Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pincer Diplomacy

In one of his early State of the Union addresses, George Bush referred to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as members of the "axis of evil" that threatened the United States. Relations with all three sovereign nations went south pretty quickly after that speech, and understandably so. Now Iran finds itself with US military forces on either side of its borders: Afghanistan to the west and Iraq to the east. Pakistan, also in the neighborhood (and with nuclear arms), has been cooperating with the US in the Global War on Terror by assisting in Afghanistan. Iran has every reason to feel threatened by the US. That Iran would respond by developing nuclear weapons is certainly an understandable, albeit dangerous, response to the situation in that part of the Middle East.

Europe has been engaged in diplomacy over the past year to eighteen months in order to cool Iran's insistance on nuclear development. Unfortunately, the European diplomacy has not had the breakthrough which would defuse the issue. As a result, the US is now pushing for UN sanctions. Yesterday afternoon, the Minneapolis Star Tribune posted an article on Secretary of State Rice's promotion of a UN showdown.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday "the time has come" to send Iran before the U.N. Security Council over its disputed nuclear program, but she seemed to acknowledge that U.N. action may not be swift.

Iran warned that it would intensify its nuclear development if referred to the Security Council.

...[Rice] would not speculate on what action the Security Council might take, or comment on whether the United States would be satisfied with an outcome less punitive than international economic sanctions.

...Rice said that while President Bush always reserves the right to use force, U.S. military action against Iran "is not on the agenda because we have committed to the diplomatic course."
[Emphasis added]

That last statement by Rice is chilling in light of how the current American regime manipulated the UN to justify the invasion of Iraq. Still, Iran is not Iraq. It has large energy contracts with China (which holds an enormous amount of US debt), and has a strong ally in Russia. Both states are permanent members of the UN Security Council and both have made it clear that they will veto any plan to impose crippling sanctions on Iran.

Iran itself is not exactly helpless and has already indicated how it will respond to any such sanctions. The threatened response was noted in an article printed last week in the Guardian.

Iran stepped up its defiance of international pressure over its nuclear programme yesterday by warning of soaring oil prices if it is subjected to economic sanctions. As diplomats from the US, Europe, Russia, and China prepared to meet today in London to discuss referring Tehran to the UN security council, Iran's economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari, said the country's position as the world's fourth-largest oil producer meant such action would have grave consequences.

"Any possible sanctions from the west could possibly, by disturbing Iran's political and economic situation, raise oil prices beyond levels the west expects," he told Iranian state radio.

...Mr Danesh-Jafari's comments echoed fears voiced by energy market analysts after crude oil prices last week rose above $64 (£36.50) a barrel as hopes faded of a diplomatic solution to the dispute.

Last week, Manouchehr Takin, of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, argued that crude prices could hit $100 a barrel if Iran stopped exporting. "Supply and demand are very tightly balanced," he said.

Mr Danesh-Jafari's warning added weight to veiled threats by Iran's president on Saturday. Iran had a "cheap means" of achieving its nuclear "rights", Mr Ahmadinejad said, adding: "You [the west] need us more than we need you. All of you today need the Iranian nation."

Recognising the danger, Gernot Erler, Germany's deputy foreign minister, said yesterday: "We are seeing desperate measures by Asian countries, mainly China, India and others, to get hold of energy resources, and for them Iran is a partner they can't do without." He said it was "dangerous" to put restrictions on trade relations "which could hurt one's own side more than the other side".
[Emphasis added]

Because of the US regime's excellent adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its worsening relations with Venezuela (a major oil supplier to us) the US has effectively painted itself into a corner, and the UN is unlikely to provide a safe way out, especially given the behavior of the US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

But wait: there's more. Embedded in the Star Tribune article cited above is the following:

Israel's defense minister implied over the weekend that if diplomacy fails with Iran, Israel could resort to military action to defend itself from a nation whose leader, hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said the Jewish state should be wiped off the map. [Emphasis added]

Way to go, George.


Blogger phinky said...

Iran is fighting us in Iraq so they don't have to fight us at home. That should be funny, but it's not because it's true. :(

5:44 AM  

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