The War for Iran: Juan Cole's "Thought Experiment"

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The relentless war stalker Juan Cole stopped dead in his tracks over the weekend. The war in Lebanon has no rational explanation, he decided. Tearing up a democracy with a young government that President Bush had embraced at the White House just months ago? Erasing vast tracts of a recovering capital city? Killing many hundreds of civilians in the name of ransoming two Israeli soldiers? It makes no sense at all, Professor Cole concluded. Unless, unless… what if: straight out of the movie “Syriana,” there is a ruthless logic of oil driving the US government (and its client Israel) in the direction of a showdown war with Iran, or more precisely: for Iran. Cole spins it out as a fascinating “thought experiment” that has drawn scores of comments on his Informed Comment blog.

The notion came to Juan Cole in an email, drawing on a briefing in Europe among oil analysts and strategists — at a meeting that itself reads like a “Syriana” scene. In the emerging era of peak oil production and critical oil thirst in China (the workshop of the world) and India (the office of the world), Iran sits in strategic lordship of the Persian Gulf (the gas station of the world). Iran becomes, in the words of the Euro presenter of the oil case, as “the most valuable country on the planet,” and the required prize for the world hegemon.


Oil flare, Iran [VISTA / Flickr]

Hizbullah in this view is nothing more or less than a provocative point man for Iran in the hostage nation of Lebanon. So the showdown for Iran’s petroleum treasures “starts with the destruction of Lebanon.” The war on Hizbollah and the destruction of Lebanon are to be seen as the daylight murder of Iran’s bodyguard before the real battle begins. The European oil analyst in the background of Cole’s mind game has made the point that “the US government is convinced that this battle will decide the future of the world.” Picture Vice President Cheney stewing, and pulling strings.

So there it is: an oil explanation that trumps all the other accounts of Islamic fundamentalism or the “existential” threat to Israel, that sweeps aside mere national interest or any “clash of civilizations” in favor of a mass-murderous race for the last drop of oil. Can you deal with it? Can you knock it down? It sounds to me all too plausibly like the oil addicts’ coda to the original Great Game… a war to end civilization for the last bag of heroin.

We will have at it this evening with Juan Cole, and with the ever-interesting historian of resource wars: Michael Klare of Hampshire College.

Juan Cole

Professor, Modern Middle East and South Asian History, University of Michigan

Blogger, Informed Comment

Michael Klare

Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, Hampshire College

Roger Owen

Professor of Middle East history, Harvard University

Author, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East

Extra Credit Reading

Juan Cole, One Ring to Rule Them, Informed Comment, 8/6/06

Jim Kunstler, Heating Up, Melting Down, Clusterf*ck Nation by Jim Kunstler, 8/7/06

Richard Heinberg, Middle East at a crossroads, Energy Bulletin, 8/4/06

brotherbeat, Is Preparing the World for the Second Coming Appropriate Middle Eastern Policy?, the bastards’ last stand, 8/7/06

frog, Peak Oil and the crisis in Lebanon, frogblog, 8/8/06

Pigilito, How intellectually lazy is Prof. Juan Cole?, Pigilito says…, 8/8/06

Bryant Urstadt, Imagine There’s No Oil, Harper’s Magazine, 8/06 (not currently available online)

Hubbert Peak Theory, Wikipedia

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  • hurley

    Fascinating, coherent, but remember how often stupidity masquerades as malice. Raising the question, Can they be that f$$$$$$ stupid? Flip a coin, and run.

  • Old Nick

    “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

    — John Maynard Keynes (attributed)

  • I agree with Hurley to some extent, but I have always questioned whether Islamic fundamentalism is merely a cover for (or a side effect of) the global oil war.

  • zeke

    Robert Pape’s research into the beliefs of suicide bombers finds that statistically religious fundamentalism is seldom the prime motivator . His work is most recently reported in Sunday’s Guardian at,,1838214,00.html

    Now Professor Cole’s thought experiment similarly imagines that notwithstanding President Bush’s confident assertions about the “root causes” of the wider conflict, fundamentalism is again a fiction.

    Islamic fundamentalism/Islamo-fascism (depending on who is speaking) seems to be a red herring that conveniently serves the underlying goals of multiple antagonists, making it very dangerous indeed. My question: if this is accurate, how do we cut through it when so many parties benefit from promoting the misconception?

  • boyfrmnyc

    But are the dead in the apartment buildings in Beirut those of Islamic fundamentalists/Islamo fascists? If not are we not creating a new pool of suicide bombers? If a dirty bomb goes off in downtown NYC as retribution for the military and political support given to Israel by the US can we say we didn’t see it coming? Or worse yet, that we don’t deserve it?

