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Biden’s secret support for Iran America is far from Israel's best friend

Biden speaks with Jewish community leaders following America's nuclear deal with Iran (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Biden speaks with Jewish community leaders following America's nuclear deal with Iran (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


June 4, 2024   12 mins

This past Memorial Day, as Americans honoured their war dead, the Biden administration was running interference for an Iranian regime whose Supreme Leader has described “death to America” as his official state policy. A report in the day’s Wall Street Journal described how the US was “pressing European allies to back off plans to rebuke Iran for advances in its nuclear programme”. This followed a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that assessed Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to more than 30 times the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal — enough to produce three to four nuclear weapons within a week, according to experts.

Theoretically, the news should have troubled officials in Washington, who often still speak as if they oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue states that vow to destroy the US-led international order. So why, then, did the US block the effort led by its allies France and England to censure Iran? For the same underlying reason that has motivated White House policy since October 7: The Biden administration sees Iran as America’s main partner in the Middle East and the lynchpin of US grand strategy.

Washington’s de facto alliance with Iran, which began under the Obama administration and was revived by Biden, is the central fact of US foreign policy today. Iran is the decisive factor in most decisions the US makes in the region, including in relation to Israel. Yet White House officials know that stating this directly would create a public-relations disaster. Alas, most Americans stubbornly reject the idea of aligning their country with the Khomeinist state that has killed more than a thousand of their fellow citizens and continues to attack US soldiers and call for their deaths. Indeed, existing policies such as airlifting billions of dollars in cash to Iran and using taxpayer money to subsidise Iranian proxy forces, including Hezbollah and Hamas, would be decidedly unpopular if the government actually acknowledged them.

To get around this problem, US officials conceal the main axis of their strategy behind a veil of misdirection and innuendo. Is it an irony that America’s ruling party used deliberate deception to advance its project of US-Iranian alliance, as its leaders led a new crusade to prosecute “Disinformation”? No, it is a political strategy following the old maxim that the best defence is a good offence.

It was Obama who first envisioned a strategic “realignment” that would clean up the mess left by the Bush administration’s failed wars in the Middle East. The US occupation of Iraq — rather than empowering peaceful, democratic forces across the region as Bush advertised — had mainly benefitted Iraq’s neighbour, the Shia theocracy of Iran. In the Eighties, under the leadership of the Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq fought a war of attrition with Iran in which more than 1 million people were killed, including more than 100,000 civilians. It was the longest conventional war of the 20th century and one of the most brutal, with chemical weapons attacks by Iraq, numerous massacres of civilians, and Iran using children to clear minefields. When it ended, the war left significant divisions between Iraq’s majority Arab Shia population and the ethnically Persian Shia regime of Iran. It was only after American occupation forces disbanded Iraq’s Sunni Baathist government in 2003, triggering a spiral of insurgency and civil war, that policy makers in DC started to see Iran as the key to restoring order in the country.

In addition to former Baathists and Sunni jihadists, the Iraqi insurgency included a large number of Shia militias funded by Iran, some of them operating as direct proxies of the Iranian Quds Force. Given the proper incentives, the Americans reasoned, Iran could muzzle those groups and direct them to stop attacking American soldiers. More broadly, it was thought that Iran could play a crucial role in stabilising Iraqi politics by backing the leaders who Washington selected to run Iraq’s new democratically elected government. “To quickly make a government we allowed Shia exiles and Iranian proxies into the Iraqi government and turned a blind eye to Iran’s control of the Iraqi state,” writes Joe Kent, a former Green Beret who did multiple tours in Iraq before returning to the US and entering conservative politics where he advocates pulling American troops out of the Middle East.

Thus, despite Tehran’s ideological devotion to killing Americans and annihilating Israel, which has never dimmed, the belief in its value as a strategic partner grew within the US foreign policy elite. The moment to realise the idea arrived after Obama won re-election in 2012 and could pursue his most ambitious designs without worrying about voters. The Iran deal, which Obama saw as the centrepiece of his legacy, became the main priority of his second term. By the time the White House, led by its Iran envoy Robert Malley, began public negotiations in 2013 for the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), US officials had already been making secret entreaties to Tehran for several years.

Under the auspices of preventing Iran from getting the bomb, the Obama administration set about weakening its former allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two countries that had been the main pillars of America’s security architecture in the Middle East were now seen as obstacles due to their opposition to the US embrace of Iran. To deal with them, the Obama administration went on the attack. The White House spied on members of Congress who it suspected of coordinating with Israeli officials to oppose the Iran deal, a move that, in 2015, still looked like an unprecedented use of the US intelligence agencies in partisan politics. On another track, the State Department funded Israeli non-profit groups working to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, exceptional generosity was being shown to Iran. Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, repeatedly blocked the FBI from arresting Iranian terrorists in order to protect the JCPOA, according to agency whistle-blowers. In a leaked email between two FBI agents from 2015, one complains: “We are all beside ourselves on asking the field to stand down on a layup arrest, however as it stands right now we all have to sit back and wait until the US and Iran negotiations resolve themselves.”

To stifle criticism at home, the administration used friendly mouthpieces in the press to smear anyone opposed to the pro-Iran realignment as a neocon trying to drag America into another war. In the softer voice that Obama deployed in the rare, carefully selected moments when he articulated his strategy, he insisted that boosting Iran would be good for the whole region, including the Israelis, by forcing everyone to get along. This would produce a new geopolitical “equilibrium” Obama told The New Yorker in 2014, between “Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare”.

“To stifle criticism at home, the administration used friendly mouthpieces in the press to smear anyone opposed to the pro-Iran realignment as a neocon.”

Obama’s comments were made in the midst of the Syrian civil war, but some months before active warfare broke out in Yemen between Iran’s Houthi proxy and the Saudis. Nothing that happened, however, neither Assad’s gas attacks in Syria nor Iran’s increasingly aggressive use of its proxy forces, shook his prevailing faith in the new US-made Middle East. If anything, Iranian military expansionism seemed to redouble Obama’s commitment, as came across in his statements from a press conference in December of 2015, where he spoke of allowing “the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected”. In other words, American power would now defend Iran’s right to proxy armies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, so long as they operated within the US regional framework, which set limits on the acceptable levels of violence and terrorism.

Volatile contradictions inherent in Obama’s progressive imperial order stoked a backlash against the realignment and presented a technical problem. How should the White House deal with critics who threatened to undermine their plan for transforming the Middle East? The answer Obama chose was to embrace offensive information operations, otherwise known as mass propaganda, as a legitimate tool of domestic politics.

“We created an echo chamber,” Obama’s former Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, admitted in 2016 to the writer David Samuels. Coasting off the cultish enthusiasm for Obama among America’s progressive elites, the White House recruited non-profit groups and friendly press outlets to lend a false air of independent credibility to administration talking points. Still a relatively new technology at the time, social media proved immensely important in achieving this effect. Twitter synchronised the various narrative purveyors in the echo chamber, connecting them to the public and to each other in a feedback loop that translated political agendas into “objective news”.

It is not too dramatic to say that the Iran deal echo chamber inaugurated a new era of American politics driven by party-directed propaganda. It established the informational networks that allowed the Democratic Party to repeat the formula in the future. And indeed, this is precisely what has happened, in a pattern recurring at increasingly frequent intervals ever since: in, to name but a few, the false claims that Russia “hacked” the US election to anoint Donald Trump, that Hunter Biden’s laptop was an act of Russian disinformation, and most recently in relation to Gaza.

In the context of pervasive, party-directed attempts to control politics through messaging, let’s examine the current US role in the Middle East and the Israel-Hamas war. The official story goes like this: Joe Biden came into office as the greatest friend Israel ever had, a Zionist so committed to the cause he would have personally invented Israel if the Jews hadn’t come up with the idea first. A champion of the Abraham Accords, Biden was pushing to expand them by bringing Israel into a historic new treaty with Saudi Arabia. If there was a criticism of Biden, it was that in his enthusiasm for Israel’s security and the prospect of Arab-Israeli peace he had neglected the Palestinians, who, fearing they might be cast forever off the historical stage, sought to regain the world’s attention by lashing out in the regrettable actions of October 7. But once the war started, it was back to point one with Biden offering maximum support to his stalwart ally Israel.

So far so good for the US-Israeli “special relationship”. But then the Israelis went mad, abandoning any winnable military strategy in order to brutalise the Palestinians like Old Testament fanatics. Perhaps this was a manifestation of the same inherent extremism that had placed Israel’s government in the hands of theocratic fascists. What was clear in any event was that Biden, despite his eternal commitment to the Jewish state, would have to uphold America’s honour by punishing Israel and withholding US support from its war crimes. Moreover, Israel was pushing the entire world to the brink of World War Three as its irresistible lobby in Washington tried to drag the US into a war with Iran. And just what did the Israelis think they could accomplish? Everyone knows that killing terrorists only creates more of them and that there is no way to kill an idea. So, to rescue Israel from itself while also extending America’s moral protection to the Palestinians, the White House has worked towards a ceasefire that will free the hostages and create the conditions for a lasting peace. That peace will of course take the form of the long-sought after two-state solution, which will also solve the problem of Hamas, the organisation that can’t be destroyed, by absorbing its surviving members into a government led by the moderate Palestinian authority. The final realisation of this peace process will fulfil the aspirations of Palestinians, deradicalise the remnants of Hamas, and make Israel along with the entire Middle East, safer and more secure.

You have likely heard some or all of these claims since October 7. Many of them are not presented as claims at all but as axiomatic expressions of objective fact. Yet every assertion made in the preceding two paragraphs is either comprehensively false or twisted to misrepresent the US position in the Middle East. Let us take them in turn.

Joe Biden, rather than being Israel’s best friend, is the leader of a global empire that is simultaneously funding Israel, Hamas and the other Iranian proxies with whom Israel is at war. As the leader of the empire, Biden manages (to the best of his mature ability) a portfolio of client states in the Middle East that includes Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia along with a parallel portfolio reserved for its strategic partner Iran and Iran’s subsidiary “equities” in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. The US pumps money into both portfolios. It funds Iranian terror proxies such as Hezbollah through cut-outs and targeted sanctions relief that Iran exploits to launch attacks and strengthen its regional power. Recently, the US spent $1 billion building a massive new embassy complex in Beirut. The exorbitantly expensive project makes no logical sense until one appreciates that its purpose is to signal America’s commitment to Iran’s main regional proxy and create a slush fund that can be used to pay Hezbollah. Hamas, too, represents an Iranian “equity” as Tehran has become the main funder and backer of the Palestinian group and helped it to plan and orchestrate the October 7 attack. Though you will never hear a White House official state this directly, the reality is that US policy toward Iran and toward Hamas are inseparable.

“Joe Biden, rather than being Israel’s best friend, is the leader of a global empire that is simultaneously funding Israel, Hamas and the other Iranian proxies with whom Israel is at war.”

Whereas Biden officials reject any efforts to force new leadership on Tehran, they show no qualms about using regime change tactics to unseat the Netanyahu government in Israel. “I really think that most Israelis do not want America to stay out of their business,” the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said in February of last year after Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli’s criticised Nides for meddling in Israel’s domestic politics.

Prior to October 7, the US pressured Israel to accept “regional integration” — the term used by Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan — with Iranian proxies like Hezbollah — the idea being that if America just puts everyone on the payroll, friends and foes alike, it can buy quiet. After October 7, the US is still pushing the same approach. Despite Biden’s gushing proclamations of support for Israel, his actual policy has focused on preserving the US-Iranian condominium in the Middle East. That is why on October 8, while Israel was still battling with pockets of Hamas operatives who had infiltrated inside its territory, Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. It is also why the US is now pressuring Israel to accept integration with Hamas, whose members US officials insist must be included in a new Palestinian government.

The popular notion that Biden championed the Abraham Accords is a farcical inversion of the truth. In reality, Biden was so opposed to Trump’s signature foreign policy legacy that US officials could not even use the term during the first year of his administration. Rather than ignoring the Palestinians, the Biden administration pointedly attempted to recentre them. Whereas the whole premise of the Accords had been that Arab-Israeli peace could advance independent of a political settlement with the Palestinians, Biden reversed this. The much-touted Biden initiative to bring Israel into a new partnership with Saudi Arabia was contingent on the Israelis first accepting a “peace” deal with the Palestinians. The entire thrust of Biden foreign policy has been to undo the significant successes of the Trump era and resurrect Obama’s progressive imperium. Immediately after taking office, Biden lifted sanctions on Iran and took the Houthis, Iran’s proxy force in Yemen, off of the US terrorism watch list. Where Trump had cut funding to the Palestinians because it was being used to fund terrorism, Biden immediately reversed this with an aid package that included $150 million for the UNRWA, the United Nations organisation whose facilities and members are enmeshed with Hamas in Gaza.

Of course, it is legitimate to argue that Biden did not go far enough in his support for the Palestinian cause, but that is not the claim that one hears made. Rather, the charge is that Biden continued Trump’s sin of marginalising the Palestinians and thus provoked their sense of desperation that led to the October 7 attack. But this is flatly contradicted by all available evidence. If being side-lined was the proximate cause of Palestinian terrorism, we would have seen attacks during the Trump years. Instead, Trump’s term brought a period of relative peace in the Middle East, including for Israelis and Palestinians. There were no Israel-Hamas wars under Trump. By contrast, the first Israel-Hamas war of the Biden administration took place months after he entered office, after his many generous overtures toward Iran and the Palestinians, and we are now on the second war of his administration. A great many people of various ideological persuasions are involved in a furious effort to rewrite this history and suggest that there was barely any difference in the foreign policies of the two most recent US administrations. A reasonable person may ask themselves a simple question: Does the world under President Joe Biden appear more or less chaotic and violent than it did under President Donald Trump?

Israel is not wantonly brutalising the Palestinians as an exercise in cruelty. It is fighting a particularly brutal form of urban warfare against an enemy that had more than a decade to prepare a fortified defence with the financial subsidy and support of the “international community”. The horrific scenes from Gaza resemble the scenes from Mosul where US and Iraqi forces fought a similarly brutal war to liberate the city from Isis. The images of devastation from Mosul, where more than 10,000 civilians were killed in the fighting and half of the city was razed, are not as well-known because the Moslawis are not a global empathy trigger. Recent history shows that, in fact, a terrorist group can be destroyed in a particular time and place, but only at a truly harrowing cost.

When senior Biden administration officials tell reporters that they “have to be honest about the fact that Hamas will remain in Gaza in some form after the war is over”, they are being anything but honest. The purpose of such statements is not to describe reality but to telegraph the supposed inevitability of the end state that their own policies —stopping arms sales to Israel, accusing it of war crimes, demanding that it leave Hamas in Rafah — are intended to achieve. The White House insistence on a two-state solution led by the Palestinian Authority, a proposal almost as unpopular with Palestinians as it is with Israelis, is promoted under the humanitarian auspices of granting a people their “rights”, but simply extends the US imperial strategy of “regional integration”. Historically, this is what great powers do. They divide the world’s lesser countries as spoils. The lesser countries would be wise to bear this in mind.

Rather than escalating toward a Third World War with Iran, the aim of American power projection in the Middle East is to preserve Iran’s ability to act as a hegemonic stabiliser. The flaw in this aim is that Iran possesses no such ability and that its leaders are guided by an ideology that violently rejects the very idea of doing so. Yet that has not dissuaded successive Democratic administrations from trying. And why not, when they will never have to pay for their own failures as long as they have the “herd immunity of the ruling class” to protect them from the consequences of their own failures?

It will be a mystery for future historians to ponder how the leaders of the most powerful country in the history of the world could have so recklessly squandered its power in such obviously wasteful pursuits. The analogy that gets closest, to my mind, comes, not from looking at past US wars and foreign policy mistakes but at the Covid pandemic. Secretly funding the Iranian empire on the premise that it would make the world more peaceful is the equivalent of secretly funding Gain of Function research to engineer super deadly viruses at a Chinese bioweapons laboratory on the premise that it would make Americans safer.

“You got a win. Take the win,” Biden told the Israelis in April immediately after Iran launched more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles at them. In a phone call, Biden explained to Netanyahu that since the attack had stayed within the proper limits, the US would not support Israel attacking Iran in response. One further relevant detail was provided in a Reuters report: The Iranian attack on Israel had received approval from Washington on the condition that it “must be within certain limits”.

Israel is not a passive victim in this scenario. Neither are any of the other US client states in the Middle East and other parts of the world who have accepted American backing on American terms. It is the empire that sets the rules and America has exercised its prerogative to change them. What is beyond question, though, is that when the US refers to the “rules-based international order”, it means an order in which Iran will maintain its pride of place. As Antony Blinken reportedly told Israeli officials about why they should accept a new US ceasefire proposal that would keep Hamas in power, it offers “the possibility for further integration in the region”.


Jacob Siegel is Senior Writer at Tablet Magazine

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

The Obama and Biden appeasement of Iran is both dangerous and baffling. Iran is a much bigger threat than Russia and China because it is run by a deranged theocracy. Russia and China may be aggressive and expansionist, but they will act in their rational self interest. Religious zealots are irrational. They don’t value life in the same way.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

100%. And bravo to this author! Biden is a nasty bigot and a moral coward whose litany of foreign policy failures make Chamberlain look truly great. The policy of blind appeasement of the terror state Iran started by him and the weedy pushover Obama and EU/UK has been a total catastrophe for the world order, matching only the dumb disastrous economic appeasement of China by Clinton – letting the hungry wolf into the West’s economic chicken coop- and again the spineless EU and UK. Democrats dance with Devils. Israel is not alone in paying the price of their madness.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Chamberlain, a blind appeaser? Who announced the start of WW2?

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
1 month ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Give me a break. He sold out the Czechs because he thought it would work. Only when Germany violated the Munich agreement did he start to realize his error and create a redline over Poland which to his credit he honored. He has the virtue of at least having learned from his error. When the war broke out he wrote to his sister “My life’s work is in ashes.” But to deny his role as a master appeaser is absurd.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Re: Chamberlain’s infamous “Peace in our time” sacrificing Czechoslovakia to Hitler. I have heard the suggestion that Chamberlain was buying time while an ill-prepared Britain began rearming, knowing that war would come and he would be branded as a foolish appeaser. In other words, in this theory, Chaomberlain deliberately sacrificed his future political career in the national interest. And of course, it was Chamberlain who declared war in September 1939.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barnett

This is too kind and plain wrong. The Czechs in 1938 could have given the unready Wehrmacht a bloody nose. The German High Command were deeply unhappy with Hitler’s wild gambit. But Chamberlain and the French panicked and sold them out. They were not worth the bones of a single Grenadier. Utterly shameful. Biden is his natural heir, pumped up with the same vanity, yawning weakness and lack of true (Churchillian) statemanlike strength.

