US, EU at odds on Iran military option; Caspian oil route in background
President Bush refuses to rule out military action in response to Iran's renewed nuclear operations. "As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country," he told Israel's Channel One TV from his ranch in Crawford, TX, Aug. 13. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder immediately responded at an election rally in Hanover that same day that the threat of force was not acceptable. "Let's take the military option off the table," Schroeder said. "We have seen it doesn't work." (Reuters, Aug. 13, via TruthOut)
This difference may reflect a deeper Euro-American split on Iran. Last week, an Iranian official reportedly claimed the European Union had offered to support Iran as the main transit route for oil and gas from the Caspian Basin as part of a package of incentives for Tehran to halt its nuclear program. "In the proposal, they have supported the idea of Iran being the main energy transit route to Europe from Central Asia," a senior Iranian close to the EU negotiations said, according to Reuters.
The main route for crude from Kazakh oilfields to world markets is now via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) to a Russian terminal near the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. A rival pipeline through Turkey, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route, is to start carrying Azeri crude later this year. A pipe across the Caspian Sea linking this route to the Kazakh fields has yet to be built. (Reuters, Aug. 6)
This development, taken with Tehran's gowing influence in Iraq, points to a nearly inexorable imperative for Bush to take military action against Iran. If we assume that Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq adventures were aimed, in large part, at securing the Caspian and Persian Gulf oil reserves for US interests, both victories may now prove Phyrric—with the laurels going, ironically, to Axis of Evil member Iran. Recent Shi'ite demands for a southern autonomous region in the new Iraqi constitution could put a Tehran-loyal client state astraddle the Gulf reserves, while Iran itself could be strategically positioned to control the Caspian reserves. Yet the US military is already stretched dangerously thin, bogged down in the Iraq quagmire. Bush's post-9-11 gamble for US global supremacy is starting to look more and more reckless.
See our last post on the Iran crisis.