allied with al-Qaida such as Abu Sayyaf and MILF rebel units succumbing to corruption and banditry undermined the 2008 ceasefire.

This resurgent violence followed by the harsh government crackdown serves to antagonize more Mindanao Muslims against the Filipino national government and the Roman Catholic Church. Rumors have circulated President Aquino may invite the United States to return to former military bases in the Philippines. U.S. troops including Special Forces have been and continue to assist officially in non-combat capacity as advisors although sometimes apparently engaging in firefights. Expect to see an increase in U.S. military activity here but with great discretion and sensitivity.

After all, to the immediate south sprawls Indonesia with its intermittent ethnic conflicts and smoldering Fundamentalist Muslim insurgencies. Next door in Thailand there is increasing violence in the southern regions between ethnic groups who happen to be primarily Muslim against the Buddhist-and-monarchist dominated military of the northern Thai. Growing waves of urban rioting against the Thai government have been increasing in number, although the immense disruption of the current widespread flooding is affecting this.

After the flooding subsides, however, expect a resurgence of protests, riots, fighting, and bombings in a key nation-state in the region. The Euro-American Global Empire views Thailand as its bulwark in the region surrounded by Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia with China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia nearby. While these issues are linked to other conflicts and are primary, of course, for those directly involved, they are more of a distraction for the more serious situations regarding Pakistan, Syria, and especially Iran.

In September 2011 the United States and its Allies began a mass buildup of NATO troops and CIA units on the Afghan side of the Pakistani border. Tensions including public anger, accusations of betrayal, and calls for justice or revenge continue to increase between the Pakistanis and the Americans. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Army General now CIA Director David Petraeus flew to Pakistan to lay down the law as American and NATO forces massed against the Pak borders, threatened Iran, and increased drone attacks into Pak Pashtun tribal areas.

Pakistan itself is riven by tribal and ethnic rivalries wanting independence or autonomy, political party gang wars, and Byzantine rivalries between forces seeking to work with the Americans against the Taliban, the Haqqanis, and al-Qaeda. In a constant state of maddening yo-yoing, President Karzai recently threatened to join the Pakistanis in war against the US if NATO attacks Pakistan. Meanwhile, terrorist and insurgent groups based in Pak border areas and supported by the Pakistani ISA and rogue military units continue to attack Afghan government positions in addition to the US-EU-NATO forces while the CIA continues its drone offensive into Pak tribal areas.

The Pakistanis continue to support Fundamentalist Muslim terrorist groups and the Kashmiri independence movement against India while India continues to occupy and terrorize Kashmir, battle Communist tribal Naxalites in the East, and skirmish with Pakistani military forces. The Indians also jockey with Pakistan for influence and power in Afghanistan.

The Chinese, who claim parts of what is now Kashmir and India as Chinese territory and defeated India in a border war in 1962, has moved troops into these frontier regions. In the wake of defeat, India built a network of roads and military bases along the frontiers with China. India is also in China’s crosshairs for sheltering the 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. The American CIA once supported Tibetan guerrillas in raids back into China during one of its “Secret Wars.”

China still claims Indian and Kashmiri territories as its own, and India is determined to avenge its defeat. Yet if one would to move first against the other, it would be China attacking India after India entered into a major war with Pakistan. Early last month India’s Army Chief General V. K. Singh declared China moved an estimated 4,000 workers, combat engineers, and other troops into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a move directed to aid Pakistan against India (see http://www.india-forums.com/news/national/363229-chinese-troops-in-pakistani-kashmir-indian-army-chief.htm.)

India and Pakistan have fought a number of border wars with each other. They last fought a significant war in 1999, the Kargil War, and battlefield conditions became so extreme for both sides India and Pakistan mobilized for nuclear attack before a truce was forced. They continue two minor wars. Pakistan is clandestinely engaged in the Kashmir Revolt, which broke out in 1989 against Indian control. The two have also battled each other since 1984 in the Siachen Glacier War, also in Kashmir. A nuclear exchange between the two would be over in minutes with many millions exterminated on both sides and radioactive fallout spreading around the region.

I seriously doubt the United States would allow itself to get bogged down in a bloody land war in Pakistan. I do expect frustration and treachery to explode to the point such emotions will drive strategy. What is most likely is some combination of NATO air strikes and naval assaults along with punitive land raids with inland clandestine operations. There would not be any attempt to occupy territory and hold Pakistan’s big, sprawling cities. The Americans and Europeans are already too overextended, but they have more than enough firepower to lay waste Pakistan’s infrastructure before they left. Of course, in an age of small, mobile, go-anywhere-in-the-world units fueled by revenge, expect more endless, low-level warfare and sporadic global terrorism.

