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brianvds
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« on: January 08, 2020, 07:12:38 AM »

I posted this on another forum as well, and repost it here hoping to get some insights from whoever can provide any:

The American assassination of an Iranian general has caused quite a bit of noise in the media.

Now I don't want to rehash all the standard anti-American rhetoric. I accept that some governments will ruthlessly do whatever they perceive to be in their own interest, or in the interest of their nation. That is simple reality, and America is by no means the only nation guilty of this sort of cynicism.

But here's the thing I don't get: when it comes to all these wars, what is the perceived benefit? It seems rather obvious that thus far there hasn't really been any benefit in practice, but what is it that successive American administrations think is going to be the benefit? Or has someone in fact benefited? Who, and how?

Any of our well informed members here with any ideas? I am completely mystified, because the whole thing seems utterly irrational to me. What is the cost-vs-benefit analysis here? Is there one?

As I hint at above, what bothers me here is not the evil of it (or, for that matter, the good, for those who think such actions are a good thing). I accept that people do evil. But lots of very evil people nevertheless acted quite rationally; Stalin comes to mind, or even Reinhard Heydrich - they had a particular goal, and acted in ways that would get them there at the least cost and risk. One may be appalled at what they did, but it is not difficult to see the logic in their actions.

When it comes to America's wars of aggression, I simply cannot work out what the point is. What is it that the government thinks it is achieving, or going to achieve?
Any thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2020, 07:57:04 AM »

There are two possible “benefits” I can think of, both relating to self-interest.

The first is the diminution or removal of a perceived threat.  For years (since 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed Iran’s reins by force and turned the country into a despotic theocracy from a more liberal, almost socialist dispensation), relations between Iran and the West—more particularly the US—have been deteriorating, for the most part over Iran’s oil reserves.  Were a more West-friendly Iranian government to be installed, it would reduce extant tensions, paranoia, and insecurities.  A war could succeed in that regard (it’s a virtual certainty that the US and its allies would prevail), but even if it didn’t, Iran would be left significantly weakened, along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The second likely motivation is to spur and invigorate the US economy, a considerable portion of which, directly or indirectly, profits from wars fought on foreign soil, and never mind the morality.  (The Chinese and Russians aren’t oblivious of this lucrative avenue, selling, as they do, small and medium arms in bulk to willing buyers wherever there’s conflict, and often supplying both sides.)  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, so the US needs another target to keep its war machine running smoothly.

In a nutshell, carefully provoking strategic war is good for business and security.  It may sound jaded and cynical but sadly that’s the way the world we have works.

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brianvds
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2020, 09:05:59 AM »

The first is the diminution or removal of a perceived threat.  For years (since 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed Iran’s reins by force and turned the country into a despotic theocracy from a more liberal, almost socialist dispensation), relations between Iran and the West—more particularly the US—have been deteriorating, for the most part over Iran’s oil reserves.  Were a more West-friendly Iranian government to be installed, it would reduce extant tensions, paranoia, and insecurities.  A war could succeed in that regard (it’s a virtual certainty that the US and its allies would prevail), but even if it didn’t, Iran would be left significantly weakened, along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is not entirely clear to me how a weakened Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan really benefits the U.S. though; compared to the American juggernaut, none of these countries was a credible threat to begin  with. To this should be added that these wars have now dumped the entire region into chaos, arguably making the world less safe for everyone, including America. Last but not least, the wars cost a fortune, dumping America into potentially catastrophic levels of debt.

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The second likely motivation is to spur and invigorate the US economy, a considerable portion of which, directly or indirectly, profits from wars fought on foreign soil, and never mind the morality.  (The Chinese and Russians aren’t oblivious of this lucrative avenue, selling, as they do, small and medium arms in bulk to willing buyers wherever there’s conflict, and often supplying both sides.)  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, so the US needs another target to keep its war machine running smoothly.

And this does make sense: if American arms manufacturers benefit, then they have every reason to want as much war as possible. This is not necessarily at all in the interest of America or Americans in general, but of course, the American government has long since been sold to the highest bidder, and the interests of Americans simply do not matter anymore. It appears as if they can always be duped into new wars with a bit of patriotic propaganda.

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In a nutshell, carefully provoking strategic war is good for business and security.  It may sound jaded and cynical but sadly that’s the way the world we have works.

Yes, indeed. As I noted in the OP, I am not interested here in endless arguing about right and wrong. I accept that governments will cheerfully do whatever evil they can think of, if they perceive it to be in their interest. It is just that in this particular case, it seems to me that all the endless war is actually decidedly not in the interest of Americans in a general sort of way. At worst it will harm them; at best it is simply kind of pointless. Dumping an oil-rich region into total chaos and anarchy does not make it easier to get hold of the oil. It is vastly easier and cheaper and safer to simply buy the oil from whoever is selling (as China seems to be doing - their economy is growing like crazy without them having started any wars in ages).