  • BigAlan

    At some point rising oil prices can be expected to lead to an ecnomic downturn. Downturns in China and the US would lead the global economy into recession with millions of jobs losses and bankrupties. War with Iran would almost certainly lead to oil prices up to in excess of $100/bbl potentially tipping the world into recession. The consequence of recession is almost certainly changes in the party in power in govrenment in democratic countriesin including the USA. Surely any US leader would know this and would not risk it on himself or place it on the sholders of the leader within his party who was to replace him. In countries with no democratic system the consequences fro leadership and power would be harder to determine. For the oil producing nations of the middle east the consequences would be less servere than for the west. Could any western leader be sure enough of the outcomes to take these risks

  • joshua hendrickson


    doo wah doo wah doo wah diddy….

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    If a dirty bomb goes off in NYC as you say, not only could the US say we didn’t see it coming and that we don’t deserve it, but I guarantee you the US will say it. Years before 9/11 I had a habit of pleading with my friends not to move to New York for fear that it would be targeted by terrorists or an enemy nation. Of course I didn’t predict 9/11 in form or timing, but I knew even then that something like that had to be coming. Americans think our country exists in a vacuum, and that our actions (which we scarcely even know about) do not inspire reactions. I don’t know why Americans seem to prefer ignorance over self-knowledge, but there it is, and with people like Bush in the White House, the deadly pattern can’t help but be continued into the foreseeable future.

    There’s a question: why do Americans seem to prefer ignorance over self-knowledge?

    But I suppose that is for another show.

  • boyfrmnyc

    Great question Joshua, one in which we can not answer. If the unrest is a scheme of the neocons to gain control of the life and blood of western capitalism, why use HR Tolkien (see Jaun Cole’s opening of his thought experiment) rather consider Frank Hebert’s Dune, “ he who controls the spice rules�

  • joshua hendrickson

    Yes! Frank Herbert’s DUNE does contain any number of parallels with our real-world situation (the spice is a good metaphor for oil, since both are precious substances required for travel; and the Fremen, the natives of Dune, are nakedly based upon the Muslims–their original name is in fact the Zensunni Wanderers, and there should be no question as to where that name comes from). I could go on, but in fact Herbert’s work is too rich and complex to evoke substantially here. The parallels mentioned ought to be enough–with one more: the society of DUNE is feudal, which, given our increasing corporatization, seems to be the direction in which we are heading.

  • fiddlesticks

    This is absolutely insane. Juan Cole has no credibility except in the mind of Chris Lydon and his nutty ilk.

    Oh boy and to think that I was just called for another contribution to this station.

  • joshua hendrickson


    ahh, fiddlesticks!

  • jdyer

    Why not invite other voices who have more realistic analysis of the war in Lebanon?

    Here is one:

    “Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War”


  • boyfrmnyc

    Yes embrace the inner worrier!

  • joshua hendrickson


    I respect Bernard-Henri Levy; he would make a fine guest on ROS. But I don’t see how Juan Cole is necessarily unrealistic. Seeing oil at the bottom of the current crisis doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me. Call me cynical, but in my book, one can never be too cynical about foreign policy.

  • mulp

    What happens if the high price of oil goods, now at roughly Jimmy Carter prices, drives another 40% reduction in US oil consumption like that which occurred before the Reagan adminstration could negate the various programs started up during the Nixon-Ford and Carter administrations?

    Do the US oil companies still profit from China and India, among others, driving demand for oil?

    Did the authoritarian conservative elite’s commanding heights control of the oil economy (policy set behind closed doors of the Office of VP) anticipate the rapid run up in oil price and its duration, which will necessarily drive investment in alternatives?

    Is there an alternative point of view? The authoritarian conservative elite have realized that the end of (cheap) oil is near, but to openly state that reality would be to validate the liberal wacko environmentalist position on policy, resulting in a loss of control by the Republicans. So, they have created grand diversion, a wag the dog strategy, that puts energy conservation and alternative energy programs in the authoritarian hands of the conservative elite, while making it appear that this is a war of civilizations?

  • Yark

    Deliberate Murder: Consider:

    ~ ~ Original Gaza = One guy kidnapped, and Three Bridges blown up to “prevent his being taken away” INSTEAD of parking a tank at each bridge.

    ~ ~ ~ Consider:

    ~ ~ ~ USA spends 17 Billion to develop Patriot Anti-Missle System, which we GAVE to Israel way back in 1991. SO do the Israelis use the Anti-Missle System, or do they CHOOSE to let these ineffectual katyusha rockets create some piddling destruction BUT WITH HUGE Propaganda Effect – – ALLOWING THEM to destroy the Entire Nation of Lebanon, PRETENDING they are shooting “Katyusha Launch Sites” WHEN THEY KNOW FULL WELL THE MISSLES WERE LAUNCHED FROM TRUCKS THAT HAVE DRIVEN AWAY BY THE TIME ISRAEL RETALIATES.

    ~ ~ Deliberate MURDER !!! Hezbollah IS JUST A PHONY EXCUSE !!!!!!!

  • boyfrmnyc

    Come on! Chris, in the words of Big Throat, “follow the money”

  • Yark

    WWLL – – we cut off Japan from Indonesian Oil, which led DIRECTLY to their attack on Pearl Harbor…

  • maotalk

    Ask Juan Cole about this. Is this possible?

