Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Existential Crisis

When NPR hunts down two "experts" to talk about nuclear proliferation, you'd better have your seatbelt on. This Sunday morning the talk is of India, Pakistan, and Iran. Of course the main nuclear outlaw in the Middle East is conveniently not included (until the talk gets around to attacking Iran). Auntie Liane chats with George Perkovich and Michael Krepon, two heavyweights in the intellectual world - both have written reams of books and articles. Seriously, the two seem pretty dang smart, so why, when the talk gets to Iran, do they say such things as:
"Iran feels fairly ascendant...and so they're always willing in principal to negotiate if it's to accept your surrender, but if it's on the terms that the US and others would seek which is 'Hey, hey Iran, here's what you need to do,' they're not interested."
"Accept your surrender"?! Does either Hansen or Krepon interject to say, "Whoa, wait a minute; the US position on negotiation with Iran is that to talk Iran must capitulate on the core issue of uranium enrichment. Isn't that a surrender and then we'll talk position?" Do either of them even ask politely, "Could you give one example of Iran asking for surrender?" But wait, Perkovich isn't done; he continues:
"The Iranians pretty much quit negotiating in the summer of 2005...have taken the position of we're going to do what we want and you can't stop us. So it would be kind of a breakthrough if actually they decided yes, we're prepared to negotiate...."
"I think Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has testified...Iran fundamentally is deterrable. The problem is that Israel isn't as convinced of that - and has reason not to be so convinced - so one thought is the Israelis might come to a crucial existential decision which says, well you can't just sit here and let them do that, so military action may not be perfect, may not solve the problem, but it's better than doing nothing."
Existential? You have to wonder about these kind of buzz words, especially when they originate out of the White House; and you have to question the integrity of a scholar who is simply willing to pick up such language and run with it. Again, neither of the other participants in this otherworldly exchange suggest that actually Iran may be undergoing a bit of an existential threat when it considers what's "on the table": the US blessings of liberty bestowed on Iraq and Israel's gentle interventions in Lebanon in '82 and '06 (not to mention Israel's arsenal of peaceful nuclear weapons).

Oddly, both speakers eventually indicate that they think the military option and the threat to use it is not such a great idea. However, that gets buried under the bulk of their discussion which demonizes Iran and makes the case for justifying a US/Israel military option.

1 comment:

Comrade Rutherford said...

The international treaty that deals with nuclear weapons and power, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is a flawed document.

It was a poor compromise hammered out back in the late '60s and was ratified by the US in 1972 (by that wild-eyed liberal Nixon and the hippies in the Senate!)

Basically the treaty says, the nations that have nuclear weapons now can keep them, but have to reduce their stockpiles until there are none left, and they promise NOT to give nuclear weapons technology to countries that do not have them yet.

But it also says that nuclear nations CAN share 'peaceful' uses, meaning nuclear power (which we all know has no negative environmental impact - other than vast mountains of mine tailing that leach into our drinking water and the vast amounts of radioactive waste that will last longer than 'christians' believe the earth to be in age).

And the treaty has worked. Of the handful of nations that did not sign the treaty (Israel, Switzerland, Cuba, India, Pakistan and South Africa) only Switzerland and Cuba did not develop their own nuclear weapons program. (South Africa handed all their nuclear weapons over to Israel before apartheid ended to prevent the non-whites from obtaining those weapons, and Switzerland has recently signed on.)

Another flaw in the treaty is the legal refusal to recognize nations that DO develop nuclear weapons, as such India and Pakistan are not considered Nuclear Weapons states, even though they have demonstrated that they have these weapons.

When Bush was installed as Acting President, the first thing he did was undo the work of previous Presidents in pressuring North Korea to stay within the law as set down by the NPT. He forced DPRK to quit the treaty, by double-dog-daring them to do so, knowing full well that he was creating another nuclear weapons state.

By the treaty, which is US law under the Constitution, Iran has the right to develop nuclear power. The trick is that Iran is enriching Uranium, something that you only really to do obtain the materials for nuclear weaponry.

But here's the double-standard: Japan is also enriching Uranium, and no one wants to stop them. They have no need for enriched Uranium, as it's only good for making bombs. Iran is challenging the world's double-standard, applying the rule of equality under the law. If Japan can enrich Uranium, then why can't Iran?

The US and Israel have NO legal standing to even tell Iran what they can and can not do. As long as the IAEA is satisfied, then there is NO problem under the Rule of Law.

Conversely, bombing a suspected nuclear materials site is a definite war crime. So Bush is planning on committing (yet another) war crime with Israel, in direct violation of all known law.

I don't want Iran to be refining Uranium, just like I don't want Japan to be doing so. And I certainly do not want Bush to go around committing even more war crimes as a 'lame duck'.