Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Condi's Persian Ploy

I'm not at all convinced that this latest overture to Iran is a "diplomatic breakthrough." It sounds to me like the same sort of designed-to-fail negotiation tactics we've been employing all along.

Like the Energizer Bunny, Condi Rice is still going, banging the same drum she thumped on to march us into the Iraq fiasco.

Her speech from yesterday, in which she offered Iran the same offer they can't not refuse that she's been offering through proxies all along, was a classic piece of Rovewellian prevarication.

She began, as propagandists often do, with a remarkably flawed if not downright false main assumption: "The pursuit by the Iranian regime of nuclear weapons represents a direct threat to the entire international community…"

We don't know for a fact that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and no one, including Rice, has any credible evidence that such is the case. All of the Bush administration's arguments that Iran desires nuclear bombs are based on "negative proof." Iran can't prove they're not pursuing them, therefore they must be. This is the precise sort of solipsism that Rice and her political sugar daddies used to drive us into the Iraq train wreck.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has found no proof that an Iranian nuclear weapons program exists. Iran has long avowed that it has no intention of developing one, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to support that position publicly.

We have no particular reason to take anything Ahmadinejad says at face value, but we have every reason to dismiss out of hand every syllable that comes from Condi Rice's mouth.

Not content to have floated her "fuzzy" main assumption once, Rice quickly repeated it.

"The Iranian government’s choices are clear. The negative choice is for the regime to maintain its current course, pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community and its international obligations."

Again, is pursuing nuclear weapons really the Iranian government's "current course," or is it simply doing what it says it's doing, pursuing a nuclear energy program? If the latter is the case, how exactly is it defying the international community and its international obligations?

Predictably, Condi didn't address those questions.

But she did jump to a third iteration of the fuzzy main assumption, expanding it in the process:

"In view of its previous violations of its commitments and the secret nuclear program it undertook, the Iranian regime must persuasively demonstrate that it has permanently abandoned its quest for nuclear weapons."

Serious questions exist as to whether Iran has violated any aspect of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The supposed violations Iran has been accused of are described in the treaty itself as "confidence-building measures, which are voluntary, and non legally binding."

One fairly good argument, offered by David Morrison in Italy's Uruknet, says the the U.S., by demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, is in itself a major violation of the NPT, which states that:
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.

And as we discussed a moment ago, it doesn't seem that Iran has done anything that doesn't conform to the first two articles of the treaty.

And oh, by the way, how could Iran "abandon its quest for nuclear weapons" if it never had such a quest in the first place?

Stick and Kick Diplomacy

Iran's President Ahmadinejad insists on his country's "inalienable right" to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the NPT, and he has good reason to. Previous offers by Russia and the Big 3 European Union nations (England, France and Germany) to provide Iran with energy grade uranium were specious. Having a nuclear energy program without being able to make your own energy grade uranium is like being allowed to grow your own food as long as you grow it on someone else's property. You'll always be at the mercy of someone else to provide you with a basic survival and prosperity resource. There's little wonder that Ahmadinejad turned down the Russian and EU offers, and there's little hope that he'll accept this latest ruse from Rice.

He'd be foolish to. Moreover, he'd be acting irresponsibly as the notional head of Iran's state.

And yet that, once again, is the deal that Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State and former professor of political science at Stanford University, is offering him.
The United States is willing to exert strong leadership to give diplomacy its very best chance to succeed.

Thus, to underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance the prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.

In other words, the U.S. will talk directly to Iran as soon as it promises to give up something it has a U.N. mandated "inalienable right" to keep, and has already said that it won't give up.

Ahmadinejad has gained significant domestic political capital in Iran with his stance on the uranium enrichment issue. Does Rice honestly think he'll back down on it now?

Fred Kaplan at Slate thinks the key part of this overture is "as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities…" "Suspends" versus "halt and dismantle" it's program, Kaplan thinks, may be subtle shift in policy that convinces Iran to come to the table and hear what we have to say.

Kaplan also thinks that even though we're not offering bi-lateral talks, but are simply offering to join the multi-lateral process already underway at the UN, the Iranian delegate and the U.S. delegate will talk one on one eventually, even if it's just over lunch or after hours.

Maybe something could come from that. Unless, of course, the U.S. delegate is John Bolton, in which case we'll know for sure the Bush administration isn't at all serious about finding a diplomatic solution.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his weekday commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I am also very skeptical of this whole thing. I am waiting for the statement, "See, we tried diplomacy and it didn't work." I just don't trust any of these clowns. Btw, why did you change the title?

  2. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I've been making my way through American Theocracy. In the first section of his new book, Kevin Phillips gives a succinct history of the natural resource wars that have occurred over the years. As I was reading about the oil maps and how the Middle East is carved up by the various oil companies, the ol' lightbulb went off. Of course we're going to Iran, of course. Phillips points out all the ways in which we're misled into believing our involvement over there is over WMD, or freedom, or democracy, or nuclear capabilities when it's really all about gaining control over the oil fields. "Oil, no longer a mere commodity, has become a national-security matter ..."

    Hey, Jeff, for what it matters, I can't view the word verification in Firefox in order to leave a comment. You're forcing me to use Safari. *blech*


  3. Anonymous4:59 PM

    I found the article:

    If this stuff is accurate, charges of treason are in order. Anyone know where and when the lynch mob will be meeting?

  4. Anonymous5:58 PM

    "It's put up or shut up time." There's no need for diplomacy. Why? Because we're going in. It's just too damn depressing for words.


  5. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Thanks Kerstin. That is exactly what I thought they were doing:

    Bolton: "But he’s taking this step to show strength and American leadership and to say he’s willing to do something that may be unpopular even with some of his supporters, to remove all excuses from Iran and its supporters to say, “We went the extra mile. We gave Iran really, this last chance to show that they are serious when they say they don’t want nuclear weapons.” This is put or shut up time for Iran."

    They are performing hollow gestures so that after they wage the war they can say that they tried "everything" to come to a peaceful solution. Bullhockey. This is exactly what the commander has said it is, a ploy. A hollow, meaningless ploy. And it will fool a lot of people.

  6. Anonymous1:02 AM

    Condoliesalot Rice is the "Vaporware" Secretary of State.

    The wingnuts always swoon over her "intelligence." And yet, no evidence of this alleged intelligence has yet surfaced in over five years. Those who remember the 9/11 Commission hearings know that she's not even a good liar.

    And folks like her and the Chimperor are thye face of America that the world sees. Is it any wonder the world is laughing and jeering?

  7. Anonymous7:28 AM

    I doubt it, Scott. It was written by a Kennedy, and was published in Rolling Stone. The right-wingers couldn't have asked for a better reason to scream "liberal media". None of this information is new, and they developed all their counter-arguments back when this first happened. The American people are pretty much decided already, and far too many of them just couldn't give a damn.

  8. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Please someone, please point out the differences between the Iran issue and the "Iraq Issue?" I know I must be missing something here, but I just can't see it. Isn't this the same old same old BS that was force fed through the media..and in many cases happily swallowed? What the hell is going on here?

    I can not believe that the American people are so vapid that they are going to buy the same story, the same bridge, the same tonic water...

    I'm not a praying person, but I am praying that reason will prevail.

    And I do have to wonder....whose army is he going to use? Air strikes? Another Shock and Awe? God help us.