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The Race for Iran

STUMBLING INTO A PROXY WAR WITH IRAN IN AFGHANISTAN

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki delivered a speech yesterday that underscores a risk we have been highlighting recently, see here and here—namely, that the present direction of U.S. policy is raising the risks of renewed civil war in Afghanistan, which would simultaneously be a regional “proxy war” between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, on one side, and Iran, on the other.  

Mottaki spoke in Kabul at the international conference on Afghanistan.  Western media coverage of Mottaki’s address tended to be rather superficial, focusing on it being longer than other speeches at the conference.  But Mottaki’s remarks were substantively important. 

As Iranian media summarized the speech, see here, “Mottaki called for a regional solution to the Afghanistan crisis and blamed growing insecurity and drug trafficking on foreign military presence in the war-ravaged country.”  More specifically, Mottaki outlined five principles that should guide efforts at post-conflict stabilization in Afghanistan:

–The Afghan constitution (ratified in 2004) should be the standard for judging particular initiatives and proposals and the international community should support the strengthening of Afghanistan’s civil institutions. 

–The presence of foreign military forces in Afghanistan will not help the situation and a timetable should be set for the withdrawal of such forces. 

–Double standards must be avoided with regard to terrorism. 

–Security and development are inseparably related, so more attention should be devoted to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and its infrastructure.  (In this context, Mottaki highlighted Iran’s contributions to Afghan reconstruction.) 

–Regional cooperation is key to post-conflict stabilization in Afghanistan—including cooperation in energy, transportation, and other important economic sectors. 

It is important to understand Mottaki’s speech from an Iranian perspective.  The Foreign Minister’s address comes less than a week after a lethal suicide bomb attack at a Shi’a mosque in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan—an attack for which the Sunni extremist/Baluchi separatist group Jundallah claimed credit. 

Iran has long charged that the United States supports Jundallah’s anti-Iranian terrorist activities, see here.  (Interestingly, the Obama Administration considered but then pointedly declined to designate Jundallah as a foreign terrorist organization in 2009.)  Tehran has also suggested that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—two of the Islamic Republic’s leading regional antagonists—support Jundallah, see here.    

With regard to the Zahedan attack, however, Iranian state media, see here, have reported that “the group is unlikely to have carried out the attack since it was effectively disbanded after [its leader, Abdolmalek] Rigi was executed in Iran last month.”  Rather, Iranian media suggest that “extremist Wahhabis and Salafis trained by U.S. intelligence agents in Pakistan are believed to have carried out the bombings.” 

In his Kabul speech, Mottaki accused the United States of complicity in the Zahedan attack, declaring that interrogations and other evidence indicated the individuals who carried out the operation had been trained by international forces inside Afghanistan, see here.  (Over the weekend, Iran’s deputy police chief warned that his country would “deal with insurgents” who take refuge with “neighbors on the eastern borders” of the Islamic Republic—a geographical orientation that covers both Afghanistan and Pakistan, see here.)  Today, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the United States of supporting the Zahedan attack.   

In this context, Mottaki’s remarks in Kabul take on a special—and ominous—significance. 

–Past conversations with the Foreign Minister and more recent exchanges with senior Iranian diplomats indicate that, as a matter of policy, the Islamic Republic continues to oppose the Taliban’s participation in Afghanistan’s government.  Mottaki’s observations in Kabul about observing the constitution signal that Tehran is opposed to modifying the constitution to facilitate the creation of power-sharing arrangements between the Karzai government and the Taliban

–Mottaki’s call to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan is clearly directed at the United States.  Apart from the risk that U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan could at some point be turned against Iran, Iranian officials judge that the prolonged U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is increasingly seen by much of the local population as an occupation.  From Tehran’s perspective, this occupation is fueling an escalating cycle of violence and instability that empowers Iran’s Afghan adversaries, principally the Taliban.      

–The reference to “double standards” regarding terrorism is hardly opaque.  The United States and its Western allies are not the only countries that believe they face a terrorist threat from an unstable Afghanistan.  Iran, too, believes it has been the victim of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Sunni extremists with roots in Afghanistan and ties to Pakistani intelligence.  Senior Iranian diplomats point out that the Islamic Republic has strongly supported the Karzai government in Afghanistan—and has put up with some significant problems as a result, such as the resurgence in opium production and drug trafficking out of Afghanistan.  Iran’s patience with a heightened terrorist threat emanating, at least in part, from an unstable Afghanistan in which the influence of the Taliban and its main external backers, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, is growing is not likely to be infinite

–Mottaki’s point about Iran’s contributions to Afghan reconstruction is certainly accurate.  However, our impression is that Iran’s reconstruction aid to Afghanistan—as well as its investment flows and burgeoning trade ties—is focused on the western (Herat) and northern (Mazar-e-Sharif) parts of the country.  These are precisely the parts of Afghanistan that Tehran would want to have in its strategic “orbit”, as a buffer against the Taliban and Pakistani and Saudi influence, should Afghanistan move further down the path of renewed civil war.    

–Mottaki’s call for a regional approach to post-conflict stabilization in Afghanistan is, we believe, genuine.  It is consistent with the Islamic Republic’s constructive participation in the United Nations’ “6+2 framework for Afghanistan prior to 9/11, and with the Islamic Republic’s cooperation with the United States and the United Nations on Afghan issues after 9/11.  But, if the United States continues to support a one-sided effort by Karzai to negotiate power-sharing arrangements with the Taliban, Tehran will work with its Afghan allies to protect Iranian interests.  (For useful discussions of Karzai’s approach to the Taliban, see Heather Hurlburt’s recent piece in the Guardian and, at greater length, Steve Coll’s article in The New Yorker.)      

It is noteworthy that, before Mottaki traveled to Kabul, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced preemptively that he would have no meetings with U.S. officials.  Among those left in American foreign policy circles who understand the importance of serious U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran, many assert facilely that Washington and Tehran can and should rejuvenate their difficult diplomatic interactions by cooperating over Afghanistan, because the United States and the Islamic Republic have “mutual interests” there.  They should pay more attention.  Right now, Tehran does not support America’s current strategy in Afghanistan and is not likely to be inclined to help the Obama Administration implement that strategy.  The battle lines are being drawn now for the next round in Afghanistan’s 20-year old civil war.  The United States needs a new strategy in Afghanistan for a lot of reasons; preventing renewed civil war there is one of the more important ones. 

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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140 Responses to “STUMBLING INTO A PROXY WAR WITH IRAN IN AFGHANISTAN”

  1. James Canning says:

    Simon Jenkins, in the piece in the Guardian July 22nd, suggests that the UK should help the US extricate itself from the quagmire in Afghanistan. Great advice that Cameron should follow.

  2. James Canning says:

    Simon Jenkins had some outstanding comments in the Guardian July 22nd: “Clegg told the truth on Iraq. It’s for Cameron to end a decade of pretence”.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/22/clegg-truth-iraq

  3. James Canning says:

    A former British amabassador to Pakistan, R. A. Fyjis-Walker, had an excellent letter in The Times (London) July 12th: “Continued cost of flawed policy in Afghanistan”.
    “Our own Army should not be, but sadly presumably is, stuck with the American surge. But we should withdraw as soon as possible.” Sage advice.

  4. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    I talk to very few Americans who favor a war with Iran. If most Americans were polled, and asked: “Do you favor a war with Iran, which would cost a colossal fortune and make the security situation worse?”, the answer would be “no”.

  5. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Iranian government tried to dissuade the US from invading Iraq, but it is possible that some Iranian expat arms dealers were tangentially involved in duping G W Bush (since some were participants in the arms scandals during the Reagan administration).

  6. Castellio says:

    Not all of America wants war with Iran. Some of America wants war with Iran. A hot war with Iran looks “inevitable” (the cold war of economic embargo is well established), but why assume it without resistance?

    What Cyrus says may be right, but note that the bulk of the moral force is in the following list that he has written:

    “Look at past Iranian actions showing its goodwill and the US’ response to it:

    - 2001-2002: Iran substantially helps the US to remove the Taliban from power and to install the Karzai government. US response: “Iran belongs to the Axis of Evil.”
    - 2003: Iran puts all its cards on the table and offers the US a ‘grand bargain’. US response: “We don’t talk to evil”.
    - 2003-2005: Iran voluntarily halts its uranium enrichment program as a confidence building measure and to get security guarantees from the US. US refuses to give Iran security guarantees and keeps threatening Iran.
    - 2003-2005: Iran implements the AP for more than two years. US responds by sending Irans file to the UNSC to slap Iran with sanctions.
    - 2003 to present: Iran proposes measures that go well beyond the AP to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful. US ignores these offers.
    - 2010: Iran accepts a slightly modified US proposal for a fuel trade for the TRR. The US slaps Iran with more sanctions.”

    This is historically accurate, and makes a point. Eric’s intent is to maintain the value of that list going forward. That’s all.

    Arnold makes the very good point that giving specific information may be contrary to the best interests of Iran because the US is only pumping for information to facilitate their bad faith war intentions. In such a situation, Iran must argue its case that it need not give that specific information because it puts it at a disadvantage in a war it believes is intended. However, communication does not stop, and Iran should make its case in all forums and to all nations willing to listen. It should ask spokespersons for other countries to repeat their concerns in all international forums. It should engage in this communication as conscientiously as possible. It should not let “pride” stand in its way. It needs to continue to link this with the Israeli nuclear force and strike capacity, again in all forums.

    Does this make life more difficult for Iran. Yes, and the hope for success is slim, but the costs of the downside are very high. It is worth the effort. What is the good of winning the moral argument… well, as many have said, winning the moral argument won’t change American behavior… to which I add…. yet.

    The simple minded acceptance of all policies that “strengthen Israel” at the cost of American national interests (and, I might add, traditional morality) is in play. The stakes are high.

    Is this fair? No, but that is hardly the right question. One is working to save the lives and futures of perhaps millions of Iranian citizens.

    RSH’s scenario where Iran goes viral (or threatens to go viral) with terrorism on American soil will only see nuclear weapons used against Iran with the approval of the American people. A great mistake for Iran, and not of benefit to anyone except those who want more Middle Eastern Muslims dead (to put it clearly).

    The confrontation is on many levels and playing fields. Brill’s strategy (taking into account Evan’s specific caveats) is only part of a necessarily complex response, but, in my view, it is an important part of that response.

    Getting the S-300′s should also be a priority.

  7. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Rumor has it that Iranians duped GB into invading Iraq.

    I am somewhat skeptical.

  8. James Canning says:

    Cyrus S.,

    Bravo (re CIA knowing in 1995 that Saddam destroyed his WMD in 1991). A key part of the conspiracy to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq, was carried out by Dick Cheney. Cheney made numerous visits to Langley, to make sure that clear evidence Iraq had no WMD was kept out of the White House. My understanding is that he was trying to provide “deniability” to the co-conpirators working in the White House itself, to deceive the arrogant ignoramus (G W Bush).

  9. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Re: July 22nd, 7:53pm – - My understanding is that the CIA found numerous parts for centrifuges for sale in the bazaar at Baghdad in the late 1990s and this was taken as strong evidence Iraq had destroyed its nuclear programme (and not reconstituted it).

    An interesting question, is whehter G W Bush was duped by the false intel “stovepiped” into the White House from the Wolfowitz shop in the Pentagon, so that he actually expected the Iraqi nuclear weapons programme to be discovered, after Saddam was overthrown. Did Bush later pretend to have been in on the game, to avoid being seen as the victim of a scam?

  10. James Canning says:

    I recommend David Gardner’s comments in the Financial Times today: “Intelligence fiasco that led to war could happen again”. He has it right when he says: “[T]here is no evidence [Iran] has decided to move from capability [for nukes] to weaponisation.”

  11. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Do not know the causes of the emigration.

    But in India, almost none of the graduates of IITs remain in India – they go to US, Canada, UK, Australia. I do not have recent – post-Depression – statistics.

  12. Arnold Evans says:

    I’m not questioning Eric’s motives, but disagree with his conclusions regarding Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA and in some cases do not consider those conclusions reasonable.

    Eric:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/25/AR2009092503913.html

    Monday, Sept. 21 IAEA in Vienna receives a vaguely worded letter from Iran about a decision “to construct a new pilot fuel enrichment plant,” saying that “further complementary information will be provided in an appropriate and due time.”

    Tuesday, Sept. 22 Obama, at United Nations, receives a copy of the Iranian letter to IAEA; consults with British and French governments; decides to go public with intelligence document. Obama meets with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, but officials say the president does not mention the new Iranian facility to him. Of the key powers involved in diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran not to seek nuclear weapons, China and Russia have been the most reluctant to use sanctions or other stern measures to force Iran’s compliance.

    Wednesday, Sept. 23 U.S. provides IAEA with the outline of its findings. Obama also briefs Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, above, who says afterward: “Sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases sanctions are inevitable.”

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells Newsweek and The Washington Post that he will allow Iranian nuclear experts to meet with Western scientists as a confidence-building measure. He proposes that Iran be allowed to buy enriched uranium for medical purposes.

    Thursday, Sept. 24 Joint presentation by U.S., British and French intelligence to IAEA in Vienna. Administration briefs leadership of Senate, House and key committees in Washington. White House instructs reporters to attend Friday morning announcement on undisclosed subject.

    Friday, Sept. 25 Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy make public announcement. Intelligence teams continue briefing Russia, China and IAEA on details.

    The picture I see is that Iran reported the facility, which until then the IAEA did not know about, and Obama scrambled to respond, including the unscheduled press conference in Pittsburgh. The story that the US had known about it all along and was just about to report it, seems to be invented after the fact.

  13. Cyrus S. says:

    @ Richard & pmr9
    Thank you for your response.

