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January 31, 2006

Comments

Andrew

"all such talks will fail until the Iranian regime is confronted with the possibility of imminent massive military aggression capable of putting its very continued existence in danger"

But in your last post you ruled out invasion/occupation, and argued for targeted air strikes / special ops to destroy nuclear sites only. How does that put the Iranian regime's very existence in danger? Might not the Iranian people in fact rally behind the regime in a fit of nationalism?

Anyway, it seems rather dubious that even the imminent threat of regime overthrow would deter nuclear development - wouldn't that just make them look like they'd caved, and then be ousted in the next election? (well, just the elected officials... the unelected ones might not care so much.)\

Abiola

"But in your last post you ruled out invasion/occupation"

I ruled out an occupation, not an invasion: they aren't the same thing (ask Noriega), and I'm talking about killing the Iranian leadership (or to be precise, giving said leadership the impression that this is on the cards), not taking and holding land (let alone indulging a repeat of the Iraqi "nation-building" experiment).

"Might not the Iranian people in fact rally behind the regime in a fit of nationalism?"

I frankly don't give a damn whether or not they do, as long as most of the current Iranian leadership has been killed and their nuclear facilities reduced to rubble. What I care about is the prospect of a nuclear armed Islamic theocracy free to export terror and fanaticism throughout the world at leisure, not how much the Iranians love their government.

"it seems rather dubious that even the imminent threat of regime overthrow would deter nuclear development - wouldn't that just make them look like they'd caved, and then be ousted in the next election?"

If you're dead because your country's been invaded and cruise missiles have been lobbed at your house, what would you care about a future lost election? For power-hungry politicians elections are easy enough to rig in a place like Iran: death, on the other hand, is a condition from which no recovery is possible.

"the unelected ones might not care so much"

And guess who happen to call the final shots in the Iranian Republic?

The alternative to allowing Iran to forge ahead with its nuclear weapons program while meaningless talks go on at the UNSC, where all meaningful action can be vetoed by an oil-hungry Chinese dictatorship and an indigent Russian autocracy willing to sell anything to anyone (and both of which are militarily impotent while ultimately far more reliant on Western markets than they are on Iran's), will be to immunize from external challenge for decades a regime where people like you or myself are routinely strung up at the whim of a hat, a regime fired up with religious zeal to impose its peculiar brand of madness on the rest of the world. *That* is what one has to weigh in the balance in deciding what to do about Iran, not just the prospect of some Mossadegh-style outburst of Iranian domestic rage against the West - as long as that rage remains impotent and confined to chanting "Death to America!" or destabilizing neighboring Shiite Iraq, the world will remain much better off than it easily might have been.

Finally, let me make a point that you and everyone else so eager to argue against posting a militarily credible threat to the Iranians clearly fail to grasp: the more credible such a threat is to one's adversary, the less likely one will actually have to use it, and it is precisely domestic opposition to seriously considering this option which does the most to undermine this credibility to the Iranians, ironically raising the likelihood of the very military conflict you claim to oppose; it is just for this reason that I have said and still say that British FM Jack Straw is an irresponsible idiot for insisting that the military option is now and never will be on the table. An illustrative lesson from history - had Britain and France been willing to threaten war in 1936 when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland or on any of the occasions afterwards when the preponderance of military might was still on their side, Hitler wouldn't have so recklessly launched a Second World War in 1939; Stalin's support for North Korea's attack on the South and Saddam's invasion of Kuwait after talking with April Glaspie are two more examples in the same mould. As hard as it may be for those who are enamored of idealist dreams about tne nature of international relations to understand, sometimes the best way to preserve peace *really is* to be willing to go to war.

Josef

I really do not say why there is such a big issue with Iran getting a Nuclear Weapon! India, Pakistan, France, Israel, etc have weapons, why should not Iran?
Isn't is a double standard?
I think Iran should get nuclear weapon or develop whatever it wants...

Wayne

That's if you want an accelerated nuclear arms race in the Middle East and potentially globally if the NPT collapses. It also increases the chances for unstable regimes and madmen to get their grubby paws on such weapons.

Andrew

"let me make a point that you and everyone else so eager to argue against posting a militarily credible threat to the Iranians clearly fail to grasp: the more credible such a threat is to one's adversary, the less likely one will actually have to use it, and it is precisely domestic opposition to seriously considering this option which does the most to undermine this credibility to the Iranians, ironically raising the likelihood of the very military conflict you claim to oppose"

Oh come on Abiola, give me a little credit here - that point is very obvious. This little dilemma is a (perhaps the) central paradox for anyone opposed to military action - but if you're really against war, can you really be expected to keep that secret and shout loudly for blood and put your faith in Bush that he can make Iran blink first without actually invading? It's easy enough for politicians to bluff (so I agree that Jack Straw shouldn't have ruled out military action) but not so easy for 300 million citizens of a democracy to bluff.

