Friday, January 21, 2005

US, Iran and grand strategy

Paul Rogers does a useful job in his column this week in a rapid summary of some major geopolitical issues relating to Iran (Tides of Victory, 20 Jan):

Iran is rapidly forging links with other major global players. In November 2004, Iran concluded a deal worth $70 billion over twenty-five years to export liquefied natural gas to China, a country that will soon be second only to the United States in its demand for imported oil.

More recently, the National Iranian Oil Company concluded an agreement with India worth $40 billion over a similar timescale. This also involves exports of liquefied natural gas, but in addition Indian contractors will be involved in developing two new natural gas fields in Iran and one new oil field.

The heart of the matter here is that a hyperpower must, by definition, prevail in the Old World (Eurasia plus Africa) as well as the New (the Americas). The United States is always – in the longer term – at risk of falling into a secondary role because of its peripheral geographical position with regard to more than five-sixths of humanity.

A basic driver in the coming showdown with Iran, therefore, is the intention to slow the process by which the US is marginalised by China, India and other old world states including Russia.

One of the near term indications of the degree to which this game is already in play may be more apparent when US-Israel launches air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

What air defense measures of Chinese, Russian and other origin will the Iranians have access to? Will they be effective and if so to what degree? (extensive, mountainous terrain will add to the challenges facing US-Israel) . Will the Iranians bring down a stealth bomber or two (as the Serbs did)?

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