Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Crimea - Barometer for eastern Ukraine

Reuters posted a video today that showed two rival protest groups clashing in the Crimean administrative capital of Simferopol.

The rhetoric coming from Moscow is worrisome. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the protesters were “extremists” and that foreign governments were “imposing their will”. The rhetoric is even more significant as President Putin ordered a readiness test of Russian troops along the western border putting them on high alert.

History shows how Putin has responded to these situations in the past. In 2008 Putin threatened Georgia that if Russian citizens were threatened he would step in to defend them. The autonomous South Ossetia would be invaded and the short Russia/Georgian War would end with considerable casualties. Russian troops remain in South Ossetia to this day.

Crimea is over 60% Russian and holds a major Naval port for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. If Putin uses similar rhetoric as he did in 2008 it’s highly possible he could  invade Crimea to “defend Russian citizens” and Russian property (Black Sea Fleet Naval facilities). Similar rhetoric could also be used to justify the invasion of the other eastern provinces that have a high amount of ethnic Russians.

Georgia - John Kerry meets with Georgian Prime Minister

John Kerry kicks off a series of meetings today for the U.S. with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. Later in the week President Obama and Vice President Biden will also take meetings with the Georgian Prime Minister.
See the Department of State press release here:

The timing of this meeting is very interesting but not at all surprising. Washington is looking to capitalize on the Ukrainian success and push on other countries in Russia's near abroad. You can bet that western backed pro democracy NGO's (the thorn in Putin's side) will be a major topic of discussion. Leveraging their gains in Ukraine will be critical in these early stages.

Look for more of these higher level meetings to take place elsewhere in Russia's periphery. Belarus and Moldova are sure to see similar treatment. Turning up the heat on Moscow appears to be in full swing for the Obama Administration. It's not surprising seeing as how aggressive Russia has been lately in the Middle East.

Keep an eye on how Russia responds. A good case can made that Russia was pushed to invade Georgia back in 2008 as a response to these populist uprisings. Putin feared the epidemic within his own borders and felt he had to make a statement. Invading Georgia showed the region that Washington couldn't protect them. Now in Ukraine the appearance is that Russia could not intervene to stop the populist uprisings. How will Moscow respond this time?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Qatar - The United States’ Main Priority in the Middle East

Before saying anything I want the reader to remember one all encompassing point. If you get confused or lose track with anything in the following article go back and reference the next statement. Everything that happens in the Middle East revolves around energy.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Ever since the Arab Spring kicked off in December of 2010 I’ve been curiously following the Muslim Brotherhood. That obviously got me very interested in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and I looked on in amazement as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi became President. The most interesting thing for me was how The United States and the Arab media dominated by Al Jazeera backed this new regime so intently.
Almost every Middle Eastern nation has an outright ban on the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood infiltrates a nation from the inside, incites populist uprisings, and attempts to topple governments. Egypt was their crowning achievement. So why is Qatar, who runs the Al Jazeera news network, the only nation in the Middle East not scared of the Muslim Brotherhood? Why was the United States so fully committed to Morsi’s government? It seems more evident as time goes by that the Muslim Brotherhood is a geopolitical tool being used by The United States and Qatar.

Why Qatar? Calling Qatar a country is a bit of a stretch. With a population of around 1.8 million only 250,000 of these are actual citizens. Citizens pay zero income tax and enjoy the highest per capita GDP in the world at 106,000. Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family. The current Emir is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. I think it’s more accurate to look at Qatar as a large LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) company and the Emir is the CEO. The rest of the Al Thani family are the board members. This set up makes for a perfect relationship with the business minded Americans.

The relationship between the U.S. and Qatar took a big step forward in 1991. In an effort to diversify away from oil as their main cash crop a United States construction firm named Bechtel supervised the construction of the North Dome natural gas field off the Northeast coast. ExxonMobile stepped right up and became the largest foreign investor in the North field. Two U.S. companies were overseeing the development of the infrastructure and the drilling. In fact, the U.S. and other western nations provide the pink slips for all of the technology used in the North Field and in the GTL (gas-to-liquids) technology which makes it possible to ship LNG via the sea lanes.
The power of Qatar’s natural gas reserves is insane. They’re #3 in the world behind Russia and Iran respectively. The big difference is that Qatar only has 1.8 million inhabitants with only 250,000 of them being citizens. It’s a ridiculous amount of power all in the hands of the Al Thani family.