"as long as most of the current Iranian leadership has been killed"

Because we've done such a good job of killing Osama bin Laden? (And it seems dubious that we could have gotten Saddam if we hadn't occupied Iraq.)

"the very military conflict you claim to oppose"

I wish you wouldn't put words in my mouth - I never said that. I have been raising objections because I'm as yet undecided (my initial feeling that this would be a bad idea is not firm enough to be outright "opposition").

dsquared

[had Britain and France been willing to threaten war in 1936 when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland or on any of the occasions afterwards when the preponderance of military might was still on their side, Hitler wouldn't have so recklessly launched a Second World War in 1939; ]

Neither Britain nor France were in any position to make a credible threat of war in 1936 (Britain frankly wasn't until about 1941). Worth remembering that we declared war on Hitler rather than the other way round; Britain and France had set out explicitly the conditions under which they would declare war on Germany and we did in fact keep to them.

The point here (as I think I explained to you at the time; I still think you're confused about credible threats) is that the British and French threats of war were not credible to Hitler; he knew full well that we didn't have enough spare guns and tanks to carry them out, which is why he invaded Poland despite our treaty support, and he would have got away with it if it weren't for the Yanks and Russians.

The fact that we don't have enough guns and tanks to invade Iran without creating a terrorist disaster for ourselves, is a pretty good reason to wait until we do before we threaten to do it. The Iranians know this so there is not much point sabre rattling now. Since the production of nuclear warheads is not something that can be done quickly or secretly we have time on our side at present. Particularly when Ahminejad is not actually all that popular with either the populace or the mullahs and might quite easily fall over of his own accord.

I agree that economic sanctions are pointless; no government in history has ever responded to sanctions by /reducing/ their military expenditure.

dsquared

[It's easy enough for politicians to bluff (so I agree that Jack Straw shouldn't have ruled out military action)]

It isn't easy for politicians to bluff *credibly* (this is a big point from Schelling), and Jack Straw clearly hasn't ruled out military action - saying "I won't invade you" always means "I won't invade you unless I decide at some future point that it is in my interests to do so". Except by going to extraordinary lengths like moving a million British schoolchildren to Tehran, it is impossible for Jack Straw to credibly (ie, time-consistently) commit to not invade Iran. Which is why the statement "Military action is out of the question" has to be valued at a slight discount to its nitrogen content. This is not exactly cutting edge stuff so I assume the Iranians understood that too.

The real danger from sabre-rattling is that the Iranians decide to give up on their nuclear program and make a big show of dismantling everything in front of the inspectors, then a kilogram or two of uranium shows up in Osama bin Laden's next project.

Jim

"as long as most of the current Iranian leadership has been killed"

Because we've done such a good job of killing Osama bin Laden? (And it seems dubious that we could have gotten Saddam if we hadn't occupied Iraq.)"

For one thing, we pretty certain that the Iranian leadership is still alive, and we can assume that they can't be running the country from a cave somewhere in a maze of mountains. It is not that hard to disrupt government once you decide to knock out enough of the right nodes - that was an immediate concern in the US after 9/11. And thank God we will be fairly sure of targeting those nodes pretty exactly and sparing civilians. We probably care more about reducing Iranian civilian losses than the Iranian government does; at least we have never marched masses of them across minefields and into gas attacks.

The real issue is the credibility of the US threat, and that hangs on what capabilities remain after resourcing Iraq. We have come a long way since the Desert One cock up, but who can guarantee that the Iranians believe that enough to fell threatened enough? Then again, it might take only a few Tomahawks in the right places to get the point across.

"I really do not say why there is such a big issue with Iran getting a Nuclear Weapon! India, Pakistan, France, Israel, etc have weapons, why should not Iran?
Isn't is a double standard?"

No, Joe, because there is a second and separate standard that also applies, and that is how well a country can be trusted with those weapons. Countires like Pakistan and India have proven that they are trustworthy by the restraint they have shown despite overwhelming temptation to use their weapons (on each other). Iran hasn't done that yet, and of course they haven't had the chance if they don't have the weapons. That is circular, but too bad; it is silly to expect other people to bet thier lives just to accord Iran some right to these weapons.

Speaking of Pakistan and India, I wonder why they have kept so quiet on this issue. They are within range too.

dsquared

If you knocked out and disrupted the current political leadership of Iran, the replacements would be mullahs, for no obvious net gain. The crucial issue here is how sure we could be of getting every gram of uranium without an occupation; my guess is not very, particularly as one thing that we do know is that the border with Iraq is porous.

