Third Party & Independents Archives

Are We Ready to Deal with Iran?

Yesterday, Tehran announced that UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will arrive as early as Monday to break seals on Iran’s nuclear research facilities and to supervise Iran’s resumption of nuclear research and testing. Iran has claimed that the work on nuclear research will be focused on civilian and non-military activities. The United States and others have voiced concerns about Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

It is hard to believe that Iran is being genuine in her claims. Iran has become more bellicose toward the west. Their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former mayor of Tehran has continually made incindiary statements about the West, making outlandish claims such as the Holocaust was a myth, Israel should be relocated to Europe, and more recently allegedly saying he wished that Ariel Sharon would die after hearing of the prime minister's stroke. Iran's internal policy has become more and more draconian . They have recently banned all western music on state run television and radio. The director of the University of Tehran, has recently been replaced by a muslim cleric.

President Ahmadinejad is extremely popular amongst the the Iranian people. He has assumed a very conservative posture with respect to religion in the country. His rhetoric is focused on identifying the West and in particular Israel as an enemy to Iran and its people. Now, as Iran elects to resume nuclear testing and research, it is also solidifying trade arrangements with Russia and China. Russia has agreed to sell Iran nuclear fuel to help build its civilian power generation facilties, and China signed deals for oil and natural gas importation worth over $100 billion.

The Untied States is of course very concerned with both Iran's belligerence and Russia and China's economic support of the country and seeming lack of concern of the Iranian government's poltical posturing. The U.S. has recently been pushing for a crisis vote to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for their decision to resume nuclear research and testing.

My question is this: What will we do regarding Iran? Diplomatic measures and pressure are being brought to bear from the US. Britain, France and Germany are also applying pressure to the Iranians in an effort to forego sanctions and cool down the simmering political climate. Should diplomacy be successful and Iran become more focused on joining the world community with respect to trade and development of diplomatic relations with the West, then we may be able to breathe easier.

The concern of course is if Iran doesn't ease tensions and continues the course of action that becomes more and more threatening. If they decide to develop nuclear weapons, then we have a whole new problem. Israel is looking very carefully at Iran's actions. Given their current situation within the government and who will succeed Sharon should the prime minister not return to work., would Israel take a preemptive action against Iran? What would be the impact of such an event?

Given our current situation with Iraq, our collective fatigue with military action and the existing level of distraction in Washington regarding the congressional scandals, it is necessary for the U.S. to develop a cogent policy toward Iran and obtain support from the American public. The President and his State Department must get in front of this and develop a message to the country that is constructive and more importantly, believable. Recent polling numbers show a growing distrust of the administration with regard to foreign policy decisions especially if they involve military action. That trend has to be reversed and the trust of the public must be regained. Iran is a legitimate threat to the west and has to be dealt with. Our efforts must be cautious, consistent, and aggressively focused on resolving our concerns with Iran quickly.

It will be a true test of our leadership in Washington to solve our issues wtih Iran diplomatically. Iran will not make it easy. Any solution will depend upon gaining support from the Russians and Chinese as well as the Europeans that are dealing with Iran as well.

I'd like to hear how you think we should handle our issues with Iran? Are you confident that the current administration can work through these issues? If not, does this have any affect on how you will vote during the mid-term elections in 2006?

Posted by Dennis at January 8, 2006 10:28 AM
Comments
Comment #111185

Dennis, excellent article. I had a draft on this topic in the hopper. I will forego finishing it since you have covered it really well.

Look, Iran may have a extremist leader, but, that does not necessarily warrant extreme responses from the U.S. It is extreme of the U.S. to deny Iran’s sovereign right to develop peaceful nuclear technology for its people. For the U.S. to hold to that position is self-defeating. Iran will acquire nuclear technology regardless of whether our stance.

Therefore, the prudent position for the U.S. to take, the one which can and will garner support from the rest of the world, is to accede to Iran’s desire for peaceful use nuclear technology, and attach to that accession, clear and stern terms regarding their converting that technology to military uses.

If we hold to our current extreme position, we won’t get the support we are going to need from the Russians and Chinese and other Middle Eastern nations to enforce a tough policy on conversion to military uses.

Also, I must disagree with you that Iran poses a serious threat to the U.S. Iran poses a serious threat to its neighbors and Israel. Not the U.S. for the same reason Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the U.S., no intercontinental ballistic delivery systems for nuclear weapons. We have been down this road, and we screwed the journey to Iraq royally. Let us please, please, NOT repeat the same mistakes.