So in 1991 we have Bechtel and ExxonMobile developing the third largest gas reserves in the world. Later in that decade the Thani’s constructed the Al Udeid Air Base just south of Doha. Kind of interesting since Qatar didn’t even have an air force at the time. In steps the United States Army Corps of Engineers who begin constructing what would now be called United States Central Command.
It’s interesting to note that Qatar’s “military” is little more than a show piece. They have roughly 11,000 men to protect their borders and assets. How many Americans are at Al Udeid? Well, the exact number is classified. I’ve been there and it looked like a lot to me. It’s well known that in 1999 the Emir approved 10,000 U.S. personnel to be permanently stationed there. That’s almost as many as there are in the entire Qatari armed forces. Basically you can say that USCENTCOM is the guaranteer of Qatari security. We’ve never come out and actually said that but that’s what we’ve done. You can’t say the same for any other U.S. ally in theater...Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, not even Israel!

We’ve doubled down on Qatar and have slowly been alienating our traditional allies in the Middle East. It’s all about who controls the flow of energy. Qatar will be a major supplier to much of the world. They’re already the main supplier of LNG to Asia. Asia’s consumption is set to explode over the next 10-20 years.Qatar LNG exports map.gif
The primary route for Asia’s LNG is across the Indian Ocean and up through the South China Sea. Kind of puts into perspective why China is building up their naval presence there. Currently if you want to shut down China all you have to do is blockade ships coming from the Indian Ocean up through the South China Sea. Right now, Qatar and the United States control that flow of energy.
This brings us back to Egypt. The use of the Arab Gas Pipeline is a major strategic goal for both Qatar and the U.S. Access to that pipeline would enable Qatar to supply gas all the way into gas pipeline.png
Depending on who wins the current Syrian Civil war the Arab Gas Pipeline could extend up into Turkey where it would then link up with the South Caucasus Pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Qatar’s North Field along with Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field would pump more natural gas into Europe than Russia does. This puts into perspective why Qatar has been funding the Syrian Opposition with weapons. It also shows why Russia is so adamant that they do not let Assad lose the country.

We’re out of the Cold War and into the Fossil Fuel War. Whoever controls the flow of energy controls the world. Right now the United States is going all in to ensure Qatar is the main supplier of natural gas to the planet. The current crises in Ukraine, the civil war in Syria, and even higher tensions in the South China Sea are all due in some part to this war. A chessboard that saw it’s pieces laid in the early 90’s is nearing its mid-game stage. The conclusion is still far from over.

In the end regardless of whether they tell you that the issue is either human rights, pro democracy, chemical weapons, etc….Everything that happens in the Middle East revolves around energy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

American Foreign Policy - A Blueprint to Return to the Monroe Doctrine - Part 1

This article kicks off a series on American foreign policy over the next few decades. The United States has entered a period of disengagement. This disengagement should have taken place after WW2, but the emergence of the Soviet Union necessitated a more involved U.S. foreign policy on the “World Island”. Before we take a look at where we’re going it’s important to first look back and see how we got here.

U.S. foreign policy for the framers was pretty easy to define. Two quotes come to mind:

“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world"                                                           
                                                                                    George Washington

"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."
                                                                                            Thomas Jefferson

It was quite obvious that those who founded the Republic wanted a clear separation between the old and new world.
Fast forward to December 2nd 1823. President James Monroe would deliver his seventh annual State of the Union address to Congress. The contents of this speech would be dubbed the “Monroe Doctrine”. The United States declared political sovereignty over all of the Americas and warned the old world European powers to stay out.
An argument can be made that this was orchestrated by Great Britain in order to secure an economic and political foothold in South America. Whatever the ulterior motives the old world now had to deal with an assertive United States in their sphere of influence. From Monroe’s perspective this would help keep the corruption and age old feuds of Europe out of the Americas. Where as Manifest Destiny would orient the U.S. from east to west the Monroe Doctrine would orient the country north to south. The U.S.’s prosperity would center around the economic and political relationships among the nations of the America’s. A clear separation from the bickering millennia-old rivalries in Eurasia.