    Copyright 2002 The Jerusalem Post

    The Jerusalem Post

    August 29, 2002, Thursday

    HEADLINE: Germany stops Israeli arms en route to Iran

    BYLINE: Margot Dudkevitch

    A shipment including military equipment belonging to an Israeli company and destined for Iran was impounded in Hamburg, according to a German customs authority report confirmed by the Defense Ministry last night.

    A ministry statement stressed that Israel “prohibits the sale of military equipment, spare parts, and weapons of any kind to Iran,” and will turn the matter over to the police for investigation. The statement noted that the Israeli firm had received permission to export the items after it declared their final destination was Thailand.

  • Yark

    Why deal with shifty unreliable Leaders when you can simply Install a “government” with whom we then sign an Endless Contract for placing ENDURING BASES and an Embassy as big as the Vatican State. And enrich your buddies with unaudited “rebuilding” contracts, and direct theft of Billions of dollars IN CASH!! MISSING, no receipt!

  • Dick Cheney’s and BushCo oil bosses are the people who met with Cheney to establish our Energy policy behind closed doors at the beginning of Bush’s first term : who are they? We were never allowed to know.

  • Old Nick

    I’ve yet to hear a guest mention that Iraq’s Shiite oil fields are likely to fall into the Iranian sphere of influence over the next couple or three years.

    This can only add credibility to the notion that Israel is serving American interests in Lebanon just as it is serving its own by attempting to take out Hezbollah.

    Is Lebanon, in this equation, not merely a proxy, but a ‘bargaining chip’ of sorts, to counterbalance the ceding of southern Iraq from the American sphere to the Iranian?

  • wholesome

    Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas annual conference at Boston University October 26 & 27 – see Richard Heinberg, Matt Simmons, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and many others – see full agenda at web site. Registration is currently open – register now to reserve a seat. William Clark, author of Petrodollar Warfare will speak Friday morning.

  • Iranian surface to air missles to Hezbolla will end Israel’s air war

  • fiddlesticks

    Yark Says:

    August 8th, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    “Deliberate Murder: Consider”

    Deliberate murder is whay your post supports. The deliberate murder of Jews.

  • fiddlesticks

    yes joshua hendrickson fiddlesticks that’s what this show and most posts here are.

    I see from your posts you write fiction. I am not suprised then that you would love Juan Cole’s feverish fiction.

  • joshua hendrickson


    Yark’s tone may be shrill, but his points seemed legitimate to me. Next time, why don’t you try answering the points rather than countering with the debate-ending stratagem of accusing your opponent of anti-semitism.

  • joshua hendrickson


    Yes, I am a fiction writer. I say it right up front. And if you have learned anything at all from my posts, then you know that I believe fiction–the use of the imagination–is the only trustworthy source for truth that exists.

    As for Juan Cole, calling his thought experiment a “feverish fiction” may be right in the noun, but not in the adjective. That is what a thought experiment is: using the imagination to explore possibilities. Not a bad description of fiction. It may be right, or it may not. But before you denounce it FOR WHAT IT IS, try to answer it on equal terms. Who knows? If you use your imagination, rather than what seems to me to be a knee-jerk reflex regarding any discussion of Israel, you might just think of something new.

    Really. I mean you no disrespect. But I wonder how much respect you have for your fellow bloggers on ROS.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Yark’s tone may be shrill, but his points seemed legitimate to me. Next time, why don’t you try answering the points rather than countering with the debate-ending stratagem of accusing your opponent of anti-semitism.”

    His post was antisemitic as well as stupid.

    You try answering the following “thought experiment.”

    “USA spends 17 Billion to develop Patriot Anti-Missle System, which we GAVE to Israel way back in 1991. SO do the Israelis use the Anti-Missle System, or do they CHOOSE to let these ineffectual katyusha rockets create some piddling destruction BUT WITH HUGE Propaganda Effect – – ALLOWING THEM to destroy the Entire Nation of Lebanon, PRETENDING they are shooting “Katyusha Launch Sitesâ€? WHEN THEY KNOW FULL WELL THE MISSLES WERE LAUNCHED FROM TRUCKS THAT HAVE DRIVEN AWAY BY THE TIME ISRAEL RETALIATES.

    ~ ~ Deliberate MURDER !!! Hezbollah IS JUST A PHONY EXCUSE !!!!!!!”

    What does he know about Patriot anti missile system? What does he know about how they were deployed or if they even work on Katyusha rockets, which they don’t.

    Even if they did, why would a country allow itself to be attacked without responding?

    Would Yark allow his own country to be attacked without repsonding?

    The post wasn’t just antisemitic it was stupid.

  • 1st/14th

    How anyone, especially a supposedly educate man like Cole, cant see that Iran and its Hezbollah pit bull are out to destroy Israel is out of his mind. Ahmadinejad see himself as paving the way for an Islamic Armageddon and a return of the “hidden Imam�, couples this with repeated statements that Israel is going to be wiped off the map, works to obtain the weapons to do this, and we write this off as some king of hegemonic land grab? What happens when Ahmadinejad gives Hezbollah a nuke? Does anyone doubt that that’s a realistic scenario? If anything the Israelis are being timid considering the magnitude of the threat that is posed to them. Is everyone so focused on their respective worldviews that they cant see that ignoring this is driving us all off a cliff?

