Our Advertisers Represent Some Of The Most Unique Products & Services On Earth!


Iran And The Israeli-US Shell Game
By Terrell E. Arnold
The table is covered with velvet. The audience awaits the next move with excited anticipation. The sleight of hand artist about to perform is elegantly turned out in black tie, pleat-fronted shirt and tightly fitted, fine leather gloves. He puts three half English walnut shells on the table open face down. Then he drops one dried pea on the table. He puts the pea under a half shell and begins to manipulate the three half shells in an elaborate set of circular back and forth motions.  "Place your bet please." He speaks softly as he moves the shells.  A silver-haired man places a bill on the table and the artist stops moving the shells. "Take your pick," he says.  The gambler points to a half-shell and waits for the artist to pick it up.  The game has begun.
On one of an infinite number of perfect Egyptian days, a convoy of twelve American warships slips quietly through the Suez Canal. They are trailed by one Israeli vessel. Courtesy of modern video and television, the transit is followed by the whole world. The convoy moves smoothly down the Red Sea, makes a graceful set of left turns as it passes Yemen and heads notionally toward the Persian Gulf. The table is set.  Iran is the silver-haired gambler on the other side of the Gulf.  Iran can place its bet by taking any action whatsoever that might be viewed by the flotilla as threatening.  On every vessel in the flotilla the thousands of sailors, marines, pilots, gunners, battle planners and strategists are on high alert.  Iran can start the game of the century by making any hostile move whatsoever.  But gambler though it may be, Iran does not pick out a shell.
Arrival at this indecisive point of play is the net yield of several years of deliberate strategy.  Israel and the United States have maneuvered through a complex series of gambits designed to provoke the Iranians to some hostile move.  Firing a missile, sinking a patrol boat, attacking a forward leaning American covert ops team in the border regions of Iraq, interfering belligerently with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, or reacting forcefully to repeated American or Israeli threats to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, any one of these, would long ago have provoked some aggressive US/Israeli military response. But the Iranians know this, and they have proved so far too smart to play.
This game has more moving parts than the most elaborate Rube Goldberg contrivance ever devised. In the mock thrust and squiggle of their shell game, the US and Israel have pushed many shells up front as provocations.  Through Syria, Iran is accused of arming Hezbollah and turning its considerable, if asymmetrical, military force against Israel.  Iran has perceived no need to lift this shell.  Rather, Hezbollah has dedicated itself to protecting its own Shiite Muslim constituents and their homes in the region of Lebanon south of the Litani River.  To Tel Aviv's chagrin, when Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah proved too much for them.  Hezbollah fought hard as well as skillfully, because it knows quite well that under one of the Israeli Zionist shells is a gambit to expand Israel up to and including the Litani for the land, but especially for the water.
Another play in the shell game is a charge against Iran for sponsorship of Hamas.  That group, which won a fair and open parliamentary election in Palestine in January 2006, may have been invented, as some say, by the Israelis as part of an earlier shell game to confuse the Palestinians.  However, Hamas has turned into the group that most precisely defines the goals of the Palestinian people, and that is why its candidates won the election.  That, of course, is also why Hamas is roundly hated by the Zionists.
The US/Israeli shell game is to try to keep Hamas labeled as a terrorist group and avoid having it function effectively as a political force.  In payment for the frequent harassment, confinement and killing of Palestinians by Israel Defense Forces., some frustrated Palestinians, whether or not members of Hamas, periodically lob a rocket into Israel.  So far the US and Israel are unwilling to put the choice of Hamas as a legitimate political force under any of the shells, because making that concession would require Israel to define its borders and give up its dream of greater Israel.
The question is who controls the table at this point.  The US and Israel are the most avid gamers, daily stirring the shells to see if one has under it a reason to make war that will carry weight with world leadership.  In this respect, the witnesses to the game may have become at least as important as the players.  Most governments believe there is a political solution under at least one of the shells, and they think diplomatic maneuver is the way to find out which one. A few of the witnesses believe that a nuclear armed Iran would be a danger.  Many do not. Several consider the nuclear risk to be Israel.  And despite persistent Iranian denial of any intent to build a bomb, the smoothly gloved Israeli manipulator does not want another Middle East player on the nuclear power side of the table or in charge of moving any of the shells.
In their terms, the Iranians don't actually care which shell the pea is under, or what other risky devices may be under one or more shells. They know that when they find it, the pea will be attached to a detonator. And they are not interested in this game, but they fear that in Washington and Tel Aviv the suede-gloved manipulators are juggling the shells, waiting for their Iranian target to make a mistake. The hardest trick for the manipulators may be getting the silver-haired gambler to choose.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose overseas service included tours in Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Brazil. His immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning.
He will welcome comment at

Donate to Rense.com
Support Free And Honest
Journalism At Rense.com
Subscribe To RenseRadio!
Enormous Online Archives,
MP3s, Streaming Audio Files, 
Highest Quality Live Programs


This Site Served by TheHostPros