Oil, Israel, and America: The Root Cause of the Crisis

Oil, Israel, and America: The Root Cause of the Crisis
By Scott Ritter
Common Dreams, 09/10/07

There is no shortage of examples of historical points of friction between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States to draw upon in order to illustrate the genesis of the current level of tension. One can point to the Islamic revolution that cast aside America’s staunch ally, Reza Shah Pahlevi, the period of reactionary exportation of Islamic “revolution” that followed, the take over of the US Embassy and subsequent holding of Americans hostage (replete with a failed rescue mission), the Iranian use of proxy’s to confront American military involvement in Lebanon, inclusive of the bombing of the Marine barracks and US Embassy compounds, America’s support of Saddam Hussein during the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq, the ‘hot’ conflict between Iran and the United States in the late 1980’s, or Iran’s ongoing support of the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon. The list could continue.

With the exception of the current situation in Lebanon, most of these “friction points” are dated, going back nearly three decades past. And when one examines the ‘root’ causes of these past points of friction, we find that there is no simple ‘black and white’ causal relationship which places Iran firmly in the wrong. Much of the early animosity between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States was derived from the resentment most Iranians felt over American support for a brutal, repressive regime. This resentment, coupled with an uncompromising approach taken by the United States towards maintaining cordial relations with a post-Shah Iran, manifested itself in the furtherance of anti-American activity in Iran, which in turn hardened the posture of the US government against Iran, leading to a cycle of devolution that ultimately resulted in the severance of all ties between the two nations.

The animosity between the United States and Iran was further exacerbated by the US support for Saddam Hussein during the bloody 8-year war between Iran and Iraq. This support, which manifested itself by actually drawing the US military into a shooting war with elements of Iran’s military during the re-flagging of Kuwaiti oil tankers in the late 1980’s, in turn created the conditions which led to the policy of “dual containment” of both Iran and Iraq from 1991, in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. “Dual Containment” was more a product of the lack of policy between the United States and Iran than it was representative of a singular policy direction. The end result, namely a failure to achieve any discernable results, created the conditions for “policy drift,” which by 1998 led to the adoption of a policy of regime change in Iraq, and the embrace of ideologically-driven national security strategies which expanded regime change to be inclusive of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These policy directions on the part of the United States took place in a virtual reality-deprived atmosphere, being driven more from the perspective of a domestic American perspective based on inaccuracies and misperceptions of Iran than they were from any hard, factual analysis of the genuine state of affairs inside Iran. It is largely because of this systemic lack of intellectual curiosity regarding Iran that many in America, including the main stream media, find themselves divining models of national behavior derived from actions and events more than 20 years past.

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