CHAS FREEMAN: US-IRAN POST-ASSASSINATION — Prof Michael Brenner

Prof Michael Brenner
Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, USA
Honourary
International Advisor, Ground Report India

Amb Chas FREEMAN

"This was not a retaliation, as claimed, but the pre-planned exploitation of a pretext to assassinate a foreign official designated as an enemy as well as the commander of an Iraqi militia hostile to the United States. It was an act of war that will inevitably evoke reprisal. Iran has already promised that it will exact "savage" retribution for the murder of a senior official of its government by the United States. Major General Qasim Suleimani was the equivalent of the U.S. national security adviser or the commanders of CENTCOM, SOCOM, and SOCCENT. All are now potential Iranian targets. In Iraq itself, the followers of Abu Mahdi (Al Muhandis) in Kataeb Hezbollah will seek their own revenge. The fact that they are part of the Iraqi national security establishment and armed forces is not irrelevant. The Iraqi government, already under pressure to expel U.S. forces from their country, may now find it politically impossible not to do so. Kataeb Hezbollah is likely to be joined in its campaign against U.S. forces and officials in Iraq by other patriotic militias, including some historically hostile to both it and Iran.

The Iranian government seldom makes decisions in haste. It is the heir to one of the world's longest and greatest traditions of politico-military statecraft. It will make considered judgments as it calculates the appropriate asymmetric responses. If Tehran miscalculates, which is a very real possibility, the now open but low-intensity warfare between the United States and Iran will escalate. Those who, like Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and former U.S..national security adviser John Bolton, have long sought a war with Iran will get one. So will everyone else.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the timing of the attack was dictated by the turmoil in American domestic politics. It was preceded by three air strikes on elements of Kataeb Hezbollah for the death of a civilian contractor in Kirkuk. None of these air strikes was anywhere near Kirkuk. They bore the marks of a pre-planned operation looking for a pretext to launch. Just so with the assassination of General Suleimani and Commander Abu Mahdi (whose sobriquet is "Al Muhandis / the Engineer"). The charge that these two were planning attacks on American soldiers and officials could equally well be leveled at U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House officials, and U.S. military commanders at all echelons. At what time have such officials on both the Iranian and American sides not been planning such attacks? No concrete evidence has been put forward to justify preemptive defense againt an imminent attack on the United States.

The assassinations seem intended to appease neoconservative critics of President Trump as vacillating and weak in his response to Iranian ripostes to his policy of maximum pressure on Iran. They provide a welcome distraction from the pending impeachment proceedings and appeal to the bloodthirsty instincts of the president's most ardent supporters. They prepare the way for Mike Pompeo to offset his lack of diplomatic accomplishments with a demonstration of his ruthlessness to the "conservative" voters of Kansas, where he intends to run for the Senate. In the new constitutional order in the United States, in which the separation of powers has been replaced by the separation of parties, the attack was politically expedient despite its blatant violation of the clear language of the U.S. Constitution. The attack thus represents an extrajudicial execution that marks a further departure from constitutional government and the rule of law in the United States.

In foreign policy terms, this attack makes no sense at all. It is not a deterrent to Iran so much as a provocation. It pushes Iraq further into the arms of Iran and invites the humiliating expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq. It makes every American in Iraq a target for murder or hostage taking. It demonstrates to the world the overt amorality of U.S. policy and the indifference of the United States to the constraints of international law and comity, especially when the object of American hostility is Muslim. It is a strategy-free move, equivalent to beginning a game of chess with only an opening move in mind. It is thus a reminder to the word of the witless hubris and violence with which the United States now conducts its international relations.

Americans, once the most prominent proponents of international law as the regulator of relations between nations, have now fully validated the law of the jungle.  We are now likely to experience it."

About Author

Prof Michael Brenner, PhD

is a recognized authority on risk assessment & management, American foreign policy, and geopolitics. He is a "Fellow" of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations SAIS-Johns Hopkins.  He also is Emeritus Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He was the Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas until 2012.

His record of publication on a broad span of international issues is complementary to his extensive activities in the policy realm. He has been an advisor to the United States government, a consultant to global corporations, a prominent participant in the programs of leading Washington think tanks and a prolific commentator on public affairs.  He contributes essays regularly to the Huffington Post, the National Journal, and the Pakistani Spectator and also has written for al-Arabiya. Prof Brenner’s consulting includes the United States Departments of State and Defense, the Foreign Service Institute, Westinghouse Corporation and Mellon Bank.

Professor Brenner has worked in the energy field for 30 years. He directed a project on International Energy & Natural Resource Issues sponsored by the Exxon Educational Foundation that produced a series of 20 case studies. He contributed studies of the Persian Gulf Reflagging Crisis, Oil as a Coercive Instrument in the 1970s, United States – China Bilateral Nuclear Accord, and US-France Dealings in Nuclear Energy. In addition, he organized the Pittsburgh Energy Seminar while at the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs, was Rapporteur for the Conference on Technology Transfer: Government & Industry in the Energy Sector at M.I.T. In the environmental policy field, he has conducted research on environmental management issues at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (La Jolla), Natural Sciences Research Council (London), and the Center For International Affairs (Harvard University). He is the author of America’s Environmental Dilemma (Lexington Books) and The Scientific Advisory Function (Scripps Brenner is the author of numerous books, and over 70 articles and published papers on a wide range of topics.   His most recent works are:; Democracy Promotion and Islam; Fear and Dread In The Middle East (also translated into Arabic);; Toward A More Independent Europe  (Royal Institute of International Relations), Brussels), Narcissistic Public Personalities & Our Times..  His writings include books with Cambridge University Press (Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation), the Center For International Affairs at Harvard University (The Politics of International Monetary Reform);  Institute of International Affairs at Cornell University (The Functionalist Theory of European Integration); the Brookings Institution (Reconcilable Differences, US-French Relations In The New Era) and publications in major journals in the United States and Europe, such as World Politics, Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy, International Studies Quarterly, International Affairs, Survival, Politique Etrangere, and Internationale Politik. Prof Brenner has directed multinational research projects with colleagues in France, England, Germany and Italy supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, NATO and the Commission of the European Union.

Brenner is an invited lecturer at major universities and institutes in the United States and abroad, including Georgetown University, UCLA, the National Defense University, the State Department, Sorbonne, Ecole des Sciences Politiques, Royal Institute of International Affairs, International Institute of Strategic Studies (London), King’s College of the University of London, German Council on Foreign Relations, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and Universita di Firenze.

Brenner has held previous teaching and research appointments at Cornell, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Brookings Institution, University of California – San Diego, University of California – Berkeley, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National Defense University.  He also has been a Fellow of the Center on France & the United States in Paris.

His memberships include: APSA, ISA, IISS, Forum du Futur (Paris).

Prof Brenner is proficient in French and English.

  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
  • M.A. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A. Political Science, Summa Cum Lauda, Phi Beta Kappa , Brooklyne College – CUNY
  • Certificate, International Relations, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • About the author

    ---

    Leave a comment: