The Israeli-Saudi Proxy War Against Iran as Hamiltonian Concentration of Force in Practice

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Considering the location of America’s embassy in Israel is symbolism, and symbolism detached from substance is childishness, it was to be expected the children pretending to be foreign policy analysts obsessed over the embassy.

To Hamiltonians the embassy registers as the brief footnote that it is.  But substance draws us to the Israeli-Saudi proxy war with Iran.

That proxy war is not only the substance, but also an excellent opportunity to employ game theory and illustrate via real-world practice a key Hamiltonian foreign policy principle of Regionalism.

Hamiltonian Regionalism is defined as:

A Realist strategy where a great Capitalistic power uses regional alliances with other Capitalistic states to check any threat from a hostile power to either the physical security or commercial interests of the allied Capitalists. Minor powers have the option of being part of this alliance, neutral outside of it, or hostile. Regardless whether minor powers join or not, the great power is able to exercise this strategy so long as other advanced powers agreed to the system.

 

And the Regionalist principle we will explore is concentration of force

Offshore balancing unites the expansive military assets of great empires while reducing the expenses associated with governing empire. Imperial overreach is mitigated because the great power may often practice concentration of its own forces while lowering any resentment by regional allies.

 

Next year, American forces will be overwhelmingly concentrated against North Korea.

Although that conflict will take up most of our attention we will still be able to check, via our Israeli and Saudi proxies, Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East because Regionalism takes advantage of keeping threatened allies well armed:

Preferably, threatened allies should be given as much indirect American support as possible so their native militaries can deal with any potential conflict while we keep our own military concentrated for other threats. Indirect support may consist of any combination of diplomatic, economic or indirect military support such as training, intelligence sharing, weapons supplying, dispatching military advisors, special operations support, and so forth.

The motto for this principle of making allies as self-sufficient as possible is –

Every threatened ally armed

 

The Saudis and Israelis are more than armed enough to take on Iran’s proxies.  For Hamiltonians it is just a matter of formulating an optimal strategy under game theory from which to use their militaries against Iran.

The first thing to do in game theory is outlining the various objectives of the players.

Statisticians normally write out the objectives of each player using a table grid with rank-order values of the risk-reward considerations associated with each possible action in the table cells.  But for the purposes of this article listing out the objectives point-by-point will be sufficient.

First, the Iranian objective –

  • Iran’s broad objective is to expand their power among Shiite or Shiite-aligned actors across the Levant, Iraq, and the Gulf.

 

Iran’s strategy to achieve this objective involves propping up their various terrorist and nation state proxies and develop nuclear weapons that will deter their enemies from retaliating against Iranian aggression.

The objectives of Iran are in direct conflict with the interests of the United States in numerous ways.  To the extent Iran achieves its objectives Iran becomes more of a threat by –

  • Threatening the stability and security of America’s Gulf Arab allies and the flow of oil through the strategically critical Straight of Hormuz.  By extension, threatening American Gulf allies and the oil trade each pose a threat to American economic stability and the petro-dollar.
  • Threatening the security of Israel with Syrian and Lebanese proxies.
  • Threatening the security of Saudi Arabia with Yemeni proxies.
  • Threatening American control of Iraq which is currently governed by a weak Shiite government.

 

From the Hamiltonian perspective, all of these threats to the interests of America, Big Oil, international Capitalism, and American allies are sufficient grounds to justify severe punishment against Iran for its ambitions.  The Hamiltonian weapons of choice to inflict this punishment are our Israeli and Saudi allies.

The most recent American interest in keeping Iran in check is bolstering the new King of Saudi Arabia.  Although I do not believe he can reform or moderate the religion of Islam itself, the King has shown a new willingness to crack down on funding of Islamic terrorists overseas.  By itself, that warrants America backing the King in this proxy war.  If the American-Israeli-Saudi side wins the proxy war, the King will see his power and influence among other Islamic nations enhanced greatly; and the greater his influence across the Muslim world the better the chances are for reducing terrorism.  If he fails, however, it could lead to the downfall of the King and the emergence of a more terrorist-friendly government in Saudi Arabia.

But what constitutes a win for the American side?

To flesh this out, we again use game theory to specify our objectives and then derive a strategy.

Constraints will be applied to the mission with the following two assumptions

  • It is impractical to invade Iran and overthrow the government.
  • There will always be some Shiite Muslim influence stretching from Iran to Lebanon.

 

Given these assumptions, if destruction of the Iranian government is infeasible and Iran will always exert some sway over its fellow Shiite Muslims, then the American-Israeli-Saudi objective is as follows –

ObjectiveCripple Iran as a Middle Eastern power while leaving the Iranian government in power.  Thereafter, contain a greatly weakened Iran with an American backed proxy-coalition of Israel and Sunni Gulf Arab states.

 

The strategy to achieve this objective will be made up of various Israeli and Saudi actions in different proxy theaters with the backing of America.

The different theaters from West to East and the strategies best suited for each theater –

Lebanon – From a game theory perspective Lebanon is the most likely theater in the near future for a confrontation to emerge between American and Iranian proxy forces.  The Lebanese government is technically Saudi aligned, but it exists in an unstable coalition government with the anti-Saudi Hezbollah.