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think that’s nonsense. Were the Iranians a bunch of religious zealots indifferent to their & their nations safety, then how do you account for their relatively measured responses to the Soulemani assassination and, more pertinently, Israel’s recent attack on their consulate in Damascus?

Their recent drone & missile retaliation showed they could successfully strike some of the most heavily defended targets on the planet. Were they the nutjobs you state, wouldn’t they be using that knowledge to rain down all hell on Israel or the numerous bases of the Great Satan in the gulf? What’s stopping them if it’s not rational self interest?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

That’s fair. It’s also true they are motivated by a deeply held religious imperative that doesn’t exist for other nations, which makes it less predictable.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sorry, but “fear” is more precisely than “fair”.
A D Kent, Dermot O’Sullivan, quoted by them ex British ambassador and Mearsheimer are an example of the same type of stupid cowardice like Biden.
Trump did not threaten anyone with war, he simply allowed the Iranian killer and 200-400 Russian mercenaries in Syria to be squashed. Let me suggest that the characters I mentioned were squealing in fear at these moments, but the formidable geniuses of world evil sat, as they say in Russian, quietly like a mouse under a broom. No one even blathered about any world war, but with the arrival of peacemaker Biden, America is confidently becoming an object of world politics.
Obama’s dream of subordinating the United States to the UN is coming true.

Doug Israel
Doug Israel
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

They are revolutionary and adangerous religious fanatics who are enemies of the West. They aren’t bezerkers who cannot act rationally in tactical situations. Strengthening them as a policy is madness.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Because the Iranian regime leaders are intelligent and know how to play the long game in pursuit of their ultimate goals.

And the Obama and Biden regime leaders are unintelligent and do not have any idea of history or strategy—Blinken, Sullivan, and Obama, H Clinton and Kerry before them are the embodiments of Dunning-Kruger when it comes to great power politics.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

the ‘rational self interest’ though doesnt rule out the fact that murderous thugs often make stupid mistakes. i wouldnt overestimate their intelligence. It didnt end well for Adolf or Saddam.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

At least in Adolf’s case, he could have come to the same end in 1936 at far less cost had the British and French understood what they were dealing with and acted accordingly—when he remilitarized the Rhineland and nullified Versailles with a few motorcycle battalions,
and they did nothing.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It becomes less baffling when you remember who Obama is. He’s the guy who talked of “fundamental transformation,” as if enacting that on the world’s biggest economy and lone superpower could be a good thing.

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

From what I can gather, there are plenty of religious zealots in Israel as well, how about rebuilding the temple on the Mount and tear down that mosque. Or the Christian zealots in the US, let’s bring on Armageddon. The nut cases are everywhere, they can’t wait for Trump to come back and then we can have the “final conflict” and we’ll all be saved. What a freak show.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

The purpose of the Iraq-Iran war from a US point of view was to get the two emerging military powers opposed to Israel to fight each other rather than attack Israel. Arms manufacturers took note: profits could be made from a military stalemate.
Considering US policy in the Middle East since 2000 from the viewpoint of maximising arms sales, everything makes more sense.

Leigh A
Leigh A
1 month ago

“As Antony Blinken reportedly told Israeli officials about why they should accept a new US ceasefire proposal that would keep Hamas in power, it offers “the possibility for further integration in the region”.”

So Blinken wants the exact same thing as all those student protesters – the elimination of Israel and creation of a single Palestinian state that ‘integrates’ Muslims, Jews and Christians? Yes, I’m sure Israelis will be thrilled to be ‘integrated’ into a majority Muslim society that has spent the past 75 years seeking their extermination. And I’m sure Biden, Blinken and the other ‘experts’ in the current administration will be brought to justice when the inevitable genocide of the Jews occurs, yet again.

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
1 month ago

Actually the US does not want to be dragged into another (middle-eastern) war. Israel desperately wants it. Iran isn’t interested in a war either. No adult would.
It is that simple.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago
Reply to  Edwin Blake

Wars provide great cover for tax-money laundering.

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Absolutely. However there is a limit and Israel and Ukraine has satiated the oligarchy for now.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  Edwin Blake

“The US” a whole may not want war but a lot of people who speak in its name do.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Edwin Blake

Yet Iran funds and trains Hamas.

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
1 month ago
Reply to  Edwin Blake

Portraying Israel as the warmonger in the region and not the terrorist government in Iran sure is a hot take.

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago

 Interesting article, but I’m afraid that the authors case is rather weak. There are plenty of counterfactuals that he might have considered here regarding Biden & Obama’s alleged support for Iran – chief amongst these is what they got up to in Syria.