If America and Pakistan came to blows, however, there would be urgent U.S. efforts to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Otherwise Pakistan may be tempted to launch them all from a standpoint of national pride and revenge. Recent accusations have surface claiming the Pakistani Strategic Plans Division (SPD), responsible for the security of its estimated 100 nuclear weapons, prefers to mix actual nuclear weapons with dummies and then discreetly move its nukes around in lightly guarded “regular” vans. This is done instead of using heavily armed military convoys that the SPD regards as obvious targets. (See http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/12/the-ally-from-hell/8730/.) Of course, with the high degree of infighting, corruption, and shifting allegiances in Pakistan, an otherwise “good idea” allows highly vulnerable nuclear weapons to be hijacked or “lost.”

It is likely India, sitting nervously on the sidelines, might feel compelled to launch nuclear weapons first if it suspects the Paks are preparing to launch missiles, too. In which case American forces would get caught under the mushroom clouds. Another dire and strong possibility is at least some of those Pakistani atomic warheads join the ranks of disappeared, unaccounted-for “loose nukes” and end up in the hands of al-Qaeda or any group hell bent on revenge.

Iran next door has expressed its own border concerns, especially as it claims the Americans are covertly supporting rebel groups including inside eastern Iran involving Iranian Baluchis near the Pak border. Iran is driven by its history of Persian imperial ambitions and a desire to present a public image of Islamic solidarity. The government in Tehran has promised Pakistan military help in any major war against the infidel Americans and Europeans and against Hindu India.

China may also intervene on behalf of Pakistan by attacking India and Afghanistan or putting pressure on Taiwan. There is great potential for a messy multi-faceted land war that would tear South Asia apart. Afghan warlords, the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda groups, the Haqqani Network, Pashtuns vs. Tajiks in Afghanistan and Pashtuns vs. Baluchis in Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban, the Pakistani and Afghan armies, the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, Pak version of NSA/DIA/CIA/FBI rolled into one), Chinese forces, Indian forces, Muslim and Naxalite rebels in India, Kashmiris fighting for independence, Iranian forces, and opposing armed groups in the former Soviet ‘Stans sympathetic to different sides in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And, of course, the United States, European Union, and their NATO allies. The Russian Federation has interests in the region as well.

This massive brawl across South and Central Asia with the acute threat of nuclear weapons is not a wild exercise in worse case scenario speculations. It is quite likely and is regarded as extremely serious with dreadful and unknown consequences. Even a limited Euro-American NATO ground, air, and naval attacks into Pakistan or Chinese-Indo-Pak-Kashmiri border clashes could quickly escalate into a horrendous warfare, multi-state collapse, and humanitarian crises.

At this moment President Obama has three choices: 1) declare victory and pull out NATO forces and allow Afghans to continue killing each other indefinitely, 2) continue to muddle along in an inconclusive war where victory will remain elusive as long as NATO’s local allies are dominated by corrupt thugs, the economy depends on opium (legalize, regulate, and stigmatize narcotics!), and NATO’s enemies remain based in Pakistani sanctuaries, or 3) invade Pakistan and hope those nuclear weapons stay put.

There are only two American politicians on the national stage still in office and with expressed presidential ambitions that would choose Number One. They’re Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Polar opposites on many issues, they are united on Constitutional, financial, foreign policy, and military issues. They’re both, however, highly marginalized by the mainstream mass media. President Obama, however, will most likely refrain from Option 3 and continue to muddle through in Afghanistan. His massing of forces against Pakistan is bluff and intimidation. He won’t launch incursions into Pakistan unless the Afghan situation deteriorates far worse than it is, or if the Indo-Pak border erupts in all-out conflict. Obama is more likely to attack Iran than Pakistan.

In mid-October Obama began massive military maneuvers in the Middle East. Spectacularly huge fleets of aircraft and ships engaged in a show of force. It was aimed primarily at Iran, somewhat at Syria, was taken note of by Pakistan, and was to placate Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were furious at the Americans and Europeans for their role in stirring up the Arab Spring and overthrowing Arab dictators who had been allies of the U.S.A. and the E.U. The Americans and Europeans said very little or nothing when Saudi military forces intervened in the wars in Yemen, the Bahrain revolt, and crushed a Shiite revolt in eastern Saudi Arabia. NATO forces intervened heavily in Libya, however, even using Special Forces from the Arab Monarchies of Qatar and Jordan. The rebels in Libya finally overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and on October 20, with help from NATO aircraft, drone missiles, and Special Forces, tortured and killed Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, President Assad’s regime in Syria continues to slaughter his own people, threatens to destroy all of the Middle East if attacked, and mines his borders with surrounding countries including Turkey and Jordan. Turkey vacillates like an impulsive adolescent with second thoughts. Ever since a secular proto-democracy emerged in a smaller Turkey after the First World War and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has been a linchpin of what emerged after the Second World War as the Euro-American Global Empire. Lately, however, it has acted as a vassal demanding more autonomy and dreams of recreating a regional empire.

