Does a leopard change its spots? By William Bowles

26 July 2008

The US government is talking with Iran, so what’s the catch? The simple answer is the November election. The move is clearly aimed at associating McCain/Republican Party with a new, kinder, softer Bush cabal although the Washington Post sees it somewhat differently. In an unabashed paean to Obama it says:

“But his [Obama’s] troubles are minimal compared with those of John McCain, who looks like the odd man out in the ongoing foreign policy debate. Having given steadfast support to the policies of both Maliki and George Bush, he has a legitimate complaint: They owed him more consideration in the way they announced their shifts. As it is, McCain appears isolated from trends in both Baghdad and Washington.” — ‘Obama’s Tour de Force’, 24 July, 2008.

In turn this reflects the immaculate illusion created by Barack Obama’s handlers, which when set against McCain, makes him look and sound decidedly of the species dinosaur.

And oddly, or perhaps not, it reveals also that the REAL power brokers care little about whether a Republican or a Democrat occupies the largely symbolic seat in the White House and given Obama’s fotogenic appeal aka JFK (‘Ich Bin Ein Obama?’[1]) reinforced by his visit to Berlin which has all the marks of a future emperor as he surveys his various satrapies.

But most importantly the ‘opening’ to Iran is a response to US public opinion what with the deepening economic crisis at home and the fears openly expressed by specific sections of the ruling elite that attacking Iran is not a wise move (at least at this specific time).

One of Obama’s main ‘advisors’, Zbigniew Brzezinski has openly stated that attacking Iran at this time is a foolish move.

“If we escalate the tensions, if we succumb to hysteria, if we start making threats, we are likely to stampede ourselves into a war, which most reasonable people agree would be a disaster for us,” he said.

“And just think what it would do for the United States, because it would be the United States which would be at war. We will be at war simultaneously in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we would be stuck for the next 20 years.” — ‘Brzezinski: U.S. in danger of ‘stampeding’ to war with Iran’

This statement was made almost one year ago, revealing that the divisions in the US ruling class are not new but that the economic crisis has supplied a new urgency. The result? Barack Obama, the Jimmy Carter of our times.

Moreover, even with a global corporate media backing the Israeli Zionists to the hilt, things ain’t what they used to be, so even if Israel does the dirty work for the US, the connection between the two imperialisms is so complete that with regard to the Middle East, they are perceived as being interchangeable and the US would be at war with Iran whether it wanted it or not.

Thus wiser, or at least calmer heads are reasserting themselves which given the current circumstances is not surprising. Wars on four fronts? I think not. But let us not be fooled as so many on the left in the US have by the Obama illusion as his statement on Afghanistan clearly shows the direction in which US imperial designs are once more headed. Bush’s destruction of Iraq is little more than a sideshow in the grand scheme of things.

“I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country [Iraq] that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.” Barack Obama in Berlin[2]

In other words, the drive Eastwards (and this is what it’s all about) which started in 1979 under Carter with the arming of the Taliban must once more be the main plank of US foreign policy and guided by the man who dreamed it up in the first place, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation [to arm the Taliban, begun six months before the Soviets entered Afghanistan] was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.[3]

What they could not forsee was the end product of three decades of neo-liberal economic policies, driven as they are by an economic system over which they have little control.

Indeed, it can be argued that what goes around, comes around, for the US now finds itself in a comparable situation to the one the Soviets found themselves in. Is it any wonder therefore that Brzezinski is once more in the driver’s seat of US foreign policy and that Barack Obama is the chosen vehicle for delivering it?

Under such circumstances the Bush Gang has little room for manouever as it has little or no control over what happens to the economy, so all it can offer the electorate is anodyne statements that mean nothing and offer even less. Furthermore, it can be stated unequivocally that the Cheney/Rumsfeld policy is history, a classic case of the imperium biting off more than it could chew.

But this isn’t 1979, the beginning of the neo-liberal ‘revolution’. Instead it’s the end. The economy has reached the point where it is oscillating out of control, all the regulators (such as they are) but especially interest rates and the related money supply (ie, access to credit) are not working. It’s a case of the devil you do, the devil you don’t. Restrict access to credit and consumption falls; increase access to credit and the economy goes into an inflationary spiral as the value of the money decreases.

But what makes this, the latest crisis of capital accumulation different from all previous crises, is not only the scale of it but that it’s effects are global in every respect such is the interlocked nature of the capitalist financial network brought about by globalization. It’s no longer the case that when the US sneezes we get a cold, now we get double pneumonia (with complications).

The ‘opening’ to Iran has to be set in this context and whilst I have no exact information on what has transpired between the two countries, it’s clear that the US have not altered their position in the slightest, namely ‘regime change’. However, what is also clear is that it’s merely an issue of reassigning priorities. Those now in the ascendency in the US ruling class are asserting themselves in the dying days of the Bush presidency, knowing full well that there is little the Bush Gang can do about it.


1. Unknown to JFK a Berliner is a doughnut.

2. See ‘Decoding Obama on Iraq’ by Anthony Arnove.

3. See ‘The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan’ Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

See also: UAE: US-Iran Detente Viewed With CautionBy Meena Janardhan’ DUBAI, Jul 25 (IPS)

‘POLITICS: Seismic Shift or Non-Decision by Bush on Iran?’ July, 18 2008. Analysis by Gareth Porter

‘POLITICS-US: Realists Rack Up Another Win’, July 16, 2008. Analysis by Jim Lobe and,

‘Iran: The Parthian Shot’, a roundup of articles on the situation

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