End in a Slaughter

BERLIN | | iran

BERLIN (Own report) - German policy advisors are calling for closing western ranks in favor of possible military aggression against Iran. The attempts to "promote diplomatic solutions" in the so-called nuclear conflict with Teheran are "out of touch with reality," alleges an article in the latest issue of "Internationale Politik," the most influential magazine in the German foreign policy establishment. The "Iranian threat" stands beyond the logic of traditional policy. It is similar to "classical Greek tragedies," which "as a rule, end in a slaughter." Berlin should not refuse participating in the military campaign and must prepare the population for possible consequences, such as terror attacks on European targets or higher costs of gasoline. These demands are explicitly directed against a second tendency in Berlin's foreign policy, which sees Germany's interests better served by using cooperative means to gain influence (change through rapprochement). This viewpoint is primarily held by business circles interested in expanding, and do not appreciate having to forgo this business with Iran. As the circles promoting military engagement in the media are going on the offensive, tensions are rising at the Persian Gulf.

Assassination Attempts, Maritime Blockades

"The crisis over the Iranian nuclear program" according to a recent article in the specialized journal "Internationale Politik," could "possibly be approaching its decisive stage."[1] The "storming of the British Embassy" in Teheran as well as the "news of Israel's military preparations" point clearly toward escalation. "The truth of the matter is," according to the journal, the conflict has already become openly violent. The author reminds of the "conspicuous frequency of explosions in Iranian military installations" over the past few months as well as the "attempts on the lives of leading representatives of the Iranian nuclear weapons and missile programs." "Whoever is responsible for the planning and execution of these attacks - whether secret services or Iranian oppositional forces, or even a coalition of the two - is parting from the assumption that these programs can be interrupted, retarded or stopped with force." It is not out of the question that western countries will resort to "forms of official intervention using military means" most probably using "limited aerial attacks" or a "maritime blockade."

Closing Ranks

From the perspective of possible western military operations - even an Israeli nuclear first strike would "not be out of the question," according to the author - the article calls on the western powers to close ranks. One should stop "accusing the USA of seeking to implement a regime change in Teheran within the framework of a military intervention" - since Washington plans "merely" air strikes, but no invasion. "The ill-fated rhetoric (...) that military options are to be fundamentally excluded" must be stopped immediately. The author criticizes what he considers the German government's lack of bellicose rhetoric with an allegation that a "popular pacifist argumentation" has "even been adopted by the German foreign minister." This must cease. The German chancellor must absolutely prevent "single members of her cabinet from trying to make themselves a name with high publicity opposition to US military measures."[2] Berlin should rather be preparing public opinion for the fact that "sustainable sanctions against Iran could be expensive" in the near future, not only in terms of a growing danger of terror attacks in Europe, but also through losses in commerce with Iran and "higher costs of gasoline."

Business Interests

The article is explicitly attacking foreign policy positions "advocated for years by government advisory think tanks - in particular, those of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)," which, according to the author, has not been without a certain influence on German government policy. It is true that leading representatives of this federal chancellery financed institution have been pleading for taking a cooperative rather than confrontational approach toward Teheran. Just a few years ago, in his book "Partners, not Adversaries" Christoph Bertram, former SWP director, made a plea for "a different policy toward Iran."[3] His successor, Volker Perthes, takes similar positions. Positions, such as those formulated by SWP, enjoy the support of the sectors of German industry pursuing special interests in the Middle East, mainly in energy branch companies, as well as in the sectors of the machine and construction companies receiving oil and gas from Iran, or profitably exporting to that country. In the past, these branches' business associations have issued pleas for a less aggressive western policy toward Iran, to be better able to satisfy their interests for expansion within that country. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) The fact that the EU, in its policy toward Iran, has been reluctant to take up the USA's confrontational course is also an expression of influential German business circles' interests to expand.

Change through Rapprochement

In fact, the SWP, also in light of Washington's current war threats, is pleading for a clearly different approach toward Iran. According to a recently published SWP study, with its current policy, the West is "blocking" promising possibilities to gaining influence. Because relations with Iran are predominated by the dispute around its nuclear program, and "all other political means of influence have been subordinated" to this conflict, "all levels of dialog between the EU and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been suspended." This renders it impossible to make negotiated progress with Teheran, for example in regards to parliamentary elections in 2012 and the presidential elections in 2013. The SWP points to the highly diversified political elite in Iran, which "clearly surpasses the potentials of those regimes based solely on tribal and religious affinity or one-party systems" [5] - a clear allusion to the West's close allies, Saudi Arabia and the other dictatorships on the Arabian Peninsula, in whose political systems comparable elections are completely unknown. To be sure, one cannot expect that the elections in Iran will be free, according to the SWP, yet, since the repression in 2009, the regime has been under enormous domestic pressure to, at least, begin with the "renunciation of its subversion of democracy" of the past few years. This is where the West should apply its leverage to achieve progress.

Hard Times

Even though SWP focuses on securing Western influence in the Middle East, patterned after the "change through rapprochement" policy in relationship to the Eastern European socialist countries, this is insufficient for the fundamentally transatlantic oriented forces. "The 'Iranian threat'," writes the current edition of Internationale Politik, "has little in common with the Soviet threat; it resembles more the classical Greek tragedies."[6] "They begin with the protagonist's selfish activities and usually end in a slaughter." The approaching weeks and months will be "marked by appeals for tougher sanctions and deployment of military force." But it must be "verified, whether the inherent risks of escalation can be controlled." It is "certain" that "such considerations preoccupy the US chiefs of staff and those of the other countries." Berlin should, under no circumstances, "break ranks from the international" - meaning Western - "consensus." The author predicts "hard times."

Further information concerning German policy toward Iran can be found here: Lever for Destabilization, Traditional Role, Containment Course, Equilibrium rather than Exclusion, Anticipating a Coup, Lever for Destabilization (III), Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf, The Role of Propaganda, War Threats against Iran and War Threats against Iran (II).

[1], [2] Joachim Krause: Spiel mit dem Feuer; Internationale Politik 1/2012
[3] Christoph Bertram: Partner, nicht Gegner. Für eine andere Iran-Politik, Hamburg 2008
[4] see also Potenzial zum Partner
[5] Walter Posch: Ahmadineschad und die Prinzipalisten. Irans politische Rechte und die Perspektiven für einen neuen Elitenkompromiss, SWP-Studie S35, Dezember 2011
[6] Joachim Krause: Spiel mit dem Feuer; Internationale Politik 1/2012