    @ Eric A. Brill

    From a recent Andrew Cockburn article regarding Iraq (emphasis in bold>:

    The economic strangulation of Iraq was justified on the basis of Saddam’s supposed possession of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Year after year, UN inspectors combed Iraq in search of evidence that these WMD existed. But after 1991, the first year of inspections, when the infrastructure of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was detected and destroyed, along with missiles and an extensive arsenal of chemical weapons, nothing more was ever found. Given Saddam’s record of denying the existence of his nuclear project (his chemical arsenal was well known; he had used it extensively in the Iran-Iraq war, with US approval) the inspectors had strong grounds for suspicion, at least until August 1995. That was when Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law and the former overseer of his weapons programmes, suddenly defected to Jordan, where he was debriefed by the CIA, MI6 and Unscom. In those interviews he made it perfectly clear that the entire stock of WMD had been destroyed in 1991, a confession that his interlocutors, including the UN inspectors, took great pains to conceal from the outside world.

    Nevertheless, by early 1997 Rolf Ekeus had concluded, as he told me many years later, that he must report to the Security Council that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and was therefore in compliance with the Council’s resolutions, barring a few points. He felt bound to recommend that the sanctions should be lifted. Reports of his intentions threw the Clinton administration into a panic. The end of sanctions would lay Clinton open to Republican attacks for letting Saddam off the hook. The problem was solved, Ekeus explained to me, by getting Madeleine Albright, newly installed as secretary of state, to declare in a public address on 26 March 1997 that ‘we do not agree with the nations who argue that, if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.’ The predictable result was that Saddam saw little further point in co-operating with the inspectors. This provoked an escalating series of confrontations between the Unscom team and Iraqi security officials, ending in the expulsion of the inspectors, claims that Saddam was ‘refusing to disarm’, and, ultimately, war.

    Very reminescent of Iran I believe.

    Suppose Iran implements the AP back again and implements measures that go even beyond this, the US won’t lift the UN sanctions.
    Even if Iran ceases its uranium enrichment program, then I am still pretty sure the US will raise the bar again and keep the sanctions in place.

    Look at past Iranian actions showing its goodwill and the US’ response to it:

    - 2001-2002: Iran substantially helps the US to remove the Taliban from power and to install the Karzai government. US response: “Iran belongs to the Axis of Evil.”
    - 2003: Iran puts all its cards on the table and offers the US a ‘grand bargain’. US response: “We don’t talk to evil”.
    - 2003-2005: Iran voluntarily halts its uranium enrichment program as a confidence building measure and to get security guarantees from the US. US refuses to give Iran security guarantees and keeps threatening Iran.
    - 2003-2005: Iran implements the AP for more than two years. US responds by sending Irans file to the UNSC to slap Iran with sanctions.
    - 2003 to present: Iran proposes measures that go well beyond the AP to ensure its nuclear program remains peaceful. US ignores these offers.
    - 2010: Iran accepts a slightly modified US proposal for a fuel trade for the TRR. The US slaps Iran with more sanctions.

    Isn’t it obvious? No matter what Iran does, the US only wants one thing from Iran: total submission. And if Iran refuses to do so, then it will be attacked. And that day will come nearer. A proxy war (in the 80′s), containment (90′s) and sanctions (00′s) all failed to get Iran back in the US’ hemisphere, so there’s only one option left: a US led war with Iran.

  14. Arnold: It’s pretty clear Mr. Brill’s intentions are to put the onus on Iran in every situation. His ostensible reason is that it would help Iran prevent an attack by the US. But he can’t explain how anything Iran has done to date has NOT helped Iran in the slightest. Instead, the situation for Iran gets progressively worse no matter what it does. But for him, Iran still hasn’t done enough.

    As I demonstrated, his every argument is circular and leads back to “Iran is at fault” – except in the discussion on weapons smuggling to Hizballah where, despite all the evidence and common sense pointing to Iran, Iran is NOT at fault (just some nameless smugglers that Iran conveniently decides to ignore)!

    What’s his overall point? I can’t figure it out except possibly to argue just to be arguing.

    So what are Mr. Brill’s real motivations here? He should be asked to explain himself.

  15. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    Iran’s Safeguards Agreement obligations were not sufficient for the IAEA to detect what Saddam had been up to.

    “Been up to”? Iraq did not have a responsibility to disclose what it was “up to”. Iraq had a responsibility to disclose fissile material. Now, without fissile material, there is no nuclear weapon. Because of that, unless there is evidence that Iraq was able to evade its responsibility to disclose fissile material, the safeguards were sufficient to detect a nuclear weapon. That’s how the safeguards agreement and the NPT work. That’s what was negotiated.

    You’re re-writing the NPT now. But while you’re giving non-weapons states an obligation to disclose, vaguely, what they’re “up to”, you’re not even pressing the weapons states on their obligation to enter good faith negotiations toward full disarmament, which have never happened.

    As a citizen of a weapons state, you can be biased if you choose to be, but there is no principled defense of the position you’re taking now.

    How can I, you or anyone else answer that question, especially for the future? I’m suggesting Iran disclose whatever the AP and Code 3.1 require.

    As I wrote earlier, the AP means the US is able to more effectively sabotage Iran’s enrichment program. Code 3.1 means the US is more confident if it bombs Iran’s nuclear sites that it has gotten all of them. These are real tangible costs of following the course you recommend. The benefit is that the US and parties sympathetic to Israel’s political-strategic goals, if they choose to, may report that Iran is cooperating “sufficiently”. Despite the fact that they can instead just invent new reasons Iran’s cooperation is not “sufficient”, especially now that we are already beyond any legally binding obligations that Iran has taken on.

    As I say, Iran most likely will not follow your advice. If you want, you at that point can join the Americans and describe Iran as unreasonable.

    I understand the IAEA probably found its way to the Qom facility through information provided to it by the US. But I also would guess that the IAEA took steps to verify this information, and may have uncovered some more information on its own. Do you know whether the IAEA ever disclosed any information about the Qom facility to the US – or even told the US that Iran had already reported the Qom facility to the IAEA several days before the US publicly disclosed it?

    Huh? Maybe when you wrote “information provided by the US” it was a typo, and you meant information provided by Iran. That’s actually a mistake I make a lot, especially here where I can’t edit once I hit submit. If you really meant the IAEA got Qom (really Fordow) information from the US, that’s just factually wrong.

    From memory, the Iranian disclosure to the IAEA was not only immediately reported to the US, but it was also reported to the New York Times.

    If you think the IAEA is independent of the US, you just have a faulty model of how the organization works and relates to the US. Reading the blog armscontrolwonk has given me a sense of the closeness of the US official nuclear policy community, the non-official community and the IAEA. They routinely share information and even though they don’t disclose information publicly when asked, we are not talking about isolated communities.

    The IAEA is largely staffed by personnel on loan from US intelligence agencies.

    What is your point? That maybe Iran could give the IAEA information that would help the US choose which Iranian scientists to assassinate, and hopefully that information would not reach the US? Just based on hope? I can’t see that as serious.

    I’ve also suggested (though not in recent posts) that Iran not dismiss out of hand all “laptop of death” allegations. It has a right to be a bit more stubborn on such allegations if they’re not required under the SA, the AP or Code 3.1. But I think Iran should examine them on an ad hoc basis, and make a diligent effort to respond it Iran concludes that the IAEA has some reason to be suspicious. Clearly, if this got out of hand, I’d be sympathetic to Iran’s clamming up, but I’d at least consider what the IAEA claims it has turned up.

    So you’re saying Iran should respond to this set of totally unsubstantiated allegations, based on documents the US gives its word are not forged. But then it may not respond to the next set of those documents?

    Iran has signed agreements that prevent it from building a weapon. That’s what it agreed to do. The agreements Iran signed allow Iran to achieve a Japan option. The US does not want that and is trying to pressure Iran to prevent that from happening.

    Iran is perfectly reasonable to just comply with the safeguards agreement it ratified and to not divert fissile material to a weapon. That’s what Iran agreed to.

    You want Iran to go beyond its agreement. You can want what you want, but Iran is most likely not going to comply with your desire. Now what about Israel going beyond anything it agreed to and joining the NPT? What about the US, a country for whose leaders you vote, actually fulfilling its agreement to disarm?

    If countries are now expected to go beyond what they agreed, why only Iran?

  16. Castellio:

    “If there is no nuclear program, what’s wrong with disclosing as much as possible;”

    Sigh. Once again, if there is no program, there’s nothing to disclose. Everything ELSE HAS BEEN DISCLOSED.

    If public perception plays a role in either country, however slight, one must stay engaged, rather than abandon the field;”

    Iran is fully engaged, as the request for renewed talks and the agreement with Turkey and Brazil demonstrate. It is the US that is not interested in anything but full suspension of enrichment BEFORE talks.

    “If full engagement is the desire, then partial engagement, however slight, is a move in the right direction.”

    See above.

    “The effect is (may be) to slow down the rush to judgment, not a bad idea.”

    “May be” is the operative phrase. There is no evidence whatsoever in the US posture that it has not already judged. Again, demanding suspension of enrichment before being willing to engage in talks is not productive and is a clear indication of bad faith on the part of the US. Another clear indication is that when Iran accepted the SAME DEAL the US offered but with Turkey and Brazil instead, Obama backed off from the deal like a scalded dog. It is quite clear that the only goal the US had in broaching the deal in the first place was to seize Iranian nuclear material and keep it.

  17. Castellio,

    Well put, though I’m a biased judge. Thank you.

  18. Castellio says:

    I find myself appreciating Eric’s tactics. The way I’m understanding it, he’s saying that every concern should be taken seriously, even if motivated in bad faith, indeed, perhaps especially if motivated in bad faith.

    There are three parts to his position:
    If there is no nuclear program, what’s wrong with disclosing as much as possible;
    If public perception plays a role in either country, however slight, one must stay engaged, rather than abandon the field;
    If full engagement is the desire, then partial engagement, however slight, is a move in the right direction.

    The effect is (may be) to slow down the rush to judgment, not a bad idea.

    Eric’s article on the 2009 Iranian election questioning accusations of its “falsification” shares the same basic impulse: take all arguments seriously, work them through step by step, question the rush to judgment. And who among us has not sent a link to his article to someone “convinced” that the election was stolen?

    It doesn’t mean he is bamboozled by every silly accusation against Iran, or disregards the rabid domestic forces in the US, etc., it just means, as a political process, that he is willing to grind away (perhaps) buying time, where time is critical. It also has the long term benefit of leaving a clear trace of the (ir)rationality of others.

    I don’t think he’s claiming that it solves all problems, answers all questions, establishes all truths. Rather, it is the best process of ‘engagement’ where ‘engagement’ is necessary.

  19. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “And do you have any thoughts on why the US waited three days to make its public disclosure, rather than doing so immediately after Iran disclosed the facility to the IAEA? I just can’t figure out why the US would have waited so long if it had this information.”

    I think the Waite was just dramatizing and setting up the stage for the right media moment; they have played this all along and will continue to do so and so far no one can do anything about it.

    Sorry if I wouldn’t be able to reply for a few hours

  20. Mr. Brill: You arguments are both circular and ridiculous.

    First you claim Iran should “disclose more” in accordance with the AP without specifying WHAT Iran COULD disclose. You cleverly evade that by saying you don’t know – which is exactly what I meant when I said “I thought so” in advance of your doing so.

    Then when confronted with the fact that Iran DID disclose under the AP for nearly three years, you claim that because Iran STOPPED disclosing because the US DID NOT CARE what it was disclosing, it bears all the blame for the fact that the US is suspicious of Iran’s program.

    This is just ridiculous circular reasoning.

  21. Kooshy,

    I’m not understanding your point. Can you say whether (and why) you believe the IAEA disclosed any information about the Qom facility to the US, or at least told the US when Iran reported it to the IAEA?

    And do you have any thoughts on why the US waited three days to make its public disclosure, rather than doing so immediately after Iran disclosed the facility to the IAEA? I just can’t figure out why the US would have waited so long if it had this information.

  22. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “it strikes me as odd that it would wait (as it did) several days if it had known that Iran had already disclosed it to the IAEA. Instead, the US would have made its public disclosure immediately upon learning of Iran’s disclosure to the IAEA.”

    Eric sounds like your argument is not holding water, we all hope after all you mean well, and I think you do, but look if you remember the minute EB whispered the Frdo to Obama’s ear, Rahm and Denis sent him and the other two stooges on the stage to see if they can make something of that, even though as per EB Frdo was just a hole in the wall.

    There is very little chance that US can and will attack Iran without a UN mandated resolution as you have pointedly mentioned there is a very little chance of that to ever happen.

  23. Richard,

    “Try to remember that Iran followed the Additional Protocol (albeit without ratifying it in its parliament) VOLUNTARILY for nearly three years! And what did that get Iran? Nothing but more of the same crap from the US.”

    I remember this well, of course. Iran stopped following the AP and Code 3.1 about three years ago, insisting that it would not resume compliance unless it got a firm commitment from the US this time.

    How’s that effort progressing?

  24. Arnold,

    “Eric, what specific things do you want Iran to disclose?”

    How can I, you or anyone else answer that question, especially for the future? I’m suggesting Iran disclose whatever the AP and Code 3.1 require. I recognize there may be disputes over Iran’s disclosure obligations, just as there are today between the IAEA and Iran and between the IAEA and other countries.

    I’ve also suggested (though not in recent posts) that Iran not dismiss out of hand all “laptop of death” allegations. It has a right to be a bit more stubborn on such allegations if they’re not required under the SA, the AP or Code 3.1. But I think Iran should examine them on an ad hoc basis, and make a diligent effort to respond it Iran concludes that the IAEA has some reason to be suspicious. Clearly, if this got out of hand, I’d be sympathetic to Iran’s clamming up, but I’d at least consider what the IAEA claims it has turned up.