Josef

I am still surprised by the tone people using when talking about Iranian people or leadership acquiring nuclear weapon.

I believe it ridiculous when Pakistan next door to Iran already has nuclear weapons with military dictarship!
I remember Bush and Blair used this WMD excuse and fabrications to invade Iraq and kill more than 40,000 Iraqis and completely destroy the country's infrastructure.
These numbers are from the Bush Administration and generally are considered conservative numbers.

Remember Iraq did not attack America and the whole United Nation and world was against the invasion.

After the fiasco in Iraq, I am sure Bush and Blair will not be able to attack Iran. They do not have resource or energy. What happened to North Korea? Did it acquire the nuclear when? Maybe if you want to be left alone by America, England, etc, you should develop nuclear weapons?

Looking at the situation, it makes sense for Iran to quickly get the weapon. It is intelligent on their part to make such a move for their survival. Who is to say that in a year or two, America or Britain might come after them by creating some sort of propaganda about "immediate" threat...


Jim

"Looking at the situation, it makes sense for Iran to quickly get the weapon. It is intelligent on their part to make such a move for their survival. "

Iran is under no threat. The Iranian government is under threat. Your commnet shows where your loyalty lies. It is obviously not with Iran or the Iranian people.

Secondly, the "whole world" was not against the invasion - China and India didn't object very much, just a few formal noises. When China truly wants to obstruct or prevent an action, it can do so very effictively Darfur is an example. So now, the whole world very celarly was not against the invasion. The Muslim world objected. And a majority of Western Europe objected. But that is hardly, hardly the whole world.

Josef

I do not think it is about loyality. It is just about observing situation from different angles..
I do not know about your comment about China obstructing or preventing action. China is getting powerful but is not a major superpower yet. Remember the invasion of Iraq was not approved by the United Nations. On the issue of Darfur, I am not sure if United States has the best interest of the Sudanese people in mind... Remember Clinton bombing a pharmacy in the middle of his Lewinsky-gate! It looks a little strange to the world that US is making a big issue about Darfur after 40,000+ deaths in the Iraq invasion.

In terms of China-
I believe it will be at point of a superpower in a few more years. This not necessarily a good or bad thing- but china does not the level imperialism or colonialism tendency exhibited by the Western countries...for the last 500years.

Also, China is all over africa building roads and basic insfrastructure... they are not humanitarians but their attitude of "we do not care about your politics or internal affairs, let's do business" is selling very well in African countries.


About Iran not feeling "threat" well look at Iraq? What is the reason for the War? Saddam did not attack the united states or Britain... All that talk of immediate threat or WMD or chemical weapons happened to be a mirage!

The US could find any excuse or justification to attack especially with Iran's Oil resource...

When you are a superpower, you can act a like a bully. America is trying to remake the middle-east to fit its own interest which is not bad thing however their approach is definitely counter-productive.

Once China replaces US as number economy, those countries might decide to side with China and China might offer them protection... I know this sounds a bit simplistic but who knows about tomorrow...

Courtenay Barnett

Memorandum to President Bush and President Ahmadinejad
February 22nd, 2006
22 February, 2006

Memorandum from the desk of Courtenay Barnett: for earliest consideration of President George Bush and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

To: Washington
And To: Tehran

Dear President Bush and President Ahmadinejad,

Peace is a far better option than war, as sensibly we can all agree.

Can we all spare a small measure of time from your busy schedules for a few thoughts on the urgent issue of peace?

I may sound idealistic, but war, it seems to me, undeniably brings death, trauma, hatred and a poisonous atmosphere in the world that we are all better off without – can we agree on that? Fine, so let’s talk for a while about peace.

The present looming conflict between the US and Iran ostensibly stems from US concerns about Iran’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities. Others are maintaining that you, President Bush, want a war because of the establishment of Iran’s “oil bourse” in March, 2006 and for reason that President Ahmadinejad has resolved to sell oil in the Euro. Iran’s move will shift reliance on the Petrodollar to the Euro. So as with Saddam’s 2000 sales of oil in the Euro, Iran is going much further and establishing an oil exchange – something that the US opposes. Some say that you, President Bush, see this as a threat to US hegemony and will go to any lengths to start another “oil war”.

For the moment let’s not linger on the fact that lies were told about Iraq having WMDs as the reason for starting a war with Iraq. But, you will have to concede President Bush that you do have a credibility crisis as your word cannot readily be trusted anymore after having invaded Iraq on the WMD pretext.

