There have been frequent media reportage overseas about possible U.S military actions against Iran recently. And Iran, on its part, with an unwillingness to be outdone or subdued, has held military exercises for a tit-for-tat gesture, and pitch-dark clouds of war are looming large over the Gulf region. So the attitude of the U.S. government, the arch "operator" of war and peace globally, is the most crucial.
The Bush administration, nevertheless, still adheres to its stance of combining negotiations and non-abandonment of the use of force. Moreover, apart from stepping up sanctions against Iran, it has not yet released any reliable information for outsiders to mull over. So people really do not know what the administration has intentionally been up to?
In fact, overseas press reports have remained focused on such "old, cut-and-dried topics" concerning U.S. possible ways of striking at Iran and with only a few in-depth, analytical articles on the U.S. domestic policies. Although the ways of strike can arouse the interest of readerships, the vital factor to decide on any military action, however, rests with the U.S. government's recognition of its choice of strategic space.
What has exactly determined the choice of policy by the U.S. government? And this is the judgment that has to be made only after "one knows not only one's self but also one's rival." To date, the original Iranian nuclear enrichment issue has been transferred to a still more wide-ranging Iranian problem, which comprises the follow-ups of the Iranian nuclear enrichment program, the country's involvement of Iraqi reconstruction and firm resistance to the U.S.' "Great middle East Initiative"project. And all these have imbued the United States with a sense of urgency to overpower Iran.
The U.S., however, is worried about an insufficient support from its allies, soaring global oil price, a growing hatred of Iranians for it, an inability of air strikes to tackled problems at roots and deteriorating turmoil in Iraq. And these are precisely the interior factors to contain military actions, whereas the exterior factors for military action, nevertheless, remain the same as in the past.
As far as the U.S. government is concerned, it is still not easy for President Bush to brave a showdown with Iran even he is unencumbered by pressures of re-election. Checking an inventory of his diplomatic gains and losses over recent years, Bush takes the preliminary settlement of the issues concerning Libya and the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue as his greatest feats and the launch of Iraq war as the gravest loss. His administration knows clearly that firing of the first shot is by no means a trivial matter after all, no mater how big the scale of action would be, despite the capability of the U.S. forces to launch military actions again.
In fact, Bush now has enough political assets to account for his mission, and there is isn't any need for him to make more risks for a complete settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue; he can deemed to win a victory over Iran so long as he orients the issue correctly with gain outweighing the loss. And for those Republicans, who have been peeping at the "presidential throne", they, too, very much want to keep this "substantial" asset. Consequently, the adoption of peaceful means constitutes the sole choice of weakening Iran's resistance forces. In so doing, the U.S. resolve is shown not only to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but to avert itself from being bogged down from an impasse again.
Indeed, there are also conditions available for "verbal struggles". The magic power for the U.S. to make its tough, die-hard opponents bend over and comprise is to enlarge the ranks of its alliance and impose all-round sanctions against them.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, or September 25, approved legislation to strengthen economic sanction against Iran. The house voted 397-16 in favor of a plan to block foreign investment in Iran and specifically bar Bush from removing sanctions against the country. Among other measures, it would also block the import of Iranian goods. At the same time, the House appealed to the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.
As the measure was passed with an overwhelming 397 to 16 vote, it is extremely difficult for Bush to veto it, even if he wants to do so, say some U.S. political analysts. At present, sanctions can add difficulties to Iranians and proceed to lower Ahmadinejad's support rate among his people while not hampering with his unbridled publicity for the time being.
Moreover, the U.S will go on taking the advantage of its arms sale to the Middle East to check the expansion of the Shiites forces and step up the mutiny of the opposition and to induce the reaction of populace in Iran. And special efforts will be made to unite more countries for the imposition of complete, all-round sanctions against Iran.
As for US Vice-President Dick Cheney's repeated remarks for military actions against Iran, it had something to do with his world outlook and also a demand from his role as the vice-president. It has also been learned that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has turned increasingly tough with her attitude toward Iran. Ahmadnejad was denied by the New York police a request to visit the Word Trade Center ruins of the Sept. 11 attacks while he was in the city for a UN General Assembly Session recently. And Bush is said to favor the decision of the NY City government in this regard.
All the above-mentioned circumstances only represent a psychological weapon to be invoked after an objective to keep up pressures on Ahmadnejad and prompt the U.S. allies to increase the intensity of their sanctions against Iran. In each official statement of its position, the U.S. government reiterates its principle of priority on negotiations, which has apparently indicatee its primary choice at present. Whether or not military action can be averted, it will eventually hinge on the follow-up moves of all parties concerned.
By Liu Weidong, associated research fellow of the Institute of American Studies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and translated by People's Daily Online