  25. Mr. Brill: Please.

    Try to remember that Iran followed the Additional Protocol (albeit without ratifying it in its parliament) VOLUNTARILY for nearly three years! And what did that get Iran? Nothing but more of the same crap from the US. Iran stopped following the Additional Protocol only AFTER it became clear that the US would not back down and forced the IAEA to refer the Iran file to the UNSC – which by the way was ILLEGAL for the IAEA to do under the NPT! Look it up!

    You’re simply and totally wrong about this.

  26. Richard,

    “Exactly WHAT would you have Iran “disclose”? I thought so. You have no clue how to respond to that.”

    Seems like you should give me a bit more time than that, Richard.

  27. Arnold,

    “That means all disclosures to the IAEA are disclosures to the US.”

    If I were Iran, I certainly would operate on this assumption.

    I nevertheless wonder if it’s true to the extent you say.

    For example, I understand the IAEA probably found its way to the Qom facility through information provided to it by the US. But I also would guess that the IAEA took steps to verify this information, and may have uncovered some more information on its own. Do you know whether the IAEA ever disclosed any information about the Qom facility to the US – or even told the US that Iran had already reported the Qom facility to the IAEA several days before the US publicly disclosed it? Though the US spun this pretty well under the circumstances, it strikes me as odd that it would wait (as it did) several days if it had known that Iran had already disclosed it to the IAEA. Instead, the US would have made its public disclosure immediately upon learning of Iran’s disclosure to the IAEA.

  28. Mr. Brill: “4. Encourage Iran to start disclosing a lot more about its nuclear program, thereby making one or more of the first three options somewhat less foolish and pointless than they now appear to be?”

    Exactly WHAT would you have Iran “disclose”?

    I thought so. You have no clue how to respond to that.

    Because Iran IS disclosing EVERYTHING it has to disclose. And it has been so disclosing since day one. Go read the IAEA reports. There is NOTHING that the IAEA does not know about the Iranian nuclear energy program EXCEPT a lot of made up “evidence” provided to the US by the Israeli Mossad which Iran has repeatedly denied has any validity whatsoever – and in most cases has provided documentation of that fact.

    You can’t cite one piece of evidence that Iran has not disclosed everything about its nuclear energy program.

    You can’t cite one piece of evidence that Iran has not disclosed everything about a non-existent nuclear weapons program – because there IS NO such program.

    Therefore your whole argument falls to pieces.

  29. Arnold,

    “Iraq had not evaded the safeguards agreement, but had assembled technologies (minus fissile material) that the US would have found troubling if they had been disclosed.”

    That’s the point.

    Iran’s Safeguards Agreement obligations were not sufficient for the IAEA to detect what Saddam had been up to. If the additional protocols had also been in place, the IAEA might instead have detected Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

  30. Rehmat says:

    Anti-Israel Jewish Conference

    “We don’t go to Synagouge to pray to a flag (Israeli),” Stephen Naman.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/anti-israel-jewish-conference/

  31. Nasser says:

    pmr9,

    But those ballistic missiles would need guidance system to home in on its target. I was under the impression that those Chinese missiles use satellite navigation system to hit their targets but Iran doesn’t have such capability.

  32. pmr9 says:

    Nasser

    Any ballistic missile that can hit the deck of a carrier will be enough to disable the carrier as a launch platform, leaving it without air cover. In any case, it’s doubtful that antimissile defences would be able to stop modern sea-skimming missiles such as the Sunburn.

  33. Arnold Evans says:

    And speaking of Iraq post 1991, there is a conventional wisdom that its nuclear program was very advanced and not detected by the safeguards agreement. I have never seen an assertion that Iraq had assembled any weapons grade fissile material, much less a critical amount.

    I’m tending these days to believe that conventional wisdom is wrong. Iraq had not evaded the safeguards agreement, but had assembled technologies (minus fissile material) that the US would have found troubling if they had been disclosed.

    I’d appreciate anyone pointing me to an explanation of exactly what the IAEA found in 1991 or so.

  34. DWZ,

    “WHY ARE YOU REPEATING YOUR NONSENSE OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER?”

    I guess I keep hoping i’ll persuade you. Are you beginning to waver?

  35. Arnold Evans says:

    B. The IAEA has REPEATEDLY CONFIRMED that IRAN IS COOPERATING fully and that NO EVIDENCE of an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been found.

    The second part, no evidence of a nuclear weapons program is what we have today. The first part is a political judgment on the part of the IAEA that is outside of Iran’s control. The idea of one state claiming to have documents about a nuclear weapons program and another state has to answer any questions that come from those documents without ever seeing the documents is unprecedented. 1) It means that the questions will never stop because the US will always be able to produce new documents. 2) It is as unreasonable as it will ever get. If Iran answers 100 rounds of questions like this, the 101st round will not be more unreasonable than this round. The amount of support the US has now is the amount of support it will have indefinitely.

    Iran does not control whether or not the IAEA feels satisfied with its answers. The IAEA, directed by the US, is not comfortable with Iran having a Japan-option. These supposed questions are pretext to pressure Iran to give up that option. The questions are not going to be answered, to either the satisfaction of the US or the IAEA, unless and until Iran stops enriching uranium and holds its LEU stock under 1 ton.

    So your recommended strategy of adopting code 3.1 and ratifying the additional protocols will be used, if anything, to make more credible laptops of death in the future and improving the quality and confidence of the US threat to attack Iran’s nuclear program or sabotage it, including by assassinating figures whose names are uncovered in Iran’s increased disclosures.

    So basically, you are not going to see Iran implement your recommended strategy. At that point you can agree with other Americans that Iran is being unreasonable if you choose. But for Iran you are describing a risk with no upside and substantial downside. It is simply not the case that the US will agree to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium with a significant domestic stock of LEU if Iran makes any amount of disclosure. It is simply not the case that there is a course of action Iran can take, short of that suspension, that would decrease the US impulse to pressure Iran’s program in any way possible, including using its assets on in the IAEA and on that organization’s board of governors.

  36. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, what specific things do you want Iran to disclose?

    1) There are the 10 or so possible locations for future enrichment facilities. I think Iran should not disclose these because the idea that the US does not know for sure what facilities Iran would use to reconstitute its program if Natanz is bombed is a significant deterrent against the US bombing Iran. This is the dispute over Code 3.1.

    2) There is the laptop of death, meaning files that the US claims it got by one or another of its spying programs but that also can easily have been forged. Iran has not seen all of the files the US demands Iran respond to. The IAEA has not seen all of the files. As the situation stands now, any information Iran gives on these files will predictably lead to new files “captured” but really invented by the US. As of today, the only supposed source for suspicion of Iran’s program are these files that some people in the IAEA have seen some of.

    3) There are centrifuge production and manufacturing materials and information that are not subject to Iran’s safeguards agreement because they are not fissile material but are subject to the additional protocols that Iran has not ratified. As the US has an active program, that I see discussed routinely in the Western press, of sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program, giving the US a complete view of Iran’s centrifuge production program would give the US more confidence that it could disrupt that program.

    4) There is the ballistic missile program. Not subject to the safeguards agreement, subject to the AP in some cases. States have an explicitly reserved right not to disclose military programs.

    If the US accepts Iranian enrichment, that implies that US efforts to stop or sabotage the program would stop. In that case, Iran could safely implement the AP and code 3.1. I don’t think Iran can or should implement either while the US is actively working to sabotage Iran’s program.

    You’ve asked do I believe the IAEA can keep a secret from the US. No. I’m shocked that a person as well informed as you would ask that. The IAEA’s staff is, to a very large degree, sympathetic to the US goal of defending Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region. This is not something that can be fixed in the foreseeable future. That means all disclosures to the IAEA are disclosures to the US.

    I also, I’m sure you’ve gathered, do not think the US is going to attack Iran, or turn it to glass if Iran continues on the course along which it is currently moving. It is a threat the US has been making for a long time. Iran would punish the US in that event, advance its program and the world would go on.

    But there are only four areas where anyone asks Iran for more disclosure than it has already gotten. Of those four, I do not think Iran should disclose more than it has. When you say Iran should be more open, effectively you are saying at least one of these four areas Iran should change its policy. I ask, which of the four?

  37. Rehmat says:

    Gone are the days when Zionist Golda Mier assured his fellow Zionist thugs that “there is no such thing as Palestinian people”. Then they told the world that Palestinians already have a country, Jordan. On April 29, 2010 – Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin saying: “I would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizen than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state solution. A month later, former Israeli Defense Minister and a radical Zionist Jew, Moshe Aren endorsed Reuven Rivlin’s idea of a ‘one state’ for both the native Arabs and the foreign Jew settlers. However, he did mention his fear that absorbing another one million Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in the West Bank would pose a demographic problem which would end Zionists’ dream of a ‘Jewish State’.

    http://rehmatpedia.islamunity.net/?p=1226

  38. James,

    Though I gather we think alike on much of this, I notice that you often write of potential deals that might be struck upon Iran’s agreement to greater disclosures.

    If I were Iran, I’d be happy to talk about any such deals, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’d presume that nothing at all will come from such discussions, and so I would continue exercising my rights under the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, including LEU enrichment. I find it ironic that some commenters object to that course of action on the ground that the US will get upset if Iran continues to enrich uranium, since the US feels that Iran already has enriched too much, and yet those same commenters insist that Iran generally should defy the US even if that provokes the US to turn Iran to glass.

    As long as Iran harbors the hope that the US will approve some quid pro quo for greater disclosure, it will continue to play right into the right into the hands of the bomb-Iran crowd. That crowd would like nothing better than to see Iran continue to refuse to disclose more about its nuclear program, knowing that the longer that continues the more likely the American public will lose patience and approve an attack on Iran. One way to increase the odds that Iran will remain stubborn is to refuse to make any concessions to Iran in exchange for greater disclosure. An even better way is to do the same thing but also mislead Iran to believe that maybe, just maybe, some concessions can be worked out, so that Iran keeps wasting its time negotiating toward some deal while continuing to refuse to expand its disclosures.

    I think Iran should forget about any quid pro quo. Either start disclosing more and hope that doing so reduces the risk of war, or don’t and get ready for war with the US.

  39. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Yes, I agree the war promoters do not need to have the truth or convince the American public that they have the truth (or accurate information about Iran’s nuclear programme). The war promoters need to be able to frighten the American public by saying Iran has secret nuclear facilities and we think that Iran is building nukes for a surprise attack. . . And, of course, this worked last time, to set up the insane invasion of Iraq.

    In sum, the issue is adequate transparency, by Iran. One recognizes legitimate concerns about national honour, and perhaps the security of essential defence facilities. But, if Iran can project a credible picture of cooperation with the IAEA, and ocntinue to work toward getting all nukes out of the Middle East, I think the scheme of the warmongers to set up a US attack on Iran will fail.

  40. Liz,

    Please understand that I do not recommend that Iran “back down” at all on the actual exercise of its right under the NPT or its Safeguards Agreement. I feel strongly to the contrary. My only point is that it should not hesitate to disclose more about what it’s doing. If even that strikes you as “backing down” that Iran should not do, then I guess we disagree. To me, that would amount to a very big risk with very little upside potential.

  41. James,

    I am glad that you appear to understand and agree that any US decision to attack Iran will be based on what the US government is able to persuade most Americans is true, not necessarily what is true. That’s how it happened in Iraq, after all, and there’s no reason to expect that the US will abandon an approach that worked so well there.

  42. Nasser says:

    James Canning,

    “My understanding is that the Chinese have suppled Iran with anti-ship missiles. I think closure of the Gulf would be a certainty.”

    No no no, I was talking about anti ship ballistic missiles that can sink aircraft carriers! Apparently only China has those. China supplied Iran with Silkworms and smaller missiles of that nature.

  43. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    My understanding is that the Chinese have suppled Iran with anti-ship missiles. I think closure of the Gulf would be a certainty.

  44. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Amazing statistic you cited (500,000 ethnic Indians and Chinese leaving Malaysia 2007-2009). I assume discrimination in favor of ethnic Malays is the impetus. (?)

  45. Nasser says:

    pmr9,

    Thanks for the interesting read. The article barely mentioned Iran’s capabilities though. As I understand it, China is the only country with anti-ship ballistic missiles.

  46. James Canning says:

    Liz,

    By Iran not “backing down”, do you mean continuing to enrich LEU as allowed under the NPT? And to enrich U to 20%, even if an agreement is reached for France to sent the need fuel rods to Tehran?

    I think the first is a workable deal, but the second might not be the best way forward for Iran at this time.

    I think concerns that the US will just concoct other objections, are fairly weak. Iran has a good chance to convince the world that, while it seeks the elimination of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, Israel is allowed to continue to prevent any inspection of its nuclear facilities by the IAEA, and to possess hundreds of nukes. This is a very strong line.

  47. Fiorangela says:

    fyi -
    I have two sons.
    Brilliant, handsome, and in competition with women who would eat them for lunch if the price were right (none of these young women nearly good enough for MY sons…)

    I heard Izzeldin Abu Laish speak a few months ago, and hung on his every word, until he said that he is attempting to establish a foundation to support young women in Gaza. That seems to me the kiss of death: young Palestinian men are already challenged to the breaking point to be aggressive and to compete.

  48. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    I am astonished to read that you have stopped talking about Iran in your personal life. Flabbergasted. I should think you would take every opportunity to discuss Iran that presents itself.

  49. Liz says:

    Eric,

    Iran should not back down. That will only make the US more aggressive and more demanding. If the US is stupid enough to start a war they will pay the price.

  50. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    The essential element of the warmongers’ scheme to dupe the American people into supporting an insane attack on Iran, would be to argue that an attack is needed because Iran is on the edge of building deployable nukes that will be dropped onto Israel. Lies through and through, to be sure, but dependent upon a perception that Iran in fact is hiding nuclear facilities. To hide nuclear facilities is to make it easier for the warmongers. Of whom there are a considerable number.