In 1918 we had the end of World War 1. With Russia’s exit from the war the threat of German dominance over all of western Europe was too great to ignore. At that moment the United States was forced into the affairs of the old world. It was indeed necessary. One nation in control of all of Europe threatens the balance of the entire planet.
The main problem is that the United States should have disengaged after the end of the war. Instead, Woodrow Wilson took the lead in European affairs and issued his “Fourteen Points” as a basis for a truce. The fourteenth and final point was his globalist ideal for a one world governing body called the League of Nations.We’ll get into the specifics of how Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the Treaty of Versailles can be attributed to much of the current problems in the world today in follow up articles. Right now the main point is that Wilson put us on a course of deeper involvement with the old world. Involvement that our founders warned us about.

WW2 once again showed that the ramifications of one nation attempting to control Eurasia were too critical to ignore. The United States had to intervene despite trying desperately to stay out. A Nazi dominated Eurasia could theoretically dominate the world. The U.S. absolutely did the right thing by entering the war. The problem is that in the devastating aftermath of the war we could not disengage. The Soviet Union now stood on top of the ashes that Hitler wanted to control. Hitler fell but Stalin was right there to pick up the pieces. The threat of one nation controlling Eurasia was still in play.We had fought WW2 to stop Germany from dominating Eurasia. We would now fight the Cold War to stop the Soviet Union from doing the same.

As mentioned before, the U.S. was on a course of orienting from East to West and then North to South on the American continent. However, two catastrophic wars set off a series of moves that would distract American foreign policy up until the present day.
We should have disengaged after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Instead we remained upon occupied territories, and continued the cold war strategy of spreading democracy throughout the world in order to undermine foreign governments.

This series will focus on providing a blueprint to return to the Monroe Doctrine. To continue our plans to orient North to South on the American continent.

Ukraine - intercepted phone call says a lot

Dmitry Loskutov, an aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin recently tweeted an intercepted cell phone call made between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

During the call it’s made made very clear that the U.S. is taking steps to support the Ukrainian opposition. There’s a sense of urgency in the voices of both Nuland and Pyatt. Just listening to the two talk you almost get the sense that the U.S. can manipulate the opposition any way it wants and that it all could be done rather quickly.

This leaked transmission reveals so much...and it was intended to. I’m very surprised the Russians played right into it. I remember going fishing with a very accomplished championship fisherman several years back. Something he said to me stands out in my mind. He remarked how often he would cast in a certain spot to go after a fish. He’d keep casting and casting and eventually he’d get a bite. He said you’d never know it by watching a fishing competition on TV but that championship fish was the result of probably a thousand casts.

The obvious is that the U.S. doesn’t make mistakes like this. We’ve written the book on cyber warfare. It’s laughable that the State Department is claiming that they don’t have the capability to encrypt voice calls on a regular cell phone. It can be done with an app. Even low level State Department security contractors have it installed on their cell phones. Emails, texts, and audio calls are all encrypted.

So then why did this happen? It was a cast into the lake to catch a fish. Nuland might as well have been speaking directly to Vladimir Putin. She was saying these things to him specifically:
1. We’re not taking a back seat to Germany in Central Europe any more. We’re taking the lead.
2. We can manipulate this situation anyway we want and we can do it quickly.
3. You better pay attention

This was meant to tell Moscow that the U.S. is moving more aggressively on Russia’s periphery. It’s a direct move to counter Russian meddling in the greater Middle East which has been U.S. domain since the early days of the cold war. Russia’s actions in the greater middle east are more to distract the U.S. than anything strategic it wants. If the U.S. is bogged down in the Middle East they’re not focused on what’s happening in Russia’s near abroad.

With Russia focused on distracting the U.S. in the Middle East and with securing the Olympics in Sochi the U.S. and Germany decided to hit hard on Ukraine. Ukraine is strategic priority number one for Russia. Not only is it the gateway for ground troops into mainland Russia but the main source of the Russian economy runs straight through it via pipelines. If you control Ukraine you put your grip around the throat of Russia.

Putin is now distracted away from the middle east. He can’t allocate so much attention in that area if his near abroad is in jeopardy. In the end I think Ukraine probably falls under the Russian umbrella. It’s too important for Putin to let it fall to the west. It really doesn’t matter. Ukraine will be a constant thorn in Russia’s side. It’s so crucial that they have no other choice but to divert the majority of their attention to it.

