Since the election, President Obama has again embarked on the Washington establishment’s version of diplomatic coercion on Iran. It’s sometimes referred to as “dual-track.” Negotiations and a supposed grand bargain are in the works, but the administration continues to impose harsh economic sanctions and continues to issue well-publicized threats of the military option. You know, just in case Iran thinks we’re foolin’.
But the Obama approach to Iran has also been characterized by a change in policy towards the overall Persian Gulf. Obama’s ‘leading from behind’ strategy has essentially come to mean that Washington presses its allies to do more of it’s fighting. And that’s what Obama intends: with unprecedented amounts of weapons technology flowing to the Middle East, Washington is arming Arab dictators in the Persian Gulf with assurances that they will take part in any potential war against Iran.
Noting U.S. sales of air defense-penetrating F-16s and F-15s, satellite-guided bombs and a pending order for ordnance that can burrow deep and then explode, analysts say Gulf nations could participate in a U.S. air campaign to strike Iran’s nuclear sites.
These American-armed nations could either be part of an overall war plan or be forced to enter the battle once Iran counterattacks, as expected, with missile launches.
“It’s perfectly possible the UAE could be asked to try to bomb aircraft shelters, hardened aircraft hangars’ stockpiles, coastal missile sites that are hardened,” Mr. [Kenneth] Katzman [a Middle East analyst at the Congressional Research Service] said. “There are a range of targets that coalition partners like UAE could be asked to take out as part of strike package, if it comes to that.”
Embedded in the “dual-track” approach is the recognition that credible threats of military attack will force Iran to submission when presented with face-saving diplomatic alternatives. If you ask an Obama official, I’m sure they’d tell you that arming Arab autocrats to the teeth is meant only to demonstrate “credibility.”
“Our presence in Kuwait and throughout the Gulf helps advance the capabilities of partnering nations, deters aggression and helps ensure we’re better able to respond to crisis in the region,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters when visiting Kuwait last week.
And seriously, how could this go wrong?
The Arab monarchies have deep-seated hatred for Iran, for both religious and geo-political reasons. Arming them to a degree unequaled in any previous time, with the explicit purpose of challenging Iran militarily provides what Washington likes to call “stability.” Yes, that’s what they call it when the state employs the military industrial complex to weaponize ruthless Arab dictators, making Iran more guarded and conflict more likely. Stability.