    This is about oil in so much as oil provides many of the worlds kleptocrats with a commodity to fuel their ambitions. Its time we took that away from them one way or another.

  • jdyer

    1st/14th, it is easier for people to rationalize the irrational than to face up to irrational hatred. This is how it was in the 1930’s and this is how it is today.

    As a recent writer in the Washington Post wrote:

    “My father survived Auschwitz and witnessed dozens of family members burn, but he was also an optimist. He taught us the simplest of lessons, “When someone threatens the lives of you or your loved ones… just believe him.””

  • fiddlesticks, I find it absolutely appalling that you would discount a scholar like Juan Cole (who I had the great pleasure to meet, and discuss some of these issues with a few years ago) off hand. “Informed Comment” is one of the most in-depth and accurate sources for information on this region, and one of the few places that people can go for unfiltered information.

    Unless you also speak Arabic and Farsi, have friends on the ground, have devoted your life to studying the Middle East, I don’t understand how you can possibly just ignore Professor Cole’s analysis.

    One of the biggest reasons we are in the quagmire that is currently the Middle East is an inability of the general populace to LISTEN to the great majority of scholars who have been studying this region for a very long time and predicted all of this.

    It’s absolutely absurd to me that we continue to ignore those voices and dig ourselves deeper into a conflict that is very close to a global conflagration

  • 1st/14th, yes, Ahmadinejad is an irrational actor, however Iran as a state has never shown itself to be. Khameini, who we all know holds the real power in the state, is certainly not about to do anything as self-destructive as nuking Israel. If anything, I would contend they are trying to bide their time until they can develop nuclear weapons, not to USE them, but merely to counter-balance the Israeli and US (vis a vis Iraq) threat.

    In case you haven’t noticed, we are failing miserably in “taking the oil away from the kleptomaniacs…” in Iraq. Iran would be exponentially more difficult to deal with. It’s this type of we’ll take care of it, “new Middle East” rhetoric that creates more terrorists, and guarrantees that this conflict could very well be the next world war.

  • fiddlesticks

    Juan Cole:

    “Middle East Wars Flare Up At Yale

    Controversial academic shot down for appointment; was campaign against him politically motivated?

    Liel Leibovitz – Staff Writer

    Juan Cole, one of the country’s top Middle East scholars, was poised for the biggest step of his career.

    A tenured professor at the University of Michigan, Cole was tapped earlier this year by a Yale University search committee to teach about the modern Middle East. In two separate votes in May, Cole was approved by both the sociology and history departments, the latter the university’s largest.

    The only remaining hurdle was the senior appointments committee, also known as the tenure committee, a group consisting of about a half-dozen professors from various disciplines across the university.

    Last week, however, in what is shaping up as the latest in a series of heated battles over the political affiliations of Middle Eastern studies professors, the tenure committee voted down Cole’s nomination. Several Yale faculty members described the decision to overrule the votes of the individual departments as “highly unusual.â€? ….”

    Juan Coles’ specialty:

    “First, according to the source, most of Cole’s scholarship pertains to the Baha’i faith and is limited to the 18th and 19th centuries, a liability for a professor charged with teaching about the contemporary Middle East.”

  • rc21

    This whole thing is crazy. Juan Cole and his conspiracy theory.The one major problem in the middle east is the existence of Isreal The majority of Arabs just cant accept this. Why cant we just face the truth. The situation is not that complicated. Hammas, Hezbollah, and Iran have all stated there desire to wipe Isreal off the face of the earth. Other Arab states have stated this same thing in the past.

    Many of these countries have tried to wipe Isreal out. So far they have failed.

    The US is Isreals ally. Mainly because they are a freely elected democratic state that has never attacked anyone without being first provoked. They would just like to be left alone.

    The Arabs for the most part have hated the Jews for centuries. They allied themselves with Hitler during ww2 ,and have been waging war and /or terror attacks since Isreals birth. I wish everyone would stop trying to rationalize and come up with these bizzare theorys as to how the US wants to rule the Mideast for its oil and is using Isreal to help them. If the US really wanted to have a major influence in the mideast and have more control over what goes on, they would have allied themselves with the hostile Arab states years ago, and helped them exterminate every last jew in the state of Isreal. That would surely have made us a great friend of all muslims and we would not be in the situation we are in today.

    Unfortunately antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world. The EU doesnt even have the moral fibre to label hezbollah a terrorist organization.Some day I think that many people who post on here will get there secret wish . An end to Isreal.

    Sorry to make things sound so simple but for the most part they are.

  • seattleLK

    Just jumping in with my own ignorance and fear. Is the shut down of Alaska’s north shore pipeline by BP real or fake? Will it lend Oil USA a stronger reason to go for mideast oil?