The bonus to this for the U.S. is that Russia chose to leak the call. Why they did this I have no idea. It’s a testament to their distractions in the rest of the world. Releasing this call does two things. First, it legitimizes the Obama Administration’s claims that the U.S. isn’t the only nation spying on foreign heads of state. “Everyone does it.” Second, it shows the rest of Russia’s near abroad that the United States is coming back guns blazing (figuratively). Nuland was very vocal on that fact…”F**k the EU” were her words. The U.S. won’t rely on Germany and the EU to stop Russia any longer. Putin now has to chose whether to turn and face Central Europe or continue to meddle in the Middle East. He really has no choice.

Why Putin Chose Sochi

For Putin this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi are about much more than hosting the greatest amateur sporting event on the planet. It’s not about the prestige of the event or the economic boost that it provides to the area. Hosting the Olympics should be a symbol of pride for the citizens of Russia. This should be Putin’s main goal.

This is however far from the reality. This is a show of force. It’s a foreign policy statement. This year’s Olympics are the next stage in Putin’s rebirth for Russia.
Putin’s gone all in on this move. He chose Sochi deliberately. This is him saying that not only will I successfully pull off the greatest global event of the year but I’ll do it in one of the most violent regions on earth. It’s a statement directed not only at the west but to his own people as well. In short Putin is saying this – Call it an autocratic oppressive regime if you want…it works.

It’s hard to get in the head of someone like Putin if you’re an American born in the United States. As American’s we’re blessed by land with an amazing geography. The Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans have provided us with an insulation that Russian’s have never known. The Russian’s have been fighting for their very existence ever since the great hordes from the Steppe invaded time and again from the East. Likewise, nations from the other side of the continent pushed back and invaded from the west. Russians survived this constant back and forth quiet miraculously. Their current mentality has been burned into them ever since the 10th century. Their leaders quickly found out that if they were to survive in that geographic position they would need to rule their people with an iron fist. Russian people typically accept this fact and see autocratic rule as necessary for their survival.
Putin is a Russian of the old order.  Just like the leaders before him he knows that to control a population as massive and as demographically diverse as Russia’s he needs to rule absolutely. Fear, intimidation, and control are his tools.

Ever since he took office Putin’s main goal has been to re-establish the regional dominance they once enjoyed under the Soviet Union.  To do this he’s primarily used Russia’s energy and economic dominance in the region to bully and intimidate former Soviet bloc nations into doing Moscow’s bidding. In fact, every former Soviet bloc country that the West has tried to move into Putin has employed his usual bully tactics. Take Ukraine and Georgia for example. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution was backed by pro democracy western NGO’s. The result was the election of Viktor Yushchenko to the Presidency who was heavily in favor of EU integration. The same outcome happened in Georgia only theirs was called the Rose Revolution. Russian regional dominance was disappearing one former Soviet bloc country at a time. For Putin, the west’s meddling in Ukraine and Georgia via NGO’s was equivalent to an act of war. He first responded by invading Georgia in 2008. The premise was to protect the breakaway Ossetians and Abkhazians from the Georgian government. That was merely an excuse to give Putin the go ahead to send Russia’s “near abroad” a message. More specifically to Ukraine, Putin was saying “The United States can’t protect you. It’s time to remember who the biggest bully on the block is.” This made Ukraine blink. To drive the point home Putin shut off the energy flow to Ukraine and the rest of the EU and imposed severe economic restrictions on Ukraine. The result was a Ukraine beaten into submission and a clear message sent to the west…”stay out of the former soviet bloc countries”.

Western backed NGO’s remain to this day a target for Vladimir Putin. The power of these organizations to incite populist grassroots movements was on full display during the Arab Spring. Putin could feel his own people watch as one autocratic regime after the other began to topple. Ukraine and Georgia became Libya and Egypt. Then came Syria. Russia’s involvement in Syria was very similar to Georgia. Like Georgia Russia has a strategic interest in Syria. However, the message Putin wants to project is far more important. The message is that an authoritarian regime is more powerful than a populist uprising. Directed straight at the west and their agents within Russia the message is clear…Rise up against me and get crushed.