  51. Nasser says:

    James,

    “The warmongers’ game plan is to argue that Iran has secret facilities where enrichment of U to weapons grade is taking place.”

    But, they can’t bomb those sites if they don’t even know where they are!

  52. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    I agree with Eric that Iran would benefit from adequate transparency in that it would make a US attack very unlikely. The warmongers’ game plan is to argue that Iran has secret facilities where enrichment of U to weapons grade is taking place.

  53. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Is it not in the best interests of the American people for Iran to be strong and prosperous? Why would injuring Iran be in the interests of the American people? As distinguished from being in the interest of insane Israelis wanting to oppress the Palestinians into perpetuity.

  54. Nasser says:

    Eric A. Brill,

    “If Iran worries that expanded disclosures will only enhance the US’ targeting capability if the US attacks Iran despite all my rosy predictions, there’s nothing I can say in response other than that risk strikes me as well worth taking, given that the potential upside is that no US attack will occur at all.”

    But what if that doubt is precisely what is keeping Iran from getting bombed? Some of us believe that one of the reasons to hold off on an attack on Iran is that intelligence agencies cannot be sure that they know of all of Iran’s facilities. So, in the event of an air strike those hidden sites would escape destruction, thus rendering those strikes meaningless. I would argue that once all of Iran’s assets and abilities becomes known, an attack would be more likely not less so. If that ambiguity makes some people like you uncomfortable and invites more sanctions so be it. Iran should be willing to pay that price to avoid bombardment. If Iraq should have taught Iran anything it is that the US attacks precisely when they feel their target is sufficiently castrated and has no defensive capability. Iran should continue to be highly ambiguous, creating doubts about their true abilities, all the while highlighting the lies that led to the war against Iraq.

  55. pmr9 says:

    Nasser

    For an analysis of carrier vulnerability to missile attack, see this article by Brecher.

    http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-this-is-how-the-carriers-will-die/

  56. James Canning says:

    Andrew J. Bacevich has an excellent piece in The Spectator July 3rd: “Obama is in hock to the hawks”. Bacevich says, quite rightly, that “Obama has in effect bet the house on America’s ability to determine the fate of a quasi-nation possessing marginal significance to the West.” Also: “Once again, an inability to discriminate compounds and exacerbates the challenges of a nation in decline.” (May be available on http://www.spectator.co.uk)

  57. Nasser says:

    pmr9,

    “So Iran’s position is strong, as long as it has enough land-to-ship missiles to keep the Straits of Hormuz closed and to disable any US carriers that are within range.”

    Are you suggesting Iran has the capacity to sink aircraft carriers?!

  58. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    Every country has its own social problems.

    The problem with the young men is endemic: the rise of women, i.e. blind and mechanical pursuit of power equalization, undermines young men. This is true all over the world. A young man, in US, has nothing compared to a young woman.

    Many a young American woman shamelessly exploit the sexual power that their youth has bestowed on them to the hilt. Moreover, at all levels of scoiety, they are subsidized; their weaknesses and failures are glossed over and forgiven while their achievements are exaggerated.

    But always it is the young men who wound up being killed in a war. And, in US, the fminization of power is causing boyhood to be treated as a disease; treated by mind-altering drugs.

    I sympathize with the young men.

    And I think if you want to help them the first thing would be to stop subsidizing women.

  59. Castellio says:

    Escalation continues. Those who favour the fortunes of Iran say that it takes the long view. Those who favour the fortune of the US say that it has the ability to turn Iran into glass.

    There is, I think, something to be learned from the patience of Eric Brill. Promoting a sense of patience on the American side would not be wrong. Only if America gives itself time will it be able to hold off on continuing its current commitment to the wrong values.

  60. Fiorangela,

    “The near-unanimity with which sanctions and other punitive measures against Iran are voted into effect, makes it difficult for me to be as optimistic as you are. What is the basis for your optimism?”

    There is a very strong current of feeling in the US, especially among well-educated Americans, that the last thing the US needs is another war in the Middle East.

    There is an ever stronger current of feeling, however, among nearly all Americans, that the US cannot afford to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Certainly the Israeli government and press encourage the latter feeling, just as I would if I were they, but the feeling would be there, and would be quite strong, without any encouragement at all from the Israelis.

    It might be very persuasive if an informed American could say the following:

    “The last thing the US needs is another war in the Middle East. It’s amazing to me that anyone still listens to the John Boltons of the world prattle on about Iran. I’d feel different about this if there were any reason to believe Iran is working on nuclear weapons, but there’s not. We’re being asked to accept the same bogus WMD claims that got us into Iraq. People have short memories.”

    Unfortunately, one can’t get past the first sentence of this without inviting a justified “Are you kidding?” look from his listener, followed by this:

    “What makes you so sure Iran isn’t working on nuclear weapons? Iran knows everybody suspects that it is, and yet it refuses to make the same disclosures that many dozens of other countries make without complaining – such as those required under the additional protocols or the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1. Isn’t that reason enough for you to doubt what Iran tells us? If you were Iran, and you were not doing anything wrong and wanted to prove that to a skeptical world, would you be willing to make these additional disclosures? I am confident you would be, as would I. Iran flatly refuses. Are you really prepared to overlook that, just cross your fingers and take your chances?”

    Today, all I can honestly say in response is the following (which many on this website seem to feel is enough):

    “Well, as you may or may not know, the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement don’t require Iran to disclose any more than it already discloses. Iran is perfectly within its rights not to adopt the additional protocols or the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1, regardless of how many other countries may choose to do so.”

    I used to give essentially that response, until I noticed that the number of listeners who found it persuasive was somewhere around 1%, at most. Most listeners would maintain their “Are you kidding?” look. A few would add that I could have said exactly the same thing about Saddam Hussein before the first Iraq war, and look at what we soon learned about his pre-war nuclear weapons program. In fact, that shocking discovery is why the IAEA drafted the additional protocols and the the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1 – very the same expanded disclosure scheme that Iran now refuses to sign up for.

    As a result, I’ve largely stopped talking about Iran in my personal life, and I suspect that many others like me have stopped too.

    It would be much more persuasive if I could honestly say the following instead – which, unfortunately, I cannot:

    “The last thing the US needs is another war in the Middle East. It’s amazing to me that anyone still listens to the John Boltons of the world prattle on about Iran. I’d feel different about this if there were any reason to believe Iran is working on nuclear weapons, but there’s not. Iran has adopted the additional protocols and the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1. The IAEA has confirmed over and over that Iran is cooperating fully and performing all of its expanded obligations under the NPT and Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. Yet John Bolton and others of his ilk are still making the same worn-out and baseless WMD claims that got us into Iraq. I thought we’d learned from that experience to insist on at least some evidence, and I haven’t seen a shred of it so far. Have you? Certainly you don’t think we should go in just on John Bolton’s say-so again. Or do you?”

    I mostly hang around a highly educated crowd, as I suspect you do too. Not all of them would be persuaded by this argument, but I’m confident that most of them would be. I would be making this argument at nearly every opportunity if I could honestly present it. Some of my listeners would even repeat my arguments in an effort to persuade others, and nearly all of them would at least tone down or stop entirely their demonization of Iran. I have little doubt that the overall result would be to elevate the very strong anti-war sentiment that’s been effectively suppressed by people’s overriding suspicion of Iran, making it much more difficult for the bomb-Iran crowd to hold sway in Washington.

    It is true that anti-Iran resolutions sail through Congress on nearly unanimous votes. Similarly, the vote for the Iraq war was quite lopsided. But most Senators make up their mind pretty much the same way Senator Hillary Clinton did in the summer of 2002. They take polls. If the polls say “Attack Saddam!”, the Senator stands up in the Senate chamber and delivers a forceful speech that she insists reflects views she has held since she was a very young child, with references to lofty principles that her poll-takers have assured her will sound very comforting and persuasive to her audience. She assures her listeners that she has considered the matter very thoroughly and deeply regrets the decision she is being forced to make by America’s enemy. Other Senators then get up and make the same speech, until enough eyes are rolling in the Senate chamber that someone mercifully calls for a vote. Senators who are denied their right to speak are assured that they may enter their prepared remarks in the Congressional Record.

    And then the Senators all vote for war.

    One might think that a slight change in poll numbers would affect the votes of only a few Senators. I disagree. I predict that a sentiment switch from, say, 53-47 FOR war to 53-47 AGAINST war wouldn’t affect just a few Senators on the fence. It would affect many Senators, probably enough to swing the vote. As my dear mother often said: “A politician’s most important job is to get re-elected.” In that light, consider each of the following two situations. In both situations, assume that the US goes to war against Iran and that no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program ever turns up.

    SITUATION 1:

    A. Iran HAS ADOPTED the additional protocols and the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1.

    B. The IAEA has REPEATEDLY CONFIRMED that IRAN IS COOPERATING fully and that NO EVIDENCE of an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been found.

    C. Possibly (though not certainly) as a result of A and B, polls show that MOST AMERICANS OPPOSE WAR on Iran (53-47).

    SITUATION 2:

    A. Iran CONTINUED TO REFUSE TO ADOPT either the additional protocols or the “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1.

    B. The IAEA has repeatedly reported that it is UNABLE TO CONFIRM that Iran is using its nuclear material exclusively for non-military purposes.

    C. Possibly (though not certainly) as a result of A and B, polls show that MOST AMERICANS FAVOR WAR on Iran (53-47).

    Let’s assume that Senator X will be up for re-election a year or two after the Senate’s vote. As he looks ahead to election day, with my mother’s wise observation at the front of his mind, in which situation – 1 or 2 – do you think Senator X will be more inclined to vote for war on Iran?

    Why should Iran not do what it can to create Situation 1?

    Iran would be naive to believe that its continued stubbornness on disclosure will result in the US offering concessions. I’d put the chances of that near zero. The US has never shown any inclination to grant concessions to Iran in the first place – much less in exchange for Iran’s commitment to do what most countries have agreed to do without receiving any concessions at all.

    If Iran simply doesn’t want to be bossed around by the US, I understand that sentiment, but is that important enough to pass up a chance to neutralize a great deal of US influence by undercutting its principal argument for war on Iran?

    If Iran worries that expanded disclosures will only enhance the US’ targeting capability if the US attacks Iran despite all my rosy predictions, there’s nothing I can say in response other than that risk strikes me as well worth taking, given that the potential upside is that no US attack will occur at all.

  61. Fiorangela says:

    fyi, there’s another process taking place in American culture that requires that US keep its young men in militaries in other people’s countries: US consumer culture is imploding. That’s not just an economic problem, it’s a cultural problem, akin to the realization of the popes in calling for Crusades: young men had no other place in the realm to find meaning that fit their skills.

    In the US, the “american dream” was inexorably tied to consumerism, promoted by PR/advertising/propaganda/mass marketing. Those systems have played themselves out: acquiring things no longer satisfies the existential itch that advertising induces. But young soldiers find meaning in the sense of belonging they create with their comrades in arms; taken out of the theatre of the warrior’s bond, they are at a loss. The Pentagon can’t afford to return these trained killers who are experiencing a deep sense of anomie — not to mention high unemployability — to US shores.

    Recently, Sebastian Junger spoke about his book, “War,” his experiences over a year spent with US troops in an isolated outpost in Afghanistan. Junger quotes one of the men in the group who re-enlisted after his 14 month stint in that hell, and explained that he could not exist in American society; it held no meaning for him and, were he to remain in that world, he would drink himself to death if he didn’t get into brawls and kill someone else. (Avigail Abarbenal reports a similar phenomenon among Israeli soldiers.)

    American families began unravelling half-a-generation ago; American schools are in shambles. Advertising is no longer able to provide Americans cigarettes and antideodorant to make them feel like they belong, and America has no indigenous mythos of its own; its culture is imploding, just as Joseph Campbell cautioned. In my view, Iran’s leaders comprehend America’s cultural problems and over-restrict Iranian culture in an effort to resist the same set of problems.

  62. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    US unemployment is close to 19 percent.

    Spain, in the 18-33 age group, has unemployment of 44 percent.

    India has an annual inflation rate of 20 percent.

    Between 2007 and 2009, 500,000 ethnic Indians and Chinese left Malaysia to seek better fortunes.

    There are at least 50 other states, in various stages of development or under-development, with similar statistics.

    In none of these states, the regime has imploded.

    Yet US, since 1995, has pursued her economic war against Iran hoping for a change; a repeat of USSR, I suppose.

    What the sanction accomplish for US and EU is that they advance their political aims domestically and externally without a lot of short term costs.

    The loser states are definitely EU states; they are sanctioning themselves out of options and influence with Iran. Larijani told them as much 4 years ago. But the power disparity between US/EU on the one side and Iran on the other is so wide that US/EU have fallen victim to their own Hubris.

    This hubris, shared by Israel, also led to the same strategic dead-end in negotiations vis-a-vis the Palestinians. In this case, US has lost control of the dynamics of that war. She and EU are likely to get to the same situation with Iran.

    This is like Selma: Whites could have accepted the limited requests of the Blacks for seating in the buses but instead chose to escalate and humiliate them.

  63. Fiorangela says:

    thank you fyi.

    re: “Iranians will be hurting shortly but EU and Japan will be hurting more for a longer period of time.”

    This is corollary to a concept that Stephen Kinzer emphasizes in his talks re his book, “Reset;” namely, that Iran’s history stretches back 3000 years; US = 200 years +-. Iran is rational and takes the long view, of absorbing short-term pain in exchange for long-term gain.
    Americans are relative two-year olds who want what they want when they want it, and they want it now, else they will throw a tantrum.

    Americans are approaching meltdown because their economy is approaching 11% unemployment and their government withheld unemployment support for eight weeks.