Has Siegel not heard of Operation Timber Sycamore? That’s the Obama era CIA programme of funnelling billions of dollars to support what they, despite all evidence, insisted on calling Syrian Rebel forces. They well knew that the anti-Assad forces were, in very short order, dominated by foreign jihadi extremists, but still they continued to train and arm them. What does Seigel think they were hoping to do there if not weaken an Iranian proxy? Siegel does know that Biden’s troops are currently occupying a third of Syria doesn’t he? What about the continued murderous ‘Caesar Sanctions’?

The reason why Obama didn’t intervene militarily directly following what Siegel refers to as ‘Assad’s gas attacks’ was not because he favoured Iran, it was because he knew the US had evidence that the ‘rebels’ were behind the 2013 Ghotta attack and that all the subsequent allegations were bogus. Since then Ian Henderson & Brendan Whelan, to heroic OPCW whistleblowers, have shown what a charade the West’s accusations were. See Seymour Hersh’s ‘The Red Line and The Rat Line’ on Ghouta and Peter Hitchens on most of the later allegations. If Siegel is not aware of these facts, he’s not been paying proper attention.

A much more convincing case could be made for US policy in West Asia being a mess of, often opposing, policies instigated by the various competing agencies, corporations and oligarchs of their Blob. That this is all down to some active support from Biden & Obama is just not credible.

Beyond that any analysis of the geopolitical role of Iran that doesn’t even mention the likes of China and Russia can only really be partial.  

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Keeping countries unstable and insecure serves two purposes for the deep state: (1) insecure countries make willing clients of powerful countries (2) Wars and arms sales are great cover for laundering the skimming of tax-money.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

At least this guy is more subtle than Luttwak, who would have the US embroiled in a hot war with Iran. The ex British ambassador’s interview here and Mearsheimer’s talk to the CIS on YouTube are the more sensible (and realistic) comments I have come across in recent days.

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago

Can I also recommend ex-UK diplomat Alastair Crooke on this (and everything) – Unherd ought to drop him a line. Here’s his latest:

https://strategic-culture.su/news/2024/06/03/the-coming-novus-ordo-seclorum-change-we-must-there-is-no-choice/

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 month ago

The motivation and absolute determination of the foreign policy establishment and the democrats, with Obama in the wings, to destroy Trump becomes clearer every day.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel P

To destroy America

Micheal MacGabhann
Micheal MacGabhann
1 month ago

The US is a world power. They have to play many games. Israel is a minor game, noisy, but a minor game, troublesome and errant.

D. Gooch
D. Gooch
1 month ago

I’m a big believer in the notion that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. There is much to criticize with Obama and Biden foreign policy toward Iran but I see little evidence in this report to substantiate the extraordinarily conspiratorial allegation that “ The Biden administration sees Iran as America’s main partner in the Middle East and the lynchpin of US grand strategy.”

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  D. Gooch

Okay. How many instances of stupidity must occur before you start to consider that they’re not accidental outcomes but intentional ones? Four years ago, the Abraham Accords were being signed. The US made good on a decades-long pledge to site its embassy in Jerusalem. A homicidal Iranian general was killed and Tehran was dealing with sanctions. And that leaves out the domestic things that have occurred on Joey’s watch. Stupidity explains one thing, maybe two, not dozens.

D. Gooch
D. Gooch
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“How many instances of stupidity must occur before you start to consider that they’re not accidental outcomes but intentional ones?”
When I look back over U.S. policy implementation in the Middle East since at least the 1970s I see so many instances of bad outcomes and unintended consequences that it seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  D. Gooch

With “so many instances,” maybe it is not unintentional, and maybe you don’t understand that the apparent “bad outcomes” are desired and in pursuit of a goal you do not see?

Maybe?

When people you know to not be idiots or crazy keep making similar mistakes, the proper response is not to assume they are idiots or crazy, but to ask, “Am I missing something?”

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
1 month ago

Very interesting article. It may be popular with some to see the US is the Grandmaster, maneuvering the world’s pawns around the board at will but I often wonder who’s really running this game.
This is an interesting bit of news posted yesterday on Oilprice.com
China And Iran Secure Key Strategic Iraqi Gas Field
The Mansuriya field, holds an estimated 4.5 trillion standard cubic feet of gas and is expected to produce around 300 million scf per day of gas at its peak.
For China, the location of the Mansuriya gas field fits perfectly into the vast network of oil and gas sites in Iraq.
According to industry figures, more than a third of all Iraq’s proven oil and gas reserves and over two-thirds of its current production are managed by Chinese companies. 
China’s Jereh Group (comprising one half of the consortium), the achievement is even more remarkable, as this enormously lucrative prize will mark its first ever E&P work in Iraq. Petro Iraq’s award, meanwhile, perhaps even more underlines how little interest Iraq fundamentally has in allowing the U.S. back into the country in any meaningful way. According to a senior source who works closely with Iraq’s Oil Ministry and exclusively spoken to by OilPrice.com last week, Petro Iraq is an umbrella organization comprising elements of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and of engineering interests owned by Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, which is controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 
Is it too cynical to suggest that the impetus for this strategic gamesmanship is simply oil?