Now that we know how Putin thinks and is motivated we can go back to Sochi. So why have the Olympics in the Caucasus? Some of the best skiing in the world is north of St Petersburg along the border with Finland. Wouldn’t holding the Olympics there be a huge economic boost to one of your most famous cities? Wouldn’t infrastructure in that area be in better shape and more developed? What about the Ural Mountains? None of those locations were chosen. Instead, Putin looked at the map and chose the most violent and volatile area in his country. Threats come from Islamic terrorists, Ethnic nationalists (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, etc), and the possibility (however slight) of a Georgian invasion of Ossetia and Abkhazia. The decision seems crazy. Why have the Olympics here?

Again we see Vladimir Putin the bully and intimidator. I said before that Putin went all in on this move. He’s gambling big here to send a message all over the world and to his own people.

To the ethnic nationalist’s – This area is Russian territory and it always will be. Resistance is futile.
To the Islamic terrorists – Your days of attacking schools, theaters, and airports are over. The crackdown I’ve started now is just the beginning.
To the Russian people – my way (the Russian way) works. I was able to pull this off in the den of the Caucasus Emirate and kept everyone safe. My tactics were brutal and oppressive but they kept everyone safe. Empower me to expand my methods. I’m willing to bet that the surveillance and the security in this region are there to stay. This just gave Putin an under the radar window to increase surveillance and control permanently.
To the rest of the world – NGO led populist movements don’t work. I’ve proven it in Ukraine, Georgia, and now in Syria. People need to be controlled not free. How else would I have pulled off an Olympics in the Caucasus?

A Tale of Two Asian Economies...

I’m going to start this by describing a country. See if you can guess who I’m talking about…

This country lies in East Asia. After much turmoil it was able to pull itself out of the gutter by building a huge export economy. Labor cost was low so outside businesses were quick to invest. No one paid much attention at first but before long everyone was intrigued by this nations back to back to back years of double digit economic gains. Money supply came in tidal waves.

View from the outside world

Pretty soon this country is dubbed the next great power of the world. Destined to overtake the United States and then some. This nation begins buying up property around the world including many well known landmarks in the United States. People start saying things like “They own the world” and “everything is made there”.

Meanwhile inside the country

Asset prices are soaring. It becomes so expensive to own property in the major cities that most people don’t even try. The state bank floods the banks with cash and credit increases at a large rate. The currency appreciates faster than anticipated. This makes their export goods not as competitive to the rest of the world and the economy slows down. A major economic crash hits the entire world and the export driven economy is dealt an even larger blow.

Who is it?

It depends on what generation you primarily grew up in. If you’re 35 or over you’re probably thinking this is Japan. If you’re 30 or under you’re most likely thinking China. The truth? You’d all be right.
The Japanese economy in the 80’s was a dynamic powerhouse. Sony bought CBS Records, Columbia Pictures , and Mitsubishi bought Rockefeller Center! Japan was surely buying up the U.S. brick by brick. Archived Article
Pretty soon we’d all be speaking Japanese right? Wrong. The Japanese asset price bubble popped ( and their economy came crashing down. In fact most of Japan’s frenzy of buying up and investing in United States assets came just 2-3 years before the final collapse. Those “in the know” knew this was coming. They were buying and investing in anything they could OUTSIDE of Japan because there was literally no hope on the mainland.

Likewise, the Chinese economy these days is all the rage. And from where it began it’s come a long way. China’s GDP has risen rapidly over a short period of time (like Japan). Right now it sits at about half of the U.S. economy at around 8 trillion. However, this is no different than the rise of the Japanese or even the South Korean economy during their heydays.
If you look at the Japanese problems in the early 90’s and the current Chinese economy you’ll see some striking similarities. Currency appreciation, soaring asset prices, investing out of country rather than in, etc.

Now, each of these Asian economies have had their issues during their rapid rise. China, however has some pretty scarey and glaring problems. To start, their banking system is totally screwed. Check it out. The state runs the bank, the bank gives credit to state run companies to manufacture goods in large bulk. What happens when the world economy is down and no one is buying their cheap goods? Those state run companies don’t turn a profit and default on their state granted loans. In fact net domestic credit (state granted loans to state companies) is said to equal 140% of their GDP. They’re massively overleveraged. To make matters worse China doesn’t include any of this on their balance sheets. As the economy slows down this will become an even greater problem as the state will not be able to pump money into their banks to keep their state run businesses afloat.

