One can’t open a newspaper (if anyone still does that anymore) without seeing a lot of F.U.D. about Iran. What is F.U.D? Fear, uncertainty and doubt. “Existential threat”, “zone of immunity”, and “unacceptable” are terms that can be read in almost every article. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in these descriptions. On the other hand, there seems to be only a single prescription at this point in time. That, of course, is John McCain’s old tune: “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran” (Granted the Rx is crafted a bit more elegantly than that).
But are there options?
Haven’t we tried diplomacy and it didn’t work?
You might find an unexpected answer in Trita Parsi’s new book, A Single Roll of the Dice. Trita is one of the foremost experts on the relationship between Israel and Iran (his first book, A Treacherous Alliance has been called one of the “few detailed studies examining Israeli and Iranian attitudes and postures towards each other outside the context of U.S.-Iranian relations” by none other than the Rand Corporation in a recent comprehensive white paper: Israel and Iran – A Dangerous Rivalry) Trita reviews the month-by-month history of events involving the Iran nuclear program and vigorously argues that for many reasons, including missteps by all parties concerned, diplomacy was constantly being shifted off course. He especially highlights the little know fact that a diplomatic deal was ACTUALLY MADE in MAY, 2010 with Iran by the Turks and Brazilians – but was essentially rejected because the sanctions’ “train” had already moved out of the station.
Haven’t we tried Sanctions and they haven’t worked?
First, sanctions do appear to be having an effect. The value of the Iranian currency has dropped almost 50%. Other economic shifts are being felt. Second, the latest round of sanctions has only been in place since approximately January 1st – hardly enough time to assess their impact. Third, even harsher sanctions are scheduled to kick in over the next several months.
There isn’t time in this post to discuss possible consequences of the third option: military action, but suffice it to say that we need to be very upfront and sanguine about potential consequences of either a unilateral Israeli attack or a combined operation with the U.S. There is no doubt that Iran represents a potentially very serious threat to the entire world – but so did Saddam Hussein. To ignore the lessons of that strategic debacle is simply gross negligence
- Despite war drums, experts insist Iran N-deal possible (nation.com.pk)
- Director of National Intelligence Clapper Has Doubts About Iranian Bomb, But Sen. Graham Is “Very Convinced” (disquietreservations.blogspot.com)
Two other pieces of breaking news regarding Iran:
2. Report on the tripling of nuclear program: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/06/09/3088068/iran-to-triple-uranium-enrichment
- Iran to set up better centrifuges at new site soon (ctv.ca)
- US hits Iranian security forces for rights abuses (alternet.org)
- Iran to set up better centrifuges at new nuke site (sfgate.com)
Six Former European Ambassadors Buck The “Fear-Only” Approach to Iran. They Believe World Still Needs To Engage
What grabs headlines are the constant reports of Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program – including Iranian officials’ announcement just this week of a tripling of Iran’s enrichment potential. However, a more even keeled, unemotional approach was taken in an op-ed yesterday in the LA Times. Six former European ambassadors (who might actually know a thing or two about understanding and dealing with real-life, living and breathing Iranian diplomats and politicians) call for continued engagement with Iran. Instead of hyperbole, they calmly review some of the actual facts with regard to Iran’s nuclear program and indicate that by all accounts, Iran appears to have adhered pretty well to the requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (to which Iran is a signatory – unlike some other countries). The main thrust of their argument, however, is that even while it is important to be watchful of Iran, the world should continue to attempt to engage with them.
“Of course, a dilemma lingers in the minds of most of our leaders. Why offer the Iranian regime an opening that could help it restore its internal and international legitimacy? Should we not wait for a more palatable successor before making a new overture?
This is a legitimate question, but we should not overestimate the influence of a nuclear negotiation on internal developments in Iran. Ronald Reagan used to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” but that did not stop him from negotiating intensely with Mikhail Gorbachev on nuclear disarmament. Should we blame him for having slowed down the course of history?
The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany should certainly keep the focus on matters of political and human rights, but they should also try harder to solve a frustrating and still urgent proliferation problem. By doing so, we would reduce a serious source of tension in a region that longs more than ever for tranquility.”
Read the full story here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-ambassadors-iran-20110609,0,2564096.story
- Iran to triple uranium enrichment (jta.org)
- World powers concerned over Iran nuclear programme (alternet.org)