President Ahmadinejad, you in an interview in February, 06, with Barbara Slavin of the US, gave replies in response to the agitative statements that you made about the “Holocaust”:-

“ Q: Why do you say the things you do about Israel and the Holocaust when it only upsets people and further isolates Iran?
A: I don’t know who is annoyed by revealing facts. But we know for sure that the people of Palestine are being killed every day with the Holocaust as a pretext and the people of the region have been deprived of peace and security. One day they (the Israelis) used to utter the slogan of the “Nile to the Euphrates.” It means they have a larger plan to aggress other nations of the region.
…….

Q: Why don’t you go to Auschwitz and see the gas chambers for yourself?
A: My going there will not solve the problem. I cannot take a trip back 60 years but researchers can do that.
Q: Would you accept the testimony of Holocaust survivors in Iran?
A: We accept them but an impartial group should (also) go there and investigate.”
You too President Bush need to tone down your rhetoric. Presidents, albeit some of President Ahmadinejad’s comments are intended for domestic consumption, inflammatory rhetoric from either side will not assist peace at this stage. Harsh words will only be used by President Bush against you, President Ahmadinejad, and vice versa you will speak loudly and resentfully against every provocation of President Bush. President Bush, in such an atmosphere of animosity it will ultimately be contended that you are a warmonger and President Ahmadinejad’s removal will become your mantra. It would be prudent therefore to analyse and rationally and calmly assess the situation – so let’s all coolly, calmly sit down and start reasoning.

Herodotus (c.490-c.425 BCE) wrote about Persia – and let’s therefore concede and accept that Iran has a very long and notable lineage deserving of respect in the world. Is that reasonable President Bush?

America had its revolution in 1776, and is today the world’s most powerful country influencing the world’s cultures with an unequalled economic influence throughout the world. So, President Ahmadinejad, albeit there are admitted tensions, can we acknowledge that America has made impressive industrial and technological strides unprecedented in world history?

Mutual respect in any dialogue is always a useful starting point. Can we then, with mutual respect, but with a small measure of humour and a large measure of good will, move on to consideration of some facts.

Facts

During the reign of the Shah of Iran Stanford Research Institute ( yes, of the US) advised the Shah in the 1970s to develop nuclear capacity.

The Stanford Institute had recommended the installation of 20,000 MW atomic plants in Iran by 1994.

Iran’s nuclear programme was the product of substantial US assistance.

General Electric and Westinghouse sold Iran nuclear reactors.

President Gerald Ford in 1976 authorised the Shah to buy and operate a plutonium-extracting and processing facility.

Seven months before the Iranian revolution, on July 10, 1978, the final draft of the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement was signed.

Now, I could remind about the agreement for the sale from the US of 8 nuclear reactors or about MIT’s involvement with training for Iranian scientists, or for that matter about US co-operation with Iran’s search for uranium.

In 1979 there was an Islamic popular revolution in Iran and the Shah’s rule collapsed.

Iran today claims a right to continue its development of nuclear capabilities. One also understands Iranian misgivings towards America when it was the US that had destroyed Iranian democracy in 1953 with a CIA coup.

A few ironic considerations

President Bush -does it not appear a bit ironic that the US recommended the nuclear path for Iran and gave significant assistance in developing Iran’s nuclear capabilities?

Is it not also ironic that of the 31 or so countries possessing nuclear capabilities, inclusive of North Korea, it is Iran with the world’s fourth largest oil reserves that is singled out for special US attention, after the US had played such a central role in assisting Iran’s nuclear programme?

Let’s stand back a bit further, and as I am a lawyer, let’s weigh some of the legal issues arising in this contention.

Article 1V of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory states : -

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.
2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.
And what do Articles 1 and 11 say?
Article I
Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.
Article II

Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Could we then ask and/or consider the following questions :-
1. Q.Which country had the most central and definitive role in developing Iran’s nuclear programme (US)?
2. Q. Did A.Q. Khan (scientist who developed Pakistan’s nuclear program) assist Iran with technical knowledge in its nuclear endeavours, and what is the US response to Pakistan in respect of that de facto assistance given by a Pakistani citizen with the knowledge to make a nuclear bomb?
A. The answer is that the US ensured that Khan was not summoned by the IAEA to reveal what, if anything, he had advanced to Iran. So, America professes genuine concerns about Iran’s intention to develop WMDs. Pakistan’s father of the nuclear bomb is known to have been engaged by Iran, but the US ensures that Pakistan does not have to subject its central nuclear scientist to any form of questioning by the IAEA or any other international agency with oversight authority. The foregoing observations are instructive. India, Israel, Pakistan and Cuba are not party to the NPT. India, Israel and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons. They are not going to be party to the NPT because nuclear weapons states are unlikely to be admitted by the existing parties to the NPT who would not agree to their joining as states having nuclear weapons. Cuba is the other state that is not a signatory, but it has a regional Latin American agreement -Treaty of Tlateloco. Cuba’s position in all reality is bound up with its tensions surrounding the US embargo against Cuba. In further answer, it could be maintained that an individual, and not the state, gave assistance, and even if Pakistan did assist, it is not part to the NPT and so would not have violated NPT prohibitions. From Iran’s position there is nothing that the IAEA has found Iran doing in contravention of the NPT. More to the point, the US is a staunch ally of Pakistan’s Musharraf regime, and would not stir tensions with Pakistan over most anything that the Musharraf regime does. Mention ought to be made of North Korea’s position, that withdrew from the NPT - N.B the only country to have done so.Iran in an extreme situation of threatened and likely attack would likewise withdraw from the NPT. In a sentence – Iran is not in violation of the NPT and Pakistan has not been found culpable as a state entity.
3. Q.Does Brazil allow the IAEA to inspect its nuclear facilities (No); and has Iran consistently allowed inspections ( Yes).
4. Q.Have South Korea and Egypt not failed to report certain activities to the IAEA (Yes), and has the US singled out either coutry for intrusive inspections (No)?
5. Q.So long as Iran does not produce weapons-grade plutonium, is Iran not within its lawful rights to develop nuclear fuel under the NPT (Yes)?
6. Q. Is the North Korean nuclear programme not proceeding as we here deliberate, and what next is the US doing, as a priority response to the openly stated position that North Korea has adopted( backed away because the North Koreans will deploy weapons if attacked)?
I am openly asking whether or not the US encouraged, assisted, participated in and developed in a direct way Iran’s nuclear program. The answer, if we are to be honest President Bush is clearly “Yes!”. Obviously the US will not go beyond 1979 in any honest questioning of US/ Iran relations – it cannot because of US complicity in a very nasty and brutal cruelty inflicted on the Iranian people under the Shah when the US acted to dominate Iranian oil. What I am factually asserting is that it was US policy that led Iran into the nuclear age, not a group of fanatical Islamic “terrorists” as you might most likely state in a coming public address, President Bush. Having established that the US played a central role in pointing Iran along the nuclear route, honestly ask yourselves, as Presidents, leaders, whether a part of the Stanford study had recommended that for preservation of its oil supplies as a fixed and diminishing stock nuclear energy be relied on, as would preserve the longevity of Iranian oil supplies and meet Iran’s growing energy demands as its population increased? I raise these kinds of issues to question - Presidents - the rationale of the rush to war.
President Ahmadinejad, I suspect that as an intelligent human being you must have looked at the US response to North Korea and taken some pragmatic lessons there from – am I correct? On 4 February,2006, in response to US and European fears about Iran’s uranium enrichment programme being for military purposes, the IAEA voted to refer Iran to the Security Council. The next Board of Governors meeting of the IAEA is in March, 2006, and will be the next step towards either a diplomatic solution or war led by the US against Iran. However, to date at least, we can say that Iran has operated within the confines of the NPT and we will wait to see how the recent referral from the IAEA to the Security Council and Dr. El Baradei’s March, 2006 further report will stand.
Truth be told – much the same technology that is used for development of nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes can similarly be deployed to develop weapons. The devil is in the details, for the US can assert risk and demand intrusive inspections, and provoke a situation to war, as readily as Iran can surreptitiously set out to develop WMDs. I make the point because, this “crisis” may make the world think further that the real need is for global disarmament, where the US as the world’s largest stockpiler of WMDs would set out to deescalate global stockpiles and simultaneously reduce global tensions. But that rational agenda, I admit, runs contrary to the PNAC’s.
With peace firmly in focus, here is a question for both Presidents – how did Iran arrive at the point of a revolution in 1979 that led to your presidency – President Ahmadinejad?
Brief history
William Knox D’Arcy (English businessman of Irish descent) in 1901 agreed with the Shah of Persia a 60 year concession to explore oil in Persia.
D’Arcy formed a company in 1903, participating with the Burmah Oil Company in 1904, and D’Arcy’s interest was later bought out by the Burmah Oil Company.
The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was established in 1909 (then the Anglo-Persian Oil Company), when a large oil field was discovered in Masjed Soleiman.
APOC took a 50% share holding in the Turkish Petroleum Company that was created about 1912.
In 1935 APOC changed its name to AIOC( Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation).
In the early 1950s AIOC controlled all of the oil in Iran.
In 1951 Mohammad Mossadegh was democratically elected as Prime Minister of Iran.
In 1951 Mossadegh nationalised Iranian oil holdings, which set out to terminate the British stranglehold on Iranian oil interests. The passage of the Oil Nationalisation Bill lead to the Abadan crisis ( recall: Abadan in 1950 was the world’s largest oil refinery and Britain had direct stake holder interests in Iranian oil).
Britain challenged the nationalisation of Iranian oil in the International Court at the Hague, and on 22 July, 1952 Iran won a verdict in its favour against Britain.
In 1953 the CIA in conjunction with the British engineered a coup in Iran, and installed the Shah of Iran as leader ( i.e. democratic leadership was ousted because of oil interests protecting its British and American stake in Iranian oil).
In 1979, with substantial anti-American and anti-Western sentiments raging in Iran, the Mullahs were brought to power in a revolution ( note: the Shah’s Savak – secret police- and torture practices with US and British support did not exactly endear the Shah or the West to the majority of the Iranian people).
