Today has been, from my perspective, a bit of a slow news day. Obviously we’re all waiting to see how the UBS purchase of Credit Suisse is going to shake out. For now it appears that the Fed has joined efforts to support the Swiss banks. In the meantime it seems that people are waiting for more news from the Fed—coming Wednesday.
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There’s also the first day of the Putin - Xi meetings, but there’s not much new to add to what’s already been said. Daniel Drezner, master of the bleeding obvious, attempts to say something sensible today from an Establishment - Neoconnish standpoint. The US, says Drezner, has been pursuing a foreign policy that has driven our main rivals together in a loose alliance in opposition to US hegemony (he avoids that word, however):
Is the United States Creating a ‘Legion of Doom’?
The emerging China-Russia-Iran axis may force the United States to choose between some unappealing options.
I can’t really recommend the article—reading it runs the risk of becoming stupid. For starters, the first sentence:
Moscow has directed a lot of vitriol toward the West over the past year.
Now, in fairness, Drezner does attempt to argue that China, Russia, and Iran all share longstanding grievances against one another—to some degree. How real those grievances remain at this point in history is a matter for debate. But what Drezner’s article really illustrates is the intellectual paralysis of the US ruling class and its foreign policy elite. Drezner can’t seem to imagine the US having done much differently—not in the big picture—from what it has done foreign policy-wise during the last several decades. Any suggestion that the US might shift its stance toward recognizing the legitimate interests of these three or any number of other countries is therefore “unappealing”. In other words, the US finds itself in a fix of its own devising and the ruling class has painted itself into a ideologically defined corner that it can’t seem to think its way out of.
Alistair Crooke offers an example of how bad this situation is, in the course of a recent article:
Iran–Saudi Deal: Not a Diplomatic Normalisation, But An ‘Architecture’
The most telling aspect was that the talks lasted over three days (6 -10 March), and that nothing leaked. The outcome struck Washington and “Tel Aviv”, as if by a thunderbolt.
Of course, we do not know the secret side agreements, but for sure, Saudi Arabia will have sought – and got – assurances that Iran will not pursue a nuclear weapon; that it will not threaten the kingdom’s vital infrastructure, or seek to de-stabilise the Kingdom; and that Saudi Arabia and Iran jointly will work to bring the Yemen war to an end.
Similarly, it is a certitude that Iran will have sought from Saudi Arabia that it cease funding external media stations seeking to broadcast their regime-change messages into Iran, and supporting movements such as the People’s Mojahedin Organization (MEK), certain Kurdish groups based in Iraq, and militants operating out of Baluchistan into Iran.
What does the architecture portend? Well, too much to list briefly, but as a thought exercise, imagine the consequences in Lebanon were Saudi and Iran jointly to resolve to end the miseries of the Lebanese people; the near-starvation in Syria, or the collapsed state of Iraq …
Imagine the economic consequences for Asia of a joint Iranian–Saudi/Gulf–Russian determination to effect a new energy policy in which they both act to shape commodity prices and also to give commodities a different pricing and selling structure.
And what of America and “Israel”? Well, Mark Dubowitz of the neo-con Foundation for the Defence of Democracies think-tank put it succinctly:
“[It is] a lose, lose, lose for American interests. It demonstrates that the Saudis don’t trust Washington to have their back, that Iran sees an opportunity to peel away American allies to end its international isolation, and it establishes China as the majordomo of Middle Eastern power politics”.
I guess that depends on how you define American interests, but it is certainly remarkable that neither the US nor Israel, both countries presumably with an ear to the ground throughout the Middle East, didn’t have an inkling of what was going on. That suggests an alarming degree of self isolation—not to say, delusion—from the realities in that strategic region.
The ramifications of this new “architecture” continue to reveal themselves:
According to the IRNA news agency, the agreement, prepared over the past months, will have an important role in handling and managing the security challenges stemming from the "hostile" actions by "anti-Iran" groups based in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, Xinhua news agency reported.
The SNSC chief said any tension and crisis in areas along the common border would undermine the two peoples' security and peace and act as obstacles to the development of the two countries' border cities. He called for taking "decisive" actions against internal or external tensions and crisis-provoking factors by "nipping them in the bud."
He added it is of utmost importance to put an immediate end to the "evil" actions of the armed anti-Iran groups and mercenaries as well as the military and intelligence threats by the American forces based in Iraq.
The Iraqi Prime Minister, for his part, said Iraq's government and people always appreciate their Iranian brothers' support and assistance.
He added that the signing of the agreement between Baghdad and Tehran indicated that the Iranian and Iraqi officials view the two countries as "united as one", giving the assurance that the Iraqi government will not allow any party [i.e., the US and/or Israel] to use its soil to compromise Iran's security.
Just in case you had any doubt who has been the big winner as a result of the Neocons excellent military adventures.
Increasingly it appears that in the future US influence in the region will be limited by its ability to project raw military power into the region. And that ability is ebbing along with the influence of the dollar. There will be no more grand coalitions of NATO “powers”, as the US war on Russia razes the NATO superstructure down to ground level. The US will find itself going it alone.
"Increasingly it appears that in the future US influence in the region will be limited by its ability to project raw military power into the region. And that ability is ebbing along with the influence of the dollar."
What will limit US influence in the region is the sheer incompetence of the American regime at diplomacy. We went out of our way to alienate Saudi Arabia. No matter how much raw military power we can or cannot project, we can only exert influence in conjunction with one or more regional allies. if we doubled the amount of military power we could project but still had no allies in the region with who we could work, no friendly country where we could not land a plane, our acual influence would still be marginal at best. The Biden regime went on jihad against Saudi Arabia over that journalist they wasted. I won't defend the Saudi's actions, but the way we treated them over the incident was always going to carry a cost.
LIdell Hart, in his book Strategy, reminds us that "The enemy of today is the ally of tomorrow and the customer of next week". We now have Russia as a permanent enemy. Even if regime change in Russia were a feasible goal it would be insane, because if you destroy Russia, then China, which has a lot of territorial claims against Russia, will pick up a hell of a lot of territory and resources in Asia increasing its relative power. How does this make the world a better or safer place? How does this further American interests? This is the product of people who lack basic diplomacy fu.
European statesmen once understood that the Great Powers had to adjust their claims against one another as they came up. You cooperated with other powers when you could and when your interests conflicted you tried to resolve that while avoiding a Great Power war, especially a war between coalitions of Great Powers, because that was incredibly dangerous, destructive, and unpredictable. The people in charge understand hegemony, and use the word hegemon quite a lot in their writings. They know only how to dictate to subservient satellites powers. They do not know how to practice diplomacy on the level I am describing. Thie incompetence dooms them to well deserved defeat and they may take the rest of us down with them.
Like the man said, can't anyone here play this game?
Sidebar: I am less impressed than most with the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. The Mullahs may keep their commitments to the Saudis and the Chinese, but if they do it will be a first.
“…but it is certainly remarkable that neither the US nor Israel, both countries presumably with an ear to the ground throughout the Middle East, didn’t have an inkling of what was going on…” the “tune out” method of intelligence gathering, guaranteed to lead to disaster.