We must have international support to keep Iran in check. And to acquire that support, we must act rationally and objectively to the potential threat in Iran, NOT hysterically and out of unfounded and irrational fears.

The fact is, if we make it necessary to invade Iran, we will end up fighting Iraq all over again as well. For an invasion of Iran, will result in an alliance between Iran and Iraq, and that is a conflict we will NOT win without a huge international coalition, putting aside the crushing costs to our nation politically and economically.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 8, 2006 12:32 PM
Comment #111187

Nonsense!!! We must stop Iran from making WMDs!!! We must liberate the oppressed Iranian People!!! We must bring FREEDOM to the Middle East!!! The Iranians will welcome us with flowers!!! We’ll be home in 6 months!!! The Iranian War will pay for itself!!!

Operation Iranian Freedom must happen!!!

WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA, DAVID!!! Why? Did your homosexual, half-french, half-arab Al-Queda Lover tell you to hate AMERICA!!!

Posted by: Aldous at January 8, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #111188

David wrote:

Also, I must disagree with you that Iran poses a serious threat to the U.S. Iran poses a serious threat to its neighbors and Israel. Not the U.S. for the same reason Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the U.S., no intercontinental ballistic delivery systems for nuclear weapons. We have been down this road, and we screwed the journey to Iraq royally. Let us please, please, NOT repeat the same mistakes.
————————

David, you’re right, I should have been more clear in my point. I believe, because we have tied ourselves so strongly to Israel, that any attack against them will be viewed as one against us, therefore the threat to the US albeit indirect.

I agree, that countries should be able to chart their course relative to decisions such as nuclear power. The concern I have with Iran is the political climate there. I’d like to see a tighter level of agreement with respect to inspections of plant, materials and operations. If they agreed to a very rigorous inspection plan, then o.k., fine, proceed with the construction of the plant. If not, then I’d say we have an issue.

Posted by: Dennis at January 8, 2006 12:42 PM
Comment #111190

Aldous,

LOL, I think you are becoming our resident satirist. terrific.

Posted by: dennis at January 8, 2006 12:44 PM
Comment #111193

I think its sad that the Iraq War is so commonplace now that a Black Hawk crashing and killing 12 GIs isn’t frontpage material anymore.

You guys ever notice how BushCo has now stopped bashing the UN now that they need their help with Iran?

_____________________________________
U.S. HELICOPTER CRASH KILLS 12 IN IRAQ

Five U.S. Marines also slain over weekend, military says

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Twelve Americans were killed when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Iraq early Sunday, the military said.

The military also announced the deaths of five U.S. Marines in three different Iraqi towns Saturday and Sunday.

Since the war began, 2,198 U.S. service members serving in Iraq have died.

At least 13 people, including six Iraqi police commandos, were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded Saturday as a police commando patrol was passing by, police said.

Posted by: Aldous at January 8, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #111198

The new Islamic governemnt of Iran is fully supported behind the seen by the British as they were the ones who brought the islamic foundamebtalist into power in Iran.
David, you mentioned that the “president” is very popular in Iran…!!! have u been to Iran?? let me tell u as an Iranian, HE IS NOT. we honestlty do not know who voted for him. The elecyion was very controversial.
About the Atomic development, every country has the right to develop AND PROTECT itself.
Iranian have been fighting against this goverenment for years. for example the student demonstration in 1998. Jack straw came to Iran and showed the support of his governemnt for the islamic government.
It is time for u to clear things up with your own goverenments!! they r liars!
As long as there is oil in Iran, west will not leave us in peace.

Posted by: Persian at January 8, 2006 1:44 PM
Comment #111204

I realize this is probably not going to be a popular statement, it is however how I feel.

I don’t believe it’s our place to tell Iran what they can and cannot have as a nation. If we are going to be against nuclear power in the middle east then all middle eastern countries including Israel should not be able to have access to nuclear material. This selective determination of who “we” think should be allowed demonstrates the US believes they are the “God” of the world. We are not.

There are legitmate reasons why Iran needs nuclear power as an energy source. It’s also understandable given their are other nations in that region who do have nuclear weapons why Iran would seek this. If the desire is to end nuclear weapons than it should be across the board. All middle eastern countries should be immediately required to dismantle and stop production of nuclear weapons. Then demand all nations stop nuclear weapon storage and production. We as a nation also could set an example, since we currently hold the majority of all nuclear weapons.