In 2006, against this historical background, is it a question of the pursuit of nuclear energy by Iran that will be reason for the likely war with Iran; or, does the Iranian oil bourse provide the real motivational factor for war ( as oil had done in 1953 when Iranian democracy was destroyed) – you decide.
Presidents - we can view and review Iran’s history, and more especially its recent oil history, and then we have honestly to consider thereafter what next we are going to do in response to the impending crisis. What we cannot do, if we are to be honest, is avoid examining how we got to where we are. Next consideration – let’s be clear and simple about it - peace or war?
By reference to the facts, I am suggesting that the real motivational factors for war are more about what currency oil is sold in by Iran, than about genuine concerns about Iran’s use of the very same nuclear capabilities that the US had so helpfully advanced to the Shah of Iran. What say you President Bush?
If Israel attacks Iran first then this will also lead to a substantial Middle East conflagration that will involve the world because of the impact on global oil supplies – correct?
So, Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad, let’s consider some sensible ground rules:-
1. No first strike by any country ( reflect on US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and there we have undeniable proof of US recoiling from this vital peace principle).
2. No violations of international law by any country ( does the invasion of Iraq and the non-compliance with international law have anything to teach the world?).
3. Talks that in good faith make reference to existing lawful obligations subject to public and open scrutiny ( without this proviso then it will be media hype and misinformation, as with the war in Iraq, that drive public opinion into initial support for another Middle East war).
President Bush, the only country on the face of the planet that has to date used nuclear weapons against another country has been the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. I am urging that the US does not in 2006 repeat such action.
The doctrine of preemption adopted by you President Bush is neither safe nor sensible. It is totally unacceptable lunacy for you President Bush to be advocating a de facto, “divine right of invasion”. By asserting a right of the US to attack anywhere at anytime runs counter to Article 51 of the UN Charter (right of self-defence). There is a considerable difference between a right of attack in self-defence when there is real and imminent danger, and an asserted carte blanche to effect an unprovoked attack on any other country at will. The concept might also be termed “anticipatory self-defence”. Therefore, having over two decades ago urged Iran to go nuclear, the US now decides that in anticipation of Iran’s potential development of nuclear weapons in six to ten years with the technology the US had supplied, the US must now attack the country it had previously encouraged to go nuclear. This kind of lunacy will only lead to increased nuclear proliferation as states decide, as with North Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT, that the only way to deter US aggression ( i.e. US acting contrary to Article 2 of the UN Charter’s requirement of peaceful resolution of international disputes) is by forcefully standing up to US aggression with meaningful assertions of counter-attacks if there is an unprovoked first strike.
Persons of good conscience and good will in the world need rationally to consider the official American position and weigh this against the official Iranian position ( see: http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/news/unnecessary-crisis-iran-nuclear-program - which is an 18th November, 2005 New York Times full page advertisement from the Iranian government). I have searched to find as cogent a statement of America’s position on the Iranian nuclear issue but have been unable up to time of publishing this memorandum to find such a statement with analysis referring to the relevant international treaty ( NPT) with US reliance on international law.
President Ahmadinejad, I have spoken some truth to power in good faith, and let’s see if we can tone down a bit on the rhetoric. President George Bush, you will also be held to that requirement as close global scrutiny will continue to be focused on your actions.
My considered opinion is that if a country, any country, arrogates as its unquestionable right the “right” to commence unprovoked bombardments or incursions into another country’s territory, then we are into realms of quite substantial violations of the rule of international law. If we, all of humanity, continue along this path, then hopes of abidance by the Rule of Law, with establishment of justice and peace in the world, will be dashed. In all countries burglars are not permitted to enter into another person’s home to intimidate and steal what is not theirs – right? Should any country then arrogate unto itself the right, on whatever pretext, of an entitlement to enter onto another country’s turf ( by unprovoked bombardment or actual invasion) to dominate its resources?
Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad, there are those of us who can think outside the box of official media information. It seems to me that this “issue” has some credibility factors to be addressed:-
A. What is the violation that Iran is guilty of on an objective and fair application of international law?
B. Where is there consistency in application of the NPT to other nations under US policy as has been applied to Iran?
C. Will the war with Iran be started by a respect for and abidance by the Rule of International Law, or will it be started ( as with the invasion of Iraq) by another flagrant violation of international law?
Would either of you mind if I get a bit personal, George and Mahmoud? George, you are on record as saying, “This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. (Short pause) And having said that, all options are on the table.” (Laughter) George Bush - press conference, 22 February 2005 and that is good news once your word can be trusted that you mean – no war – and that your “misspeak” does not imply - war. It is difficult to reason with someone who articulates himself as follows, ” I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.” Maybe therein lies the problem! I am however giving you, President Bush, the benefit of the doubt, for you may have a way of expressing yourself that is above the average person’s level of comprehension. I concede my limitations. I am also intervening before God might have a change of heart and tell you to strike Iran, before I can dissuade you:-
“God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them.”
Mahmoud - do you think it at all possible that we could engineer ourselves into some sort of peaceful secular solution here before someone gets another holy message?
