Wednesday, January 18, 2006

SIMON JENKINS IN THE GUARDIAN on why the Bush administration's preferred sledgehammer approach to conflict resolution won't get us anywhere with Iran:

Iran is a serious country, not another two-bit post-imperial rogue waiting to be slapped about the head by a white man. It is the fourth largest oil producer in the world. Its population is heading towards 80 million by 2010. Its capital, Tehran, is a mighty metropolis half as big again as London. Its culture is ancient and its political life is, to put it mildly, fluid.

All the following statements about Iran are true. There are powerful Iranians who want to build a nuclear bomb. There are powerful ones who do not. There are people in Iran who would like Israel to disappear. There are people who would not. There are people who would like Islamist rule. There are people who would not. There are people who long for some idiot western politician to declare war on them. There are people appalled at the prospect. The only question for western strategists is which of these people they want to help.

Of all the treaties passed in my lifetime the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) always seemed the most implausible. It was an insiders' club that any outsider could defy with a modicum of guile. So it has proved. America, sitting armed to the teeth across Korea's demilitarised zone, has let North Korea become a nuclear power despite a 1994 promise that it would not. America supported Israel in going nuclear. Britain and America did not balk at India doing so, nor Pakistan when it not only built a bomb but deceitfully disseminated its technology in defiance of sanctions. Three flagrant dissenters from the NPT are thus regarded by America as friends.

I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb but a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it. Iran is a proud country that sits between nuclear Pakistan and India to its east, a nuclear Russia to its north and a nuclear Israel to its west. Adjacent Afghanistan and Iraq are occupied at will by a nuclear America, which backed Saddam Hussein in his 1980 invasion of Iran. How can we say such a country has "no right" to nuclear defence?

I don't believe any country has a "right" to nuclear weapons. The question is, How can the United States realistically expect Iran to give up on a nuclear defense program when, as Jenkins says, Iran is surrounded by nuclear powers, several of which have full U.S. support?

That is one of the questions. Another one is: Why is the Bush administration so blind-sided by the Iran threat? We opened the door to this by overthrowing the Sunni regime in Iraq:

At this very moment, US officials in Baghdad are on their knees begging Iran-backed Shia politicians and militias to help them get out of Iraq. From Basra to the suburbs of Baghdad, Iranian influence is dominant. Iranian posters adorned last month's elections. Whatever Bush and Blair thought they were doing by invading Iraq, they must have known the chief beneficiary from toppling the Sunni ascendancy would be Shia Iran. They cannot now deny the logic of their own policy. Democracy itself is putting half Iraq in thrall to its powerful neighbour.

If Iran is the "regional superstate," as Jenkins says it is, the Bush administration is largely responsible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Question is .. who is in charge