Saturday, May 13, 2006

Another Missed Opportunity...

...and missed intentionally.

Secretary of State Sponsored Terrorism Rice dismissed the recent letter from Iran President Ahmadinejad as being irrelevant and making no offers for negotiation. The fact that this rather odd missive (the full text of which is available here and which is certainly worth reading) is the first communication from the Irani government to the US government since President Carter's administration is significant, yet it was simply shrugged off as a "ploy" by the Iranians to fracture the UN Security Council on the issue of sanctions.

The fact that it may very well have been such a ploy doesn't change the importance of the of this direct communication. This long shut door opened slightly, and if the current regime had any sophistication at all, it would have used that narrow opening to defuse the current situation by responding in a more positive fashion. That would have put Mr. Ahmadinejad in the position of having to continue the dialogue, whether he wanted to or not. Instead, the bullies in the White House slammed the door shut, much to the discomfort of the rest of the world. Even the cautiously worded editorial in Germany's Frankfurter Rundshau points out one of the consequences of dismissing the Iranian letter so cavalierly.

And so the diplomacy to overcome what threatens to be a dangerous deadlock over a Security Council resolution against Iran begins. Up to now, the U.S. provided the mental direction for the discussions: if Washington's approach can be called a coherent strategy at all, it has as its goal to bring Teheran to its knees with sanctions. The Bush Administration argues that the heavier the pressure, the sooner Iran will give in and give up its contentious enrichment of uranium. Thus, the White House is pushing the Security Council to issue a strong resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter and to, at least at some point in the future, apply sanctions against Iran.

...History teaches us that tough sanctions, rather than weakening regimes domestically, tend to strengthen them, as in the case of Fidel Castro. Iran is the forth largest oil exporter. As a neighbor of Iraq, it has tremendous influence on Baghdad's Shiite leadership and the current situation in that country. Above all, however, the nuclear program mobilizes Persian national pride across all of Iran's political groups. If tough-minded confrontation is applied here, it could quickly strengthen the wrong people. No one understands that better than Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad.

The Iranian President plays on that escalation of tension. Without the struggle over nuclear energy, domestic political issues would be the topic of discussion. This is why he executes such wild leaps on the other end of the tight-rope. One can read into his letter to George W. Bush anything one wants: it could be a cryptic offer for negotiation, a tactical deception, a demonstration of strength, or an alarming insight into the thinking of a man who sees himself as an instrument of prophecy.
[Emphasis added]

The US, by its actions are doing exactly what the Iranian rulers want: unifying the Iranian people under their current leadership. And, unfortunately, the Iranian leadership is doing exactly what this country's rulers want, an excuse to go to war yet again. What we are left with are two parties just itching for a fight, and there will be no winners in such a conflict (as there will be none in Iraq).

For those who actually believe that the US simply wants sanctions imposed, I would remind them just what Chapter VII of the UN Charter involves:

Essentially, a Chapter VII resolution would permit what the United States calls serious consequences, ie: sanctions and/or military action, if Iran fails to comply with Council demands. [Emphasis added]

We've been down this road before.


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