The demonisation or persecution of opponents is ground base zero confrontation, but this helps to rally support as with a war cry. Your personalities do not so much concern me, similar in some respects as you both may be, as do the consequences of your actions as you play to your respective constituencies. If the imprimatur of legality is to be attached to the actions unfolding in this crisis, then the world will have to hold those involved in any war commenced to the objective measure of international law. The unfolding picture seems to be one of the US pushing for war, while speaking of “diplomatic solutions” as a launch pad for the war by way of massive aerial bombardment that the Bush administration desires. The difficulty is, at least for those who take some account of historical instruction, that the opposite of the professed objective may be the result. In 1953 a desire for a compliant regime protective of US and British oil interests in Iran was the real reason for the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government. The result of that illegal action was the radicalisation of Iranians with the culmination of resentments expressed in a 1979 revolution. Likewise, I believe that an illegal and unprovoked act of aggression by the US against Iran will only serve to convince the Iranians that they must have a nuclear bomb, and be willing to use it, at any future date that either Israel or the US decide again to attack. With maybe six to ten years to go before Iran could develop a bomb, is there not time for genuine political resolution of this so-called crisis ( i.e. a “crisis” declared several years before the feared event is the kind of reasoning that would set the whole world ablaze for that several countries fear what a neighbour or potential adversary might do in five or ten years from now, so is this not a rather dubious reason to start illegally bombing another country several years in advance? )
There are those from a historical perspective who would want to use the analogy of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler and the subsequent World War 11. The argument would run that by the US attacking Iran now, it will prevent a future war with a then nuclear armed power. The assumption would then have to be that it is Iran and not the US seeking world domination, or at the least, domination of the world’s oil supplies. With some 31 or more counties in the world having nuclear capacity, inclusive of Pakistan, India and Israel that are not signatories to the NPT, one really cannot envisage Iran being more than a stronger ( as distinct from strongest) power in the world with whom diplomatic solutions will have to be negotiated. The military route, as was the proven case with Iran post-1953, strongly suggests an even more hostile and resolved post-bombardment Iran. But, if you know best President Bush, think short-term bravado and aggression, and then ignore the most likely long-term consequences. Do you believe at present that the invasion of Iraq will lead to pacification and then to a suppliant Iraq acting in a manner compliant with US oil interests? If for a moment you have absolutely no doubts upon review of the present situation in Iraq, then putting international law aside, upon your own reasoning effect aerial bombardment on Iran as you would have undeniably convinced yourself that this brings a quick, globally acceptable and viable long-term solution – correct? By killing maybe 10,000 Iranians in the first round of bombing the rationale will be that in the future thousands more lives would have been saved. Of course the Iranians will be expected to sit still and not retaliate while US bombs with “shock and awe” are showered on them. The US Congress, based on the recent events approving the US invasion of Iraq, will most likely endorse this rationale, or maybe not, unless the “unitary executive” prevails.
Let us reflect on history a bit more, for a short while. The Cuban Missile crisis is itself instructive. Bear in mind where we are in the world with the US having withdrawn from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as must imply and in practical terms mean more proliferation. Consider for a moment what then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara had to say in reflections on a meeting in Havana on the fortieth anniversary of the global crisis:-
“Forty Years After 13 Days
Robert S. McNamara
For many years, I considered the Cuban missile crisis to be the best-managed foreign policy crisis of the last half-century. I still believe that President Kennedy’s actions during decisive moments of the crisis helped to prevent a nuclear war. But I now conclude that, however astutely the crisis may have been managed, by the end of those extraordinary 13 days—October 16-October 28, 1962—luck also played a significant role in the avoidance of nuclear war by a hair’s breadth.
We were lucky, but not only lucky. I believe we would not have survived those 13 days had not the president shaped and directed the ways in which his senior advisers confronted the crisis. This began within minutes of the moment on Tuesday morning, October 16, when McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, informed the president that we had photographs of Soviet nuclear missile sites under construction across the island of Cuba. These medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which had been deployed not only secretly but also under an elaborate cloak of deception could, if they became operational, deliver nuclear warheads onto all major East Coast U.S. cities, putting 90 million Americans at risk.
….”
The reality of the US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty means an open door for nuclear proliferation, with the US determination to militarise space. We then have the catalyst for a renewed arms race led, not by militant and irrational Islamists, or by the Russians, or by China, but by the democracy loving United States of America that had come to the brink of destruction in 1962.
The core question becomes – whose actions, which nation - is presently promoting and actively advancing the thrust to nuclear proliferation, global tensions, further arms sales and conflagrations in the world?
My desire is for a world free of nuclear weapons. It remains absolute lunacy to think of deploying these weapons that can literally annihilate humanity ( please consider quite seriously what Robert McNamara had to say in his reflections just quoted). As of 2004 the US had 7,000 operational war heads, and still counting. We must understand the distinction between nuclear capabilities for domestic power usage, and nuclear power militarily applied the US had assisted Iran to develop nuclear power – but went even further and assisted Iran’s then acceptable Shah with a plutonium-extracting processing facility as would correlate to the development of nuclear weapons).Interestingly Al Baredei had proposed a regime of scrutiny of all fissile matter governed under an international agency. Which nation resolutely opposed this quite logical global implementation? We might also ask – which nation has itself developed the greatest numbers of nuclear weapons on the planet and continues to do so? Anomalies abound as war looms.
The real challenge is the establishment of international treaties for disarmament, coupled with bona fide efforts at global reduction in total production and sales of armaments, followed by guarantees between nations of a no first-strike policy. On each of these requirements the US since its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has been acting largely in advancing proliferation and confrontation instead of adopting measures such as those recommended by Al Baredei .for a global independent body to verify all existing nuclear facilities. Oh! no – this is an objectionable and unacceptable concept for the US, and all the more so as it implies global disarmament and greater opportunities for peace with the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020.
Major powers may never be subject to an adjudication questioning the legitimacy of their actions, but in the court of international public opinion guilt or innocence can fairly be determined by reference to conduct and established legal principles. However, it is a former US President’s words upon which I rely in support of the views I advance as rational and desirable for peace and human sustenance in this nuclear era:-

