March 12, 2006

Iran Policy: High on Life

There is a surreal quality to hardline conservative foreign policy proposals and strategies that makes me feel constantly like asking, "Dude, what are these people ON!?" Because the people who determine our foreign policy don't just have issues but, as a wise person once said, a lifetime subscription.

Having maybe realized the pointlessness of attempting to start a third land war in Asia in the space of 5 years (there's no winning at Tic-Tac-Toe even when you're the Only Remaining SuperpowerTM), and against a country that hasn't been recently invaded or torn apart by decades of civil war at that, the Bush administration just signaled that they would cease opposition to Iran engaging in petrochemical commerce with India. Though they're still ticked about the nuclear thing, but that's okay. Because when we re-install government by puppetry, we're going to need them to build up those nuke facilities with a quickness. Did you almost miss that?

Yes, the Bush administration really thinks that they will succeed in toppling Iran's government where every one of their predecessors have failed, in spite of this cause having remained a line item every year since 1979. Maybe they think that this time, what with the US also beating all comers for Most Hated NationTM status and after watching two neighboring countries fall from dictatorship into bloody anarchy under US occupation, perhaps the Iranian government can be caught off guard, all unsuspecting like. As you will read below, they're setting up a headquarters for these efforts in the United Arab Emirates, you know, that Mideast resort country that wanted to buy our ports. They've even got a prospective Chalabi lined up, though this particular puppet in waiting has the advantage of being less likely to sell American security secrets to Iranian intelligence before the takeover. A fact you really have to appreciate for it's camp value, unless it just makes you want to whimper.

And with that preamble, here, heaven preserve us, are some recent news reports from our latest increasingly unhinged foreign policy tangle below the jump.

The Russian deal on nuclear fuel enrichment has really and truly fallen through. Oh yes. The Iranian government explains thusly, in a comment designed to remind the world at large that there's no evidence to date that they've broken their treaty obligations:

... Asefi reiterated that Iran had no immediate plans to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because of being reported to the world body in New York.

"Opting out of the NPT is not on the agenda," he said.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated Iran's official position, voiced by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month, that Iran could reconsider its stance if it felt it was being unfairly pressured.

But he too stressed this would be an extreme resort.

"We prefer to use existing mechanisms and to have our rights from our more than 30-year membership of the NPT," he said.

It should be noted that Iran probably will get nuclear weapons at some point, someday. This shouldn't be a shock. But it should be pointed out at the same time that the reactors they're building don't run on weapons-grade fuel, unlike Israel's. And that they haven't come close to thumbing their noses at the international nuclear community like India. It should be pointed out also that their speed in deciding an implementation trajectory is likely to be inversely proportional to the amount of external threat they're under. And further, American arguments to sway Iranian public opinion are almost certainly doomed, especially if they rest on creating some sort of moral opposition to the idea. The proper question to ask at this point is whether or not, faced with a situation we're unlikely to be able to affect for the better, we should quit trying to make it worse:

... We don't like being accused by America or any other country. There are all these countries developing nuclear power: India, Pakistan and Israel. Why don't the Americans threaten them?"

Habari represents a strong strain of opinion here: nationalism mixed with a feeling that Iran too often has been treated as an exception to the rules of international relations.

... Some polls here have suggested that more than 80% of the public supports Iran's decision to use its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to conduct nuclear research and enrich uranium for civilian nuclear purposes, which is all the government says it has in mind.

... Morteza Mohammedi, 28, a taxi driver struggling to support his wife, Fatima, 24, and their 7-month-old child, said he thought most people he met were worried that the nuclear issue would cause a confrontation that would harm the country's economy.

"If it was the time of Khatami, he could easily solve this problem by making a deal," he said of the former president, Mohammad Khatami. "But this government always wants to have its way and is pushy." As a result, he complained, "we do not feel any security for the future or see any signs of stability."

But Fatima Mohammedi said she did not agree.

Although she too was worried about the future, she thought Iran should be allowed to have nuclear energy. "You should not say, 'No, you should not have it,' " she said. "Many other countries have had such a program before us." ...

In response and as mentioned above, the US government is going to step up efforts to overthrow Iran's government, which I'm sure is going to go over well with the public:

Iranians demonstrate for their country's right to have a nuclear program. Photo by Vahid Salemi, AP.The State Department is preparing for a "long struggle" against Iran and has opened a special Office of Iranian Affairs inside the department in Washington and a miniature embassy-in-exile in Dubai to help "defeat" the Iranian regime.

The new post in the United Arab Emirates -- home to 560,000 Iranians -- will help funnel money and support to dissidents and antigovernment activists inside and outside Iran, according to a leaked March 6 State Department cable.

... Charles A. Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the new moves by Washington suggest "a clear effort to make regime change a more central part of U.S. policy."

But he warned that working with Iranian exiles to undermine the Iranian regime also has risks.

"We learned some tough lessons from Iraq in relying too heavily on the advice and the activities of ex-pats because they are often out of touch with the realities on the ground, and they are often resented as people who parachute back in, are tainted by close association with the United States," he said. ...

And on that note, Avedon Carol points to the recent push to put a Pahlavi back in charge. It's enough to make me wish I'd grown up Catholic, just so I could have some colorful sounding religious figures to swear by. The Looking Glass quotes the exiled Pahlavi Jr. from the Mar. 6 New Yorker and follows the bizarre comment with the only reasonable response possible:

At one point, Pahlavi became quite excited, saying, "Maybe what happened twenty-six years ago is a blessing in disguise. ... I don't think we could have had the appreciation for democratic values we have come to today. It's by losing democracy that we have come to value it."

Iran lost democracy twenty-six years ago when Reza's dad, the former Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was kicked out by a popular rebellion. You will, of course, recall the democratic procedure which installed the Shah into power many years before that --- a CIA-sponsored coup which displaced Mohammed Mossadegh, a politician who had been autocratically forced on the country by voters in a free election.

You may commence with the whimpering. It's okay. I'm told it relieves the intercranial pressure caused by observing shocking acts of life-threatening stupidity over and over again. But I don't recommend joining our policy makers at whatever bowl they're toking. The likely result would be crippling paranoia, which is only considered harmless and eccentric if you work at the State Department, and a Very Bad Trip.

Posted by natasha at March 12, 2006 05:00 AM | International | Technorati links |