Sonntag, Mai 27, 2007

Why talk when no one is listening...

There are those who call for a dialogue with Iran.

A dialogue requires, however, two parties that are actually talking to one another.

Iran has made it abundantly clear that it is not interested in a dialogue: as you can see here, in his own words, that, and let me quote, "security council resolutions have no influence" on Iran's actions.

But it goes further than that: his take on the issue, is, fundamentally, correct: the West is unable to act against Iran.

First of all , you have an aysmmetric relationship between the two. Iran is dependent on technology and gasoline (they lack the refining capability), the West is dependent on Iranian oil. Iran can do without the first two - if called upon for national sacrifice, the population will be willing to forego cheap gasoline in exchange for nuclear energy - but losing Iranian oil supplies would drive prices up on the world market significantly. The Iranians believe in themselves, the West, as usual, is dominated by pontificating idiots who haven't understood Iran since the fall of the Shah (if then).

Second, the Iranians have all their puzzle pieces in place: they have started enrichment, probably have the rest of the technological prerequisites in place, and already are working on their delivery systems. The West has no clue as what can be done to stop Iran, just as it had no clue as what could have been done to stop Nazi Germany. And I think we can all agree that while some aspects of the Iranian revolution have nothing to do with Nazi Germany, other aspects are chillingly similiar, largely in the official anti-semitism and the absolute control of all aspects of society (liberalizations are grudgingly permitted, but nothing may challenge the state/church of Iran).

Third, and this is the key problem: political will.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has made clear what its goals are: domination of the region politically, export of its revolution (and subservience thereto: the Iranians learned well from the Soviets) and the elimination of Israel from the map of the world, with the consequences be damned.

The lack of response from the West has only given Iran incentives to continue this behavior: the sanctions don't work. Iran is correct in expecting the commercial interests of the West to override vague notions of any developing threat until the cost of meeting this threat becomes very costly indeed.

What the Iranians have forgotten is that the West does not live by capitalism alone: once the threat has developed to the point where it can no longer be ignored - and Iran's apparent belief that the West will do nothing when Israel is attacked with nuclear-tipped missiles is highly misplaced - and the threat starts to become existential, the West is very, very good at mass slaughter. It would take no more than 14 nuclear weapons to complete devastate Iran in response to a nuclear attack on Israel, one that, given the increasing Israeli/US cooperation in anti-missile systems, might fail.

These scenarios, however, are chilling: what could the West do now to avoid what would be a major setback for peaceful world development?

First of all, massive sanctions, including oil. This is where Iran is vulnerable: right now, it will still take longer to develop the bomb and militarize it than Iran can handle a complete and total trade embargo before the country starts to unravel (virtually no transportation, including the distribution of foodstuffs). Such a massive set of sanctions must run through the UN for any legitimacy, and should be a function of 100% solidarity, i.e. if the Russians and the Chinese fail to go along, this will lead to the deaths of millions of Iranians.

Second, concentrated support for the moderates in Iran, but through their brothers in belief in the Arab world. The US doesn't need to spend the money: those states are well-off enough. The goal? Elimination of the Iranian revolution.

Third, and this will be the most difficult, putting the nuclear genie back in the bottle. The non-proliferation treaty is full of too many dual-usage problems, a new one should be put together, one that also reflects on the massive reduction of the US and Russian stockpiles. Sanctions and penalties must be put into place that make it clear that once a country has been found in non-compliance and/or cheating and/or withdrawal, that this means the end of trade with the rest of the world and complete and total pariahdom.

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