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The Race for Iran

WHO SAYS IRAN IS BECOMING ISOLATED IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

We have argued for some time that the policy debate about Iran here in the United States is distorted by a number of “myths”—myths about the Islamic Republic, its foreign policy, and its domestic politics.  We were reminded of this by Jim Hoagland’s column today, see here, in the Washington Post—particularly the passage in which he chastises President Obama for citing sanctions “as the cause of unrest” in Iran.  In Hoagland’s view, this reading “does a disservice to the humanity of Iran’s simmering revolt”, which is playing the “dominant role in the popular uprising” that is taking place in the Islamic Republic.  We certainly agree that the Obama Administration is exaggerating the impact of sanctions, but it surpasses understanding that Hoagland is citing the Green movement as the cause of “unrest” and a “popular uprising” that is supposedly going on in Iran right now.        

One of the more dangerous myths currently affecting America’s Iran debate is the proposition that, through concerted diplomatic action, the United States can isolate the Islamic Republic, both regionally and internationally. 

The proposition that the Islamic Republic can be isolated within its regional environment rests on an unchallenged but deeply flawed assumption that, given its “Persian” (or at least non-Arab) and Shi’a identities, Iran is bound to be viewed with suspicion, if not hostility, by the Middle East’s (largely Sunni) Arab population.  

This proposition also rests on an assumption that the United States can play on anti-Iranian suspicion and hostility to isolate the Islamic Republic from its regional neighbors

The idea that Washington has a serious and strategically productive option to isolate Iran in its region is, of course, not new—it is reflected in efforts by the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations to forge a regional coalition to “contain” Iran, encompassing “moderate” Sunni Arab states along with Israel.  But this notion has gained greater traction recently, alongside claims of “rumblings”—to use President Obama’s word—that new sanctions are beginning to stimulate domestic political pressure on Iranian leaders.  Just last month, the usually quite sound Marc Lynch argued, see here, that

“overall Tehran has become considerably weaker in the Middle East under Obama’s watch.  Much of the air has gone out of Iran’s claim to head a broad ‘resistance’ camp, with Obama’s Cairo outreach temporarily shifting the regional debate and then with Turkey emerging as a much more attractive leader of that trend.  The botched Iranian election badly harmed Tehran’s image among those Arabs who prioritize democratic reforms, and has produced a flood of highly critical scrutiny of Iran across the Arab media.  Arab leaders continue to be suspicious and hostile towards Iran…Public opinion surveys and Arab media commentary alike now reveal little sympathy for the Iranian regime, compared to previous years…while Iran may continue to doggedly pursue its nuclear program (as far as we know), this has not translated into steadily increasing popular appeal or regional power.  Quite the contrary.”           

There is no specific sourcing for any of the claims made in this passage.  However, a number of commentators arguing that Iran is becoming increasingly unpopular in its regional environment drew support from this year’s iteration of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, see here, released in June and based on polls conducted in 22 countries around the world during April and May.  In the six Muslim-majority countries included in the Project (Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey) a majority of the population in four (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey) reportedly had an “unfavorable” view of Iran; only in two of the Muslim-majority countries surveyed (Indonesia and Pakistan) did a majority of the population have a “favorable” view of Iran.  Likewise, majorities in five of the six Muslim-majority countries reportedly viewed Iran’s nuclear program as a potential threat; only in Pakistan was the Iranian nuclear program and the prospect of an “Iranian bomb” (which, of course, the Iranian government denies it is seeking) viewed favorably. 

We had doubts at the time about some of the results in the Pew survey.  For example, with regard to a majority of Lebanese reportedly having an “unfavorable” view of Iran—if one broke down the Lebanese numbers according to sectarian identity, a majority of Lebanese Muslims had a favorable view of Iran, while 83 percent of Lebanese Christians had an unfavorable view.  Demographics alone mean that the overwhelming majority of those Lebanese Christians holding an unfavorable view of Iran are Maronite.  It seems highly likely that the Pew pollsters over-weighted Maronite Christians in their Lebanese sample.  (Of course, “over-weighting” Maronites is something that the Lebanese political system has been doing for decades, with sustained support from the United States and Europe.)  Likewise, the data showed appreciable support for Iran’s nuclear program in some Arab populations where one might not have expected to see that —e.g., roughly 40 percent of Jordanians supported Iran’s nuclear program, even though Jordanians have been exposed to a steady stream of criticism of Iran’s nuclear efforts from the Jordanian government. 