  • Pingback: “He Who Controls Iran Controls Them All” at connecting*the*dots()

  • darwhin

    “~ ~ Deliberate MURDER !!! Hezbollah IS JUST A PHONY EXCUSE !!!!!!!”

    you miss the source of this “murder”. hezbollah is to blame for using civilians as human shields. in fact many lebonese in that area are complicit with their support for such a terrorist group. the speaker said they are not and are a political group but that is just silly, they both both terrorists and political, its not impossible.

    and to the guy saying israel should have just parked tanks at the bridges instead of blowing them up? sorry, you watch too many movies, people who hold israel up to such insanely high standards tend to have a fantasy idea of military capabilities, especially israelswhich are apparently magical. sitting tanks in densly populated areas? oh thats very smart. it would take 5 minutes before hamas starts sneaking men all over planting IEDS and firing rpgs at the tank, which to defend itself fires its heavy machine gun and main gun, blowing through dozens of buildings creating massive destruction. just look at how many israeli soldiers are dying in lebanon. and well it shows they aren’t just trying to level the country for kicks. they could have done that without sending a single soldier into danger and waste his life against hezbollah who frankly like most muslim extremist groups are the new nazis of the world.

    and the speakers minimizing the danger of hezbollah? rather easy for him to say when he sits in a nice safe studio far away from danger. israel is a tiny state of 6 million, and beside it resides a militia of terrorists which is embedded in that countries political and general infrastructure, funded with hundreds of millions a year from place like iran, building up stores of weapons, like the 13 thousand rockets. proportionally how many rockets would that be if the attack were on the us? we have almost 50 times the population of israel. if lebanon is being leveled by israel, so be it, there is a cost to supporting terror. its unfortunate but it has to happen, its simple as hezbollah surrendering and disarming and this is all over. the blood and destruction is on their hands. those that are apologists for their tactics and cause just bolster it, they encourage future use of such tactics again. why not after all, do what works, do what is rewarded. if you are rewarded with sympathy and pitty and hate for your enemy, theres no reason to stop. dead jews are always good, and dead civilian shields never seem to wake the arabs from their niave easily manipulated minds. or well.. they are so soaked in a culture of antisemitism theres no hope for them to realize they create their own suffering by indoctrniating their children in hate.

    as for the speakers “thought experiment”, nice euphemism for conspiracy theory. a little bit of hipocrisy going on when these speakers talk about the neo conservatives dealing in fantasy. conspiracy theorists oversimplify the world and try to find grand narratives where there are none.

  • David Weinstein

    I think darwhin and RC21 have analyzed Juan Cole’s thought experiment correctly.

    Burt there is something achingly true in Mr. Cole’s assertion that this savagery and carnage on both sides of this tragic war might have a dark, hidden, amoral, realpolitic reason. If there is one cause, no matter how nefarious, then it can be understood; and if it can be understood, it can be controlled. The truth is how this war tears at the human psyche because in all its savagry there is no understanddable cause, and it can’t be controlled. This war is very emblematic of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. It is a “machine infernale,” as the French like to say, that no one knows how to stop. In the cold war there was a logic of deturance that set in. In World War Two it was the free world against the fascists. There ws a logic to these situations, no matter horrible in fact or in potentiality.

    But now, it seems that Iran over played its hand with its Hizbollah “pit-bull.” Or did Israel initially, at least, overreact, due to a prime minister who is uncharacteristically not a general and feared seeming weak in the face of a militia and its Irainian backers who have vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Sure America would like to have a secure source of oil. But that went out the window with OPEC and the first oil embargo in the 1970’s, at least as far a price is concerned. And you put into the mix George W. Bush with his arrogance, lack of knowledge of the world, the appalling incompetence of his administration, and his complete reliance on a coterie of extremists in the bubble he lives in, and you get the Iraq debacle, a further enraged Iran, and the absence of American diplomacy in the Middle East with the current Israeli government bent on “disengagement,” which only gives fresh impetus and street cred to Hamas and Hizbollah.

    Is this a clash of civilizations, an oil dust up, Israel trying to control its bellicose neighbors, a proxy war with Iran over the nuclear issue, missiles, the insanity of fundamentalism in this part of the world and in the White House? It’s alnl of it in a death dance and more. We can’t really fathom it entirely although the human mid and psyche needs to understand tragedy and bloodshed. Just give us a reason for all this pain and death. Is this the nature of history in our times? Why, you might ask, when we have all the technology in our hands to solve the worlds problems, including global warming, hunger and disease, is this same world seemingly spinning out of control? is the legacy of the Bush lunacy? Is the it karmic blowback of Bush stealing two elections in a row, stripping this nation, once the beacon of freedom and democracy, of it very fundamental rights and liberties?

    All I know is that the way out of this tragic war is for the players to realize the descent they are in, to rise above fears and the destruction it evokes, to rise above themselves and business as usual becaue it ain’t working for anybody except for those whose twisted beleifs feed on death and estruction. Sadat went to Jerusalem. It happens that the destructive course of history reverses itself as dramatically as war breaks out so can peace. IOn the end its a very human answer, as unfathomable as human beings are with unlimited potential for hurt and compassion in the same human heart.

