US Foreign Policy in Shambles: NATO and the Middle East. How Do You Wage War Without Allies?
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Bonnie Faulkner
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Michel Chossudovsky discusses the recent US/Iran clash in the Persian Gulf;
Iran’s capability as a military power;
the breakup of the Gulf Cooperation Council;
the Al-Udeid military base in Qatar the largest US base in the Middle East, and Qatar an ally of Iran;
the flop of the proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance, also known as the Arab NATO;
the July 2016 failed coup d’etat against Turkish President Erdogan;
the US/Israel/Turkey “triple alliance” now a Turkey/Iran/Russia “triple entente”;
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense shield constitutes its de facto exit from NATO;
the geopolitical realignment of the Middle East and its repercussions on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Listen to the interview below. Transcript follows.
This is Guns and Butter.
What I think is important is that, de facto, Turkey is no longer part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. You may have noticed that the reaction from Washington has been dead silence and the media as well. The repercussions on the military-industrial complex are dramatic, and whatever happens, Turkey de facto is out of NATO.
And with Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO, inevitably it will have repercussions, and other member states might choose to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Michel Chossudovsky. Today’s show: US Foreign Policy in Shambles – NATO and the Middle East. Michel Chossudovsky is an economist and the Founder, Director and Editor of the Center for Research on Globalization, based in Montreal, Québec. He is the author of eleven books, including The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September Eleventh, America’s War on Terrorismand The Globalization of War, America’s Long War Against Humanity. Today we discuss the recent clash with Iran in the Persian Gulf, Iran as a military power, the breakup of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the flop of the proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance, also known as the Arab NATO, the coup d’état again Turkish President Erdogan, and the geopolitical realignment of the Middle East and its repercussions on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Bonnie Faulkner: Michel Chossudovsky, welcome.
Michel Chossudovsky: Good morning. Delighted to be on the program.
Bonnie Faulkner: In June, Iran shot down an unmanned US drone that Iran claimed was in its air space. This was followed by threats from President Trump. Two days later, Trump announced that US jets were headed towards targets in Iran, but that he called off the strike 10 minutes before engagement. What do you make of this bizarre statement?
Michel Chossudovsky: Well, that statement is full of contradictions and, in fact, the media coverage of that event seems to have excluded one very important element, namely that the Al Udeid air force base in Qatar from which these air raids would have been launched, and which also constitutes the forward headquarters of US Central Command, happens to be in a country which is the closest ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran, namely Qatar. Qatar and Iran share the largest maritime natural gas base in the world. From an economic and energy point of view it’s absolutely strategic. They are allies.
But bear in mind, US Central Command headquarters confirmed the deployment of US Air Force F22 stealth fighters, following Trump’s statement, out of Qatar. They also made a statement to the effect that this was to defend American forces and interests in the region.
Now, how is it that US foreign policy architects didn’t take the trouble to verify that this particular military base, which is technically the property of Qatar, which is an emirate, and which is most probably one of the largest air force operations on the planet—I’m quoting The Washington Times.
Now, US Central Command’s forward Middle East headquarters is located in enemy territory. Now, either people are absolutely stupid in the State Department or the Pentagon or they simply know well in advance that they can’t do this. That location is not appropriate because it’s a country which is swarming with Iranian business people, security personnel, the Russians and the Chinese are there. Qatar is no longer under the helm of Saudi Arabia. It has declared its alliance with Iran. And then, ironically, the Atlantic Council, which is a think tank closely tied both to the Pentagon and NATO, has confirmed that Qatar is now firmly allied with both Iran and Turkey. You can’t really go around that. So what is it? Sloppy military planning, sloppy US foreign policy, sloppy intelligence?
I personally believe that there was never a plan to launch a war against Iran from that forward US Central Command headquarters in enemy territory. It’s an impossibility. But there are other elements beside that. There’s the whole structure of US military alliances which is in such a mess that a conventional theater war against Iran is virtually impossible.
Bonnie Faulkner: In your most recent article, A Major Conventional War Against Iran Is an Impossibility; Crisis Within the US Command Structure, you explore two crucial areas that make a US attack on Iran not a winning strategy, i.e., Iran’s military power and the evolving structure of military alliances. First of all, how do you assess Iran as a military power?
Michel Chossudovsky: Iran has advanced capabilities and it also has very large ground forces. It’s a country of 90 million people. We’re not dealing with an Iraq 2003 situation where the country had already been destroyed. We’re dealing with a country which has advanced capabilities, in many regards comparable to those of Turkey, and which has some very powerful allies. Iran is allied with Russia; we know that. Now, I don’t think that Russia will intervene, but the S-400 which has recently been delivered to Turkey is now slated to be delivered to Iran. This is also something which military analysts and the Western media failed to address.
If you go back to 2003, when Donald Rumsfeld formulated a blitzkrieg directed against the Islamic Republic of Iran—well, there was a plan back in 2003 in the wake of the Iraq war and going on to 2005, and they had what they called a plan of encirclement of Iran. Now, when they say encirclement of Iran, that means that neighboring countries are proxies of the United States. They will take orders, they’re linked to NATO and so on.
But even then, the national security advice was to postpone that war. The conditions for waging the war in 2003-2005 were there and they favored the United States. But even then they hesitated precisely because Iran had missile capabilities, extensive ground forces, and despite the encirclement they postponed that military operation. There are various scenarios which were formulated.
But today, let’s look at the geography or the geopolitics of that region. Turkey has a border with Iran and Turkey is the heavyweight in NATO. Turkey now has excellent relations with neighbouring Iran, it’s not a formal military alliance but they are on very good terms. And Turkey now has signified to the United States, you won’t be able to wage a war against Iran from Turkish territory, either in terms of ground forces or air force, etc.
But if you look at the map, there’s not a single country there on which the United States can rely to help them, including Iraq. The Iraqi government has said no, we will not allow for the movement of US forces in Iraq towards the Iranian border.
Now, the other pivot there is Pakistan. As we recall some several years back Pakistan was the staunch ally of the United States. It’s no longer the staunch ally of the United States; it’s the staunch ally of China. The United States will not be able to rely on Pakistan in a war directed against Iran.
They’ve lost Pakistan. Pakistan is no longer a military ally.
Then you have several of the former Soviet republics, which had partnership agreements with NATO, good bilateral relations with the United States. I’m thinking of Azerbaijan. Well, just last December, Iran and Azerbaijan signed military cooperation agreements, and that means that the United States cannot rely on Azerbaijan. Similarly, it can’t rely on Turkmenistan. It’s impossible to wage a war out of Afghanistan because the Taliban are occupying a large part of the national territory. So a ground war is an impossibility and a traditional air war, I think, is also an impossibility because there are questions of air space. And we know that the United States relies heavily on its allies to do the dirty work.
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This interview first appeared on Guns and Butter.
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