Sunday, January 08, 2012

Could the US be using the Euro crisis to extract support for a possible war against Iran?

The US appears to be dead set on bringing war to Iran.

Reports suggests that bailouts of the Eurozone via the IMF in exchange for embargoes against Iran could be part of the rescue package dangled or concessions arranged by US authorities.

Writes the Wall Street Journal Blog,

Europe may have just traded a U.S.-pushed Iranian oil embargo in exchange for Washington’s support of International Monetary Fund bailout loans to Italy and Spain, if one economist’s speculation is right.

Jacob Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, speculates the timing Europe’s newly-proposed ban on Iranian oil imports is too fortuitous to be purely coincidental.

Greece, Spain and Italy–in that order–heavily depend on Iranian crude and have been the most resistant to an embargo. They are now no longer fighting a ban–Italy has stated it would support it in principle while the others have signaled they wouldn’t stand in the way. [The agreement in principle is subject to substantial negotiations on timing or exemptions for long-term deals.]

Each of those countries are also the current epicenters of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Athens is in the middle of negotiating an agreement with bondholders on a debt deal that will pave the way for a near doubling of emergency loans, including from the IMF. Italy has to roll over nearly $340 billion in debt this year, but the cost of borrowing has soared beyond levels economists say is sustainable. Rome late last year turned down an offer for an IMF loan, but many economists say Italy will need IMF credit to pull itself out of its financial mire. And Spain’s banks are facing a housing bubble that could very well mean Madrid must soon ask for IMF assistance.

Earlier the US has already began to apply political pressure by imposing sanctions against Iran’s central bank.

From Yahoo,

Iran's currency hit a new record low to the U.S. dollar on Monday, two days after President Barack Obama signed into law a bill targeting Iran's central bank as part of the West's efforts to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency said the Iranian currency's exchange rate hovered late Monday around 17,800 riyals to the dollar, marking a roughly 12 percent slide compared to Sunday's rate of 15,900 riyals to the dollar. The riyal was trading at around 10,500 riyals to the U.S. dollar in late December 2010.

The report said Iran's central bank called on Iranian experts to meet Wednesday to discuss the turbulence in the currency market.

The bill Obama signed on Saturday includes an amendment barring foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. The Obama administration, however, is looking to soften the impact of the measure, fearing they could lead to a spike in global crude oil prices or pressure key allies that import Iranian oil.

Economic sanctions are meant to isolate nations which may invite or have been designed to provoke reprisals.

I am reminded by World War II, where economic sanctions has served as major compelling factor that has prompted Japan to strike at the US.

Writes historian Eric Margolis,

When in late 1941, US President Franklin Roosevelt sought (my view) to push Japan into the war by imposing an embargo of oil and scrap metal on Japan, Tokyo had a two-year stockpile of oil.

Tokyo’s military-dominated government faced a stark choice: go immediately to war in hopes of a quick victory while there was still oil, or watch its oil stores dwindle way and thus face military impotence. War was the choice.

Japan’s leading military officer, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, warned Japan was going to war for oil, and would be defeated because of lack of oil.

Stirring up patriotic passion through war has been a facile way to generate votes, especially with the US presidential elections fast approaching.

With President Obama’s improving but still near record low approval ratings, chances of re-election remains murky.

And it is of no wonder why most of the GOP Republican candidates, except for Ron Paul, have also adapted a war stance.

Presidential aspirants from both camps have palpably been appealing to the public's emotions or to patriotism to solicit votes, as well as, tacitly appease the military industrial and banking interests groups.

In the words of former United States Senator from Indiana Albert J. Beveridge (1862-1927) also an American historian

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

People get what they deserve.

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