  • David Weinstein

    p.s. – By the players in this war, I mean Israel and Lebanon, and by extesnion America, Europe and the moderate Arab states. In the end I think the best we can do is contain Iran as we did with the USSR while finding some formula to fianlly disarm Hizbollah.

  • This blog disappoints me. I come in and out of it, because I’m disheartened that such an intelligent radio hour can give birth to such an ignorant response. None of Juan Cole’s points have been responded to, not to mention the fact that 90% of those were agreed upon by the other commentators tonight.

    As long as we are focused on destroying voices that disagree with our gut, regardless of the truth of what they are saying, we will continue to march down this path to war.

    It saddens me, beyond words.

  • PS, it was a THOUGHT EXERCISE. Not a thesis! It was a suggestion of what could be if we accepted certain things to be true. The man didn’t stake his reputation on it, he merely wanted people to think, but I guess in the current conflict that isn’t a good thing.

  • I sketched out a very similar scenario over a year and a half ago.

    In Metafuture: Iran, Iraq, and Permanent War ( posted at the Daily Kos January 30, 2005 ) I wrote an elaborate analysis that seems to be – in part – now coming to pass.

    One of the significant predictive failures of the piece was that I envisioned bombing of Iran – by the US, Israel, or both – triggering Hizzbollah attacks on the US or US interests. In fact, the hammer blow first has fallen on Hezzbollah, and we may yet see terrorist acts ( beyond those directed at Israel ) in retaliation but we have not seen those yet.

    So, I was incorrect in detailing the likely lead up to a US attack or even invasion of Iran. But Iran reamains very much the target. Here is a bit from “Metafuture…..” :

    “SO : fobbing the disaster of Iraq* onto a crippled “democratic” Iraqi government ( except for the oilfields and refineries, of course ) or – if things spiral out of hand – implementing the “Cheney Plan” – to partition Iraq ( as reported by STRATFOR, 2002 ) : both free up resources against…Iran.

    Cheney’s lidless eye now turns to Tehran, and to wider regional conflict : all according to plan.

    Game out action and reaction in your mind with recognition of the following factors and possible aims :

    Dominionists, Armageddonists, and NeoCons : Iran as escalation gambit to pull in Israel and Hezzbollah : PNAC project of widening the Mideast theatre of conflict to Iran, Syria, perhaps Saudi Arabia, eventually Pakistan and North Korea : serendipity of destruction – The political utility to the NeoCons and the US Christian Right of provoking terrorist strikes on the mainland US.

    Remember this – escalation is in the air :”

  • Juan Cole didn’t, so can someone please explain why the destruction of Lebanon is what is required to accomplish “the daylight murder of Iran’s bodyguard before the real battle begins”? And why is it necessary to destroy Lebanon to achieve victory over Iran? Is it being done in order to draw out and then topple Syria, so the U.S. can then turn its guns on Iran? Seems like a lot of pieces need to fall exactly into place for such an extended scenario to be realized. A lot can go wrong with it and a lot will.

  • rc21

    Juan Coles opinions and thoughts on the middle east and jews and muslims,are akin to David Dukes theorys on race relations between blacks and whites in the US.

    In just doing a quick 5 minute search on Cole I couldnt believe some of the things this guy has said. He denied Saddam was supporting suicide bombers even when presented with the evidence. He claimed OBL engineered 9/11 in response to Isreals raid on the jenin refugee camp. Even though jenin came 7 months after 9/11. The list goes on and on. There is no doubt he is an antisemite of the worst kind .

    Thanks for bringing this guy on to the sight, Otherwise I would have never known about this intelectually dishonest and racist professor .

  • fiddlesticks

    Sara: PS, it was a THOUGHT EXERCISE. Not a thesis! It was a suggestion of what could be if we accepted certain things to be true. The man didn’t stake his reputation on it, he merely wanted people to think, but I guess in the current conflict that isn’t a good thing….

    ‘Thought exercise’ is that like gossip by pseudo Professors?

  • oil = money = power = war.

    makes sense to me

  • 1st/14th

    Sara, a few things. I speak Arabic, a little Farsi (enough to get me around), have a lot of friends on the ground (and have spent 31 months of the last 60 or so there myself), and I see a totally different reality that the one Cole has presented. Allowing Iran to construct a nuclear weapon is simply too dangerous. Unlike the Soviets, their rhetoric is so over the top that we cannot take the chance that they will prescribe to MAD. The Soviets never spoke daily about annihilating the west, Iran does (you should read some of the Iranian dailies).

  • joshua hendrickson


    Wanting people to think is never considered a good thing by people who just plain want their side to win at all costs. Calling a thought exercise “gossip by pseudo Professors” as Fiddlesticks does just confirms this.

  • So have the Iranian newspapers always spoken daily about annihilating the west, or has that rhetoric blossomed with the Bush regime’s misjudgements and misadventures? Seems to me that U.S. policy since 2001 has brought us a lot closer to MAD.