    But those same Americans cheer when their government votes to strangle Iran’s economy, exacerbating unemployment already approaching 20%, forcing inflation to double-digits, and, in the most counter-productive of all tactics, constraining the world’s oil supply in order to “punish” Iran for the crime of… of… of what, exactly?

  64. fyi says:

    DWZ:

    Yes, you are right.

    That is why only a hudna – a ceasefire is possible.

    Unless and until Jerusalem is in Muslim hands the war will continue.

    And US will be a party to the War.

  65. James Canning says:

    DWZ,

    I read the link. Very interesting. I might add, that the Tsar of Bulgaria had hopes of being crowned Emperor in Constantiniple. So did the King of Greece. Both sought a romantic “revival” of the Byzantine Empire.

    Turkey actually took “Armenian” and “Georgian” provinces from the Russian Empire, as a result of the collapse of the Russian Empire.

  66. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Turkey and Iran have many interests in common and should be good friends, like the US and Canada.

    India thinks the sanctions against Iran are not a good idea. At least, this is what the Indian foreign minister said on national public radio in the US last night, apparently.

  67. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I very much agree with you that the US needs to lower its profile in the Middle East. And by a substantial degree. I think the enormous American military presence in the Middle East undermines the security of the American people, while enriching the “defence” contractors, their lawyers, lobbyists, paid politicians, etc etc etc

  68. James Canning says:

    DWZ,

    I am fond of the history of the Ottoman Empire and try to read Turkish history generally at least once or twice a week.

    The British Empire tried to protect the Ottoman Empire for many decades, in part to prevent the Russians from taking control of the straits. Ottoman entry into the First World War was a catstrophic error of judgement; the Turks were fortunate to re-group and consolidate their homeland in Anatolia (and avoid total partition).

    Would the Ottoman Empire have been able to survive, if it had stayed out of the war? Perhaps. Could the Turks have maintained possession of Syria, and what became Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and the Hejaz, if the empire had stayed out of the war?
    Perhaps not.

  69. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    My crystan ball tell me that there is no chance of Turkish-Iranian clash as long as the constitutional order is intact in Turkey.

    If the Turkish military, once again, overthrow the government, then one has to wait and see. There are always people among leaders of Third World countries that think that they and their country will benefit from carrying water for US. Lon Nol, who presided over the destruction of Cambodia was one such person.

    In regards to India: the last thing they should want is to generalize their confrontation with Pakistan to other Muslim States.

    My crystal ball also tells me that in less than 5 years, US and specially EU & Japan, will come to rue their energy sanctions on Iran as the price of ile steadily climbs. Iranians will be hurting shortly but EU and Japan will be hurting more for a longer period of time.

  70. James Canning says:

    Brig Gen Masoud Jazayeri of Iran is quoted today as saying: “The golden years of a US presence in the Middle East have passed.” I assume he means a military presence, and refers to the greater Middle East. Many Americans certainly hope the general is correct, though they might not call the years “golden” (unless they are “defence” contractors!).

  71. Fiorangela says:

    fyi — what of Turkey?

    I fully anticipate that the NYT headlines on my 100th birthday will read, “Turkish and Iranian forces clash over (fill in the blank).”

    As well, what does your crystal mcball have to say about India’s role in the region?

  72. DWZ says:

    {Why would a “world government” favor partition of Iraq? Turkey, Iran and Syria all oppose partition, and Biden can see that partition would cause a great increase in instability in the region.}

    I suggest to you review how Ottoman Empire was destroyed and which group played an important role in bringing Abdul Hamid down? Lean about CUP, committee of Union and Progress and major groups, especially in Salonika, active on behalf of those who CONTROLLED the British Empire.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_of_Union_and_Progress

  73. fyi says:

    you guys are in the weeds.

    US has to lower her profile in the Middle East – both in the Levant and in the Persain Gulf.

    This is for political as well as financial reasons.

    That is, US posture must revert back to an over-the-horizon one.

    This cannot be accomplished without reaching an understainding with Iran.

    Between Hindukush to the Mediterranean Sea there is no “state” – mark my workds – except Iran.

    Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, at the very least, are vulerbale to land attacks.

    They cannot be indefinitely protected by US from the Persain Gulf since US cannot afford it.

    Nor US can afford to continue to pay the cost of securing Israel indefinitely.

    Iranians, on the other hand, are entrenced in Iraq and do not see any reason to play ball with US.

    This is strategic stalemate.

  74. James Canning says:

    DWZ,

    Why would a “world government” favor partition of Iraq? Turkey, Iran and Syria all oppose partition, and Biden can see that partition would cause a great increase in instability in the region.

    I think Biden sincerely has the best interests of the American people at heart. This is not to say the influence of other Democrats does not weigh heavily on him, and many of the those Democrats are in effect stooges or dupes of the Israel lobby.

  75. DWZ says:

    {But Biden changed his mind and subsequently has made clear he and the US government oppose partition of Iraq.}

    You yet to understand that Biden, Obama, Peloci are stooges who are in the service of ‘World Government’. It is not up to Biden or Obama. They just follow the order.

    http://www.originaldissent.com/forums/showthread.php?15717-Who-Controls-the-Bilderberg-Group-(2010)

  76. James Canning says:

    Cyrus S.,

    Re: July 22nd, 6:10am – - Actually, it is in the best interests of the US for Hezbollah to be sufficiently strong to deter another idiotic Israeli smashing of Lebanon. Iranian support of Hezbollah is helping the US, not hurting it.

    Iran’s efforts to deter drug smuggling into Iran should not be cut back, in order to attempt to injure the US! Russia says that drugs coming out of Afghanistan are the single biggest problem if faces, due to the instability in Afghanistan.

  77. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    Re: July 22nd, 8:49am – - The power of the Israel lobby in the US Congress owes a great deal to the fact more than half of campaign finance, for Democrats, comes from Jews.

    Another aspect of the problem is the subversion of the Republican party by the neocons – - something that could only happen in the context of an exceedingly ignorant electorate.

    A further aspect is the huge concentration of Jews in finance and the media. And, increasingly, in government – - especially in the national security/foreign policy sector.

  78. James Canning says:

    DWZ,

    It is true that Joe Biden initially favored the scheme promoted by Peter Galbraith to partition Iraq. But Biden changed his mind and subsequently has made clear he and the US government oppose partition of Iraq. The neocons favored partition of Iraq as part of a larger scheme to “protect” Israel and enable further foolish efforts to retain the Golan Heights and much if not all of the West Bank.

    Much of the most effective criticism of the neocons and idiotic US foreign policy in the Middle East, comes from American Jews.

  79. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Re: July 21st, 8:13pm – - You have your finger on mushy thinking by Michael Adler. Or, is he trying to conceal an agenda? Obviously, Adler is trying to reinforce the message that Iran suffers from behavior problems that the US and other countries need to correct — which fits into the false narrative being promoted by the warmongers.

  80. DWZ says:

    {While Iran has indicated it would like a broader field of negotiating partners, the best way forward is for Iran to follow the lead of Russia and make clear to the world it seeks a reasonable resolution.}

    With all due respect mind your onw business. Russia is an enemy of Iran. You do not know the history of Russia and Iran. Russia is seeking her own interest ONLY.

  81. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    Iran has said it seeks to pursue the objective set out in the Tehran declaration May 17th. The Russians are encouraging Iran to renew the 5+1 negotiations, with a view toward resolving the dispute. While Iran has indicated it would like a broader field of negotiating partners, the best way forward is for Iran to follow the lead of Russia and make clear to the world it seeks a reasonable resolution. This in turn could mean sending the LEU to Turkey, and the TRR fuel from France to Iran.

  82. Fiorangela says:

    Eric, I very much want to be persuaded that

    ” . . . Group 3 is quite large -of scale-tipping size – and that most members of Group 3 will eventually change their views if they are persuaded that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. They won’t change their views overnight, most of them having conjured up an Iran-as-devil image that can’t be dissolved overnight, but most of them will get there sooner or later. At the very least, they will hold their anti-Iran views much less passionately than they do now, so that the US government will have a much more difficult time getting the American public to sign up for a war on Iran.”

    The near-unanimity with which sanctions and other punitive measures against Iran are voted into effect, makes it difficult for me to be as optimistic as you are.

    What is the basis for your optimism?

  83. Richard,

    “The ONLY way for Iran to avoid war is to convince the US to engage in a “Grand Bargain”. Which means there IS NO way for Iran to avoid a war because the US is not interested in any such bargain.”

    There are quite a number of people who agree with your first sentence (I don’t). When it comes to your second sentence, the first-sentence believers divide into two camps: those who believe a Grand Bargain is possible and, therefore, war is not inevitable, and those who believe the opposite (as you do): a Grand Bargain is not possible, and so war is inevitable.

    I suspect you agree with me so far, and so I’ll use this sentence to pause and bask in that warm glow of approval.

    I disagree with your first sentence. As a result, even though I do agree with the second part of your second sentence, that doesn’t compel me to agree with the first part of your second sentence, and I don’t.

    You wrote earlier:

    “Get it through your head. There IS NO IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. And I know that…”

    Obviously, just as I do, you consider that fact to be very important – worthy of all-caps emphasis. And you make it clear that, if you were running the US government, that fact would cause you to decide that the US should let Iran run its peaceful-energy nuclear program without US interference. You might even see fit to have the US help Iran, as the US promised to do when it signed the NPT.

    But you’re not running the US government, and clearly those who are running it aren’t behaving as you think they should. I see three possible explanations:

    1. They too believe that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, but that fact is irrelevant to them because they want to tighten the screws on Iran for entirely different reasons.

    2. They don’t know whether Iran has a nuclear weapons program or not, but wouldn’t change their recommendations even if they believed Iran does not because they want to tighten the screws on Iran for entirely different reasons.

    3. They don’t know whether Iran has a nuclear weapons program and are suspicious because Iran refuses to disclose as much about its nuclear program as most other countries do (including the roughly 100 countries, Japan among them, that have adopted additional protocols and the new “earlier disclosure” version of Code 3.1). If Iran ever makes fuller disclosures, many who believe they are in this Group 3 may expose themselves as hypocrites who were really members of Group 2 all along. But many of them may indeed change their views.

    I gather you believe that everyone who counts is in either Group 1 or Group 2. By contrast, I think Group 3 is quite large -of scale-tipping size – and that most members of Group 3 will eventually change their views if they are persuaded that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. They won’t change their views overnight, most of them having conjured up an Iran-as-devil image that can’t be dissolved overnight, but most of them will get there sooner or later. At the very least, they will hold their anti-Iran views much less passionately than they do now, so that the US government will have a much more difficult time getting the American public to sign up for a war on Iran. Given my view of the US’ limited importance to Iran (which should forget about Grand Bargains and just be content to be left alone by the US, or at least not bombed), that subtle shift in US public opinion probably would be all that’s necessary.

    There is some reason to believe the US government, and many of Iran’s most powerful media critics, also consider it important that the US public learn as little as possible about the utter absence of evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Consider together, for example, (1) the reports that the US government intends this time not to publicize its new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran; (2) the detailed assertions by Gareth Porter in his recent article (cited by the Leveretts in the immediately preceding thread) that the new NIE reaches essentially the same conclusion about Iran’s nuclear program as it reached in 2007 (i.e. the program stopped in 2003 and hasn’t been restarted); and (3) the usual media suspects’ anonymously-sourced assertions that the new NIE reaches the opposite conclusion from what Mr. Porter reports.

    Given this effort – by the US government itself, and by scads of powerful media critics of Iran – to keep the (apparent) truth about the US government’s own conclusions on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program hidden from the American public, is it fair to conclude that those truth-hiders are concerned that the truth might shift American public opinion on Iran, and that such a shift might weaken the influence of the bomb-Iran crowd on US government policy?

    If you’ll agree with that, consider next how we might ensure that the American public learns the truth about Iran’s nuclear program. Should we:

    1. Write a letter to President Obama, demanding that the new NIE findings be published, as they were last time?

    2. Write a letter to Iran’s media critics who are claiming that the new NIE reaches a different conclusion about Iran’s nuclear program (i.e. that Iran indeed appears to have restarted it) demanding that they stop printing baseless stories that you happen to know are incorrect?

    3. Finance full-page ads in large US and foreign newspapers containing an announcement from you that you “know” Iran has no nuclear weapons program and demanding, therefore, that the US stop kicking Iran around?

    4. Encourage Iran to start disclosing a lot more about its nuclear program, thereby making one or more of the first three options somewhat less foolish and pointless than they now appear to be?

  84. Other interesting news:

    4 Iranian MPs to visit Gaza next week
    www dot presstv dot ir/detail.aspx?id=135754&sectionid=351020101

    Also:

    New sanctions have no effect on Iran
    www dot presstv dot ir/detail.aspx?id=135722&sectionid=351020103

  85. Interesting piece I just stumbled across at the Jamestown.org Web site, vis-a-vis what Iran could do against the US.

    Saudi Arabian Oil Facilities: The Achilles Heel of the Western Economy
    www dot jamestown dot org/programs/recentreports/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=36609&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=ce93efc0d2

    Unfortunately the article is just a synopsis – the full report supposedly must be purchased. However, if you Google for the title, Google will serve up the PDF of that report for your downloading pleasure! I don’t know if that’s a mistake on the part of Jamestown,org or if it is now fully available.

  86. pmr9 says:

    Cyrus

    I don’t think a US attack on Iran is likely, but if such an attack were to happen it would have to be a massive and prolonged bombing campaign with the objective of devastating Iran’s infrastructure and industrial capacity.

