Wednesday, January 29, 2020

System leader

"Iran Becomes the Prize to America’s Warring Parties’ Rites of War" (Crooke):
"Professor Mike Vlahos however, articulates another perspective that the Europeans seem to have overlooked. In his book, Fighting Identity, Vlahos goes beyond the usual trite parallels to argue that the U.S. is not an ordinary nation-state but a “system leader”, a civilizational power like Rome, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire. The system leader is “a universalistic identity framework tied to a state. This vantage is helpful because the United States clearly owns this identity framework today”.”
Vlahos’ second point is that the U.S. success versus the USSR gave rise to hubris: leading to American leaders “inhabiting a worldview of iron conservatism”. After all, (as they saw it), they are defending not ‘the nation’ per se, but rather its global vision, and rules-based global order. Concomitantly, as the civil public eased themselves into the comfort of the New American Century, and the military ethos waned amongst the public, the military-security complex reacted by becoming correspondingly certain that it must assume the security burden of defending the U.S. vision that had prevailed in the Cold War. Hence ‘the state’ effectively grew and separated to become its own subculture, or rather, a constellation of state subcultures, military and bureaucratic (i.e. the Deep State) that sees its mission to act as the ‘iron’ guardian to this universalist vision – even (though Vlahos does not make the connection explicit) to guard the state against ‘populist’ leaders such as Trump, who would betray the guardianship or covenant for some mercantilist vision that actually damages it (in their view).
The point here is that as the old order is contested and broken apart, both by Trump and ‘the Resistance’ (i.e. those who see themselves as guardians of the old order), “the warring sides have hardened their hearts so that they will do almost anything in order to prevail. The great irony is that [in] their mutual drive to win … [the warring sides] refuse to work together in the rusting carapace of old constitutional order. Yet nonetheless, they work shoulder-to-shoulder, together, to overthrow it. For both sides, the old order is the major obstacle to victory. Hence victory is through overthrow”.
What may be missing from the Euro3 assessment of the situation then, is how hugely symbolically important it is to both these warring U.S. factions, that Islamic Iran be brought kneeling in contrition and repentance for its Revolution. For the U.S. military-security establishment, it would represent another signal victory for American hegemony – in symbolic terms, as important a civilisational victory as that against ‘Marxism’. For Trump, nothing can better demonstrate to Americans that his high-stakes negotiating ploys are strategic, the risks are measured, and the payoff will be a neutralized Iran (without nuclear capability).
The Euro3 may think that all they did, in effect, was to put additional pressure on Iran to strike an agreement with Trump. This sounds oh-so rational, and common-sensical. But the U.S. is not engaged in the kind of think-tank strategic analysis outlined above. It is playing to win its internal, dirty civil war – by any means. The military-security establishment wants Mid-East energy dominance; it will not tolerate any threat to its dollarised financial weaponry advantage that a Russian-led mini Belt and Road might imply – and it will not allow Israel to fold.
And the Euro3, in sending the JCPOA framework to the scrapheap , inevitably return us to that binary narrative of ‘Iran can never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon: Either Iranians must renounce enrichment entirely, or face the consequences’. Trump may have asked for this action from the Euro3 (or, he may have had demanded it of him by Republican neo-cons in return for their vote against his impeachment), but it may not in fact help him. The JCPOA was – somehow – a possible ‘off-ramp’ to conflict (Iran has stressed repeatedly, that it was the only architecture for de-escalation). But now, after the killing of Soleimani, Iran is unlikely to want to talk with Trump. There is simply no trust. And the Europeans have just disqualified themselves as locuteurs valables.
The binary ‘either/or’ ultimatum being set up by the Euro3 is a gift to the U.S. neo-cons and their evangelical allies, more than it represents an aid for Trump. Furthermore, it could even trigger a common interest between Evangelical and military-security complex linked Senators with Democrats to vote for Trump’s impeachment – and thereby bring the Evangelical Pence into office.
The trend lines thus do not augur well. U.S. pressures will escalate – in line with the binary ‘either/or’ ultimatum, and Iran will then push back through increasing enrichment and acts of deterrence. The present lull in tensions may be short-lived."
One of the good things to come out of the assassination is the obvious panic in the Gulf and even Israel that Iran and its allies, even under American attack, were and are perfectly capable of laying a whooping on them, taking out all the oil infrastructure of the Gulf States, and scaring the knowledge workers out of Israel.  We've seen some indications already that the Gulf States are starting to realize that putting all their eggs in the basket of obtaining security from Americans, who are obviously stark raving mad, might not be the best plan.  It remains to be seen if sanity comes to the Gulf in the nick of time (Israel is now completely fucked with the kleptomania taking over everything).
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