So, I don’t feel we need to do anything about Iran, unless we are willing to really take a step against nuclear weapons in total.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at January 8, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #111210

I might as well throw in my two cents. We will do nothing about Iran. If Israel does not take the initiative to take out Iran’s nukes, then Iran will most certainly launch an attack on Israel as soon as they are able. I might add, with no thought of the consequences.

Perplexed

Posted by: Perplexed at January 8, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #111239

Perplexed:

Been drinking from the Israeli Kool-Aid, eh? Nothing wrong with a balance ot terror. Maybe a nuke will force the Israelis to treat the Palestinians decently.

Posted by: Aldous at January 8, 2006 5:16 PM
Comment #111264

Wonder if the Bush administration will feel itself being boxed into a corner of its own making. Between Plamegate, which is still being investigated, to the Abramoff scandals, to the NSA wiretaps, and misleading the country into the Invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is under assault. Possible impeachment looms on multiple fronts. Loss of either the House or the Senate will almost certainly spell the end of the Neocons.

Iraq is done. We’re not even bothering to request additional funds for reconstruction. Stick a fork in it.

Worse, on the domestic front, the inverting yield curve suggests a recession will hit the US economy, and it will probably be noticeable before the midterm elections in November.

What all this means is that the Bush administration will feel it has nothing to lose. A massive air strike on Iran would serve several purposes. Like the Invasion of Iraq, it will distract the populace from upcoming elections. In addition, it will once again cause the true believers to rally ‘round the flag right before upcoming elections. That could be enough to retain majorities in both houses, and prevent the investigations that will end in impeachment.

Poor Abramoff. He won’t be around anymore to fund Israeli sniper schools, but his spirit will live on with the Bush administration. Most reasonable people would suggest the US discourage Iranians from developing nukes, but refrain from attacking if the Iranians go through with it. Not the Neocons, though. Not Bush.

They are as aggressive as they are stupid. Let’s hope the good people in this country can stop them.

Posted by: phx8 at January 8, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #111273

The liberals from the blue & green column live in a state of perpetual hope of something big happening. For five years you have held to the thread that maybe something would bring this administration down. How sad your lives must be.

But, I will say, there was a time when I felt like you. You might say, I felt as if I had been on the backside of the desert for 8 years when Clinton and his corrupt cabinet were in power. If I may council you just a little, I just waited until another election and I asked God to give us a godly man in office.

The Bush presidency is alive and doing well, the republicans still control the House and Senate, and we move forward to confirm another conservative SC judge. Life is great.

Perplexed

Posted by: Perplexed at January 8, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #111275

You’re all focusing too much on the nuclear thing, and missing the key phrase that will suck us into a conflict with Iran:

China signed deals for oil and natural gas importation worth over $100 billion.

Remember the motivating factor behind all our little skirmishes.

1) Restrict oil exports to developing or competing countries.
a) Afghan oil pipeline - err, I mean the untraceable Osama Bin Laden
b) Iraqi oil reserves - oops, that’s short for WMD
c) now China’s oil interests in Iran?

2) In the aftermath, install a pro-US government in the name of democracy.

3) Profit.

I suppose _we_ might not be directly involved, but any Israeli involvement might as well be us, since they’re using our weapons, flying our planes and driving our tanks. But it won’t be our kids dying, so I guess it’s all okay.

Posted by: aparker at January 8, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #111285

Aparker,
Good point. The nuclear weapons issue is a pretext, but almost any pretext will do in a pinch. The gross stupidity of invading Iraq is unhinging the Middle East & the situation in Iran. An alliance of Iran and Iraq with Russia and China is a worst case scenario, but due to the incompetence of the Bush administration, a plausible one.

Perplexed,
You asked God to put a godly man in office? Isn’t that blasphemous? Why not a godly woman?

Posted by: phx8 at January 9, 2006 12:58 AM
Comment #111290

Perplexed:

Life is great.

Given the Bush inspired bloody mess in Iraq, and the sickeningly corrupt state of US politics, the above comment from Perplexed is staggering in its contemptuous disregard for reality. I almost choked on the mixture of misplaced piety and gleeful ignorance.

If the opinion, as expressed by Perplexed, is commonplace in the US, the country is bolloxed.