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Not too cynical at all.

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Of course it’s about the oil, if the middle east had no oil no one would care about what happens there, and they wouldn’t have the money to buy arms either. Which would be bad news for the arms manufacturers and arms dealers. It was always about the oil fuelling the conflicts.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Honestly Unherd, I think you can do better than this

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago

The best thing about this article is learning that we English have our own foreign policy. Hurrah!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

When was this a secret? It’s a continuation of what Joe’s former boss was doing.

J S
J S
1 month ago

When will France and England learn the US isn’t an ally? Just an occasional partner of expediency.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 month ago

Yeah, no.
“Stupidity” is the name of the game. This latest version is ‘ObamaBiden vs Trump’; O/B are the archangels, whiter than white, while everything about Trump “should never have happened and must never happen again!” It’s a mindless, deranged race to the bottom: Democratic politics!
(Read this real slow and savor the idiocy: “…the possibility for further integration in the region.”)
I oughta’ know. I voted for them for forty odd years.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

It is past time for the US to take care of it’s own people and let Israel care for itself.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

Quite apart from the obvious problems of believing that this Iran strategy might actually work, which is extremely questionable and not even slightly plausible as far as I can tell – there is the further problem that even if it works, it creates about the most stupidly-destructive geostrategic incentives to the West’s adversaries imaginable.

In fact, it looks a lot like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been carried out on similar terms – recall Biden’s seemingly-demented statement as Russian forces were gathering at the Ukraine border in February 2022 that an actual incursion into Ukrainian territory would probably not cause the USA to respond. It’s clear that the entire White House staff facepalmed in unison at this gaffe, but it is also pretty clear that Biden was only letting slip a position unofficially already taken by the USA. It was an unintended but honest admission about agreed-upon policy, not a statement at variance with the USA’s intentions.

I’m now praying for a Trump victory. If the present US administration remains in place another 4 years, the West is dead.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“I’m now praying for a Trump victory. If the present US administration remains in place another 4 years, the West is dead.”
Settle down, dearie!

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

Coming from a lunatic like you, this is merely laughable.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago

Pretty strange.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
1 month ago

This has got the swivel eyed loons all in a tizz!
I am very happy to state that I don’t share any values with the MAGA-Farage loons.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
1 month ago

It seems now that President Biden, or the Biden Administration, does not want Israel to win, as in defeat Hamas, in Gaza. They seem to want some sort of cease fire with constant negotiations over aid and hostages and once there is a break, how much, if any Israeli retaliation permitted. Meanwhile, in the north of Israel, Hezbollah gets a freer hand in attacking Israel and depopulating the north of Israel. Israel gets warned not to escalate.
At some point the Israeli public will have had enough, perhaps when Haifa gets evacuated, and forces its government to do something (as in go to war) with Hezbollah. If this is before election day and colleges are in session, we will see the Iran – Hamas – Hezbollah – US University anti-Israel campus protestor alliance out in full force. I would not be surprised to see a cut off in aid to Israel as, you know, a confidence building de-escalation effort. What happens next? I cannot fathom. However, if Trump defeats Biden, all bets are off after 20 January 2025.

John Pade
John Pade
1 month ago

It is like revealed preference in economics. Even though there may be no conscious strategy here, the individual actions and positions taken may be indistinguishable from ones taken if there were one.
In defense of Obama, W’s war left the Middle East in such a mess that nothing could be done to rescue it. It is truly Humpty Dumpty in practice. Years from now, a suitable stability may either evolve or descend in or on the region. But for now, the best the US can do is to protect its allies from the chaos and madness around them. (Biden gets no such pass because, in his moral cowardness, he voted for W’s war.)
This would be akin to admitting defeat and withdrawal to the fringes of Middle Eastern power politics. This would have been to hard for Obama or any other president to do.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
1 month ago

A substantial and influential portion of the US foreign policy establishment has a fondness for Iran that predates the Obama administration by a generation. When Hezbollah murdered more than 200 US Marines, kidnapped and tortured to death our CIA station chief and perpetrated any number of other crimes against us, Reagan did nothing. Later he allowed himself to get sucked into an arms for hostages deal based on the idea that we were somehow helping “Iranian moderates” who given the right support could steer their government on a pro-US course. When Bush the Younger occupied Iraq part of the Iraqi expat group he sent in to form a government included Iraqi Shi’ites who had organized in Iranian exile (the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) and were backed up by a militia (the Badr Brigades) formed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards by recruiting Iraqi Shi’ite POWs from the Iran-Iraq War. We’ve been both sanctioning and kowtowing to the Iranians for a long time. Damned if I know why.