A difficult decision awaits Iran in Lebanon.  On one hand, Iran is probably eager to see the coalition government fall and Hezbollah take its place.  The risk for Iran is that Israel would almost certainly attack Hezbollah without Hezbollah being able to count on outside reinforcements.  Hezbollah’s normal military partner, Bashar Assad, is too weak to intervene in Lebanon.  Meanwhile Iran is too far away to send its own forces.  If Hezbollah goes to war against Israel, Hezbollah will go alone.  On the other side, Israel will be able to count on support from the most pro-Israel President ever and Saudi Arabia.

The risk military isolation poses to Hezbollah makes a war with Israel very, very dangerous for this Iranian proxy.  Yet how much longer can a pro-Saudi government last with Hezbollah as a partner in government?

The American coalition’s strategy should be to wait to see if Hezbollah brings down the government.  If it does, America and the Saudis should fully support an Israeli invasion to severely weaken Hezbollah.

 

Syria – The Israeli-Saudi strategy has been to support the removal of Assad.  In my opinion this is the wrong strategy.  The fall of Assad would have left a power vacuum that Iran could have filled with other terrorist proxies.  Leaving a gravely weakened Assad in power is better because Assad’s weakness will be easier to leverage into concessions favorable to the Israelis and Saudis.

One of the concessions Israel, with American backing, should demand is removal of Iranian forces from Syria.  In exchange, Israel would agree to recognize Assad’s government.  Assad is already desperate to calm tensions with Israel and he has recently proposed to create a 40 mile buffer zone between Israel and Iranian forces.  The Israelis should demand further concessions while making narrow strategic attacks against Iranian forces stationed in Syria.

To diplomatically bolster the Israeli negotiating position further the United States should also insist on the removal of Iranian forces.

 

Iraq – This is the most worrisome theater from America’s perspective.  Iraq’s Shiite led government is too friendly with Iran.  The United States should leverage its power over Iraq to remove any Iranian influence and traffic from going to Iraq to prevent the Iranians from causing trouble in this theater.

 

Yemen – In its effort to install a Sunni Saudi-puppet dictator in Yemen, the Saudi government is currently fighting rebel Shiite militias backed by Iran with a coalition of Sunni Gulf Arab states.  Saudi Arabia is also starving millions of Shiite civilians to death by blockading Yemeni ports.  America’s position should be to encourage the Saudi led coalition to attack Shiite rebels still more aggressively, and continue with the blockade in order to break the Shiite rebellion.  Humanitarian concerns should not factor into this proxy war effort in any way whatsoever.

 

Iran – Finally, Iran itself deserves to be subjected to two actions.  The first is for America to reimpose the heavy economic sanctions that were lifted by the Islamic terrorist supporting government of Barack Obama.  Proxy warfare is inherently more suitable for strong states with great resources to distribute to its proxies.  Iran is a weak state with few resources playing a great power’s game.  It should be punished for its overestimation of its own power with the destruction of the Iranian economy, a destruction which by extension will mean Iranian proxies will have fewer Iranian resources to rely on.

Second, preparations should be made by both Israel and America for an Israeli airstrike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.  Because American airpower will have its hands full waging war against North Korea, Israel should coordinate its own air offensive to knock out Iran’s program.  America should open Iraqi airspace and reserve logistical support (in-flight refueling, intelligence sharing, electronic warfare, etc) for use by the Israeli Airforce for an attack on Iran.

An Iran left with a broken economy, deprived of a nuclear deterrent, and its proxies left contained or in tatters, will be neutralized as a threat even if the Ayatollahs remain in power.  And this fierce punishment against the Iranians can be delivered by armed American allies while America concentrates its own guns further East.

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21 thoughts on “The Israeli-Saudi Proxy War Against Iran as Hamiltonian Concentration of Force in Practice”

  1. The only thing to add is that it is useful to have Iranian pressure on Saudi Arabia so that Salman is dependent on USG and Israel but then this allows USG and Israel to pressure him to crack down on Saudi support of both Jihad and funding leftists.

    Do you think a pattern is emerging in Trump’s strategy here?

    Trump is securing the allies and vassals on the exterior of the empire and making them loyal to him and the faction he represents (broadly speaking, the Red Gov). This cuts off funding and other support for the Blue Gov back home that will have consequences down the line.

    Putting this together with the deconstruction of the Department of State and the idea of Erick Prince’s to create a new intel/assassination program that reports directly to the President.

    In short, Trump is boxing the Blues. All they will have to draw upon is the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups…..

    Trump’s support for Poland and Hungry means that they have a spoiler in the EU to counter France and Germany.

    If Trump can undertake a successful rapprochement with Putin, this can both check the hideous EU, China but also further isolate the Blues (as they will be hated and feared by everyone else in the world).

    What are your view about the UK/England? The Conservatives seem hopeless. One wonders if there is any use for England anymore.

