Every now and then American statesmen warn that the military option against Iran is still on the table, while facts on the ground show Washington incapable of even conducting a limited war, or surgical military operation, against Tehran.
As Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) are preparing for the next round of talks in Geneva on November 20, once again senior US officials have upped their dissuading statements about Iran.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that 95 percent of the sanctions imposed against Iran will remain intact after the upcoming talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 and only a tiny portico of Iran’s frozen assets will be released if negotiations prove successful and end in a deal.
In similar remarks, Obama has said that the main body of the US sanctions against Iran, including those in the oil, financial and banking sectors, will be extended.
Hence, it seems that the US does not intend to make a considerable change to its Iran sanctions policy, at least, in the short-run, and if the situation is analyzed on the basis of the rules of power, it will be quite evident that a structural change in Washington’s sanctions will have a little chance in the long-run as well.
On the contrary, as we are approaching the next round of talks between Iran and the six major world powers on November 20, what attracts everyone’s attention more than anything else is the emphasis laid by the US president on the military option as Obama is making use of his catch-phrase ‘the military option is on the table’ repeatedly.
But, once one pays due attention to the three following points, he or she would realize that the military option has no place even near, let alone on, the table of the Americans:
First, as renowned American scholar, author and founder of the US think-tank, Stratfor Global Intelligence, George Friedman has stated, Washington has excluded large-scale military operations from its military doctrine and replaced them with “surgical military operations”. Surgical military operation is a label for hit-and-run operations similar to drone attacks. The US military strategists surely know better than anyone else that a conflict with Iran will be tantamount to a continuous regional war and can by no means be performed in the form of a hit-and-run operation.
Secondly, not long ago, Israel very zealously initiated what later came to be known as the Israeli-Palestinian 8-day war, and everyone remembers how desperately the Israelis were looking for a truce with the Palestinians – that had a very limited military power – only a few days after the start of their offensive, and how Israel was eventually saved by the mediation of the US and the deposed Egyptian President, Mohamed Mursi, after signing a political agreement. Friedman’s remarks referred to the US inability to launch a full-fledged war against Iran, while the lessons of the 8-day war display that Washington cannot run a proxy war against Iran through Israel. Israel is incapable of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities; had Tel Aviv enjoyed the ability and capability to do so, it would not have sustained such a grave defeat against the Palestinian resistance movement in Gaza.
Thirdly, the Syrian crisis and allegations that President Bashar Al-Assad’s government has used chemical weapons against its citizens and the United States’ later change of mind and abstention from waging a war on Syria is another evidence testifying Washington’s inability to begin a new war in the region. It is quite evident that had the US been ready to pay the costs of a limited war, it would have staged heavy strikes on the Syrian army before accepting the Russian proposal for the chemical disarmament of Syria. But, the US preferred not to pay such expenses, meaning that the White House cannot pay the costs of a war even at a limited scale.
To put it in a nutshell, Obama could not have been serious when talking about his available options on the table, but of course such a witty attitude concurrent with the Iran-G5+1 talks can have its costs for the US government.
The White House is well-aware that even a not so serious agreement with Iran can help the Democrats win the upcoming US Congress mid-term elections, and if they lose the present opportunity, the Democrats should then pay the price.
So, it is now up to President Obama to think twice before November 20 arrives because the ball is now in the US court.