Posted by: Bob "On Tour" Hope at January 9, 2006 2:25 AM
Comment #111302

Dennis, interesting article — though I’m a little disappointed you didn’t provide your own opinion of what should be done.

From all I’ve heard, Persian is right that Ahmadinejad is not “extremely popular” with most Iranians. He ran on an anti-corruption platform and never made good on his promises — and is now blaming everything on Israel and the West. Most Iranians aren’t buying it.

Also, the threat of Iran acquiring a nuke sometime in the next couple decades isn’t as immediate as Iran’s ongoing destabilization in Iraq.

Here’s the kicker: Iran is the key to peace in the Middle East. Some defense analysts (Thomas P.M. Barnett being the most visible) are suggesting we allow Iran to build nukes in exchange for a security partnership with the US. The thinking being that an Iranian/Israeli nuclear balance in the region would curb the excesses of all parties while a US/Iranian partnership works together for free-market liberal democracy in the region.

I don’t agree with the nuke part at all, but it’s clear that Iran is the key to stability the Middle East. How we get them to live up to it (even with nukes) is anybody’s guess.

As far as China goes, by blocking Chinese access to oil from countries like Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, we’re driving them into the hands of countries like Sudan and Iran. We’d be better off helping China get oil from countries that aren’t on our shit list. China is the key to stability in Asia and should be our partner there.

You can argue the morality all you want, but geopolitics has an effect that’s hard to ignore.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 9, 2006 7:35 AM
Comment #111304

Perplexed, I am happy for you! It is good that people can remain happy regardless of what happens around them. It is a gift to be cherished, and the world needs such people, for such people provide optimism and hope when dark clouds of human events overshadow the horizon.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 9, 2006 7:43 AM
Comment #111305

AP said, “China is the key to stability in Asia and should be our partner there.”

Finally we have found common ground, AP. I have been advocating for warming relations of tolerance between the US and China for years. If given the choice of making this sleeping giant an ally or adversary, logic dictates making them an ally, and every President since Nixon has agreed with this policy until this one. Pres. Bush the II seems to be waffling and straddling the fence, sending mixed and confused messages regarding our intentions with China ranging from fear of their naval buildup, to cooperation on trade.

China must be watched carefully, and trusted only to the extent of verifiability. But, China’s leadership has its own wisdom and sense of responsibility for its future and survivability and that is common ground upon which to build a nonadversarial relationship which avoids roads to nuclear confrontation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 9, 2006 7:52 AM
Comment #111307

Lisa Renee, I find a great deal of wisdom in your words. I don’t agree with your benign assessment of Iran’s potential to disrupt relative world peace, but, acting on our worst and irrational fears of Iran is a prescription for disaster. And I expressly agree with your assessment that the US needs a consistent policy. Inconsistency breeds distrust and suspicion, and there is quite enough of that in the world to go around.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 9, 2006 7:57 AM
Comment #111319

David, thank you. I do realize Iran’s potential for disaster in that region but I personally believe it would be best dealt with by other muslim nations. If Israel and Iran try to destroy each other, the Middle Eastern countries will be affected. It’s in their best interest to stop that from happening. Should the US get involved? Not at this point. Monitoring what they are doing is of course understandable. I just don’t support the concept of ulimatiums unless we are going to demand it from all of them. If we were to demand unilateral nuclear disengagement in the middle east it would eliminate one of Iran’s main reasons (or pretense of a reason) for even considering going beyond just nuclear power.

I realize that will never happen, and chances are Israel will again take action without UN support and we will again protect Israel from receiving any type of sanction. Which will further increase the hatred towards both the US and Israel and continue to make us the target of hatred/terrorism. Unless some clearer heads prevail, it’s almost like reading a very bad novel, knowing the end and wishing you could re-write it.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at January 9, 2006 8:35 AM
Comment #111378

Call me cynical, but AIPAC would NEVER allow Iran to even come close to developing nuclear weapons for the sake of balancing out the Middle East. The Likud party has an agenda; it is to control the entire region of the Mediterranean and all around the gulf. If they do that then their messiah will come, according to them (I call it rubbish, knowing most Jews aren’t even religious and this is merely a crutch when it comes to getting support from the religious right.) Ariel Sharon has said it himself, “we control America.” I can say, with conviction, AIPAC and other Jewish interest groups will never allow Iran to balance it out. If the US were to resist (they’ve basically catered in their hands for decades now and more and more as time goes on), we can look forward to the Samson Option. That isn’t good when Israel could have as many as 400 nuclear weapons (they will not give an exact quotas.) Moreover, should Iran’s regime begin the hardline diplomacy with Israel, Israel isn’t pulling out for anyone. It isn’t a coincidence that as soon as peace talks begin, the leader who decides to be somewhat diplomatic is killed. That happened to Rabin and may happen to Sharon (does the average person even realize how angry people in the Likud party are due to the pull out?) This is a very dirty game. Let’s not forget the amount of violations Israel has done when it comes to the UN.