But now an important poll has come out raising real questions about what the Pew survey was measuring—and, more importantly, raising profound questions about the argument that Iran is becoming isolated in its regional environment.  Last week, Shibley Telhami released the results of his 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, which he conducts annually with Zogby International.  Over the years, we have found Shibley’s polling studies on Arab public opinion to be carefully conducted, with scrupulously presented results and, often, important insights.  We would also note that Shibley—who holds the Anwar Sadat Chair at the University of Maryland and is a non-resident fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution—can hardly be dismissed as a “pro-Iranian” voice.

The results from this year’s Arab Public Opinion Poll can hardly be comforting for those who want to believe that the Islamic Republic is becoming estranged from its regional neighbors and that Arabs are ready to stand side-by-side with Israelis to support military action (by Israel and/or the United States) against Iranian nuclear targets.  The poll was conducted in late June and July in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon—these countries were also included in the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project—Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  With regard to the Iranian nuclear issue:    

–Among the respondents, a majority—57 percent—believes that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons (which, once again, the Iranian government denies it is seeking).  However, an even larger majority of these entirely Arab respondents—77 percent—believes that Iran has the right to pursue its nuclear program; only 20 percent agree that Iran should be pressured by the international community to stop the program.  (By way of comparison, the finding that 77 percent of Arabs believe that Iran has a right to pursue its nuclear program is up from 53 percent in 2009.)    

–In Egypt and Morocco, huge majorities among those who believe that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons—81 percent and 84 percent, respectively—believe that Iran has the right to pursue such a program.  In Saudi Arabia, the population that believes Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons is evenly divided, 50 percent to 50 percent, on this question.   

–These data set the stage for one of the most remarkable findings in this year’s Arab Public Opinion Poll:  57 percent of the respondents believe that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be a positive outcome for the region; 20 percent believe this would not matter one way or the other, while only 21 percent believes this would be a negative outcome for the region.  By way of comparison, the finding that 57 percent of Arabs believe that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be a positive outcome for the region is up from 29 percent last year.)      

This is truly remarkable.  In six Arab countries where the ruling authorities have devoted a lot of effort in recent years telling their people that the Islamic Republic aspires to regional hegemony, is seeking nuclear weapons, and that this would be a bad outcome for Arab interests—local Arab populations are not buying the argument.  Even Marc Lynch had to acknowledge that “there is very little support here for the notion that Arabs are secretly yearning for the United States to attack Iran.  Really little.”  This bolsters our assessment that, however much some Sunni Arab elites—and we suspect it is not all that many—may want to see Iran “cut down to size”, there is little popular support for confrontation with the Islamic Republic on the Arab street.      

In fact, with regard to the Iranian nuclear issue and perceptions of the Islamic Republic as a “threat”, the trend in Arab public opinion over time is running in the opposite direction from that desired by most major Arab governments.  (We wonder what public opinion is like on these questions in Syria?  In Iraq?  In Qatar?  Or among Gazans and other Palestinians living under Israeli occupation?)  Asked to name the two countries in the world that pose the biggest threat, 88 percent of the Arab respondents in Shibley’s 2010 poll named Israel and 77 percent named the United States—the top two “winners” on this question, by orders of magnitude over any other country.  By way of comparison, only 10 percent of respondents cited Iran as one of the two countries in the world posing the biggest threat.  (That is down from 13 percent last year.  This year, incidentally, the same percentage of respondents that viewed Iran as a threat—10 percent—also cited Algeria as a threat.) 

And, for those who claim that, as Marc Lynch put it, there is now “little sympathy for the Iranian regime, compared to previous years”, we would challenge them to explain these findings: 

–Asked to name the world leader that they admire most, 12 percent of the Arab respondents in Shibley’s poll cited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  This is up from six percent last year. 

–That 12 percent result makes Ahmadinejad the third-most admired leader in the Arab world—after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (with 20 percent) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (with 13 percent).  In 2009, according to the Arab Public Opinion Poll, Ahmadinejad was tied with Hizballah secretary-general Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah and Al-Qa’ida leader Usama bin Laden as the fourth-most admired leader among Arabs, after Chavez, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and former French President Jacques Chirac.  In 2008, Ahmadinejad was the third-most admired leader in the Arab world, after Chavez and Assad. 

Where is the enormous decline in Ahmadinejad’s popular standing in the Arab world?  Where is the sharp deterioration in the Islamic Republic’s image in the Arab world? 

If Americans want to find a big “loser” in this year’s Arab Public Opinion Poll, the results identify him quite clearly—President Barack Obama.

–According to Shibley’s data, the percentage of Arabs with a positive view of the United States has plummeted since last year—from 45 percent to 20 percent—while the percentage with a negative view of the United States has soared from 23 percent to 67 percent. 