A Chinese problem that Japan didn’t have to deal with is a massive social disruption. Foreign companies can’t afford to stay in China. They’re beginning to move their factories to places like Vietnam, Mexico, and Ethiopia. As jobs disappear and cash flow dries up what’s going to happen to China’s 1.3 billion people? Especially in China’s interior where it is the least developed. Civil unrest could reach epic proportions.

You can bet that the Chinese government is watching the current protests in Thailand intently. Likewise, the citizens of China are doing the same. In the past the Chinese government has used nationalism to divert the attention of the populace away from their current problems and toward countries like Japan and the U.S. They’ll most likely do the same in the near future. Look for China to get more aggressive towards her neighbors and for their businessmen to invest heavily outside the country. Those two signs alone will tell you more than “official state released economic numbers”.

Iran - How did we get here and where do we go?

Let’s do this a bit different. I want you to forget everything you’ve ever heard about Iran after the year 1953. As of now...none of it happened. So here’s what you know:

Let’s start with the rocks and dirt.
Geographically Iran sits within the greater middle east. It rests just below Mackinder’s Heartland and within Mahan’s debatable zone and Spykman’s Rimland. This positioning is unique in the fact that it has direct access to two of the worlds largest suppliers of energy. The Caspian Sea in the north and the Persian Gulf in the south. Pick your money maker. Oil/natural gas through the Caspian or oil/natural gas through the Persian Gulf. Most countries aren’t even lucky enough to have one. Iran has two.
Iran’s clearly defined borders be they mountain ranges or waterways has given them a unique protection over the centuries. This allowed them to develop and advance beyond anyone around them. Iran’s position on the map gives them access to an amazing amount of area. Iran gives access to the southwest into the Arab middle east, northwest into either Turkey or the Caucasus, southeast into India, or northeast into central Asia. The economic potential via trade routes or pipelines is staggering.

What about demographics?
Iran boasts a population of about 75 million. This puts them along with Turkey and Egypt as one of the 3 most populous nations in the greater middle east. On top of that they boast a near 92% literacy rate with over half the entire population is under 35 years old.
The majority of Iran is ethnically Persian although they do have a good amount of Kurds and Azeris in the north.
I think it’s notable that the majority of the ethnic Persians are basically in the western part of Iran. Facing mesopotamia. Tehran shares an ancient history with Baghdad. In fact if the lines were redrawn today I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Iranian line push all the way to ancient Babylon.

I could go on for 20 pages writing about the varius ins and outs of the Persian empires throughout history. But that wouldn’t be very...layman. I’ll try and do it quickly and hit on what I consider defines present day Iran.

….A long time ago….

The first great Persian empire was the Achaemenid dynasty under Cyrus the Great. Cyrus and the rest of his dynasty expanded the Persian Empire to the largest the world had ever seen at that time. They united the middle east and were known as liberators rather than conquerors. Forget the movie 300. The Persian Empire at the time was seen as the light of the world.

Eventually Alexander the Great would come and break the Persian back. A regime change here, a regime change there, and eventually the Persians were in charge of their own empire again...until the middle ages came and the Arab invasion happened. Under the Abbasid Caliphate the Iranians resisted Arabization and remarkably held onto their culture. Persia once again became the bright spot in the world in technology, culture, etc.

Eventually the barbaric hordes from the Steppe swept through and decimated everything in it’s path. Like all of Eurasia everyone crumbled to warlords like Genghis Khan, Hulagu, and Tamerlane. Again the durability of the Persian culture showed it’s power. Eventually the Turkic nomads from the Steppe came to settle in and assimilate into a Persian lifestyle.

The last dynasty to rule over Persia would bring her into the modern era. The Safavid dynasty led by Shah Ismail would come down from Azerbaijan and bring twelver Shiism along with them. From then on until WW1 the Persians would be engaged in eternal battle with the Ottoman Empire. During WW2 both Britain and the USSR would invade Iran to ensure a supply line from the sea to Allied troops. comes 1953
The bad blood between the U.S. and Iran started in the 1950’s. I’m going to “laymanize” this all out but it’s an incredibly complicated ordeal.

