Taming the Demons: Obama’s tactical shift

Spearhead Analysis – 13.11.2013

By Zoon Ahmad Khan
Research Analysts, Spearhead Research – Pakistan

It is no secret that AIPAC plays a paramount role in shaping America’s foreign policy. There was a time when the strength of the Israeli lobby was questionable and those who fell back to this narrative were conveniently labeled as conspiracy theorists. But come US Election 2012, the war drums began to beat louder and the Republican Primaries became more about the threat Iran poses to the World, and less about addressing internal economic issues, and bringing the troops home. For the Obama administration, this power the media possessed to sway national narrative to mislead Americans into thinking war is the solution posed a grave threat.

The pariah state that Iran has become, and that Syria became over the past two years; the threat they supposedly posed to the ‘World’ are actually Israeli and Saudi narratives. Israel and Saudi Arabia both stand against Iran and Syria. For the former Iran has been demonized into a ‘war-state’ of fundamentalists, ready to bomb out the Zionists. For the latter it is sectarian rivalry. Iran’s Shia and Syria’s Alawites threaten the Wahabis, akin to the strife between ‘Democracy’ and ‘Communism’: it is an ideological war. The dissension between Wahabi and Shia Islam has manifested itself throughout the Muslim World over the previous few decades, from Africa to Asia and Saudis and Iranians remain at the center of this conflict.

If Iran remains the pariah state, and if Americans are to believe that the Iranian nuclear program is a strategy to bomb not only Israel but also the Western World, a state of ‘emergency’ will prevail in the Middle East. The burden to protect will automatically fall on loyal Israel’s shoulders, in return justifying more Defense Aid to say the least. Similarly oil rich Iran can provide an alternative for the Saudis who have monopolized this business. While Iran’s Khameini government has remained anti-US ideologically since 1979, 21st century Iran’s marginalization is not as much caused by inner choice, and more so because of the demonization by regional rivals.

A suave shift in US adamancy to economically coerce Iran was replaced by one phone call that marked direct contact between the Khameini government and US for the first time since 1979. This was an opportunity Obama seized, and rightly so. For the cozy allies, Obama realized, have been misleading for their own personal gain. With this sudden change of posture Obama has unfolded a much needed chain of events and a more balanced global dynamic. Kerry has spoken against the settlements, and Saudis have retaliated as Syria and Iran both get benefit of the doubt.

The US government’s tactical shift first came off as a sign of weakness. Putin and Rouhani got by-lines in leading American newspapers only days before they were to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The United Nations, instead of entertaining Netanyahu’s anti-Iran outcries, demanded that Israel let UN nuclear inspectors in for the ‘transparency’ it claims to be such a vehement proponent of. Syria’s war zone and chemical weapons have been handed under the supervision of Russian President, strong opponent of the military intervention that remained under consideration in the UNSC.

Today Israeli Prime Minister has miraculously ‘halted’ settlements. Not on any humanitarian grounds, he clarifies, but because the international community’s outcry might divert the attention from the real problem: the possibility of a nuclear deal with Iran. And who will fight Israel’s war if Iran remains a pariah state? Of course the United States of America and the last thing the US can afford given the fragile state of their economy is another war. The US seems to have realized that closing her options has made her more vulnerable, and these cozy alliances have become more burdensome than beneficial. Why allow one beggar to dictate, when there is no dearth of beggars? It’s really quite simple.