Before the Arab Spring erupted, Turkey had drifted away from the West toward alliances with Iran, Syria, Lebanon-Hezbollah, and the Palestinians. Several times Turkey and Israel came close to armed clashes and the Israelis were caught off guard by the possibility of war with their former ally. So was the United States as Turkey was a major transit hub in and out of the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia. Turkey couldn’t stand by, however, as Syria erupted into massacres and civil war. It threatened to intervene to aid those fighting Assad or fleeing the slaughter. Jordan moved troops, too, and the Saudis and the Americans hinted they would support such moves. Assad threatened to attack Israel, unleash Hezbollah, and rain missiles into Turkey and Jordan. Iran was Syria’s close ally, but was now backpedalling. Iran had it’s own off and on revolts. Syria continued to crush its uprisings even as troops began to defect to the rebellion. Jordan backed off. Turkey chickened out and instead feinted toward Israel to ostensibly help the Palestinians in Gaza.

Hezbollah prepare to rain thousands of missiles upon Israel and invade from Lebanon on it’s own. Much depended on the tripwire of alliances now that Syria was destabilizing its relationships with everyone including Iran. The Iranians threatened the U.S., declared they would sail warships off the American coast, and then the U.S. counterclaimed Iran plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. with Mexican drug cartel gangsters using powerful explosives. Iran did have connections with Columbian and Mexican drug cartels, but the whole affair seemed buffoonish and contrived. Many assumed it was a sloppy set-up by the Americans, but others thought it was a deliberately sloppy set-up by the Iranians to draw the U.S. into a limited tit-for-tat series of reprisals. Israel began threatening to attack Iran yet again, and Iran Israel. Iran did mass troops to help Shiite rebels in Bahrain and perhaps Saudi Arabia, too, but they were deterred by the swiftness of the Saudi responses and American support for the Kingdom.

Hypocritical realpolitik and naïve humanitarianism are the two faces presented by the Euro-American Global Empire. They’ll help overthrow some dictators but not others. In Libya NATO was assisting anti-Gaddafi rebels including al-Qaeda groups. The spillover from the Libyan war is rippling into the pro-Gaddafi Tuareg tribes of the Sahara regions, into Algeria, and stirring up support for al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.

The web of Fundamentalist Islamic terror and rebellion has spread into Nigeria and out of Somalia. Boko Haram has arisen from among radicalized Muslims in fractured Nigeria and has launched new and for the first time synchronized terror attacks. Before most Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria was more over land than religion, and conditions are so bad religious fundamentalism has made inroads.

In Somalia amid a disastrous famine, al-Shabaab and pirate raids into Kenya triggered a Kenyan military invasion. It’s monsoons and mud now, so the Kenyan army has gotten bogged down as al-Shabaab launches terror attacks back inside Kenya and the Kenyans bomb refugee camps. The Americans, however, continue to launch drone missiles into Somalia and Yemen while working with other countries against pirates.

The United States and the Europeans have military bases across Africa. The U.S.A. recently sent in combat troops to aid in the capture and suppression of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Central African countries. The LRA is a nasty and wicked gang of drugged up butchers and rapists, and Obama’s actions prop up the authoritarian regimes in Uganda and surrounding states. Fighting goes on in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, both Congo nations, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan. Southern Sudan has seceded but bloody wars continue in both countries as well as in Darfur, South Kordufan, and elsewhere.

Is the military buildup around Iran with limited engagements around the world a sign of an impending attack on Iran? The situation seems very close. Again, similar to what a possible U.S. attack on Pakistan might resemble, a war on Iran would be primarily waged as an air and naval attack. The bombing would be intense and devastating. Ground incursions, raids, and covert ops would certainly occur, but there would not be a large ground invasion to conquer and occupy Iran.

The U.S.A. is withdrawing troops from Iraq, however. Lots of them. And the Turks and the Iranians are moving in theirs. Turkish troops invade Iraqi Kurdistan while the Iranians discreet infiltrate thousands to assist Iraqi Shiite militias. Are the American troops withdrawn from Iraq being “redeployed” into Afghanistan along the Pak frontier? Or into Kuwait for use in Iran? Or Syria and Lebanon? To help defend Israel?

Another possibility is back into the American homeland. The streets of many American cities have erupted into protests and demonstrations inspired in part by the Arab Spring. Starting in New York City, Occupy Wall Street has spread around the planet and is a global phenomena. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent. Some of the violence appears instigated by a small handful of “anarchists,” and most of it seems provoked by the Police.