–Last year, 51 percent of Shibley’s respondents were “hopeful” about the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy; this year, only 16 percent are hopeful, while 63 percent describe themselves as “discouraged”.   Interestingly, in a separate question, 51 percent of respondents said that they had an unfavorable view of Obama and were pessimistic about his foreign policy; 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Obama personally but doubted that “the American system would allow him to have a successful foreign policy”.   

Perhaps most strikingly, only two percent of this year’s respondents described themselves as holding a “very favorable” attitude toward the United States; this is down from the four percent that had a “very favorable” attitude toward the United States in 2008—the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency

With those numbers, it is truly surreal for the Obama Administration and its supporters—or neoconservative commentators—to be extolling how badly isolated the Islamic Republic of Iran is becoming in the broader Middle East

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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185 Responses to “WHO SAYS IRAN IS BECOMING ISOLATED IN THE MIDDLE EAST?”

  1. James Canning says:

    Mr Hack,

    Interesting comment. Os, in your view, if Clinton says the issue seen by her and US “allies”, is whether Iran MIGHT pursue nukes, she actually is saying that for her, the issue is whether Iran retains the ability to pursue nukes, even if Iran does not pursue them and is unlikely to pursue them? This take views Clinton as a vicious manipulator trying to set up an illegal attack on Iran.

  2. Mr. Canning: I read Clinton’s statement differently. To me, what she is saying is that it doesn’t matter if Iran could possibly “break out” in a year or ten years, but that they intend to break out. This is consistent with what Clinton and Obama and others have been claiming lately – that Iran IS pursuing nuclear weapons. Which means to me that the US is no longer SUGGESTING that Iran MAY be pursuing nuclear weapons, but that the US has decided that Iran IS pursuing nuclear weapons. The difference is subtle but there.

    In other words, the propaganda has now gone from being “suspicious” of Iran to being “convinced.” The US is “hardening” the propaganda to make it more justifiable to attack Iran.

    I could be wrong but in the context of the article it seems the most likely interpretation.

  3. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    When Hillary Clinton says the issue is “whether they do so” – - meaning whether Iran “pursue[s] nuclear weapons”, is not a statement that Iran is currently “pursuing nuclear weapons”.

  4. Castellio says:

    Eric: Any country that could have nuclear weapons and has chosen not to, is a country that has ‘given up’ nuclear weapons. There are many such countries. Many of those countries had actual debates about it, and made their decisions within a moral universe, not because of American constraint. Morality predates and overwhelms American self-delusion of its role in the world.

    There are many currently in Britain willing to give up nuclear weapons, and I believe they will eventually win the day. They may even win the day against American preferences.

    The first international priority should be separating the fissionable material from the warheads. This should be done within all countries with nuclear weapons. If there is no real and substantial move in that direction, I assure you that many nations will acquire not only the capacity but the actuality.

    This should start in the Middle East and with Israel. It should then include Pakistan and India, move to France and the UK, and then to increasing percentages of all nuclear weapons in the US, China and Russia.

    Naive? Alright. But doable because it makes sense. Freezing the status quo is not doable. Hasn’t been, and won’t be. It makes no moral or historical sense.

    Insisting the status quo is how it must remain is the height of naivete and is, in fact, the abandonment of morality in human affairs. Morality is not something of no relevance. Morality is the accumulated experience of the species. To abandon morality is to abandon our future as a species.

  5. Oh, here we go again. Brill tries to con Kooshy:

    “But Iran’s agreement to limit its activities to what’s needed for a peaceful nuclear energy program – without insisting on the right to keep the world guessing as to its “nuclear weapons capability” – won’t diminish either Iran’s regional position or the world’s respect for Iran.”

    Except Iran has already agreed to limit its activities to what’s needed for a peaceful nuclear energy program and has never insisted on a “right to keep the world guessing” and has taken no steps whatever to “keep the world guessing” – and yet Iran is facing an imminent threat of attack from both the US and Israel, and is grinding under punitive sanctions.

    It’s amazing how Eric can think Iran’s “regional position or the world’s respect for Iran” has not already been affected by this situation. Of course, one could argue Brill is right – Iran’s position is in fact supported by most of the world and as the Arab polls have shown has gained much respect due to its standing up to US lies and belligerence. But that’s not what Brill believes!

    “Under the old scheme, which Iran insists on retaining, Iraq and Korea managed to conduct extensive bomb-development programs “under the radar.” I don’t think Iran should insist on the same opportunity, and it makes most of the world uncomfortable that Iran insists on the right to do so.”