    I don’t have much doubt that Iran is able to close the Straits of Hormuz to surface shipping using land-based missiles, mines and torpedoes, and to maintain that closure indefinitely in the face of anything the US military might do. It can also probably disable or sink US carriers anywhere in the Gulf: a ballistic missile hitting the deck is enough to disable a carrier as a launch platform, leaving it to be finished off by sea-skimming missiles and torpedoes.

    A prolonged closure of the Straits would cut the supply line for all US bases in the Gulf and Iraq, leaving them reliant on whatever can be sourced locally (fuel in the Gulf states) and on supply by air. I’d guess that this would limit the ability to mount a prolonged bombing campaign from these bases, especially if their supply chains can be disrupted locally by special forces / irregulars and missile attacks on oil refineries. This would leave the US relying on long-range bombers from distant bases, which probably aren’t enough for a massive onslaught and may even be vulnerable to Iran’s air defenses.

    Unless the US can achieve a quick “victory”, it will be forced to back off, and probably to withdraw completely from Iraq and the Gulf. The US and its European allies are vulnerable to a sovereign debt crisis in which the decisive players would be China (for the US) and Germany (for the eurozone). If China sees that its holdings of US sovereign debt are at risk, it will pull the plug on the US just as the US did to Britain in 1956 to force it to abandon the Suez adventure.

    So Iran’s position is strong, as long as it has enough land-to-ship missiles to keep the Straits of Hormuz closed and to disable any US carriers that are within range. It would also help to improve the guidance systems on their ballistic missiles, to scale up production of surveillance drones, and to make sure that their air defense radars are resistant to jamming. These should be well within Iran’s technological capability. It shouldn’t waste ballistic missiles on Israeli targets, but concentrate on attacking oil refineries and fuel depots that supply US bases in the Gulf. Most of all it should work to convince its neighbours that Iran cannot be defeated, and that they would pay a price for allowing US bases on their territory to be used for attacking Iran.

  87. Interesting article vis-a-vis to what degree Russia supports the Iran sanctions.

    Moscow prepares sanctions workaround
    www dot atimes dot com/atimes/Middle_East/LG23Ak01.html

    Quote:

    “Whether the Russian government and companies under its control would proceed to breach the US-led sanctions is far from a foregone conclusion (UN sanctions are a separate matter). For now, Moscow is signaling that it does not recognize those sanctions, reserving the right to ignore or circumvent them.

    Mirkazemi’s invitation to Moscow and its timing are designed to catch Washington’s attention and build bargaining leverage. Moscow will probably handle the issue of oil and gas cooperation with Iran as it handles the possible delivery of S-300 air defense systems, or its limited cooperation with Iran’s nuclear development program.

    It will almost certainly seek US geopolitical quid pro quos in Eurasia in return for limiting or desisting from oil and gas sector cooperation with Iran.”

  88. Fiorangela says:

    Richard Steven Hack, the headlines when that starts to happen:

    “Why do they hate us?”

  89. Fiorangela says:

    “Time for real talks with Iran
    by Bruce Laingen (source: Washington Post )
    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Editor’s note: Bruce Laingen was deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran from 1979 to 1981 and the senior official among 52 Americans held hostage by Iran during that time.

    Letters to the Editor

    In their July 9 op-ed, “A show of force for Iran,” former senator Charles S. Robb and retired Gen. Charles Wald outlined a triple-track strategy that involves the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy, sanctions and visible, credible military readiness activity to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    The latter two tracks have an obvious purpose — putting sufficient pressure on Iranian leaders to cause them to be open to the first track, i.e. diplomacy. But the authors gave no idea of what they have in mind for that track. It is time for the United States and its “five plus one” partners from the European Union and the U.N. Security Council simultaneously to accompany that pressure with a signal of their readiness to renew a dialogue with the Iranians at Geneva on genuine diplomatic and security quid pro quos in return for suspension of their nuclear enrichment timetable.

    In that strategy, there should be ample room for genuine diplomatic dialogue, recalling President Obama’s publicly announced readiness for dialogue with Iran, based on mutual interests and mutual respect. That kind of dialogue is long overdue.

    Bruce Laingen, Bethesda”

    Please note that US is practicing the same “triple track” diplomacy against N Korea, and the “show of force” in N Korea is based upon a lie — the lie that N Korea sank a S Korean submarine.

    What lie will US and Israel falsify against Iran?

    Connect the dots, people; the US government, foolishly in thrall to zionism and willing to betray the American value set in preference for an Israeli value set that is very different from US traditions, is out of control and is on a murderous rampage.

    Inducing fear in the people of Iran by threatening Iran with economic strangulation, as Stuart Levey does routinely through his office in the US Treasury Department; threatening Iran with actual starvation, as Ephraim Sneh did in Washington, DC, on June 3, 2008; threatening Iran with military attacks involving even the use of nuclear weapons are in violation of the UN Convention against Genocide.

    What are we going to do about it?

  90. Cyrus: “Any other suggestions? If war is indeed inevitable as you claim and accommodating the US is impossible in any way, then what can/should Iran do?”

    All the things you list are a pretty good start at asymmetric war. The question I think about what Iran COULD do boils down to how brutal is the US going to be ON IRAN. Because that’s going to control how Iran responds.

    If the US starts causing massive civilian casualties in Iran due to all out strategic aerial bombing, Iran could retaliate in kind IN THE US.

    I have considerable knowledge of terrorism, having studied the subject for years. The US is one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to terrorism on its own ground.

    With 50-100 men at my command, armed with suppressed pistols, AK-47′s or the equivalent, hundreds of pounds of plastic explosive, grenades, 40mm grenade launchers, etc., all man portable weapons easily smuggled into the United States, I could almost literally bring the US to its knees within six to 12 months. How? Three words: Chronic effective terrorism.

    Think of Turkey in the 1970′s or Italy with the Red Brigades. Think of a car bomb exploding every single day somewhere in a major city at a major population concentration at rush hour. Think of every mayor of every major city being blown up by an IED or gunned down by an assassin (bodyguards are useless against a concentrated attack). Think of major US political figures being assassinated every month. Think of somebody detonating a car bomb on the Golden Gate Bridge here in San Francisco at rush hour. Think of major news broadcasters at the networks being kidnapped and forced to read propaganda pieces on YouTube with a gun at their head. Think of attacks on US nuclear facilities. Think of your local light rail system having its tracks blown up while your train is tearing through the BART tunnel under the San Francisco Bay at 100 miles per hour.

    I could go on. Iran could do all this. Hizballah is reputed to have cells established in the US already. Whether that’s true I can’t say. But it could be done if the Iranians get motivated enough to “take the fight to the enemy” (to quote Obama, whose Afghan and Pakistan policy has already motivated domestic terrorism.)

    As to your second question, what can Iran do? Not much. They could tone down Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric is about it. They could do what they are doing: developing connections with countries in the non-aligned nations like Turkey and Brazil. They can try to strengthen connections with Russia and China, but there’s a limit to that because Russia and China have their priorities in the direction of how they must deal with the US, and those issues take priority over helping Iran. But to the degree they can, Iran probably should try to improve things there.

    Militarily, Iran should continue what they’re doing: building their own weapons systems that serve their strategic position, studying the US performance in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, studying the tactics used by those successfully resisting the US such as Hizballah in Lebanon in 2006 against Israel, and maximizing the development and training of their reserve militia forces in guerrilla war, based on the probability of having their conventional military forces severely degraded by US aerial and naval attack.

    And if they think they need to, they probably should fully develop the sort of terrorist tactics I outlined above if they anticipate having to take the fight into the Middle East and US urban environments. If the goal of the US is to beat down the Iranian population so much that they will overthrow the Islamic regime and sue for peace, then the Iranian leadership probably should use the same tactics in the US and against the Arab countries supporting the US attack, and especially Israel if feasible.

    In the end, following a Fourth Generation War program is Iran’s only hope. This means establishing and maintaining credibility on the street, and backing that up with the means to hurt anybody who tries to hurt you, so that the cost becomes more than the enemy is prepared to pay.

  91. Cyrus S. says:

    @ Richard

    If (or should I say when?) the inevitable becomes reality, which steps can Iran take to make the costs for the US to engage in such a war as high as possible?
    I am thinking for instance about:
    - improving its capacity to disrupt the oil shippings through the Street of Hormuz;
    - improving its capacity to damage the oil installations in the Gulf states;
    - stepping up the arms supplies to Hezbollah;
    - further engaging and arming allies in Iraq and Afganistan;
    - giving Afghan drug smugglers free access through Iran to the gates of Europe and let the Old Continent overrun with cheap opium derivates;

    Any other suggestions? If war is indeed inevitable as you claim and accommodating the US is impossible in any way, then what can/should Iran do?

  92. Mr. Brill: “But how about other countries? When did they start sanctioning Iran? And why? Do the answers to those questions – especially the last one – suggest to you what might cause them to stop?”

    The why is obvious – they’re precisely under the thumb of the United States, as well as having their own obvious problems with the Iranian regime, based on the same notions as the US.

    And therefore, no, nothing Iran does will get them to stop.

    You have suggested that Iran try to co-opt Russia and China as its allies. First and foremost, those two countries have bigger matters to deal with than Iran – and that bigger matter is the US. Russia and China have done what they could to hold back the US rush to war with Iran, mostly because Iran is either a good customer (Russia) or a good supplier (China). But they can’t sacrifice their OTHER national strategic interests to do so. This is why they supported the latest round of sanctions. They knew the sanctions would be mostly impotent, and if the sanctions did NOT pass, the US would be forced to “up the ante” at the behest of Israel and possibly consider a naval blockade – as Obama suggested during his campaign. This would have led directly to war.

    The ONLY way for Iran to avoid war is to convince the US to engage in a “Grand Bargain”. Which means there IS NO way for Iran to avoid a war because the US is not interested in any such bargain. This is very clear from every action the US has taken to date.

  93. Mr. Brill: “‘Get it through your head. There IS NO IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. And I know that…’ I THINK that, but I don’t know it. How do you know it?”

    Based on the utter lack of evidence. And let’s not wander around arguing about “proving a negative”. The reality is that a) there is no evidence Iran has a program, and b) there is plenty of evidence that they don’t WANT a program.

    Not to mention they couldn’t USE a program if they HAD one! A nuclear weapons program for Iran has all sorts of down sides and NO up sides. Of course, it’s possible, even probable, that SOME of Iran’s leaders don’t understand that. But I think the Supreme Leader and many others in the government do understand that.

    The only conceivable reason Iran could have for having an actual nuclear weapons deployment program would be to force the US and Israel to take regime change off the table. This could be called the “North Korea Option”.

    But as I’ve argued, North Korea IS NOT USING that option. They’re using the option of having a massive conventional military force on a small peninsula where they can inflict incredible damage on one of the more important Asian economies in a matter of hours. One would hope that Iran’s military leaders would understand that their situation is not in any way comparable. Getting one or a few nuclear weapons – and being “ambiguous” about that a la North Korea -would result in their being as much a pariah state as North Korea – which is exactly the opposite of the geopolitical position Iran wants to be in vis-a-vis the Middle East.

    The Iranians (some at least) are not stupid. They understand and have said exactly what I’ve said – that nuclear weapons are not useful to them, and they don’t want them.

    Not to mention that the only result of Iran having a few nuclear weapons is that it would be decades behind and could never catch up to Israel, let alone the US, while simultaneously aggravating every other state in the region. Why waste the effort and get nothing but grief for it? Iran isn’t as much a personality cult state as North Korea is, and its leaders have no interest in being another Kim.

  94. Sakineh Bagoom: “What make you think that not only the US, but the world will not be damaged as a result of an attack on Iran.”

    Clearly you haven’t read my previous posts here. I am well aware of the damage to be done by a war with Iran. That’s one reason I oppose it.

    “So, please stop your condescension, and ask yourself: what happens on day 2?”

    This is amusing. I happen to be the guy stating that nobody is asking the next question! I have an excellent idea what will happen on day 2.

    I think you have misinterpreted my position and my point. My point is that DESPITE all the damage a war with Iran will cause, that is insufficient to prevent the morons who want to start one from starting one. That is why it is wishful thinking to assume that just BECAUSE the damage will be great, THEREFORE there will be no war. This didn’t work to prevent Afghanistan, it didn’t work to prevent Iraq, and it won’t work to prevent a war with Iran, DESPITE the fact that we’ve already experienced Afghanistan and Iraq.

    What people need to learn is that the government doesn’t, and doesn’t care to, learn.

  95. Liz says:

    It’s no use appeasing the regime in Washington.

  96. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Eric,

    “Beyond doing what’s necessary to keep the US from bombing it”.

    This is precisely what I am asking. What is necessary? AP? (been tried before) Acquiescence and subordination to all US’s whims? And, no, I am not naive enough to think that US will ever leave Iran alone. Too great of prize there.

  97. Richard,

    “And I might also point out that the US has been sanctioning Iran since WELL BEFORE the nuclear issue even arose.”

    But how about other countries? When did they start sanctioning Iran? And why? Do the answers to those questions – especially the last one – suggest to you what might cause them to stop?

  98. Richard,

    “Get it through your head. There IS NO IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. And I know that…”

    I THINK that, but I don’t know it. How do you know it?

  99. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Richard,

    I may be naive, but the question remains. Is hegemony mutually exclusive with independence?
    You write: “The only reason a war with North Korea has not occurred is that North Korea IS capable of seriously damaging the US military and destroying South Korea, one of the most important economies in the world for the US, within ninety days, even without nuclear weapons”

    What make you think that not only the US, but the world will not be damaged as a result of an attack on Iran. How is SK’s economy greater than the damage done to 40% oil passing through PG. If war starts, can anyone guarantee the outcome to the ships in PG. Can anyone guarantee the safety of SA oil? How about Kuwait’s? Can anyone guarantee the supply lines to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about US/Israel interests around the world?
    So, please stop your condescension, and ask yourself: what happens on day 2?
    If you can answer that, by all means, let’s have at it! Who needs a “Rouge” state anyway?

