September 12, 2006

TALKING EACH OTHER OFF OF THE LEDGE:

Brief Nuclear Halt May Lead to Talks With Iran: Rice Suggests Temporary Move Could Be Enough (Glenn Kessler and Dafna Linzer, 9/12/06, Washington Post)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled yesterday that a temporary suspension of Iran's nuclear programs might be enough to pave the way for the first direct negotiations involving the United States and Iran in more than a quarter-century.

It's the perfect storm--the ayatollahs don't actually want nuclear weapons and we don't want to have to attack them.

MORE:
Iran steps back from the brink (Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 9/13/06, Asia Times)

Iran has finally blinked, reportedly agreeing to a temporary suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, as a confidence-building measure in response to growing international pressure. [...]

In a sign of moderation toward Iran, US President George W Bush permitted a visa to Khatami and made the conciliatory gesture of stating his willingness "to learn about that country". This is a timely turnabout from his incendiary remarks in August, calling Iran the leader of a global "Islamic fascist" movement.

Certainly, the US and Iran policy of labeling has gotten the two countries nowhere and the sooner they shelve their reciprocal demonization in favor of a prudent, and polite, diplomacy, the better.

As long as Washington ignores Iran's stability role in the region and limits itself to castigating Iran's "subversive" role, there can be no meaningful progress on a key aspect of the incentive package, namely, security.

The package calls for Iran's inclusion in a regional security arrangement and, again, an important prerequisite is Iran's and the United States' ability to see beyond the fog of their hostile rhetoric-supplanting policy and explore their wealth of shared or parallel interests.

Both Tehran and Washington support the present besieged governments in Kabul and Baghdad, and the combination of impending civil war in Iraq, potentially spilling over to neighboring countries such as Iran, and the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan alone dictates fresh thinking on Tehran's and Washington's part on how not to let the situation in the region get out of hand.

Clearly, the nuclear crisis can add a qualitative turn for the worse in the current Middle East crisis still grappling with the tenuous ceasefire in Lebanon, whose economic infrastructure has been wiped out. No matter how Iran publicly celebrates Hezbollah's victory, the fact is that Hezbollah has sustained serious injury and faces an international buffer between itself and Israel that, in turn, denies Iran crucial leverage in its geostrategic game with the US.

This observation leads us to question seriously the conclusion of a recent study by London's Chatham House, which naively proclaims Iran a "major beneficiary" of the "war on terror". Sure, the change of regimes in Kabul and Baghdad has been a security plus for Iran, but the massive infusion of US military might, bolstered by base-building in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan and elsewhere in Iran's vicinity, have been tantamount to major tremors threatening the wellspring of Iran's national security.

Any premature conclusion that ignores the security predicament of Iran in the post September 11, 2001, milieu cannot possibly be taken seriously.

In fact, the real, clear and present danger of a US military threat against Iran has caused a state of semi-emergency that the government's leaders yearn to end and to return to the state of normalcy - this against the present pattern of war games and war preparation draining precious resources and deflecting from burning economic priorities.


How do you say, "It's the Economy, Stupid," in Persian?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2006 9:18 AM
Comments

They don't want nukes? Yeah, right.

"TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran’s most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only".

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran."

Posted by: NC3 at September 12, 2006 10:19 AM

1 nuke (or even 5) is much more dangerous for them than none - we have thousands and lots of ways to deliver. They don't. If NK were as provocative as Iran around the globe, they would already have been hit by a pre-emptive US strike, nuclear weapons or no. And the Chinese would have enjoyed the privilege of seeing the mushroom clouds.

If the mullahs want to settle, they can prove it by killing Ahmadinejad - they will probably have to, anyway. Because he is not leaving peacefully.

"...just produce damages in the Muslim world"

In reality, we only need to hit one target, and Islam will be a dusty memory in a few years. Surely Rafsnjani knows that.

Posted by: ratbert at September 12, 2006 10:38 AM

They're democrats--they'd rather he be voted out than murder him.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 10:52 AM

Ummm, no they haven't, they reversed themselves. Talk and then we'll suspend.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 12, 2006 11:51 AM

"[T]he present pattern of war game and war preparations draining precious resources and deflecting from burniung economic priorities. . ." happens to be the exact way we brought down THE FORMER SOVIET UNION.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 12, 2006 11:55 AM

actually, there's a falsehood contained therein though, that if they could focus on the economic situation they could fix it. Just as the Communists couldn't the Islamists can't. Only the distraction we provided enabled the Bolsheviks to last as long as they did.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 12:23 PM

What evidence do you have the the mullahs "don't actually want nuclear weapons?" Other than a belief on your part that they shouldn't want them?

Posted by: Brandon at September 12, 2006 1:35 PM

They say they don't. They never moved to develop them. They disavow Ahmedinejad's desire for them. And their representative is undercutting him. What basis is there for believing they want them?

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 1:50 PM

Sandy's right -they have already reversed themselves and appear to be playing the stalling game once again. Sorry it's not Kumbayaa time yet.

Posted by: AWW at September 12, 2006 2:47 PM

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has made its own decision and in the nuclear case, God-willing, with patience and power, will continue its path."

