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15 May 2015

The Arrogance of the Powers

L'Ordre


As European countries uphold sanctions against Russia, it is not a coincidence that they seek to remove sanctions against Iran.


In case it was not known before, it should be obvious by now. The United States and its allies cannot afford to sanction too many countries. Europeans know that cutting ourselves off from equitable relations with too many countries, especially in Asia, is an austere path that cannot be walked.

When it comes to energy supplies, the above conclusion is especially unavoidable, but it is also true of other sectors of the economy. For many years, European countries lamented their dependence on natural gas from Russia, as it forced them to curtail their arrogant colonial attitude of national and racial superiority over Asia. This had one consequence that would have embarrassed the previous White House administration in its Eurasian policy, but was factored into the plans of the more realistic Obama administration. Europeans must turn to Iran as their only alternative supplier of natural gas, if they really wish to isolate Russia.

Try to picture a penalty box containing "sanctioned" countries. Whether a geopolitical rival power is under sanctions by the US and its allies has less to do with whether the rival power violated international law than whether the US and European economies can afford to use sanctions against it. Rather, it depends on how much room there is in the penalty box for the geopolitical enemy. The Russian bear is very big, so the cage must be empty if the US is to cram the bear fully inside. Unfortunately for them, it means that they have no choice but to let Iran out, thus lifting all sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

So we Europeans, after helping to bully Iran for years economically, are begging for anti-Iran sanctions to be lifted. Also paradoxical, European companies seem to be more desperate for this outcome than the Iranians themselves.

The paradox of unilateral sanctions is something that has become increasingly apparent to commentators, especially now that an economy as large as Russia has been arrogantly added to the blacklist. As I recently wrote, this year's new sanctions on Russia and Venezuela coincide exactly with the Obama administration's efforts to remove sanctions against Iran and Cuba. Russia replaces Iran as the enemy in Asia, Venezuela replaces Cuba as the enemy in Latin America.

Obama is concerned that sanctioning too many countries at once will "boomerang", to use Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's term, and hurt the European and North American economies themselves. Iran and Cuba have to be let out of the penalty box, quickly and unconditionally. Negotiations are simply a way for the US to dignify its surrender to the Iranian and Cuban peoples, who asked for many years that the US and its allies return to normal and equitable relations.

Understood in this way, the pleading of hawkish US politicians and pundits to maintain sanctions against Iran appear especially absurd. Such demands run contrary to the gambits of US hegemony itself, to maintain such sanctions while sanctioning yet further countries such as Russia. In reality, the US has no choice but to remove its sanctions against Iran because such sanctions tie its own hands and prevent it from completing its scheme to isolate Russia. Isolating both Iran and Russia simultaneously cannot be done, from a European perspective. Such simultaneous enmity would essentially cut Europe off from all of Asia, in terms of energy supplies. There would be no remaining route to obtain natural gas desperately needed by Europe.

As reported in Iranian media, Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC) noted that European countries are eager for sanctions against Iran to be lifted so that they may invest in the Iranian petrochemical industry. European countries are determined to develop Iran's ability to supply natural gas in particular. This reporting follows earlier comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Iranian energy development is not yet sufficient to decisively supply Europe and replace Russian natural gas supplies.

European interest in developing Iranian natural gas supplies to Europe only became apparent after heated disagreements with Vladimir Putin's government over the 2014 Crimean referendum and the consequent implementation of anti-Russian sanctions over the course of 2014 and 2015. This deterioration of relations seems to have soured the taste of the Russian natural gas that Europe remains dependent on for much of its energy needs, causing Europeans to desire an alternative source of energy.

Commentators have argued that the eagerness of European countries to invest in Iran's petrochemical industry is an attempt to rectify European dependence on Russian natural gas. The hope is that, once sanctions against Iran are lifted (and they are going to be lifted, no matter what happens in the nuclear talks), Iranian natural gas supplies may replace Russian supplies.

In an insightful analysis at the American investigative publication Counterpunch by Mike Whitney on 20 April, the Obama administration's strange scheme to develop Iranian energy supplies to Europe as a way to nullify European dependence on Russian gas is exposed. The article in question, titled "Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia", argues that easing sanctions against the Islamic Republic is nothing to do with Iran surrendering to US pressure. Rather, it is an "attempt to weaken and isolate Russia", by "allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe".

The vast majority of English-speaking media sources have labored to falsely portray Iran as begging for sanctions relief from the US and European powers and caving in to US pressure by committing to reduce the number of its nuclear centrifuges. In reality, the beggars at this table are not the Iranians but the Americans and Europeans.

The term for the United States and its collective imperialist allies in the Iranian theory of international relations is the "arrogant powers", and the easing of sanctions against Iran should not ease the use of this term to describe them. The arrogant powers may remove sanctions from Iran, but their scheming behind such steps remains still rooted in their arrogant desire to subdue yet more countries.

Iranian negotiators realize that they are not working from the dishonorable position of subservience demanded by the US regime through all its failed attempts to undermine the Islamic Revolution, but a position of strength against the crumbling of an arrogant scheme. It should also be clear to the Iranian people that the scheme to isolate Russia is an arrogant plan led by the United States.

Clearly, the United States would believe that it can deceive the leadership of Iran into serving its plan to isolate Russia, and this is consistent with the historic colonial mindset of blockade and aggression. Now, they have turned from blackmail against Iran to bribery, with their promises of sanctions relief and European investment in Iran's petrochemical industry.

Sanctions against Iran and Russia are doomed to failure because both countries are great powers. The United States and Europe cannot maintain hostility to them without being on guard against the consequences. The toll of arrogance is that it causes regimes to punch above their weight in the international system of governance. It is easy for such arrogant powers to become beggars and finally expose themselves to counter-sanctions if their schemes fail.

L'Ordre


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