  100. Sakineh Bagoom: You claim that it is impossible for a war with Iran to occur. You acknowledge that there is no nuclear “crisis”, that it is all a pretext for regime change.

    Then you wonder what would make the US leave Iran alone?

    This is truly a simplistic view you have. By definition the US will NOT leave Iran alone until two things occur: 1) The US military-industrial complex economy is dismantled; and 2) the US electorate stops allowing Israel to have undue influence over the US government. Because those are the two underlying causes for US hostility to Iran as a regional influence. If you don’t understand that, you should read the PNAC documents which explicitly state that the US must not allow ANY state to become an influence even in a region, let alone the world. That means no regional powers and no other superpowers than the US. This is US policy.

    Since neither of these causes are going to be dealt with, one must now turn back to the basic fact that a war with Iran under such circumstances is inevitable.

    Your notion – and Arnold’s – that just because there are obvious negatives to a war with Iran there will be no war is just naive in the extreme. All those negative facts existed and were recognized by observers for a war with Afghanistan, and a war with Iraq, and yet both wars occurred. The only reason a war with North Korea has not occurred is that North Korea IS capable of seriously damaging the US military and destroying South Korea, one of the most important economies in the world for the US, within ninety days, even without nuclear weapons. The situation in North Korea does not apply to Iran at all. Even the results of the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not apply to Iran IN THE MINDS of the people proposing such a war. Because as I have said, THEY DO NOT CARE because it will not cost THEM anything.

    Cui bono? Who profits? That is what must be kept in mind in discussing whether the US is willing to go to war with Iran. And yes, MANY people in the US will profit, just as they profited from Iraq and Afghanistan. And those people control the US government under Obama just as surely as they controlled it under Bush. Anybody who believes otherwise is dangerously naive.

  101. Mr. Brill: “Incidentally – and this is not directed at you – I get a bit weary of the refrain that “It’s not the nuclear issue” – aka “If we accommodate them on this, they’ll just complain about something else.” That’s a lazy man’s way of refusing to consider relatively simple changes in behavior that might produce valuable benefits.”

    This statement is nonsense. By definition, if the issue is not the nuclear program, then it has to be something else. Changes in behavior in the nuclear program therefore will not help. This has already been CLEARLY demonstrated by Obama’s response to the Brazil-Turkey-Iran agreement and by the entire thrust of the Bush-Obama Iranian foreign policy.

    Get it through your head. There IS NO IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. And I know that, and dozens of other knowledgeable observers know that, then OBAMA knows that. Therefore by definition it is not the nuclear issue which is at state, that is merely a red herring. And therefore by definition changes in behavior on the nuclear issue will not help Iran one iota.

    “It’s not ONLY the nuclear issue, but it IS the nuclear issue. It’s time Iran saw a clear distinction between (1) exercising its NPT rights to produce peaceful nuclear energy, which is what counts; and (2) insisting on its right not to tell the outside world what it’s doing, which doesn’t count for as much as many people seem to think.”

    The second part of this statement is also nonsense. Iran IS telling the outside world what it is doing and has done so since 2003. Iran is under no obligation under the NPT to do more than it has. It might benefit from ratifying the Additional Protocol but not until sanctions against it are lifted. And I might also point out that the US has been sanctioning Iran since WELL BEFORE the nuclear issue even arose. Iran quite reasonably sees no reason to accommodate the world on the Additional Protocol as long as the US intends to conduct covert operations on its soil, and impose sanctions on Iran’s legitimate activities.

    The bottom line here is that the US is interested in one thing and one thing only: regime change. There is no other possible conclusion from both the public statements of the US government and the known actions the US government has taken against Iran.

    If you are not willing to come out and say you agree that regime change BY THE US is DESIRABLE in Iran, then I suspect you continue to conceal your real opinions on Iran.

    I will also re-iterate once again that there is ZERO evidence that Iran’s LEADERSHIP (as opposed to certain factions in that leadership or in Iran’s military or IRGC) has any interest in attaining a nuclear breakout capability. Therefore the entire discussion over whether they WANT such a capability – as opposed to merely having the technical capability as the normal result of a nuclear program with a full fuel cycle technology – is entirely speculative.

    Where you and Arnold both go off the rails is this notion that the mere possession of the full fuel cycle capability and the resultant accumulation of nuclear material that COULD – IF the government involved withdrew from the NPT and weaponized it – provide a nuclear weapon breakout capability is tantamount to INTENDING that result. I see no evidence of this in either Japan or Iran. And even if that were true, there is nothing ANY nation can do about that! It is inherent in achieving the full fuel cycle. The fact that the nuclear nations and the UN did not develop in advance a fuel cycle consortium acceptable to the non-aligned nations is NOT a reason to go to war with any nation that develops the full fuel cycle. Iran has been VERY CLEAR that it would accept such a consortium provided at least one processing facility was available on Iranian soil – obviously because it cannot trust the West on this issue. However, Iran WAS prepared to trust Turkey and Brazil, countries with no clear conflicts with Iran. This is further evidence that Iran has NO interest in developing and deploying nuclear weapons or EVEN an interest in a nuclear breakout capability, exactly as its leaders and diplomats have said.

    Once again, people need to keep first and foremost in mind the FACT that there is NO EVIDENCE that Iran has or EVER had a nuclear weapons development and deployment program. All this discussion about what Iran should do to beg forgiveness from the US – which will not be forthcoming in any event – is just nonsense.

  102. Fiorangela,

    I find it ironic here that you and Sakineh – and others are probably thinking the same thoughts – that what counts here is “making the US happy.”

    I can understand you might think I agree from what I’ve written lately. Not at all so. I think Iran needs to make the US only “happy” enough that the US won’t do what it does best: bomb other countries. Iran should not waste its time shooting for some “grand bargain” with the US, or even hoping to persuade the US not to press for even stronger sanctions. Beyond doing what’s necessary to keep the US from bombing it, Iran should focus its attention elsewhere – on China and Russia, for example, in an effort to sway them on future sanctions votes, and on those two countries and several others (Turkey, for example) on economic matters. Just keep the US at bay while it gradually declines in power and influence (and don’t get bombed in the meantime), and concentrate on making new friends in the neighborhood.

  103. Fiorangela says:

    ““It’s not the nuclear issue” – aka “If we accommodate them on this, they’ll just complain about something else.””

    at least I didn’t miss my cue.

    Good night.

  104. Sakineh,

    “I believe everyone here agrees that Iran nuclear sites are the most inspected and the most transparent in the world.”

    Probably true. So were Saddam Hussein’s before the first Iraq war. My understanding is that the usefulness of the Additional Protocols lies principally in the greater breadth of their coverage.

  105. Fiorangela says:

    Sakineh, the problem has more to do with psychology than with nuclear technology; even the economic problems and conflicts could be resolved if men and women of good faith were committed to finding a solution.

    Zionism is a state of mind. How does one undo 100 years of propaganda?

    re your last comment, “I implore everyone to put their minds into what it is that will make the US happy, since the nuclear issue is just a pretext. How can Iran persuade US to be nice as Eric puts it? **Will hegemony allow independence?**”

    Do you mean US/west hegemony over Iran, and will that allow independence? Is US hegemony over Iran truly Iranian independence?

    What WILL make the US happy?
    An intriguing thought experiment.

    Would the US have been “happy” if Mousavi had won the election in 2009?
    What would have been different?
    Would the Green movement never have emerged,ie no reform movement in Iran?
    Would Israel have stopped building settlements, broken the siege of Gaza?
    Would Stuart Levey have closed up his anti-Iran shop and taken early retirement?

    If Mousavi were Iran’s president today,
    would Petraeus be in charge of Afghanistan,
    would US drones be killing Afghanis from control panels in the Nevada desert,
    would US banks conduct honest businesses?

    If Mousavi had won Iran’s election,
    would Iraq’s government be stalled in a stalemate, unable to form a coalition?

    My answers: Nothing substantial would be different. Khatami reached out to US; look where that got him.
    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”
    America and Israel need to change their attitudes, their psychological outlook; that can only be accomplished after those two “exceptional” states suffer Shock and Awe; I fear nothing else will change the course of US policy.

  106. Sakineh,

    I’m not suggesting Iran entertain hopes of persuading the US to be “nice.” I doubt that will happen for a very long time. All that Iran can hope for from the US, and really needs, is not to be attacked and, more generally, just to be left alone. Iran will get closer to that goal if it can “peel off” Russia and China on future sanctions votes. It doesn’t even matter whether Russia and China are otherwise “nice” to Iran.

    To my knowledge, Russia and China have always justified their sanctions votes by pointing to Iran’s failure to make fuller disclosures about its nuclear program. I think it’s worth Iran’s while to find out whether they mean what they say. It can adjust its tactics more effectively if it finds out the answer to this question first. It’s got other arrows in its quiver – economic arrows, principally – if it needs them, but why waste precious arrows on countries that might turn out not to be enemies after all?

    Incidentally – and this is not directed at you – I get a bit weary of the refrain that “It’s not the nuclear issue” – aka “If we accommodate them on this, they’ll just complain about something else.” That’s a lazy man’s way of refusing to consider relatively simple changes in behavior that might produce valuable benefits. It’s best reserved for husbands (I still find it useful on occasion).

    It’s not ONLY the nuclear issue, but it IS the nuclear issue. It’s time Iran saw a clear distinction between (1) exercising its NPT rights to produce peaceful nuclear energy, which is what counts; and (2) insisting on its right not to tell the outside world what it’s doing, which doesn’t count for as much as many people seem to think.

    Iran should not treat this disclosure issue as a bargaining chip – for example, insisting on an explicit acknowledgement of its LEU enrichment rights. (How much would that acknowledgement be worth in any case?) It should just play the chip, continue to enrich its uranium, and see whether the situation improves. I’m confident that it will and, frankly, I see little if any downside. The idea that stonewalling will enable Iran to preserve a useful “nuclear option” is a pure and dangerous fantasy.

  107. Nasser says:

    “I implore everyone to put their minds into what it is that will make the US happy, since the nuclear issue is just a pretext. How can Iran persuade US to be nice as Eric puts it?”

    Only a hostile Iraq on Iran’s western border will make the US happy since the US foolishly believes that this is absolutely necessary to have a balance of power in the Gulf.

  108. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Eric,

    You wrote: “If sanctions will be the game, it’s not necessary that Iran persuade the US to start being nice. It will be sufficient if Iran can peel off Russia and China. So far, though, each of them is accepting the US argument that Iran should be expected at least to disclose more about its nuclear program.”

    I believe everyone here agrees that Iran nuclear sites are the most inspected and the most transparent in the world.
    I believe that we have agreed that it is not the nuclear program which at issue.
    Russia and China have used Iran as a pawn for many moons to their own advantage, so, Iran does not really have to peel them off as you’d put it. They are already “peeled off”. They are already using Iran to get concessions.

    I implore everyone to put their minds into what it is that will make the US happy, since the nuclear issue is just a pretext. How can Iran persuade US to be nice as Eric puts it? Will hegemony allow independence?

  109. Rehmat says:

    Many western military analysts have come to the conclusion that the real winner in American war on Iraq and Afghanistan – has been the Islamic Iran. The American did a good job in removing two of Tehran regional enemies – Saddam Hussein and Taliban.

    Richard Holbrooke, Israel Lobby’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan told the Senate: “As you said, Mr. Chairman, there is no military solution here, so as General Petreaus (the military poodle of Zionism) and General McChrystal said, you cannot win this war by killing every member of Taliban”.

    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/afghanistan-senate-gets-cold-feet/

  110. Fiorangela says:

    James Canning, Michael Adler may not be an “alarmist,” but that’s only a matter of timing: Adler concludes that “slowly” Iran must either “change its behavior” or “matters will come to a head” and war will be necessary.

    Adler’s thinking process is self-contradicting, necessarily so because his bottom line is that Iran MUST “change its behavior,” (whatever that behavior is).

    Specifically, Adler says Iran “defied” the international community by enriching to 20%, but then says that “Iran would be willing to purchase the 20% fuel, and only wants to enrich uranium to the level permitted under treaty and to fuel its medical reactors.

    If Adler can acknowledge that these are Iran’s goals, why does he feel compelled to insist on a six months period of increasing economic hardship for Iranians, with a possible war at the end, if Iran “does not change its behavior.” Obviously, the behavior Adler wants changed is NOT related to nuclear development.

  111. Fiorangela says:

    James, Eric,
    re: “If sanctions will be the game, it’s not necessary that Iran persuade the US to start being nice. It will be sufficient if Iran can peel off Russia and China. So far, though, each of them is accepting the US argument that Iran should be expected at least to disclose more about its nuclear program.”

    Many on this forum have noted that the nuclear issue is pretextual. I hold that point of view.
    If that is the case, then if Iran is able to “peel off Russia and China” by being more forthcoming about its nuclear program, will Russia and China be sufficient ballast to tilt US toward a more just stance, or will US once again move the goalposts?

    If I recall correctly, Iran offered greater transparency and surprise inspections in the winter of 2007; the offer was rejected by the US. The real forces that are driving US policy are US domestic electoral pressures. How would Russia and China have more sway than a restive Democratic base and resurgent, hawkish GOP, in an election year?

  112. James,

    Can you clarify your reference to the Tehran declaration? I wasn’t discussing the fuel swap proposal, but rather suggesting Iran increase its nuclear-program disclosures.

  113. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Good points. The king of Nejd conquered the Hejaz, to create Saudi Arabia. This meant the Hashemites lost their original base.

    The Saudi government obviously is not in a position to ignore the Wahabi religious leaders, nor would this be wise in any event. Gradual evolution is the way forward.

