Matching Grant Challenge
BruceMatch
We’re slowly making headway in our annual fund drive, but not nearly fast enough to meet our make-or-break goal.  On the bright side, a generous CounterPuncher has stepped forward with a pledge to match every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate.
 unnamed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Why the Saudi-Israel-French Alliance Fears US-Iran Rapproachment

Iran and the Axis of Anxiety

by PETER LEE

As US-Iran rapprochement inches toward at least partial consummation in Geneva, I wish to offer a few observations:

1) The Iran nuclear weapons threat has always been a McGuffin, an excuse for various powers to advance an anti-Iran agenda.

2)  Chief among the usual suspects is, of course, Israel under PM Netanyahu.  If the Israeli government is able to spin Iran as a nuclear (almost) capable existential threat to Israel, then Israel can make an absolute claim on US sympathy, support, and protection.  If Iran returns to good relations with the United States, the US will arguably become less willing to bear the sizable political, diplomatic, and economic cost of deferring to Israel’s priorities—on the Palestinian question, on regional security, and its obstinate refusal to acknowledge its nuclear arsenal and integrate it into the international arms control regime.

3)  The other regional power most interested in thumping the Iran-threat drum is Saudi Arabia.  However, I would argue that the high-profile anti-Iran stance of the Kingdom (probably symbolized but not necessarily created by the notorious Prince Bandar) has little to do with the threat of “Iran hegemonism” (a canard frequently retailed in the big-name press) and a lot to do with Saudi Arabia’s decision to go pro-active against the popular democratic agitation expressed by the Arab Spring uprisings by supporting conservative Sunni theology and governance, not just in Shi’ite inflected countries like Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, but also in nations like Libya (where Saudi Arabia and its creature, the Gulf Co-Operation Council were the primary motive force in demanding intervention against Gaddafi) and Egypt.  It’s easy for Saudi Arabia to piggyback on the anti-Iran campaign promoted by the US and Israel and cite Iranian subversion as a pretext for the campaign of conservative Sunni rollback; if Iran is removed from the league table of existential enemies subverting the Sunni heartland, Saudi Arabia is left in the exposed position of protecting Wahhabi obscurantism against liberal democracy.  That’s not a happy place to be.

4)  Western observers have been rather surprised by France’s unapologetic sabotage of the Iran nuclear negotiations in Geneva at Israel’s behest.  I saw some left-of-center complaining that France’s motivation was the greedy desire to muscle in on the lucrative Saudi arms business.  Perhaps, but I think the strategic nature of French involvement should be emphasized.  Recall that France’s traditional sphere of influence in the Middle East has been the Levant—that chunk of coastline that includes southern Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon.  France claims a paternal interest in the bloody, fascistic and pro-Israeli antics of the Lebanese Maronite community, a Catholic grouping whose origins date back to the Crusades that is perhaps the most conspicuous legacy of the French enthusiasm for meddling in the Middle East.  Before Syria blew up, France was at the center of an initiative to install Bashar al-Assad in the affections of the West.  Also, recall that the Libyan adventure was a creature of French enthusiasm; that France was also easily the most eager advocate of a US military strike on Syria after somebody crossed President Obama’s gas warfare red line.  With the United States displaying a desire to tilt toward Iran, if only a little bit, the Middle East jigsaw puzzle has been shaken up and France has the best potential of any Western power to shape and profit from the new alignment.  We can justifiably bitch about France carrying Israel’s water, but if the US pivots toward Asia, as it has promised, there is a strong case for redefining the Arab Middle East as a Mediterranean construct, with France playing the role of keystone (and Iran scolder-in-chief).  If Iran wants a European ally, well, Germany is probably there for the asking.

Peter Lee edits China Matters. His ground-breaking investigation into the NSA, The NSA and Its Enablers, appears in the October issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at: chinamatters (at) prlee. org.