Obama’s Alternate Universe
(Truthdig) -- By Scott Ritter --
As America enters the year 2010 and President Barack Obama his second year in office, the foreign policy landscape presented by American policymakers and media pundits appears to be dominated by two physical problems—Iraq and Afghanistan—which operate in an overarching metaphysical environment loosely defined as a “war on terror.” The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, entering their seventh and ninth years respectively, have consumed America’s attention, treasure and blood without producing anything close to a tangible victory.
What exactly constitutes the “war on terror” has never been adequately defined and, as a result, the United States has been, and continues to be, militarily involved in other regions as well, including Somalia, Kenya, the Philippines and, increasingly, Yemen. The American people today are fatigued, and while their political leadership promises to lead the nation out of the long, dark tunnel of conflict, there continues to be no light emerging in the distance, only the ever-darkening shadows of wars without end or purpose...
Obama’s Iran policy bears a marked similarity to the Iraq policies of the Clinton administration throughout the 1990s, with the specter of weapons of mass destruction used as a screen to hide the true goal. In both cases, the policies were constructed in a manner that gave the United States no viable solution short of open conflict. President Bill Clinton maneuvered around the issue of all-out war, settling for a decade-long “non-war” in the form of CIA covert operations and assassination attempts and enforcement of “no-fly zones,” combined with selective aerial attacks, including the 72-hour “Operation Desert Fox” in December 1998.
President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was the logical conclusion to an irrational policy begun by Clinton. The situation between the United States and Iran today is directly tied to the Iraq problem, and as such makes use of the same policy tool set that led to the invasion of Iraq.
The failed attempts by the United States to orchestrate a “soft” revolution in Iran, in the form of covert support to pro-Western reformists, have only strengthened the position of the extreme hard-liners the United States seeks to remove from power, in the same way that the continuation of economic sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s only strengthened the regime of Saddam Hussein.
When the Obama administration is finally confronted with the reality that there is no possibility for viable economic sanctions against Iran, and that the reform movement inside Iran will never be able to force a regime change in Tehran, war with Iran, however insane and unpalatable, becomes the only option. In the end, it is not the theocracy in Tehran, or an Iranian nuclear program, that will push America to war with Iran, but rather American policy itself, designed as it is not to solve any tangible problem emerging from Iran, but rather to mollify domestic political pressures at home...