    Except of course Iran has never insisted on any such thing nor is Iran doing any such thing. Iran has cooperated fully with the IAEA to the exact degree the IAEA has complied with its legal obligations. Once again Brill decides to embed his own distrust of Iran and his own fantasies about Iran into Iran’s official policy. It’s amazing how often he claims to speak for Iran.

    “Arnold has consistently ducked the question, as you probably noticed)”

    Nobody noticed because Arnold didn’t duck the question, he simply didn’t bother to give you a “yes” or “no” answer because the question is irrelevant. YOU ducked MY question as to why Israel, and not Japan, Brazil, or South Korea, all of whom are in exactly the same position as Iran, especially South Korea which has all the motivation one could want for a nuclear weapons program, more of the capability than Iran has to make one, and has had more NPT infractions than Iran has, yet the US says not one word about South Korea. And neither do you.

    Which exposes your issue as one of either being unable to control your dislike of Iran or being a propagandist for the US position.

    Which is it?

  6. Kooshy,

    “I believe, I have understood your position correctly, especially when a few months back you started to dig into TRR fuel swap deal and raised a few questions to Allen and Arnold with regard to significance of the swap tonnage, since then I understand that you have come to question Iran’s possible intentions due to the reason that Iran is not willing to ship up to 70% of its stocked 3.5% enriched uranium, you assume since Iran is not willing to keep less than a bomb worth 3.5% uranium therefore in fact can actually be tainted with a possible break out capability…”

    With all due respect, I don’t understand how you could have reached this conclusion. If there was a stronger supporter of Iran’s position on the aborted fuel-swap deal than I, I can’t even guess who that might have been. I didn’t believe any of the things you remember.

    “…as long as there is a substantial amount of enriched uranium stocked in Natanz there is no possibility of an attack on that enrichment plant by US or anybody else.”

    I don’t understand why you think this. I’d be amazed if the amount of enriched uranium has any bearing on the US’ decision on whether to bomb Natanz. If Natanz’s enriched uranium were sitting in the warhead of an Iranian bomb, or quickly could be, that might change the US’ analysis. From your statement, though, it appears you’re talking about the present day, and so my feeling is exactly as I stated above in this paragraph. If anything, the amount of enriched uranium at Natanz would count for exactly the opposite of what you think: the more the better, since the US would count on blowing it all up.

    “[It] seems to me and other Iranian commentators here that you never completely agreed or understood that the actual dispute is not about the Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment program, therefore Iran need not be further weakened in its region by giving up its rights without a clear acceptance of its independent regional position of power.”

    I agree that Iran’s position in the region is not respected, and it should be. But Iran’s agreement to limit its activities to what’s needed for a peaceful nuclear energy program – without insisting on the right to keep the world guessing as to its “nuclear weapons capability” – won’t diminish either Iran’s regional position or the world’s respect for Iran. If you can appreciate my views, shared by much of the world, that (1) too many countries already have nuclear weapons, and so we shouldn’t add another one; and (2) the pre-1990s monitoring scheme of the NPT and original-scope Safeguards Agreements isn’t sufficient to prevent that, then you should understand why I believe Iran should accept a more robust disclosure/inspection scheme, just as most other countries did once they recognized the old scheme wasn’t adequate. Under the old scheme, which Iran insists on retaining, Iraq and Korea managed to conduct extensive bomb-development programs “under the radar.” I don’t think Iran should insist on the same opportunity, and it makes most of the world uncomfortable that Iran insists on the right to do so.

    “Now you are asking me the same question that you also raised to Arnold a few days back…: If Israel didn’t already have nuclear weapons, would you agree that it should have the rights Arnold insists Iran should have? Yes, … including Israel…”

    I appreciate your candor (Arnold has consistently ducked the question, as you probably noticed). I disagree, but I understand your reasons.

    “I wish you would also ask me if I be glad and willing to see US be stripped out of its 5,300 nuclear warheads.”

    I won’t ask, for the simple reason that I have less patience than I probably should for “solutions” that have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being implemented. It’s pointless, bordering on irresponsible.

    “Arnold correctly pointed that the rest of the world are not feared by a second strike capability since it will be detected in advance…”

    Anyone who honestly believes it’s useful to talk about “first strike capability” and “second strike capability” probably should be locked in a room with a week’s supply of video games and a copy of John Hersey’s “Hiroshima.” He’ll end up entirely in one world or the other – fantasy or reality – but at least he’ll know for sure which world he’s in, a far preferable state than his present delusion.

    “I never believed you have ill intentions, with all due respects I am tempted to believe you have a North Bay liberal naivete, with regard to nuclear proliferation, you seems to believe since we can’t control the [nuclear weapons states] so let’s at least contained any possible further proliferation without considering justice and morality.”

