Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Should Israel bomb Iran?

I read an article about why Israel should not bomb Iran, which I thought was limited in scope. I thought it would be a mistake to ignore the larger picture, so here are some additional thoughts on the subject.

Consider the influence of US Federal Reserve, constituent financials, and their manipulation of US markets and financial systems. (Which by extension lends control to other groups in their respective markets.)

Item 1) The ability of global-sized financial organizations to manipulate entire markets is vulnerable to their dependance on predictability.

If Israel were to attack Iran, the impact on oil prices at first seems predictable, however this predictability is predicated on unified, or at least calculable opposition to Israel. The problem is the unpredictability of opposition vs. support of Israeli action on the part of other OPEC members.

In the short term, obviously Iran would cease exports. Whether or not the IDF targets production and distribution facilities, Khameni will wield the only power he has. This is only a 12% reduction in global supply at best. They can sink a ship or two in Hormuz, but that will only delay delivery of another 20% of global supplies, and only for a short time. A USCSG would quickly assume control of the area, with the wholehearted support of every financial power on earth. The sum of Iranian retaliation ends right there, with the US 5th fleet.

But, how will the Islamic or Arabic or OPEC alignments pan out in response?

Item 2) It cannot be predicted whether Sunni and Shia will unite for a final assault on Jews, OR perhaps Arabs will support Jews attacking Persians, OR perhaps OPEC will put it's full weight behind a member state under attack by Israel.

Another possibility is the interested parties won't know themselves how they should align, resulting in a widening fragmentary conflict, with alliances shifting as quickly as arms support can make deliveries. A free-for-all could ensue. It seems probable that there would be at least some fragmentation, but even this is not certain. There is still a good chance an Israeli attack will provide a galvanizing effect for one of the first three scenarios, or one as-yet unthought of. Or one that shifts from one to the next, in effect reducing the profit making machine into a crap shoot.

Also, an Israeli attack could easily escalate and widen, costing everyone concerned hundreds of trillions of dollars. It might also be a 6-hour war that raises oil for a few months with less impact than Michael Jacksons funeral. No one can say.

Each of these scenarios is

  • possible,
  • cannot be predicted and
  • all have different outcomes and consequences
    especially on global markets.

This effectively undermines the predictability that global financial interests rely on. There are many possible outcomes with various probabilities, but nothing you can invest in with any degree of certainty. Therefore:

Item 3) Israel is not going to be given clearance to attack Iran by anyone, for financial reasons.

We can safely assume that PM Netanyahu meant what he said by "There are other considerations." The powers that be have no interest in rolling the dice on this one.

Now for the really big problem.

Item 4) If Iran is allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, an Iranian first-strike presents none of the problems associated with an Israeli first strike. No alliances have to shift, no oil is threatened, the only market lost is Israels, and all of it is not only predictable, but calculable as well. Sunnis and Shias and Wahabbis can bicker about who lives where, Arabs can be secretly grateful to the Persians without admitting it. The only global financial impact is the exact dollar amount of Israeli commerce. Though a GDP of $200 billion is nothing to sneeze at, it is certainly not apocalyptic on a global scale if it suddenly disappeared.

Five trillion has disappeared from US coffers already, and the Four Horsemen are nowhere to be found, so... do the math.

$200 billion pales in comparison to the impact and fallout from the cascading failures in a global energy crisis today, which itself would be insignificant in the event the conflict actually does turn into WW3. Not totally likely, but then again, not exactly improbable either.

Israel knows that Khameni knows the world does not want Israel to attack Iran. Everyone knows that, and you don't need my analysis to prove it. The question you have to ask yourself is this: How cognizant is Israeli leadership of the imbalance between item 3 and item 4? And more importantly, how aware do they think Khameni is of the same imbalance?

In other words, does Netanyahu think Khameni knows Iran can get away with a first-strike? There would be some political fallout, and wide condemnation, but do you honestly think Iran would be dismantled as a result? Of course not. There would enough walk outs in New York to dismantle the UN before that would happen. And that goes even without any off-the-record assurances they may have from who knows who. Tacit, oblique or overt, it would be naive to suggest there haven't been promises whispered in "unofficial" support.

We can be sure Khameni expects Arabs to be secretly, hypocritically grateful in the event he levels Tel Aviv. We can be certain he at least suspects some of the pressure the Israeli government is under to sit idle. He clearly takes advantage of the room by moving full steam ahead on his nuclear program and vitriolic rhetoric. He has ongoing nuclear commerce with Russia, and trade agreements have not been hampered by any sanctions. Regardless of the anti-regime rhetoric in the wider world, we know he is aware that he has the full support of the financial community, because he actively exploits that support every day. All of which Israeli's are keenly aware of as well. Some go so far as to claim the propaganda supporting Shahids is only a precursor to convert Jerusalem fatalities into purple glowing martyrs; to undercut Arab resentment of a Persian bomb vaporizing Palestinians along with Jews.

It gets even trickier than this. Some Jewish leaders believe Iran wants to nuke Jerusalem. Some of them do not. Some of them understand the pressure against an Israeli first-strike is economic, some believe it is racial, some believe it is religious. This adds a present ambiguity that may threaten global finance. Which leader believes what? Will that leader make a pre-emptive strike? Possibly. But if there is an Israeli first-strike, there is the potential for global catastrophe. If there is an Iranian first strike, the damage will be limited to a single country, Israel, and the financial impact is finite and known, and easily survivable. Therefore:

Item 5) The ambiguity itself is a clear and present danger to Israel, that can only be mitigated by removing the opposing faction, Iran.

Going a step farther, consider that Iran may be already under economic pressure to act first in order to pre-empt an Israeli attack. This would at least explain the belligerent comments from Pres. Ahmadinejad. Perhaps they are emboldened by agreements we don't know anything about. There is plenty of evidence to support the idea: There have been no effective measures enacted by any governing body. Nuclear trade and development continues unhindered, US policy is open to engagement and dialog, there has not been any measurable impact on Iranian economy from sanctions. The IAEA soft-peddles critical omissions, and consistently fails to enact measures to force compliance.

I think the current environment is not tolerable. I think Iran uses the ideology of apocalyptic Islamic theology to manipulate the attitude that the world needs to appease radical Islamics. Or else, they say, these crazy people we can't control will start Armageddon. Now, I don't think you can rise to the heights of power believing those ideologies yourself, I think you get there by making everyone else believe them. It has been suggested that Iran is not particularly disposed to attacking Israel, and left alone they probably would not. Personally, I think their first strategy is to outlast Israel, and invade by immigration and birth, and by shrewd usage of media and pop-psychology. So even if Iran doesn't want to attack, it may not be that simple.

No leader operates in a vacuum today, and an Iranian first-strike is FAR preferable for all concerned, except Israel itself. No country is entirely autonomous. No one stands alone, not even DPRK. I do not think Khameni is immune to corruption and influence, and there is more power and influence aggregated in private hands than any individual nation. I feel safe in presuming that these interests are in selfish individuals who can very easily and effectively rationalize to themselves that it's better for Iran to attack Israel, than the other way around, and also that these individuals have means beyond what my, and your, limited experience are able to imagine.

If Israel is going to survive, they must eliminate the option of having themselves eliminated.