by Frank Schnittger
It's a pity that Chris Cook doesn't post here anymore, but his latest piece on the front page of the Asia Times on secret US Iranian negotiations is an excellent discussion of what might yet become a positive "October Surprise" prior to the US Presidential election on Nov. 6th.
Firstly, we saw an Iranian ex-Revolutionary Guard insider outlining - in remarkable detail - discussions he claimed had been held between the United States and Iran. These apparently culminated within the past three weeks in high level contacts in Qatar between a close confidante of President Barack Obama - Valerie Jarrett, who was actually born in Iran - and one or more high level Iranian officials.
Given that Romney has made his hawkishness on Iran a centrepiece of his foreign policy, it might also give the President some ammunition for tonight's Presidential debate on foreign policy. However there is one point on which I would disagree with Chris. He goes on to state:
Asia Times Online :: Iran talks denial adds debate spice
President Obama is in a position, if he has the killer instinct, to make life very uncomfortable for the challenger in the upcoming final debate, which will cover foreign policy.
Perhaps Romney, if elected, will become more nuanced. Who can say considering he has adopted so many conflicting positions on so many issues? However prior to the election he will be anything but. Determined not to allow any daylight between his foreign policy and Bibi Netanyahu's wet dreams, he will be asking Obama at the debate why he hasn't bombed Iran's nuclear facilities yet, or at least encouraged and enabled Bibi to do so. Romney is for regime change in Iran, so imposing impossible negotiating positions on the Iranian Government is not a problem for him or his Bush era foreign policy advisory team including neo-conservative war mongers like John Bolton.
It remains my nightmare scenario that Netanyahu, despairing of a Romney victory, might launch a nuclear strike on Iran's nuclear facilities prior to the election - to make it very difficult for Obama to respond robustly to what would be the most outrageous use of nuclear weapons of all time - a surprise peacetime attack on a neighbour who has not yet got, nor is close to getting a nuclear bomb or a missile capable of delivering it effectively whilst draconian economic sanctions are already in place and diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse are ongoing.
Netantanya might be forced to resort to using a nuclear warhead because he doesn't have conventional bunker buster bombs capable of destroying Iran's deeply fortified underground facilities, but how would the rest of the world respond to such a provocative and unprecedented use of nuclear weapons? Would it not break the long sustained doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction which has long inhibited the nuclear powers from doing the same? What would happen if Iran's key ally, the Russian Federation, decided that this was an unacceptable attack on its near neighbour and proceeded to launch missiles intended to destroy Israel's long denied nuclear facilities? Civilian as well as military casualties on a large scale would be unavoidable in the case of both attacks.
We would be right back in a cold war scenario - and with a US President denied the means of any nuanced response short of attacking Russia's nuclear facilities and threatening Armageddon. After all it was a US ally which launched the first attack and the Russian response could be construed as no more than a proportionate response. And what then if Iran threatened to send its huge army to its ally Syria (conveniently shoring up its tottering regime) as a base for a possible invasion of Israel? All hell would break loose and the geo-political order which has been relatively stable since the Cold War would once again threaten to collapse - particularly with a President Romney at the helm...
I leave you to discuss such awful but not entirely implausible scenarios...