Post-neocon Iran strategy: back to containment

A Sept. 29 AP story given prominent placement in the New York Times, “Nervous Gulf Hears Calmer Tones on Iran,” notes that CentCom chief Adm. William Fallon, on a tour of the Persian Gulf states, is reassuring regional leaders that a war with Iran is not in the offing. “This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful,” Fallon said in Sept. 23 interview with Al-Jazeera TV. “I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions.” The Times quoted some talking heads from the “pragmatist” wing of the power elite who were encouraged by Fallon’s statement. “It’s all about trying to contain Iran without turning this into a war,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington.

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, in an online discussion on “National Security” Sept. 27, actually offered the possibility of a military mutiny if the White House orders an Iran invasion (emphahsis added):

West Chester, Pa.: History seems to be repeating it self as the drumbeat for war with Iran, based on accusations not backed up by any facts, intensifies. Do you think the Bush administration will launch a war (perhaps sending only the bombers) against Iran and if they do what are the likely consequences for the Middle East?

Dana Priest: Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions. This is a little bit of hyperbole, but not much. Just look at what Gen. Casey, the Army chief, said yesterday. That the tempo of operations in Iraq would make it very hard for the military to respond to a major crisis elsewhere. Beside, it’s not the “war” or “bombing” part that’s difficult; it’s the morning after and all the days after that. Haven’t we learned that (again) from Iraq?

Count this as further evidence that the neocons have been humbled (if not quite dethroned) within the power elite. We’ve noted before that Fallon has been quietly working to de-escalate the Iran war drive. Now he is doing so openly. Meanwhile, nearly all the administration’s hardcore neocons and their fellow travelers who were gunning for Iran have been purged or demoted: David Wurmser (neocon), Karl Rove (fellow traveler), Scooter Libby (neocon), Donald Rumsfeld (fellow traveler), Paul Wolfowitz (neocon), Douglas Feith (neocon), Richard Perle (neocon). The only significants ones left who share their Iran agenda are Elliott Abrams (neocon) and Dick Cheney (fellow traveler) (and his daughter). Now admittedly, that is a very big exception—which is why we are not out of the woods yet by any means.

The war in Iraq is fundamentally a strategic grab for the Persian Gulf’s oil to assure US global hegemony in the 21st century. And the power elite pragmatists are clearly afraid that if they destabilize Iran, the whole region will spin radically out of control, and the game will be over.

Unfortunately, the neocons still have one strategic ace-in-the-hole: the Israel option.

See our last post on Iran.