And thus the standard explanation that it is all about the oil doesn't seem to make sense (unless, for reasons unknown, they are perhaps deliberately trying to inflate oil prices by destabilizing the source areas?)

I should add here that I am not really particularly sympathetic towards Iran either. The Iranians are to a significant extent the authors of their own misery, and as far as I am concerned, they and the Americans kind of deserve each other. :-)
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2020, 11:48:52 AM »

FYI (i'll catch up in a few...): Link
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2020, 12:04:59 PM »

The first is the diminution or removal of a perceived threat.  For years (since 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed Iran’s reins by force and turned the country into a despotic theocracy from a more liberal, almost socialist dispensation), relations between Iran and the West—more particularly the US—have been deteriorating, for the most part over Iran’s oil reserves.  Were a more West-friendly Iranian government to be installed, it would reduce extant tensions, paranoia, and insecurities.  A war could succeed in that regard (it’s a virtual certainty that the US and its allies would prevail), but even if it didn’t, Iran would be left significantly weakened, along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I can't cite directly but from my understanding Soleimani, being one of Iran's highest generals, has in his actions inflicted damage on the west quite directly in the past. He, personally, was a direct threat to the USA's strategic interests. To quote Wikipedia:

He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the government of Bashar al-Assad, a key Iranian ally, during Iran's operations in the Syrian Civil War and helped to plan the Russian military intervention in Syria. Soleimani oversaw the Kurdish and Shia militia forces in Iraq, and assisted the Iraqi forces that advanced against ISIL in 2014–2015.[22][23] Soleimani was one of the first to support Kurdish forces, providing them with arms (...)

A mixed bag there, to be sure.

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It is not entirely clear to me how a weakened Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan really benefits the U.S. though

At this point, it's a bit like asking who got to Israel first.... The Muslims or the Jews, and who is really the aggressor.... Due to the history of the situation, the aggression is already there and the whole thing is a giant catch-22. They hate the US and the US hates them back. But, remember that while the other wars were going on contractors were literally coming in behind the US forces and establishing oil pipelines while the wars were still raging.

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; compared to the American juggernaut, none of these countries was a credible threat to begin  with.

And that's exactly how the Americans would like to keep it.

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To this should be added that these wars have now dumped the entire region into chaos

Exactly.

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arguably making the world less safe for everyone, including America.

But ever, ever so profitable for a select few!

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Last but not least, the wars cost a fortune, dumping America into potentially catastrophic levels of debt.

Yeah, but that money does go somewhere....


A third option is that the American elections are next year and as far as I recall wars favor the approval ratings of the sitting president....
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Mefiante
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 12:08:02 PM »

It is not entirely clear to me how a weakened Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan really benefits the U.S. though; compared to the American juggernaut, none of these countries was a credible threat to begin  with.
Dumping an oil-rich region into total chaos and anarchy does not make it easier to get hold of the oil. …

And thus the standard explanation that it is all about the oil doesn't seem to make sense…
The “benefits” are neither immediate nor immediately obvious, but medium- to long-term and devious.  The situation is best described by the truism, “To the victor, the spoils.”  As mentioned earlier, there’s the strong likelihood that the victor gets to hold a good deal of sway over what sort of new government the underdog gets to have—the activities of which he also gets to scrutinise, monitor, and control quite closely, even if only for a while.  In addition, there’s the post-war reconstruction, from which the victor draws benefit in the form of advancing loans and rebuilding contracts, both of which translate into profit.  For the US, a more pliant ruling order in Iran will very likely mean a much-improved chance of securing favourable oil deals in the future once the chaos has more or less been tamed.  As for those countries not being credible threats, the US doesn’t see it that way, largely due to the events of 911, although the 1979 Iran hostage crisis  prefigured some of those developments.  Since that time, the US has obsessively viewed the entire Middle East with suspicion and distrust as a haven for anti-US terrorism.  This obsession, of course, is also driven to a significant degree by the region’s oil wealth, which is probably why Iran, rather than Pakistan (which may well be the next candidate on the US’s shitlist.)  Lastly, there’s also some cultural inertia at work here, stemming from when the US arrogated for itself the role of the World Policeman almost 75 years ago.

To this should be added that these wars have now dumped the entire region into chaos, arguably making the world less safe for everyone, including America.
Perhaps so, but again the US doesn’t see it that way.  To them, the immediate chaos is a temporary stepping-stone towards greater regional safety and stability.

Last but not least, the wars cost a fortune, dumping America into potentially catastrophic levels of debt.
Since after WWII, the US has never been shy about incurring debt to safeguard its own interests and security.  By rights, the country should have collapsed decades ago under the weight of its government’s debt, but that was not allowed to happen because of the worldwide economic collapse which it would have precipitated.  However, this may change in a decade or two with the emergence of India and China as the world’s leading economies.  Besides, the US bigwigs probably reckon that the debt will be covered, at least in good part, by the means described above.