Iran to continue pursuing nuclear technology, supreme leader says, Aug. 21, 2006

- Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (head mullah)

Posted by: BJW at September 12, 2006 3:11 PM

BJW:

Yes, nuclear technology is a source of pride for them.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 3:14 PM

There is no such thing as "Persian". It is Farsi. Infidels!

Posted by: Fugate at September 12, 2006 3:55 PM

"the US and Iran policy of labeling has gotten the two countries nowhere "

Actually, it has. It has let them know tht we won't take any guff from them. We probably flood their leaders' mailboxes with DVDs of Saddam being pulled out of the sectic tank and getting a dental checkup and head-lice inspection the way AOL used to flood my mailbox.

Sometimes the best way to avoid a fight is to let your opponent smell your fist.

I also suspect that Condi, et. al. has told them, "You have a nice little country here. It would sure be too bad if something happened to it, like what happened to the Apache and Navaho Indian Nations."

Posted by: ray at September 12, 2006 5:05 PM

"They never moved to develop them"

Then where did all that U-235 come from (you know, the hits that the IAEA found on machinery at Natanz)?

Aside from that, isn't it ahistorical to trust the pleasant words of unelected gangsters with private armies?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 12, 2006 7:23 PM

They've an elected government and a national army.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 7:52 PM

OJ is right. They have an elected government but the primary system leaves a lot to be desired.

The timetable for a stike on Iran is driven by true nuke weapon capability, nothing else. No doubt the CIA is clueless regarding the status of their program but presumably our allies (Indian, British, Iraqi, Pak, French and German) do have a clue since they either have competent intelligence agencies or sell stuff to them. The Russians probably know what's going on too and are playing straight on the serious issues even as they maximize their profits from Iran.

We are going to to the diplomatic dance until the last possible moment for the reasons OJ frequently cites. But we will attack when we have to whether it's this fall or in 2009 as some estimate.

The Iranians have been acting over confident lately. Hopefully this indicates they are a bit further away from a bomb than they realize as their suppliers are far keener to make money off of them than they are to see Iran succeed with its program.

If we have until 2009, there is a decent chance the corrupt mullaharchy will collapse. But, OJ, the mullahs are indeed corrupt. They have not delivered economically and have squandered a massive oil windfall.

Posted by: JAB at September 12, 2006 8:30 PM

Yes, which is this is a phase they'll evolve out of.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2006 8:38 PM

Well, the sub launch was a lie, the pic was from a Chicom launch.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 12, 2006 9:13 PM

"They've an elected government and a national army".

So did Germany in 1933, but the elected part vanished in the mist and the private army proved to be paramount in what the state was all about.

"They disavow Ahmadinejad's desire for them"

Since when? Saying they want nuclear energy or nuclear technology for 'peaceful' purposes only is not a disavowal of nuclear weapons. Hitler said Austria was enough, too.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 13, 2006 12:21 AM

jim:

Yes, thugs and private armies aren't much of a factor.

A disavowal is a disavowal even if you don't accept it.


The comparison to the Nazis cheapens the dialogue. Hitler's regime didn't last half as long as the Khomeinist regime has yet it killed tens of millions while Iran has done nothing like. The murderousness of Western ideas like Applied Darwinism has no parallel.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2006 7:45 AM

Disavowal is a very specific word. It does not mean silence, and it is not synonomous with disingenuous. You are the one struggling with the semantics here.

OK, then pick Japan instead. Their 'government' lasted longer than Germany's did, and was driven by the same gangsterism and thuggery.

While you haven't so explicitly, I get the feeling you think Iran is more like Chile or Spain than one of the devil "states" we know from history. But is there someone in the Iranian 'government' who has a national interest at heart? No.

More to the point, can any dissident or moderate who does get elected? No.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 13, 2006 8:34 AM

jim:

Ayatollah Khamenei has explicitly disavowed the pursuit of nuclear weapons. It's not a semantic question.

Japan was an aggressor nation. Iran's only recent war was defensive.

No, Iran is neiher fascist nor Nazi/Communist. It's a religious republic and fairly sui generis. It'll need to transfer day to day power awat from the Guardians though would be wise to leave them final vetoes over some legislation and court decisions as well as the right to dismiss governments in times of crisis (like English Kings used to have).

Yes, the Reformers can and have won elections. They unwisely boycotted the last election--with our idiotic encouragement--or they'd have won. They will win the next.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2006 9:08 AM

OJ; What reforms have the Reformers ever enacted that were not vetoed by the Guardian Council?

Posted by: Bob at September 13, 2006 10:20 AM

Even Ahmedinejad has been afraid to try and roll back the social liberalization tha the Reformers implemented. The demographic imbalance that skews towards the young leaves the hard-liners unable to move backwards much.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2006 10:36 AM

Ahmadinejad just recently moved for stricter controls over the universities and secondary schools. If he sticks to form, book burning will be next. Now, that may not be as 'stern' a roll back as the Taliban imposed, but it's something. And the brief period of media liberalization (from 97-99) is over.

What "reform" did Khatami implement that is still in effect?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 13, 2006 6:24 PM

Nothing wrong with book burning--getting liberal trash out of schools has carried the GOP for years.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2006 6:47 PM
« MAYBE IT'S SOMETHING IN THE VENTILATION SYSTEM AT THE POST: | Main | AGAINST THE NAZIS AND THE COMMUNISTS: »