« collateral damage? | Main | ALP: torn 'n frayed »

November 18, 2004

hard policies--Iran?

The press reports indicate that Condolezza Rice role is to present a more assertive and a more unilateral US foreign policy to the rest of the world. Her appointment is interpreted as consolidating the control over US foreign policy by the coalition of hawks that promoted the war in Iraq.


This means global US military dominance, preemption against possible enemies, the aggressive promotion of democracy overseas and the rejection of multilateral mechanisms or treaties that might constrain the exercise of US power. It also means that the international community is "illusory" and that US national interest comes first.

I presume that this Bush doctine means that the current containment and mulitalteral negotiations with Iran, which aim to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions, will soon be replaced by the US push for tougher sanctions, and then regime change. Condoleezza Rice has previously said that the US will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.

Mathew Yglesias asks: "Is a nuclear Iran such a bad thing that it is worth preventing by any means necessary?

The US reckons that it is okay for Israel to be a nuclear power. Would not a nuclear Israel be a threat to Iran? Is it not the case that Israel would not want to lose its nuclear monopoly over the other Middle Eastern states?

So I presume that the United States perceives Iran's quest for nuclear energy as a threat to its interests in the Middle East. I also presume that this means the security of Israel is the most important issue in the Middle East for the US.

Iran's security interests, how Iran views its regional strategic environment, and Iran's genuine fears regarding its security, have little traction with the Bush administration. Does it not have a legitimate claim to deterrence?

Despite deep internal divisions in Iran over its future (Western or Islamic), nearly all of Iran's significant political forces are nationalist; and so they are united on the premise that any US attempts to change the Iranian regime and its revolutionary heritage are unwelcome and to be firmly resisted.

Update 20/11
Colin Powell has gone public on the issue. U.S. credibility is at stake on this, given that the information about Iran's nuclear program was classified and based on an unvetted, single source.

For some good background comments on this proliferation issue read Roger A. Payne's blog

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at November 18, 2004 01:32 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Are you engaging in equivalency again? Surely, you can see that there is a slight difference between a Western style democracy holding nuclear weapons and a theocracy holding nuclear weapons?
Israel holding nuclear weapons is not a threat to Iran or any other Middle Eastern country. Israel has had nuclear weapons for at least two decades and yet not used them. They exist as a deterrent and so far a very effective deterrent.

Posted by: Noam at November 19, 2004 12:26 PM

yes and no. Iran has signed up to, and has not yet withdrawn, from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel has not signed and declines to do so.

What I am suggesting that if you view things from the perspective of Iran's strategic interests, then you can see that it is arguing that it also needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent.It has Israel on one border and the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is being threatened by sanctions by the US and strikes against its nuclear reactor by the Israeli's.

The cowboy threats and pressure from Washington play into the hands of the right wing mullajhs who will use nationalism to unite the religious and secular forces within Iran.

The European carrot and stick approach is a much better way to go, with more carrot and less stick.This implies treating Iran with a great deal more respect and deference than Iraq was treated.

Your phrase of a "theocracy holding nuclear weapons" implies two things:

1. that Iran would drop nuclear bombs on Israel, killing not only the Jews, but also the Muslim Arabs inhabiting Israel and the occupied territories. Am I right in that?

2. an interpretation of Iran's foreign policy indicating that it is out-of-controlas it is run by ideology and zealots, rather than being a pragmatic consideration of what is best in Iran's national interests. Am I right?

The picture I get from 1 & 2 is an (unrealistic) nightmare scenario built around a caricature of the Muslim "other" as irrational zealots. Is that a fair interpretation?

What I am suggesting is that Iran has rising insecurity worries, which is often a prime motive force for developing nuclear weapons. What I am seeing is the US and Israel failing to address Iran's security worries, or even acknowledging that they are legitimate.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at November 19, 2004 03:02 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)