In New York the NYPD has teamed up with the CIA to monitor the streets. Cops are using agents provocateurs to infiltrate Occupy groups with the intention to agitate for violence, “attack” the police, and provoke a heavy-handed police retaliation. The majority of the protestors and many of the cops want the demonstrations to remain peaceful. Yet they challenge the very core of tyranny. The Global Empire of the U.S.A. and Europe is not one of territory as much as it is an economic and financial neo-feudal imperium.

Our economy continues to slump down into this Great Recession, or Second Great Depression. The streets explode in frustration against domination by the interlocking Big Wall Street Banks, transnational corporations, the central banks, the Bretton Woods Three, and the military-industrial-intelligence complex. It is a common divide-and-conquer, bait-and-switch, and drum up nationalism for wars abroad when times are tough back home, especially when “ enemies” are unsavory characters themselves.

As the United States ramps up for war with either Iran or Pakistan or both, it ignores the multi-trillion dollar black holes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and I would add Africa. Perhaps even more importantly the U.S.A. ignores the horror across its southern border: the Mexican Drug War. This multi-faceted civil war between internationalized drug cartels, street gangs, and the Mexican government has spilled over the borders northwards into the United States and Canada and south into the Central American nations.

Drug war violence between American gangs allied with Mexican cartels has spread into many U.S. cities despite official downplaying of the issue. Perhaps more surprisingly, at least at first, this cartel-linked gang warfare is taking root in small towns, unincorporated village, and rural farming and ranching regions where law enforcement is miniscule with few resources.

The Obama-Biden Administration is doing its best to downplay and ignore the Operation Fast and Furious scandal with allegations the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) engaged or allowed gunrunning into Mexico where these weapons were used to kill U.S. federal agents. Additional charges surfaced drug smuggling may have been involved as well and the FBI was trying to cover up the incidents.

The point is all these domestic distractions including Occupy Wall Street uprisings against the Big Banks and the Corporatocracy as well as the cancerous Drug War, serious issues we would be wise to address along with our economic and environment issues, will be moot points if all-out war breaks out with Iran, or Pakistan, or Syria. These are significant regional powers. Regardless of who attacks whom first, if there is any major attack – beyond a few drones or covert ops – it would quickly escalate into world war. Russia and China will face hard choices to support the obvious winner or to sit it out on the sidelines.

Is this time different? Are these massive military buildups and threats of war all bluff, or another feint? Or is the real thing, a true world war between nation-states in addition to a global conflict against terrorist groups, about to break out?

This is what I think will happen: As no one wants another protracted war nor a true world war, I feel the pattern of one country under major assault at a time will continue while the rest of the world makes a lot of loud noise but sits tight.

Iran, not Pakistan, will be the target. Iran’s infrastructure will be destroyed in a shock-and-awe by either Israel or the U.S.A. with the E.U. Either Israel will be allowed to attack first with NATO stepping in to assist or help clean up, or NATO will strike first and leave the Israelis to defend themselves against the Syrians, Lebanon-Hezbollah, and the Palestinians factions in Gaza. Syria will expend itself and the al-Bashar regime collapses.

I would imagine Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States sits tight and absorb any Iranian hits, or keep their counterattacks limited. The Shia militias and Iranian troops in Iraq will make a big show but will also expend their ammunition and collapse. No one will want to occupy Iran and wage counterinsurgency against guerrillas, so it is hoped Iranians will quickly rise up and throw off the Mullahs and create a new government. War, however, tends to make domestic enemies “allies” when attacked by foreign nations.

Pakistan will not be attacked but shall be intimidated as to what may happen in the future if the Pakistanis don’t get their act together. India will sit tight. Any Chinese attack on India will be limited to a border war. North Korea and Taiwan will not erupt. Russian and China as well as the Latin American countries will make a great clamor of protests but will wait this out.

Iran shall, of course, retaliate, and the massed Arab and Persian attacks on Israel will cause immense devastation. Turkey will see a better chance of expanding its role by staying in NATO and will move to fill the power vacuum left behind by the shattered regimes of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The Turks will growl at the Israelis but work with them. They will have their hands full “helping” out post-Assad Syria. The House of Saud will remain in charge of Arabia and the wars in Yemen and Somalia will be contained to simmer until they burn themselves out. Egypt has its hands full with its own internal issues in the wake of Mubarak’s ouster including fighting rebels and terrorists in the Sinai. Borders will be redrawn.

There will not be any world war. And in war the unexpected is often most likely. We all surf a most dangerous wave.

 

William Dudley Bass
November 7, 2011
Seattle, Washington

Copyright © 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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