So it’s right after WW2. The world has survived a lunatic that wanted to take over the world. Unfortunately the USSR was right there to pick up where the Germans left off. It’s the beginning of the Cold War. Iran was deemed a critical geopolitical necessity for the United States. The USSR already has control of the “Heartland”. If they were to secure a warm water port and push into the “Rimland” the world would be theirs for the taking. Hitler’s goal would be realized through the Soviets.
So when Britain got into an oil dispute with Iran the United States feared the worst. Washington thought this dispute would sour Tehran to the entire west and turn her toward Moscow. A pre emptive action was decided upon. Washington would initiate a coup that would topple the Iranian Prime minister and put the pro U.S. Shah in control of the country. In Washington’s eyes this would guarantee that Iran would stay out of Communist control. The coup turned out successful and the Shah assumed authority.

Fast forward to 1979. This is what most of us remember. Iranian students protesting in the streets, ransacking the U.S. embassy, and overthrowing the Shah. Ayatollah Khomeini had been inciting revolt while he was in exile. He had the youth in such an uproar that they toppled the government and established a new Islamic Republic. The Ayatollah’s and mullah’s run the country to this day.
In the aftermath of the revolution Saddam Hussein would use the chaos to invade Iran. A brutal 8 year long war would ensue. To add insult to injury the U.S. would support both sides and watch them both simultaneously cripple themselves.

A new perspective
I’m writing all this so that maybe we can try and get a new perspective when we hear the current news involving Iran.

If we look at their geopolitical data we see huge possibilities. A country with a very valuable and strategic spot on the map. I would argue it’s the most valuable area in the entire middle east and central asia.
Their hydrocarbon potential alone makes them a major player. That coupled with their access to multiple land and sea trade routes makes them strategically more valuable than anyone around.

Iran’s people are very proud and come from a very rich history. Their culture is one of the most dominant throughout the entire world. They’ve never been considered an intolerant or maniacal society...until now. This to me says that the current reign of the Ayatollah’s and the mullah’s will come to an end. The Persian people are historically just too educated and cultured to allow a repressive regime that wields terror as their weapon to continue to rule.

Balance in this region should be the main goal. Russia and Iran are friendly at the moment but it really isn’t based on anything tangible. It’s a mutual agreement that they both will oppose U.S. policies. Russia and Iran have no reason to be allies. Russia is trying to strong arm everyone around them by using their oil and natural gas as leverage. Russia knows that Iran can break that leverage if sanctions are lifted and Iranian oil and gas is free to run into the Caucasus and on into Europe. How do you think Russia will feel towards Iran when Ukraine starts buying Iranian natural gas? Trust me, Russia LOVES the sanctions currently against Iran….although they’ll never come out and say that out loud.

Lifting sanctions will put a check on Russia. It’ll also make Turkey stop and look too. Turkey is on the rise. Friendly right now to the west but power eventually corrupts. Turkey has been the Persian nemesis ever since the Safavid Dynasty. Also, Iran is a perfect candidate to contain the legions of Sunni Islamic extremists. Theirs is a battle that began in the dark ages during the Arab invasion. Let them finish it.

Beyond lifting sanctions we need to do two things. First, we need to let Iran do what they want in Iraq. Historically it makes sense. They share an ancient history and I think their union is inevitable.
Second, we need to cede the fact that they’re eventually going to get a nuclear bomb. It’s another inevitability. Why even delay it? The Persian people have survived thousands of years by being smart and good governing. Do we really expect them to be suicidal and nuke Israel? North Korea has nuclear weapons. Why isn’t Japan threatening a pre-emptive strike? Because we stood in between and told Japan….don’t worry. We got this. If they attack you...they attack us! We need to tell Israel and Saudi Arabia the same damn thing. Not only that but make it very public.

Look, geopolitics often doesn’t reflect strong morality. It’s realism. The aftershocks of one crazy Austrian are still being felt today. WW2 was a major catastrophic event that sent the world into a race for world domination. Iran in the 1950’s was a horrible case of collateral damage. We made a geopolitical choice and have been dealing with the consequences ever since. Today, the geopolitical situation has changed. Thankfully it allows us to fix what we once broke.