Iran News ...


3/21/05

What's wrong with this picture?

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse 

 

John Bolton, the former Undersecretary of State in charge of arms control and international security issues, and one of the loudest neoconservative pro-Israel, anti Iran, voices within the administration, will now represent the United States at the Unites Nations.

 

Paul Wolfowitz, the chief architect of the war on Iraq, and the brain behind the projected designs for the "democratization" of the Middle East, was appointed by the President to head the World Bank.

 

The United States has been blaming the International Atomic Energy Agency and its head, Mr. El-Baradei, for failing to find sufficient evidence to condemn Iran for its "alleged" violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 

The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has repeatedly stated that Iran must live up to its "obligations" or face sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.

 

President George W. Bush misses no opportunity to tell Iran that the "free world" is not going to tolerate a "nucular" Iran. He, as well as his new Secretary of State, continue to hammer in accusations against Iran for supporting international terrorism.

 

The Vice President, Dick Cheney, said in an interview that he wouldn't blame the Israelis if they were to preemptively attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

 

And now, in an irony of ironies, George Bush's long-time friend and supporter, Karen Hughes, is appointed by Condoleezza Rice, and much to the President's obvious delight, as the head of the newly created post at the State Department in charge of projecting a more positive image for America in the Islamic world.

 

Has the world gone completely mad, or am I missing something here? Does all this mean that the cards are now stacked irrevocably against Iran? No, I don't think so; not by a long shot!

 

Let us take these from the top:

 

Does John Bolton's appointment as America's Ambassador to the United Nations mean that, should Iran be dragged in front of the Security Council and charged with the violation of its NPT agreement, the Council will condemn Iran and impose stiff sanctions against it? No; on the Contrary; the mere presence of Mr. Bolton, the notorious neoconservative who enjoys hardly any sympathy for his radical views in the world community, will serve as a catalyst to have any such resolution vetoed by other members of the Security Council, especially China.

 

Does Mr. Wolfowitz' appointment as the head of the World Bank give him the trump card against any application by "non-compliant" or "not-yet-democratized"  Islamic states for accommodation? Perhaps; but at the cost of further alienating the world community, especially the Europeans, who might only begrudgingly go along with such policies; not a good thing in the long-term for the United States' global economic interests!

 

Regarding the IAEA; how much pressure can the United States bring to bear on this international agency before the only organization charged with monitoring nuclear development activities worldwide is totally discredited and ceases to exist? Whose purpose will that serve, then, when little Israels will begin to pop up here and there like mushrooms after a thunderstorm?

 

When Condoleezza Rice accuses Iran of non-compliance with its "obligations" under the NPT, does she realize how unmeasured and hollow her statements sound around the globe? Can she point to at least one such non-compliance for which she so cavalierly accuses Iran? Her threats of sanctions against Iran by the Security Council are as presumptuous as they are counterproductive. Of course, nobody should expect a newcomer to the post of Secretary of State to take charge of such an immensely complex diplomatic job from the get-go, no matter how brilliant she might be. But, parroting such shallow remarks in her typically erudite, and just as typically meaningless, pronouncements on the world stage is damaging to the already tarnished image and credibility of her administration.

 

As the President has recently hinted, to keep certain "rogue" states from proceeding with nuclear weapons developments in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, new safeguards and bylaws must be added to the present NPT. As it stands to this day, Iran is not in violation of any of its obligations under the current NPT bylaws, and has in fact gone beyond its legal obligations, up to a point of course, to provide more transparency to alleviate some of the allegations leveled against it.  

 

The problems with implementing new and additional safeguard measures as the President is contemplating are twofold: First, no country can be forced to accept the terms of a new treaty, just as was the case with the original NPT, Israel being a good example. Second, the United States lacks the moral impetus to demand or enforce such new, selectively imposed measures, since the US is itself in violation of the fundamental principles and the very spirit of non-proliferation and arms control protocols, as the new programs for developing tactical nuclear weapons clearly attest.

 

George W. Bush's statement that the free world is not going to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran is in disregard of two undeniable facts: One, the so-called free world that cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran includes Israel and some other "compliant" or "dependant" states in the region that can hardly qualify as free or democratic. Taking Great Britain out of the equation for obvious reasons, other members of the real free world don't seem to be suffering from the same paranoia. Two, when a nation has been attacked, is being threatened with preemptive strike, and remains under constant state of alert as is Iran, denying it the right or at least the incentive to develop the most effective means of deterrence is not only illogical, it is impossible.

