Saturday, May 27, 2006

Us vs. Them

One of the things Americans are famous for is our unbridled arrogance. Yes, we should be proud of this nation. Well, we at least should be proud of this nation's ideals. That does not mean, however, that we should be ignorant of the vast interconnectedness of the modern world. No longer can a single nation, no matter how militarily powerful, act alone without repercussions. We depend on other nations to meet our energy needs. We depend on other nations to buy our debt. We depend on other nations to buy our agricultural products and to sell us their goods.

I suppose a good argument can be made that the rise of the multinational corporation and its takeover of governmental functions could be made right here, but I'm going to save that for another post on another day. Suffice it to say, the US and this regime in particular must recognize that it cannot continue to go off half-cocked whenever it chooses for whatever reason it chooses.

The Emperor and his minions refuse to acknowledge this imperative, as evidenced by its continued sabre-rattling in the general direction of Iran. As they did in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, they are currently using the United Nations to provide cover for the next military incursion. Only Great Britain stands with the US, albeit weakly, on its proposed stiff set of demands that Iran give up any claim to any kind of nuclear development. The other three members of Security Council, France, Russia, and China, continue to stand firm against the US plan, and they urge a solution that includes direct negotiation with Iran. And that serves the real politik of the current regime just fine. "Old Europe" and "Communists" can be dismissed from the dialogue and American citizens will just nod knowingly. Then the Emperor in Chief can send in the bombers.

That is not what the United Nations was and should be intended for. A rather pithy column written by Oliver Miles in the UK Guardian considers this whole issue.

The crisis over a nuclear Iran is precisely the sort of thing that the security council of the United Nations exists for - as the UN charter puts it, "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war". ...

Insofar as our policies are different, Russian and French policies seem to me, both on Iran and on other Middle East issues such as Iraq and Palestine, to be rather better balanced than American policy, which our present government is inclined to shadow. China has in the past successfully lain low on most of these questions, but is increasingly having to show its hand because of its rapidly growing involvement as an importer of Middle Eastern oil.

A dramatic example was the decision of "us two" to go to war in Iraq without waiting for another security council resolution, although both the British and American permanent representatives had expressly stated that we did not regard the earlier Resolution 1441 as a trigger for war ("no automaticity" in the jargon). Going to war, apart from being illegal, did great damage to the authority that the security council could bring to bear in future crises such as the one we now face over Iran.

The wrong way forward is for America, no doubt with our support, to grab the headlines as though it had some claim to be top nation. Inevitably whatever line is taken by America - the "Great Satan" as Iran impudently calls it - will produce a hostile reaction in Iran. The right way, which would help to restore UN authority as well as perhaps offering a way out of the present crisis, would be to find a joint position, which the security council powers could expound together.
[Emphasis added]

That would in fact be "the right way," but I fear that it is a way that the Emperor (who besides believing that he has a direct pipeline to God thinks of himself as Clint Eastwood in the "Dirty Harry" movies) has no patience for. The results this time could be even more disasterous than the fall-out from the Iraq invasion. Iran could shut down the production and shipment of Middle East oil, causing a world-wide scramble for other sources, such as Venezuela and Mexico, sources which the US has been cheerfully dissing of late.

I see a catastrophe up ahead, and I don't see any way to avoid it.


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