'Luthon64
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brianvds
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2020, 14:06:11 PM »

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At this point, it's a bit like asking who got to Israel first.... The Muslims or the Jews, and who is really the aggressor.... Due to the history of the situation, the aggression is already there and the whole thing is a giant catch-22. They hate the US and the US hates them back.

Well, that's partly why I said the two deserve each other. It seems to me perfectly possible for either of these countries to be the adult in the room, but neither will budge an inch. On Quora I had an Iranian tell me that to Iranians, their pride is more important than their lives, and they will "crush America." Well, good luck with that one.

Given their constant interference in several different areas in the Middle East, they actually act quite a bit like the America of the Middle East, fighting one proxy war after the other, and as in the case of America, it is not clear to me what the perceived benefit to them is.

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But, remember that while the other wars were going on contractors were literally coming in behind the US forces and establishing oil pipelines while the wars were still raging.

Oil and other natural resources have always been a curse to whichever nation possessed them. Had I been the Iranians, I would have invited the Americans in to come take all the oil, for free, and started investing in the Iranian people instead. That is the way in which modern economies generate their wealth. :-)

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A third option is that the American elections are next year and as far as I recall wars favor the approval ratings of the sitting president....

Now that is an interesting possibility. Wag the Dog all over again: election coming up, incumbent embroiled in scandal, needs a war to distract the populace...
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2020, 14:13:13 PM »

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But, remember that while the other wars were going on contractors were literally coming in behind the US forces and establishing oil pipelines while the wars were still raging.

Oil and other natural resources have always been a curse to whichever nation possessed them. Had I been the Iranians, I would have invited the Americans in to come take all the oil, for free, and started investing in the Iranian people instead. That is the way in which modern economies generate their wealth. :-)

Having been to middle Africa, I have to disagree. There you can see huge oil operations everywhere and the locals starving meters from their high fences. The politicians have been bought and the oil/money goes straight out without it ever touching the local economy (and it is operated mostly by plane-loads full of external contractors). When it comes to resources, one has to use what you got and make the most of it.

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brianvds
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2020, 14:17:57 PM »

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The “benefits” are neither immediate nor immediately obvious, but medium- to long-term and devious.  The situation is best described by the truism, “To the victor, the spoils.”  As mentioned earlier, there’s the strong likelihood that the victor gets to hold a good deal of sway over what sort of new government the underdog gets to have—the activities of which he also gets to scrutinise, monitor, and control quite closely, even if only for a while.  In addition, there’s the post-war reconstruction, from which the victor draws benefit in the form of advancing loans and rebuilding contracts, both of which translate into profit.

All possible, I suppose. Oil companies encourage the American government to wage war on oil rich nations because it will drive the price up, and perhaps lead to lucrative post-war oil contracts. Weapons companies encourage it for obvious reasons. Construction companies encourage it for the post-war profits.

But it is not clear to me that any of this necessarily benefits the American people, particularly considering that virtually all other nations have found ways to make huge profits without having to bomb anyone. Of course, it does answer my original question: what is the perceived benefit?  
 
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For the US, a more pliant ruling order in Iran will very likely mean a much-improved chance of securing favourable oil deals in the future once the chaos has more or less been tamed.  As for those countries not being credible threats, the US doesn’t see it that way, largely due to the events of 911, although the 1979 Iran hostage crisis  prefigured some of those developments.

Someone ought to inform the Americans that there are two main branches of Islam, with the branch in Iran far less likely to commit or fund terrorism than the one in Saudi Arabia, where all Trump's pals live, and where almost all the 9/11 terrorists came from... :-)

On a more serious note, I have to wonder whether the powers that be in America actually feel any genuine sense of threat from Iran. The American public might, because that is what their propaganda "news" media feed them with every day. But such paranoia might simply be a way to sell a war to the public, with the real reasons for the war being something else. It is difficult to say for sure.

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 Since that time, the US has obsessively viewed the entire Middle East with suspicion and distrust as a haven for anti-US terrorism.  This obsession, of course, is also driven to a significant degree by the region’s oil wealth, which is probably why Iran, rather than Pakistan (which may well be the next candidate on the US’s shitlist.)  Lastly, there’s also some cultural inertia at work here, stemming from when the US arrogated for itself the role of the World Policeman almost 75 years ago.

It is noteworthy how it is mainly oil rich regions like Iran and Venezuela that are in urgent need of freedom and democracy. :-)

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Perhaps so, but again the US doesn’t see it that way.  To them, the immediate chaos is a temporary stepping-stone towards greater regional safety and stability.

It ought to be clear by now that their plans have been failing miserably; the entire region seems to be going up in smoke. But once again, it may be a perceived benefit.

I remain perplexed though as to why America feels that the only way to acquire safety and prosperity is to bomb and invade half of the rest of the world. No other country currently follows such a policy, including ones that are very prosperous indeed.


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