Invading Iran will ruin America By S Mubashir Noor

A string of attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over the last two months have raised temperatures in the Middle East to the point where some manner of armed conflict between the US and Iran appears inevitable.
Indeed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pulled no punches while publicly slamming Tehran in mid-June for “unprovoked attacks” on two oil tankers that caught fire from unknown explosions in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran has summarily dismissed the accusations as another example of Washington’s wanton warmongering and declared they were a “false-flag” to build the case for invasion, one thatwould prove very costly for the US.
The US and Iran have been at the brink of war since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the P5+1 nuclear treaty in 2018 and snapped back punitive sanctions that have again isolated Iran’s economy and made it near impossible to participate in global trade.
That said, there are broader contours to this face off than merely trigger-happy hawks in the Trump administration or ensuring freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s busiest oil shipping lane.
In short, America’s arithmetic for war with Iran is not in its favor for two major reasons: the absence of a moral high ground and renewed major power competition.
If the endgame is peace in the Middle East as the Americans keep harping on, Washington must learn to treat Iran as a partner and not a pariah
First, this is not 1945 nor is it 2003. While America’s foreign policy has always implicitly acknowledged its transactional nature, Trump has unabashedly paraded it at every diplomatic engagement.
From trade to collective defense pacts, he has panned every one of them for disproportionally burdening the US. Many European allies will quietly be hoping he gets booted out of office in 2020.
This “help me, help yourself” approach to international relations has yielded a major minus: America for perhaps the first time since World War II does not hold the moral high ground in dealing with an adversary it perceives a major menace to global peace and security.
It is important to recognize that America’s sustainability as a superpower has not simply manifested from its military prowess. Sure, there is that but every major power needs a virtuous ideology others can get behind, or at least rationalize their helplessness with, and Washington’s has been “moral exceptionalism.”
This was the carefully curated perception that America would do whatever it took to uphold freedom and human rights worldwide. Yet moral exceptionalism only worked so long as the primary villain had an equally compelling ideological narrative and relative parity in military and economic might.
Bullying the weak, as Washington began in 1991 with the First Gulf War, marked the turning point when principled stands devolved into major power hubris. It has been a slow-moving train wreck ever since.
Rewinding to the Cold War, systematic acts of regime change, especially in Latin America and the Middle East, and actively igniting war theatres in Asia and Africa were business-as-usual for Washington, yet it retained the facade of moral exceptionalism thanks to the threat of the Soviet Union that America opportunely hyped up with global media control.
After all, who would point fingers at Washington when it had single-handedly rebuilt battered Europe and Japan after World War II through the Marshall Plan while the “evil commies” under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin were busy purging millions? The moral equation remained firmly on Washington’s side right until the Iron Curtain fell near the end of the 20th century. No more.
Another equation no longer in Washington’s favour is geopolitical. Increasingly militaristic Russia and new economic powerhouse China have ganged up after years of estrangement to challenge America’s pole position in world politics.
And the Iran issue has sufficient moral latitude for them to lean into, specifically Russia that helped Shia militias and the Syrian government defeat the Daesh terrorist group in 2018 where the US-led coalition had failed.
Moscow’s role in defeating Daesh dealt a crushing blow to America’s long-standing influence in the Middle Eastand Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged as the Arabs’ new savior.
Moreover, the construction of multiple Russian military facilities in the region suggests Washington can no longer dictate terms, which crystallized in its failure to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after pronouncing it the primary goal of the US-led combat mission.
China meanwhile sees Iran as a crucial node in President Xi Jinping’s marquee Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and an important export market for its infrastructural development expertise similar to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Given that the US has been pressuring Beijing militarily in its maritime space and started a damaging trade war to deflate its booming economy, Iran is the perfect lever for payback and therefore bankrolling any plan that damages US interests in the Middle East is likely to China’s advantage.
Then there are Trump’s troubles at home that may force his hand. His approval ratings have taken a real beating after the congressional inquiry on the 2016 presidential election insinuated he may have colluded with Moscow to defeat Hillary Clinton who was widely tipped to win.
Accordingly, to repair his reputation ahead of the 2020 polls, Trump may in classic Republican fashion resort to a grand show of force that will appeal to his White evangelical (aka “Christian Zionists”)voters who see Ayatollah Iran as Israel’s mortal enemy and desire its destruction.
Their influence on the administration cannot be discounted for they comprise nearly 27 percent of national voters and appeasing them drove the American president to shockingly recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
Loyal ally Saudi Arabia that also seethes at Iran’s growing clout in the region and is waging its own war on Iranian proxies in Yemen will also cheer heartily any military operation to effect regime change.
Yet if the endgame is peace in the Middle East as the Americanskeep harping on, Washington must learn to treat Iran as a partner and not a pariah. Failure to do so will only set the region ablaze again and bring ruin to US regional interestsas in Afghanistan.
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