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago

Biden and Co are full of weasel words and appease anyone threatening ‘The West’. In fact, they are no different to the political and intellectual elites of almost all the current leaderships of the liberal democracies.

William Brand
William Brand
1 month ago

With a foreign policy that is the exact opposite of the wishes of the American people Biden and Obama are the greatest tarators in history.

Ryan K
Ryan K
1 month ago

so what metaphor fits…Alice in Wonderland? 1984? The ineptitude is so stunning as to make one’s eyes water. Shia Iran is an eschatolgical fanatic regime bent on Islamic supremacy and extermination of the Jews….”the hidden Iman” and maybe “Isa” will reappear.
Blinken is a J Street part Jew. So he finds Israel’s Zionist undertaking flawed and maybe a little odious but he’s committed to an Israel “within its natural borders” as the Arabs put it….or pre June 4th ’67.
Charge mr. Netanyahu with wanton murder of an oppressed indigenous people. While he should return to Poland or Belarus. Keep the war going in a madness to keep power. Unlike play to the Muslim radicals in Michigan to keep power.
This he shares with anti Zionist communist B. Sanders who made aliyah to all white Vermont to be a racial justice warrior. And join in making ice cream never to be sold in Judea and Samaria. Sanders will reluctantly go along with Israel as Israel if it allows all the descendants of the Arabs who fled the Arab instigated war to “return.” Then Israel will no longer be Israel but Palestine. And in the propaganda of the Palestinianists it will be the blessed HOLY LAND of Islam and Christianity and be a beacon to the nations for its tolerance, its progressive values, its upholding of laws of Allah, its protection of women, its detestation of sex perversion, its vaunted protection of the detested Jews who know their place and will have finally learned the Lesson of the Holocaust which pales in comparison to the Nakba the most horrendous event in all recorded history on any continent. No wonder the kids are so angry. … some of the Jews will live in “Palestine.” Sort of like Samaritans…a museum community. As few a possible…..as in the percentage of Jews living in historic Land Of Israel prior to the Zionist movement. The Zionist entity. This is Mr. Biden’s vision.
Good analysis from Mr. Siegel….the policy is senseless…..Iran as lynch pin of the Mideast. I’m sure the chauvanist Arab supremacist regimes have something to say about a Persian supremacist regime as leader of the Islamic world, that owes it origins to the Arabian peninsula (and everything it appropriated from Judaism including the Land)
We had Abraham Accords now we have travesty.

roy Burman
roy Burman
1 month ago

This one huge mistake shows how wrong it is to re-elect Biden – to view Iran as a better more reliable partner than Israel shows a level of stupidity I did not expect from him. He not only cannot bring peace or honour and glory to the USA he puts the whole liberal enlightened civilised west in peril. And to do it by such deception shows he has no moral courage and he knows it is un acceptable to those that share our culture.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
1 month ago
Reply to  roy Burman

To the contrary, I fully expected idiotic decisions such as this from Biden.

Phil Re
Phil Re
1 month ago

Excellent article. The underlying rationale for the Mideast realignment remains opaque. Like some in the British foreign policy establishment, cultural Marxists in the US seem to have a genuine ideological affinity toward Iran. This is more than a matter of policy objectives. It’s as if they believe that Iran’s implacable hostility toward the US and the decadent West give it a kind of moral authority. This mindset is undoubtedly present in elite US universities, and Obama, Malley, Rhodes, and Kerry all seem to share it.

William Brand
William Brand
1 month ago

America’s foreign policy is the exact opposite of what the American people believe. It appears that the Democratic party establishment is acting as if Iran is our close ally. It is supporting a nation that thinks of us as the Great Satan. We attack our friends and cozy up tour enemies. Obama has been running the foreign policy of the Biden administration. Could it be that Obama is a secrete Shiite Moslem. This would explain much. America has paid tribute to Iran. This is Jizya. The more they proclaim hatred for America the more The Biden administration tries to aid Iran. The border problem may be explained as an effort to allow Moslem terror squads to infiltrate the country. Iran is not our friend. Obama and Biden are traitors.

Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Niels Georg Bach Christensen
1 month ago

You are right. As long as Iran exists, the other arab countries will keep to USA. It’s the only option they have. Bombing Iran back to Zoroastrianism, will hit China but the arab countries will have China as an option.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

The truth of the matter is that if we have the right man leading us, it doesn’t matter who sits in the WH. I’m not sure Bibi is the man, but I am dead certain that he is more likely to be that man than Gantz, Gallant, Lapid, or any of the other possible candidates for the role. Bibi has yet to completely buckle, but those three mentioned will, if in Bibi’s place, take very little time bending the knee to Obama/Biden/Blinken dictates.