  114. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    The Financial Times today (July 21) reported that Iran is having difficulty developing the huge South Pars gas field, party due to sanctions and partly due to trying to make deals with the various companies that were not sufficiently appealing to them.

    I agree with you Iran should pay very close attention to what Medvedev says, and seek to reopen the negotiations with the “5+1″ powers. Iran says it is ready for more talks. Iran should be able to make a deal work (based on Tehran declaration of May 17th), provided sufficient transparency can be assured.

  115. Sakineh,

    “So, NO war with Iran. NO occupation of Iran. NO attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.”

    Seems likely to me too, and I think most people here probably agree – much as some like to speculate about a war and its aftermath.

    That leaves the US with limited options, though its imagination may add some to the list. Continued sanctions, and more of them, seems pretty much the game for now. And if Iran wants to keep that from getting worse, it had better start paying attention to statements such as that made recently by Russia’s President Medvedev, strongly urging Iran to be more forthcoming in disclosures about its nuclear program. If sanctions will be the game, it’s not necessary that Iran persuade the US to start being nice. It will be sufficient if Iran can peel off Russia and China. So far, though, each of them is accepting the US argument that Iran should be expected at least to disclose more about its nuclear program.

    If Iran starts doing that, who knows?

  116. Nasser says:

    “Is Wahabi Islam popular among large numbers of Saudi Arabs, or is it an elitist fundamentalist sect that serves mainly to keep the monarchy in power?”

    Al Qaeda is popular among large number of Saudi Arabs! Not a nice thing to say but it is true. The Saudis found Wahabism to be useful in spreading their influence; first in Arabia, then world over. Over time, Wahabism and its Al Qaeda manifestation turned out to be the greatest threat to the Saudi monarchy and it nearly threatened their ties with the Americans; and so the Saudis decided to curb in the more extremist elements. However, Wahabism continues to be useful for continuing their rule at home and for sticking it to the Iranians and so the Sausis cannot fully cease their support for it.

    “Is access to shrines an important part of the calculus or just a “circus” to divert the masses?”

    The people of Hejaz who practice a more liberal form of Sunnism used to have control of the shrines. They were trumped by the Saudis and the Wahabis from the East.

  117. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    I will get the best source material for you that I can find in the near future.
    The Saudis believe the Israel/Palestine problem is the greatest threat to their own security because it poses a threat to the peace of the entire Middle East. Their peace plan has been accepted by 57 Muslim countries. I think Obama should have endorsed it, with a modification regarding right of return (something that most involved with trying to resolve the problem accept will have to be modified).

  118. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Michael Adler of the Woodrow Wilson Center seems to assume Iran in fact is developing nuclear weapons. He at least is not alarmist, and saying Iran will have nukes within a few months. But to me the fallacy of his approach is to assume there is a nuclear weapons programmed that needs to be stopped.

    At least Adler seems to accept Iranian enrichment of LEU. Is that your reading of what he said?

  119. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    I too oppose any insane Israeli attack on Iran, or any idiotic US attack on Iran. There is a risk of an Israeli attack on Iran, not because of realistic fears of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, but instead in order to pressure Iran to stop giving aid to the Palestinians, so Israel can crush their national spirit permanently.

  120. James Canning says:

    Liz,

    What country has done more for the Palestinians than Saudi Arabia? (In terms of putting together a workable package, and then trying to push the deal through.)

  121. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Arnold Evans,

    Your assumptions don’t take into consideration that Iran may already be a nuclear weapon state by having purchased a nuke from the old soviet satellites or DPRK. By all accounts Iranian scientists were present when nukes were being tested in NK. This is one of the reasons that Iranian opaqueness drives Israelis mad as they (Iranians) emulated Israel to perfection on this.

    I don’t believe there will be a war with Iran, EVER, however for the sake of argument (just for WigWag), if there ever was, none of the nuclear facilities would be touched. In the case of Natanz/Isfahan they are either too close to population centers or are positioned that any strike on them would render a large area of land impassable due to fallout. Studies show that the fallout would carry as far as Pakistan. These facilities have Uranium introduced into them, so any attack on them would be like a nuclear strike (there will be fallout).
    In the case of Bushehr, again, the fallout would reach all the way to the south of PG and PG countries, shipping, etc. would be greatly affected.

    By the way, Iran has already achieved Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) by the virtue of owning LEU. Iran does not need to explode a nuclear bomb. All it has to do, is to load a few kilos of LEU into a warhead and drop it in an area. The fallout will be just as bad as if a nuclear bomb had exploded (I am not saying that Iran will ever do this. [Iranians don't think like that]). This is aside from the many other levers that Iran can pull.

    So, NO war with Iran. NO occupation of Iran. NO attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

  122. James Canning says:

    William, Hague, the new British foreign secretary, told The Times of London on July 3rd: “I think a military attack on Iran could well be calamitous.”

    Hague also said he does not see the world in terms of “enemies”, but instead says the UK has countries with whom relations are more difficult than with others.

    Paul,

    I totally agree with you that just because Israel claims to see a “threat” does not mean there in fact is such a threat. I would add that idiot US senators, including John McCain, Frank Lautenberg, Lidsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman, have in effect told Israel to feel free to attack Iran! Idiots! And subverters of the national security of the US.

  123. paul says:

    Arnold, just because Israel says it sees a threat, I’m sorry, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT SEES ONE. In any case, just ‘feeling’ threatened is NOT a legitimate reason for any nation to attack another nation, and if it were, Iran would have far more reason to attack Israel than Israel has to attack Iran.

    Re. Afghanistan: what we see here again is the typical Israeli and American ploy of accusing others of doing what it is doing. The US accuses Iran of supporting the Taliban militarily, but in fact, Iran has much to fear from the Taliban, and we know – not just from Iranian accusations, but also from US reporting, that the US is funding groups in Iran, including probably Jundullah.

  124. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric:

    I suggest, with apologies if I’m wrong, that we generally can talk about Iran’s nuclear program in the most recent thread. Because the nuclear issue is so central now to the dispute between the US and Iran, and because that dispute is the central theme of the blog, there will be few topics where the discussion is terribly off topic.

    Japan and North Korea are in distinctly different positions. Iran going from a Japan option to a North Korea option requires leaving the NPT. If you’re saying the US might attack Iran before it builds a weapon as North Korea did, for the most part I agree, though it depends on other factors. The US can be deterred, as it is in the case of North Korea itself, from attacking in some scenarios.

    But that does not matter unless Iran leaves the NPT, which I’ve seen no indication is being considered.

    Japan is stockpiling plutonium, as is within its rights. It is incurring some expense to do so. I assert that Japan is willing to take on that expense because Japan correctly identifies that there is a strategic benefit to having nuclear weapons flexibility even without leaving the NPT.

    You seem to be asserting that there is no strategic benefit to being in Japan’s situation. I’d make two points. 1) Maybe you’re right and Japan’s leaders are wrong. Japan’s leaders though are the party that is authorized to make that decision or calculation. If Japan calculates differently, which it obviously does, we should defer to that calculation. 2) The US position is that Iran must not gain a Japan option. The US could accept offers that have been on the table for years that Iran ratify and implement the AP and accept foreign involvement in its nuclear program which would, for as long as Iran remains in the NPT, make building a weapon impossible.

    The dispute would be over today if the US declared that Iran can go as far as Japan has gone, but no further. A suitable verification program would be reached, including proposals Iran has already made. Israel sees Iran reaching Japan’s state to be a threat. If you don’t see a threat in Iran reaching Japan’s state but Israel does, then for the purposes of a discussion about the nuclear program conflict between Israel’s supporters and Iran, there is a threat.

    You say the US would attack Iran before it reaches a Japan-like nuclear capability. By that I interpret you to mean you think the US would bomb Iran before it reaches the point that the US military could not plan a provocation against Iran with certainty that Iran would not be able, in a period of about a year, to build a nuclear weapon with which it could retaliate.

    If Iran is bombed today, there is no assurance, according to the public statements of Gates and Mullen (from memory) that Iran would not begin an underground crash weapons program that would produce a weapon in a few years. Iran is possibly already beyond the point that I read you to claim the US will automatically attack.

    I don’t think there will be an US automatic attack against Iran, without weighing benefits and consequences. If Iran can harm the US more than any damage caused by Iran attaining a Japan option in retaliation, that will be a factor in any decision to attack Iran’s nuclear program. Another important factor in that decision is the projected end state. If an attack would not actually succeed in preventing Iran from attaining a Japan option, and US planners can project that a failure to prevent Iran from attaining that option is likely, that weighs strongly against an attack.

    Overall, I feel like you’re waving Japan away. Even if I can’t convince you that Japan gets a benefit from being able to build a weapon if it was to leave the NPT, the fact that Japan is deliberately maintaining that option remains to be addressed.

    Your point that the US is more comfortable with Japan having that capability than Iran is a direct, blatant and egregious violation of the NPT’s language that the right to technology is to be protected from infringement without discrimination. The idea that countries the US is comfortable with should have more rights to access to nuclear technology than countries the US is hostile to could not violate the letter and spirit of the NPT more violently.

  125. Liz says:

    James,

    The Salafi Saudi’s have done nothing for the Palestinian people.

  126. Fiorangela says:

    Even the Wilson Center has holes in its analysis of Iran, holes big enough to drive an Israeli bulldozer through: Is a Nuclear Deal Still Possible?

    notice that Adler’s remarks — or at least, this reporter’s rendition of Adler’s remarks — take no notice whatsoever of the deal that Brazil, Turkey, and Iran hammered out, with Obama’s input, for a fuel swap; that Adler’s argument is based on a hypothetical — that Iran would dismiss IAEA, and that Iran is NOT entitled to enrichment.

    What is going on? Who is Adler speaking for?

  127. Castellio says:

    James: You write, “the Saudis have done more to push for a resolution of the Israel/Palestine problem, and justice for the Palestinians, than any other country”

    Where might I get more information on this, both as to actions taken and interpretation of intent? I’m in no rush, but will follow in the directions you care to point.

  128. James Canning says:

    The Iranian foreign minister is quite right to say the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan is inciting the insurgency and strengthening the Taliban. Iran has been trying to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Kabul. Most Americans, of course, are not aware of this fact.

  129. James Canning says:

    Clive,

    I think the Wahabi issue is more of a problem for the Saudi monarchy, than a support, considering all major issues.

  130. James Canning says:

    Clive Bellingham and fyi,

    We should bear in mind that the creation of “Saudi” Arabia would not have come to pass, without the Wahabi strand of Islam having come into existence. The historical linkage is of great importance and antiquity (viewed in an “American” context).

  131. James Canning says:

    Liz,

    I think you are quite wrong on the issue of US support for the government of Saudi Arabia. We should keep in mind the Saudis have done more to push for a resolution of the Israel/Palestine problem, and justice for the Palestinians, than any other country.

  132. Clive Bellingham says:

    thanks fyi.

    Is Wahabi Islam popular among large numbers of Saudi Arabs, or is it an elitist fundamentalist sect that serves mainly to keep the monarchy in power? Is access to shrines an important part of the calculus or just a “circus” to divert the masses?

  133. James Canning says:

    The Iranian foreign minister is quite right to seek the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

    To me, it is obvious that stability in Afghanistan is impossible without substantial help from Iran. But American policy makers do not even want to mention this fact. Why? Israel lobby.

  134. Liz says:

    The US alliance with the Saudi royal family and it’s silent acceptance of the Saudi promotion of Salafi Islam is a growing threat to much of the world.

  135. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The overthrow of the monarchy in the 1970s was indeed a disaster for Afghanistan.

    The propagation of Wahabi Islam by Saudi interests should be seen in the same light as one views the struggles over religion in Europe centuries ago.

    And we should keep in mind that al-Qaeda is the enemy of the Saudi government.

  136. James Canning says:

    Bravo! What gross hypocrisy and stupidity for the US not to label the Baluchi terrorist organization as a terrorist organization. Par for the course!

    I recommend Sir Rodric Braithwaite’s letter in the Financial Times July 20th: “What should have been Plan A will make a better Plan B”.

    Sir Rodric notes: “We compounded our own difficulties by insisting that Nato would be severely damaged by ‘failure’ in Afghanistan, when we had no clear idea of what constituted success.”

  137. Arnold (and others):

    It’s off-topic here, but I’ve posted a lengthy response to some of your “nuclear issue” questions in the earlier “march to war” thread:

    http://www.raceforiran.com/israels-long-march-to-war-with-iran-via-the-u-s-flynt-leverett-on-antiwar-radio#comment-14631

  138. fyi says:

    In my opinion, “yes”.

    Also note this: Islam is a political religion.

    Saudis – for the reasons of their own security – are positing that Wahabi Islam is the best antidote to both Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and the Shia Islamic Republicanism.

  139. Clive Bellingham says:

    fyi, What is Saudi Arabia’s interest in Afghanistan; simply to frustrate Shi’ia Iran?

  140. fyi says:

    The proxy war has been going on for a while.

    Note the refusal of Saudi Arabia to release the funds needed for the construction of Khaf-Herat railway link.

    You are correct also that there will be no help coming US/EU/NATO way from Iran.

    Afghanistan was unified in the person of the King. Once the Kingdom and the King were removed, any upstart could lay claim to power.

    Likewise, if Mullah Omar could be the Emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, so could any other mullah. Which, in my opinion, means that under any political dispensation, Afghanistan could experience political instability for years to come as coup follow coup – say like Syria and Iraq in 1950s and 1960s.

    There are 3 choices:

    1: Strengthening and supporting the existing dispensation (2004 Constitution) and thus, overtime, giving it and its institutions more and more legitimacy.

    2: Restore the Monarchy – a la Cambodia. This actually might work but Iranians will oppose it.

    3: Support the breakup of the country into Northern Afghanistan Republic and Everyone Else – like Somalia.