  • Pingback: Blog For Palestine » 1948 All Over Again()

  • 1st/14th

    Geoff, ever since 1979, and if this course continues, Iran’s development of nukes, they will be able to put a few arrows in that quiver sooner or later. Talk is cheap, but once armed, I don’t think the possibility of Iran keeping it “just talk� is an acceptable risk.

  • hurley

    Much of the commentary on last night’s intriguing show (and elsewhere here on ROS) prompts me to suggest another: the rise of the authoritarian personality, who can brook no contradiction without a violent response. The evidence is everywhere, the consequences tragic.

    Suggested guests: John Dean, Sydney Blumenthal, both of whom have recently written on the subject.

    Extra-credit reading: Theodor Adorno (to paraphrase Alexander Theroux, I just heard a neo-con howl in pain).

  • fiddlesticks

    peggysue Says:

    August 9th, 2006 at 9:37 am

    “oil = money = power = war.

    makes sense to me”

    How about,

    oil = money = technology= progress=peace

    makes sense to me

  • fiddlesticks


    joshua hendrickson Says: Wanting people to think is never considered a good thing by people who just plain want their side to win at all costs. Calling a thought exercise “gossip by pseudo Professors� as Fiddlesticks does just confirms this.

    Hey, don’t want to get into a posting fight here.

    Calm down and start doing what you advocate: thinking before you post.

  • fiddlesticks

    Blog for Palestine:

    Hey try reading your Hizbollah’s friends literature. It’ll tell you all you need to know about why they attacked Israel.

    Try this one:

    from wikipedia:

    “Position on Israel

    Hezbollah supports, in principle, the destruction of the state of Israel.[42][43][44] Secretary-General Nasrallah’s official stance is that “Israel is an illegal usurper entity, which is based on falsehood, massacres, and illusions, and there is no chance for its survival.â€?[45] The Age quotes him like so: “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel.”[46]

    Nasrallah has a history of making anti-Semitic statements (most infamously “if they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwideâ€?[47]), but an anonymous page on Hezbollah’s website marks a distinction between “Zionist ideology” and Judaism. It sees the rejection of Zionism as an attitude hold across “races, religions, and nationalities”. It likens Zionism to “the concept of creating ‘Israel’ by the use of force and violence, by stealing the Arabs’ lands and killing Palestinians”. “[O]pposing the Zionists ideology is not opposing setting a home for Jews”.[48]

    Notably, despite the rhetoric, Hezbollah appears to have neither the intention nor the capacity to invade Israel. Nasrallah stated that “at the end of the road no one can go to war on behalf of the Palestinians, even if that one is not in agreement with what the Palestinians agreed on.” [49] When asked whether he was prepared to live with a two-state settlement between Israel and Palestine, Nasrallah said he would not sabotage what is a Palestinian matter. [50] He also clarified that outside of Lebanon, Hezbollah will act only in a defensive manner towards Israeli forces, and that Hezbollah’s missiles were acquired to deter attacks on Lebanon.”[51]”

  • fiddlesticks

    “Notably, despite the rhetoric, Hezbollah appears to have neither the intention nor the capacity to invade Israel.”

    This was obviously written before they actually did invade Israel.

  • 1st/14th

    State controlled oil = money = power = war

    makes sense and is demonstrated in a Kleptocracy (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela).

    Private controlled oil = money = technology= progress = peace

    makes sense and is demonstrated in a Kleptocracy (Norway, Canada)

  • fiddlesticks

    In other words, oil can mean different things depending on the kind of society which controls the oil.

    Yes, I agree.

    I would add that for Saudi Arabia and Iran

    the equation should read oil=money=terrorist funding

  • joshua hendrickson

    The only certain equation I can see here is:

    Oil = money.


    After money, you can go anywhere with the equation, do anything you like with progressive or regressive consequences. But considering the nature of capitalism, greed, and ignorance, once you’ve reached the money part of the equation, you’ve already hit the practical dead end.

    Money, the ultimate illusion, is the end unto itself.

  • jdyer

    Genocidal dreams:

    Nasrallah today gave a speech asking Israeli Arabs to leave Haifa so that he can kill the non Muslims left in the city.

    So far the Arabs in Haifa said that they would not leave.

    I hope they don’t leave but if they do leave it will be a repeat of 1948 and I am sure the Israelis won’t let them back in since they will be participating in genocide.

    Here is what Israeli Arab response:

    “Haifa’s Arabs: We won’t leave city

    Former MK Issam Mahoul rejects Nasrallah’s call to Haifa’s Arab population to evacuate city; ‘We have nothing to do outside of Haifa, and we refuse to be refugees,’ Mahoul asserts. Haifa Mayor: Nasrallah won’t succeed in uprooting Arab residents

    Ahiya Raved

    Former Knesset Member and Haifa resident Issam Mahoul on Wednesday categorically rejected Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s call to Arab residents of Haifa to evacuate the city.

    “We have nothing to do outside of Haifa, and we have no reason to panic. The Palestinian people are especially unwilling to be refugees of any kind again,” Mahoul told Ynet.

