What options does the Iranian regime have against the US? None

Three-quarters of Iranian wealth is wasted on delusions of grandeur.
Saturday 12/05/2018
Endless boasting. Iranian technicians explain a piece of equipment to a clergyman during an exhibition at the Qom University, on May 2. (AP)
Endless boasting. Iranian technicians explain a piece of equipment to a clergyman during an exhibition at the Qom University, on May 2. (AP)

Insiders know that political power in the United States lies in the hands of lobbyists, big business and local and international power centres. These power brokers draw the green and red lines for the US president and his administration and decide what he can and cannot do. The real decision makers in America are the major financial institutions, the top 100 companies, TV and media networks, social media, foreign lobbyists and many foreign companies.

What that means for the Iranian regime is that the power holders in the United States, not just the president, have decided to play around with the Iranian mouse. They want to draw it into a playing field that it cannot afford economically and the consequences of which would be dire for its presence at home and in Arab countries.

Iran has become too big for its shoes and its head has swollen even more. It thought it could compete with the world’s major powers and mess with their interests and agendas. That, of course, is a no-no for a third world country, even one the size of the new Persian Empire.

Former US President Barack Obama must have been at his lowest point of cowardice and complacency to accept a dangerously flawed nuclear deal with the Iranian regime instead of meeting it with stern confrontation. Obama preferred to let his successor decide whether to tear up the deal and choose a big stick policy with Iran or accept Iran with its evils and threats to US, European and the world’s interests in the Middle East.

With the current US president, the rules of the game changed. Donald Trump and the shadowy powers behind him are not going to play nice. He has come to restore America’s prestige and announce to the world that interests have changed and, with them, positions have changed, too.

His recent decision to pull the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement and impose economic sanctions on Iran is but the first link in a chain of steps aimed at collecting the United States’ dues from many countries, come what may. The standoff with Iran is going to be just one of the win-or-lose battles in which Trump excels more than anybody else.

Among the shortcomings of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his advisers is that they are unable to correctly interpret these changes. They are so completely taken over by their delusions of power and vanity and so blinded by their sectarianism that they couldn’t recognise the right path even if they wanted to.

Beyond the veneer of ballistic missiles, multiple militias, nuclear reactors and scientists, Iran is still a third world country in the eyes of the major world powers. They will not allow it to grow beyond its quota.

Three-quarters of Iran’s wealth is wasted on delusions of grandeur. It is wasted on the mirage of owning a nuclear weapon one of these days. It is spent on intercontinental ballistic missiles, on pro-Iranian proxy militias and parties in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other far-away countries.

Few can fathom the benefit that Khamenei is hoping to reap from pouring resources into expansionist plans, meddling in other countries’ affairs, wars and confrontations. He does that while his people are drowning in recurring economic crises, poverty and unemployment.

Iran today brings to mind Robert McNamara’s Machiavellian plan for the Soviet Union. When he was secretary of defence under President John F. Kennedy in 1962, McNamara was said to have suggested letting the USSR arm itself to the teeth so it would have nothing left for buying butter. That was basically the scenario that was played out.

The United States and its European allies pushed the Soviet government into a surrealist weapons race. They drew the Soviets into cold and hot proxy wars that ate up the biggest portion of their resources. Yes, the Soviet Union had become a major nuclear power but its people lived in poverty. It was only a matter of time before it crumbled from the inside, without war or aggression. That is the plan for Iran today.

Let us pause and examine the options available to the Iranian regime as it chooses to stand up to the challenges and gets ready to punish America. Actually, there are none.

When Iranian President Hassan Rohani tells his fellow citizens that Iran will “carry on with its enrichment activities and nuclear research but in due time and after consulting with our partners,” only a few days after the same Rohani openly threatened Trump with dire consequences if the latter pulled out of the nuclear deal, it is clear the Iranian regime has no idea what to do next. Clearly, the time of endless boasting about Iran’s superpowers has gone.

Right from its beginning, the Iranian regime was no different from other boastful heroes among the rulers of “militant” countries fond of promising to teach the aggressors lessons they will never forget but in due time and at the right place and the right time.