“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate that day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”
- from an address to the UN General Assembly by John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States (September 25, 1961)
It would be helpful if the populace of the US gave timely consideration as to why President Kennedy was brought to that conclusion. It would also be useful to consider the practical reactions to unprovoked attack of retaliation by rational people seeking to defend themselves from present and likely future aggression.
If there is expressed concern about lawlessness but lawlessness itself becomes the sine qua non of the complainant - then respect for sovereignty and law itself is undermined, and the thread by which the Damocles nuclear sword hangs over humanity becomes even more slender. Do not cut that thread President Bush, you and all of humanity will regret that fatal step – do not consider nuking Iran – it will be a disastrous and literally savage act on your part.
Iran needs peace with assurances of no first-strike from the US or Israel, and the US needs to start being responsible and set itself on a course significantly divergent from the jingoism and belligerence of the Bush administration. The nuclear nightmare scenarios being contemplated and actively courted does not point the path to global peace and disarmament. Will Iran accept unequivocal assurances of a no first strike policy from the US and Israel? Will the US responsibly venture on the path of global peace and disarmament and abandon President Bush’s desire for war in perpetuity as conceptualised by the PNAC?
I have given some consideration to the “game theory” scenarios of an attack on Iran. I do not see a viable prospect in that military course of action, as no doubt your strategists have told you that it will be a massive lose-lose situation. So, George, quit sabre rattling.
Trust we can work this one out fellows – lawfully – peacefully - before another war in the Middle East is started.
Respectfully yours,
Courtenay Barnett ( a mere concerned lawyer).
Courtenay Barnett is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over twenty years, has been arrested for defending his views, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. His web site: www.globaljusticeonline.com

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