    In response to the National Security Cabinet’s approval of a widened offensive in south Lebanon, Nasrallah addressed Israel in a recorded speech broadcast on al-Manar Wednesday night. “Thousands of intrepid fighters await you, and we’ll kick you out by force,” Nasrallah threatened.”,7340,L-3289009,00.html

  • blogstix

    I read a post earlier in this discussion with a question “Why attack Lebanon if the end objective is IRAN”?

    Well the answer would be obvious if you read the news paper headlines recently. US is waiting on the sidelines on the pretext of getting hezbollah cleaned up and then be interested in lucrative reconstruction and army supplies and training contracts. Who benefits from these transactions? Obviously the US, from additional sales of arms and equipment and the so called “training of the lebanese army” Take a look at the the following stocks and track their progress from 2003 (the start of the Iraq war) BA, LHM, GD, RTN. All of them have been on an upswing climb.

    So I guess the foreign policy and general strategy is that as long there are parts of the world that is kept unstable for vested reasons and the wars are fought outside the borders of the US, all that matters is how the internal economy is doing. Even if that is at the cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives taken elsewhere.

    But that is a blood stained economic growth don’t you think?

  • David Weinstein

    How about, clean energy=energy independence=greater prosperity+ less Middle East entanglements + a future for the living planet to ward off global warming

  • 1st/14th, which Iranian dailies are you referring to? The government run ones, or the populist ones that turn up after they are closed down, again and again? My Farsi is pretty bad at the moment (I need to do more studying on it, and definitely need practice) so I tend to get my news from Payvaand, which does a decent job of summarizing what is going on in terms of Iran.

    Regardless, yes, the state sponsered papers tote the state line, but they don’t tend to sell a lot…

    Joshua, thank you.

  • Old Nick

    Here’s a closely related and wholly worthwhile 52 minutes of your citizen’s life:

    The Bush Agenda and Iraq

    It’s been over 3 years since the war started in Iraq, but the reasons for the conflict are still in dispute. Is there hope for democracy and freedom? Is it about oil? Is it about corporate profits and U.S. imperialism?


    Antonia Juhasz is a leading expert on international trade and finance policy. She worked as a congressional aide and as project director of the International Forum on Globalization. Currently, she is a visiting scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. In addition to numerous TV and radio appearances, her writing has appeared in dozens of publications including the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald. Her most recent book is The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.

    It was the first hour of Friday’s KUOW’s Weekday (August 11th, 2006)

    It’s an archived stream, and it podcasts.

  • jeremy

    Why is single-answerism so attractive? What about the competing explanation that action requires a coalition not a consensus. So these moves are the result of enough people agreeing on an action (for any number of reasons) to tip things. So more like politics than reason. Some oil interests, some military industrial complex interests, some Freudian Oedipal issues, some need for a propaganda “war on…” something in the post-cold war vacuum, some need to tilt an election at home, some Christian end times thinking, some deep hate of Saddam’s regime, lots of naieve miscalculation (a la _Fiasco_), the need to prop up a floundering Presdent, … and at some point you tip…

    Now the problem with this explanation is that it isn’t really competing since single-answerism of the kind this show exhibited was more about root cause or main cause and probably could embrace all these other factors and more…

  • rc21

    Today Juan Cole was exposed for printing false stories on his blog again.

    It seems he posted a story that Isreal had killed several civillians in a bombing raid. They then bombed the funeral as well. Something that Saddam was known to do.

    This never happened it was briefly reported by Reuters but then was almost immediately retracted. Cole left the story up on his sight,even though he was emailed at least 2 times. Both times he was informed that the story was not true and all news services had retracted it.

  • Potter

    I just listened to the show where at the end Juan Cole asks:” Why does Israel want to destroy Hezbollah so badly? It’s a small little paramilitary, small little rockets, not a threat to nuclear powered Israel.” His answer: It is it’s connection to Iran. (Is it possible that Israel feels threatened by Iran?)

    In other words, Hezbollah is no threat to Israel except for it’s connection to Iran. A good thought experiment would be on goals and possible activities of a Hezbollah without Iranian support. I bet they would be pretty much the same as they are now but the means might be more crude.

    Nevermind that Israel cannot use it’s nuclear power to destroy Hezbollah ( or Iran). Nevermind that the “small little rockets” terrorize and kill coming by the hundreds and thousands and that some of them are not so small.

    I have noticed previously and here again that Juan Cole has little to no sympathy or understanding of Israel in his opinions. I read his blog every day in the early part of the Iraq War until he disappointed me when he ventured off into the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. I expect historians to be more fair and neutral.

  • Potter

    It is being reported in Israel that million Israeli’s hid in bomb shelters, 300,000 were displaced, 4,000 rockets hit 6,000 homes.

    I give the above numbers to argue my point only about the threat of “small little rockets” and not out of callousness to the far worse damages done by Israel’s war in response. No Hezbollah’s rockets are not an existential threat, but a considerable one. How much greater could Iran’s threat be?