I’m not wanting for more of the US military to die due to us being obligated, if not FORCED, to cater to Israel. On a side-note, it may come as a surprise to most, but it’s common knowledge that AIPAC has a very tight grip on the United States.

Posted by: Paleocon at January 9, 2006 12:31 PM
Comment #111517

Think about the great pipelines the oil companies will have after we topple another middle east government. We get to one sea with Afghanistan, and once we take out Iraq and Iran we’ll have access to another sea.

It may cost us another couple thousand of Americans and we may kill tens of thousands of Iranians, but think of that oil!

Besides after we conquer all of these middle east countries, we can set up nuclear reactors in their contries and sell them their power.

Stick with the WMDs story though - fear is the best motivator when you want to go in and conquer sovereign nations and don’t want your people who are “represented” in congress making a fuss.

Besides George W Bush wouldn’t do anything wrong - we all have “faith” in him right?!? He is one of the evangelicals that can’t do anything wrong because their way is the right way and everyone else is wrong.

GOD Bless the USA!

Posted by: JT at January 9, 2006 4:50 PM
Comment #112408
I’m not wanting for more of the US military to die due to us being obligated, if not FORCED, to cater to Israel. On a side-note, it may come as a surprise to most, but it’s common knowledge that AIPAC has a very tight grip on the United States.

This is an interesting comment that a lot of people (including myself) won’t touch for fear of being put on a list over at the ADL.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 12, 2006 4:22 AM
Comment #113167

It seems clear that our efforts in recent times to resolve issues diplomatically in and concerning the Middle East have fallen on deaf ears. In terms of Iran, they have already stated their intentions regarding the UN being involved.

When you start hearing things like “military action cannot be ruled out” as a deterrent to the Iranian nuclear issue and look back on the sequence of events that got us to the Iraq war, it gives pause to wonder if “quick trigger” Presidential action could follow.

There is simply too much hatred of America due IMO to the vast cultural differences for conflict to cease. It may lay dormant for short periods but, it is like a sleeping giant.

Posted by: steve smith at January 14, 2006 11:05 AM
Comment #113244

I think what is really going on is fear mongering by the press. If and when Iran aquires nuclear weapons the only thing that will happen is the US and Israel will have to respect them.

Posted by: vimax at January 14, 2006 7:09 PM
Comment #113392

vimax, there is much more to worry about than that, and I suspect if you think about for a moment, you will realize it to. Proliferation of Middle East nuclear weapons is a threat to Europe and N. Africa. These are not stable regimes, most are monarchies or authoritarian.

Granted the limitation of short range ballistic missliles confines the strike zones, but, the world’s economy is now dependent in absolute terms on the EU markets and Middle East oil supplies. A nuclear conflagration in the Middle East has devastating economic consequences around the globe.

Welcome to the 21st century when world peace is not a desired goal, but a practical necessity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 15, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #113423

“Welcome to the 21st century when world peace is not a desired goal, but a practical necessity.”

David, you may have just articulated the only reason we’ll achieve peace. It’s amazing to me how mankind will rarely achieve aspirations based on merit, but more often than not will do so only on the basis of necessity. Whatever works, it is fine by me, but gosh wouldn’t it be something if we say behavior occur because it was the “right” thing to do versus an economical requisite?

Posted by: Dennis at January 15, 2006 4:12 PM
Comment #113576

We don’t however, Dennis, have the administration in place that is capable or willing to look for the options in which Iran may have nuclear energy for civilian purposes, while preserving the world’s oversight to insure against militarization of that technology. So far, this administration’s position is flat and rigid, Iran must NOT have nuclear technology, period. This is the kind of inflexibility that increases the risks of hostilities.

That said, it is too soon to tell if the administration is holding onto a safe compromise as a trump card to be played if negotiations go very badly. However, with Iraq as a backdrop, I am very skeptical of this administration’s strategy with Iran.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2006 11:25 AM
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