Take the thorny issue of Iran. There is increasing speculation that Bush wants one major shot at Iran before he leaves office. Writing in the New Yorker this month, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that “Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran.” The operations are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.
However Hersh points out that the “scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.” The US is training and supporting at least four Iranian minority groups to conduct attacks against targets inside Iran.
Not only this but senior Bush officials, namely Dick Cheney could be actively trying to provoke Iran into doing something that could justify American intervention. Hersh notes that a few weeks after a spat between Republican guards and the US military in the Gulf, “a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. “The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington.’”
If the US is looking for an excuse to go to war, how about an excuse not to go to war. These are endless: it would be an illegal attack on another country, it would completely destabilize the Middle East, it would set back the path to peace for generations. And in the short-term it would send the oil price rocketing.
Back home, Bush is under pressure to bring the gas price down. But that fundamentally depends on supply (as well as speculation and the weak dollar). If the US attacked Iran speculation would go crazy, the dollar would crash, supply would drop and the oil price would rocket.
Now OPEC’s President Chakib Khelil has warned that OPEC could not replace lost Iranian output should Tehran carry out its threat to stop oil exports if attacked. “It’s obvious that if you curtail 4 million barrels per day (bpd) from the market, you are going to have a big problem. I don’t see who can replace that, including OPEC,” Khelil told a news conference in Madrid. Khelil also said the perceived threat of conflict had helped to drive oil prices higher.
Iran also partly controls the Strait of Hormuz, which much of the world’s oil passes through. A few weeks ago the Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said: “We’re rich in energy sources. We have the control of one of the main energy routes in the world. If they want to use any other option, they have to know that our potential is not lower than theirs.”
So Bush cannot have it both ways: he can’t attack Iran and have low oil prices. The Iranian economy is flush with petrodollars at the moment, which are said to be keeping the regime afloat. Perversely one way to undermine the Iranian regime would be to bring oil prices down. And one way of doing that is to announce peace with Iran…..