 

When we hear as-a-matter-of fact and unchallenged statements referring to Iran as "the primary supporter of international terrorism", reference is made to the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, both classified by the United States as terrorist organizations. Iran considers the Hezbollah of Lebanon as primarily a political party representing the great majority of Lebanon's population, the Shi'ites, and secondarily as the party with the militant flank that ultimately liberated Lebanon from the Israeli occupation forces. Iran's view of Hamas is shared by all Islamic countries, as a legitimate Palestinian resistance force battling Israel's brutal occupation of their ancestral homeland.

 

Interestingly, the current American prompted and supported anti Syrian and pro democracy rallies in Lebanon, if successful, will catapult the same Shi'ite Hezbollah into the position of political prominence, even though they will never agree to disarm as the liberators and protectors of their homeland.

 

In Israel, Hamas will also have to be brought into the final peace equations, or no settlement will have a chance to succeed for long.

 

Curiously, no mention has ever been made of the fact that not a single American has ever been killed, not even by mistake, by an Iranian anywhere in the world; while the same is not true of the Saudis, Egyptians, Israelis, Colombians, Iraqis, Afghans, etc., etc.

 

So, when is the US administration going to wake up to the realities on the ground and accept the truths as they are? Again, how can it serve America's best interests by continuing to demonize Iran as the primary supporter of international terrorism and labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist organization; let us forget Israel's short-term interests for a moment and focus on longer term objectives for both the United States and Israel.

 

Dick Cheney's seemingly casual comments about the possibility of  Israelis attacking the Iranian nuclear sites preemptively and without consulting their master, should be, and more than likely is, something for the United States administration to worry about quite seriously. Any such act will be perceived regionally as sanctioned and supported by the United States who would then have to face its direct consequences on all fronts.

 

The question then becomes, can the United States extend its military operations into a much wider and immeasurably more perilous stage; and in what way, if at all, would such action serve America's security and strategic interests. The consequences of an Israeli instigated incursion into Iran should actually be of much greater concern for the American administration than for the Iranians.

 

These issues and concerns are in clear focus within the Iranian administration, as well. During a recent international conference on Persian Gulf security held in Tehran, Iran's counterpart to America's Donald Rumsfeld, Admiral Shamkhani, sounded quite confident in defining Iran's capacity in dealing with any potential incursion by foreign adversaries. Without saying the words, he seemed to bring the challenge to the Washington hawks, much as did George W. Bush when he said "Bring them on!" in response to the news of rising insurgencies against the American forces in Iraq.

 

Let us see what else might be giving the Iranian government reasons to feel confident that things are actually going Iran's way:

 

Sooner or later the Iraqi regime will have to jell into a coherent picture. Regardless of its final makeup, the majority Shi'ites, headed today by Ayatollah Sistani, will have the ultimate voice in Iraq's affairs. Whether the Shi'a dominated future Iraq becomes a semi-secular Islamic state or an outright Islamic republic, its religious and economic ties with its big neighbor, Iran, should not be underestimated. Unless Iraq goes through a fragmentation process that would lead to the creation of an independent Kurdestan, retaining the integrity of Iraq as one nation, under Allah, indivisible, etc., can only be guaranteed though cooperation with Iran which shares similar interests, as does Turkey to the north.

 

Afghanistan has benefited from Iran's assistance and cooperation in establishing the modicum of order and stability it is currently enjoying; and this dependence must continue in order to ensure the emergence of a viable Afghani state from its social and economic rubble. Afghanistan will not be able to rely on its other big neighbor, Pakistan, in the long term. The current military dictatorship in Pakistan will survive only as long as its cooperation with the United States is deemed necessary in the current hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Al Gha'eda gang. It may sound rather cynical, but perhaps the reason the capture of Bin Laden is taking so long is because that would end the chase and, therefore, General Musharraf's usefulness!

 

China, the rising global giant and the unquestioned prime challenger to America's economic supremacy in less than a generation's time, has just signed a hundred billion dollar deal to buy Iran's oil and gas. India, the other supergiant, has signed a forty billion dollar deal with Iran. Iran has the largest natural gas reserves in the Middle East, second worldwide, after Russia.

 

Now, with all that went above, wouldn't it be nice if the United States could somehow court Iran to its side, perhaps not as two lovebirds, but as two major global players with many shared interests?

 

No doubt, the Iranians should also evaluate the same potentials and weigh the advantages of welcoming a rapprochement with their old antagonist, the United States, against the benefits of tying in to hungrier business partners to the East.

 

It seems like Iran is actually in a pretty good bargaining position. It also seems as though the United States might be losing its best opportunity to do, for a change, what is best for America's interests in its involvements in the turbulent Middle East.

 

Now, let us see what our most trustworthy and beloved friend in the Middle East, Israel, has to offer America. Some brave soul should choose this subject as a doctoral thesis. Good luck, whoever you might be!

... Payvand News - 3/21/05 ... --



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