  2. The only thing to add is that it is useful to have Iranian pressure on Saudi Arabia so that Salman is dependent on USG

    The Saudis have been in our corner due to external threats since the Cold War. If Iran is pushing Salman further into our corner that is fine for us, but unintentional on Iran’s part.

    Do you think a pattern is emerging in Trump’s strategy here?

    Why, yes. He’s following Hamiltonian Realist doctrine instinctively.

    In short, Trump is boxing the Blues. All they will have to draw upon is the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups…..

    Yes.

    By firming up our existing alliances in a Hamiltonian fashion he will make it harder for a Democrat to break from his foreign policy example because many foreign leaders will be comfortable working under Trump’s framework.

    More importantly, he’s handing a stable alliance structure with a clearer post-Soviet mission off to any Republican successors.

    Trump’s support for Poland and Hungry means that they have a spoiler in the EU to counter France and Germany.

    I’m not sure we need to “counter” France and Germany. It does however create a schism in the EU that can be built upon later for the EU’s eventual dissolution. Bringing the EU to an end is desirable for America because it is doing more to destabilize Europe than it is in its theoretical reason for being of preventing Europe from plunging into another general war.

    What are your view about the UK/England? The Conservatives seem hopeless. One wonders if there is any use for England anymore.

    The Conservatives have always been hopeless; aside from brief moments of stability such as seen under Thatcher.

    The real question is whether they can do the bare minimum:

    May’s government needs to survive long enough to complete some sort of exit from the EU. Once Britain is officially out – even if that “out” is not as completely out as most Brexiteers would like – it would be very, very hard for a Labour government to take them back in.

    To get the best deal possible, May should be pushing a harder line in the negotiations. Toughening her demands backed up with a threat to walk away from them will probably make the EU fold and meet her halfway because Britain’s economic strength means Britain can weather a no deal exit in a way the economically feeble EU cannot.

  3. Repost:

    “Excellent read. Though, it is strange seeing this in Politico.
    One question: why was it necessary to let Hisb run wild?
    The Obama admin said that they did not want to jeopardize the nuclear deal. Thus, drugs, guns and money laundering is ok.
    However, here is what appears to be an anomaly:
    The Obama admin was sponsoring a war against Iran’s client state/ethnic/religious kin in Syria.
    So, it was ok to do drugs, but not ok to do war.
    ???
    What explains this contradiction?
    The Blue gov wanted to pick up Iran as a client and thus sponsored them in their dealings.
    Perhaps, the nuclear program was only a red herring – a feint. Threaten with nukes, but the real con is run drugs to make money in order to build up Hizb against Israel and Iran against Saudi and have agents in place to strike back against “Western interests”.
    If Iran was so flighty, they could have demanded an end to Western involvement in Syria…..

  4. What explains this contradiction?

    Obama usually backed whatever Islamic terrorist actors were worse than alternatives. He adhered to this preference no matter if the existing government was a traditional ally or enemy, and no matter which side the various Middle Eastern stakeholders fell along the ancient Sunni-Shiite schism.

    So he backed Iran because the Iranian opposition might be less terrorist friendly than the ruling Ayatollahs. Yet he also supported (with money and weapons) ISIS against Iran’s ally, Assad, because ISIS was more dangerous than Assad.

    Whatever the worst possible option was in the Middle East, Obama took it.

  5. It makes perfect sense because that’s what Obama did.

    Every time there was a chance to displace a less-bad Middle Eastern actor with a worse option he always turned against the least-bad option.

    The Muslim Brotherhood was worse than Mubarak; ISIS was worse than Assad, ISIS and Al Qaeda were worse than Gadhaffi, etc., etc.

  6. Disagree.

    You disagree the Muslim Brotherhood would have been worse than Mubarak?

    He was a cunning boy.

    I’m not doubting his (simplistic) reasoning.

    His goal was to support the most destructive possible Islamic terrorist organization or government possible over less terrorism-inclined alternatives because he wanted to empower Islamic terrorism as much as possible.

    In any case, is any of this illegal and actionable?

    The Obama administration didn’t go a minute without committing multiple felonies, but good luck prosecuting any of its former officials.

  7. “His goal was to support the most destructive possible Islamic terrorist organization or government possible over less terrorism-inclined alternatives because he wanted to empower Islamic terrorism as much as possible.”

    Right, so there was a point to it….. It is not pure malevolence.

    “The Obama administration didn’t go a minute without committing multiple felonies, but good luck prosecuting any of its former officials.”

    Do you not think there is a case being slowly built that could lead to arrests?

  8. Right, so there was a point to it…..

    Of course it was purely malevolent.

    The point was to achieve something purely malevolent: bringing to power the most dangerous Islamic terrorist supporters available.

    Do you not think there is a case being slowly built that could lead to arrests?

    Easily. It’s just a matter of finding a prosecutor to open an investigation.

  9. I have no idea what Kuehn’s point is about because Kuehn has no idea what his point is.

    The reason there was no change to American naval deployments post-Cold War was because we were not facing a serious naval threat. The current position of the Navy is basically sufficient for the threat it faces.

    It also wrongly treats Trump as if he is following standard Progressive foreign policy.

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