    No need to apologize for that assessment, which is pretty much right on. I’m not sure that “justice” and “morality” figure into this quite in the same way you do, though. I believe there’s a great deal of “morality” in preventing more countries from acquiring nuclear weapons (though I certainly understand why non-nuclear weapon states want them), and plenty of “justice” as long as the prohibition applied across the board. Certainly there’s “injustice” in that several countries have favored status because they already have nuclear weapons. But anyone who even dreams that such a country will ever give up its nuclear weapons exhibits far more “naivete” than you ascribe to me. It’s irresponsible to suggest a solution that depends on that ever happening.

    Please don’t take any of this as a sign of disrespect. I’m confident you know that’s not the case.

  7. kooshy says:

    Replacing US Aid Would ‘Compromise Lebanon’s Sovereignty’

    by Jason Ditz, August 10, 2010

    The US State Department has reacted with outrage today after the Iranian government offered to provide military aid to Lebanon to make up for what was lost when the US pulled all such aid yesterday.

    State Dept Spokesman Philip CrowleyIncredibly enough, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley suggested that Iran’s military aid would “compromise Lebanon’s sovereignty,” yet no similar concerns were voiced when the US was providing much larger amounts of aid to the exact same country.

    In fact, Crowley insisted US military aid had the opposite effect, and was actually helping “expand the capabilities of the government and thereby improve its sovereignty over its territory.”

    Rep. Howard Berman (D – CA) announced yesterday that he was pulling all military aid to Lebanon because of last week’s border clash with Israel. In the clash one Israeli soldier was killed, prompting Israeli shelling which killed three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.

  8. Everyone should read this piece:

    Focus U.S.A. / Will Israel really attack Iran within a year?
    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/focus-u-s-a/focus-u-s-a-will-israel-really-attack-iran-within-a-year-1.307211

    The article basically talks about Jeffrey Goldberg, a known neocon and Zionist propagandist. But the points made are significant. We can take Goldberg’s remarks to be just “neocon spin” – OR we can see them as bellwethers indicating that Israel really is serious about attacking Iran within the year if the US does not do so.

    Quote:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told New York Times reporters this week: “Based on my conversations with allies, it’s not so much the timing of when or how the Iranians might pursue the nuclear weapons, it’s whether they do so.

    End Quote

    Which of course means the US has now DECIDED that Iran IS pursuing nuclear weapons and therefore it has been DECIDED that, unless Iran backs down (from something they ARE NOT DOING, mind you), it is now JUSTIFIED to attack Iran!

    This is a remarkable statement. I missed her statement completely – probably because I never pay attention to Clinton, who is an egregious hawk on Iran – and who doesn’t have the authority to order a military attack anyway. But if this is the explicit US position, then the deal is done. Unless Iran bows down, the US WILL attack Iran!

    Quote:

    According to Goldberg, for Israel the red lines are clear. The end of December is Netanyahu’s deadline to estimate the success of “non-military methods to stop Iran.”

    End Quote

    Well, that seems specific – except of course we’re getting that from Goldberg, not necessarily from Netanyahu directly. But if this IS the Israel official position, then what are we to think?

    This next quote is really significant!

    Quote:

    Israel is trying to convey the message not only through the official channels – Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin visited Chicago recently to meet with the billionaire Lester Crown, one of Obama’s supporters, and asked to him to convey Israel’s concerns to the American President, Goldberg reports.

    End Quote

    Here we have Israeli intelligence going directly to one of the people who pulls Obama’s strings! Never has the Israeli control of the US government been more blatantly exposed than in this sentence!

    And this:

    Quote:

    David Sanger, the New York Times reporter, heard from the White House sources that during his latest visit to Washington Netanyahu didn’t list Iran as one of his top agenda items “whereas at the previous meetings when he has come here, [Iran] was the number one, two, and three issue,” on the agenda, which might indicate that Netanyahu got some clear reassurances from the U.S. administration.

    End Quote

    That doesn’t sound good to me – it sounds like Obama assured Netanyahu that the US was on a course for war and just be patient until Obama can finagle a way to start it.

  9. James Canning wrote to Fyi: “Russia and China both were concerned, and are concerned, about Iranian enrichment to 20%.”

    Actually this is not correct – Russia and China were only interested in the 20% enrichment because they knew it would ratchet up US pressure for new sanctions. Otherwise, Russia and China couldn’t care less about 20% enrichment.

    But that isn’t my point – read on.

    James Canning wrote to Fyi: “You stated that China and Russia have no “legitimate concerns” regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. Do you mean that Iran should continue to enrich to 20% even if the TRR fuel is available soon?”

    Fyi wrote: “Iran is a sovereign state – 3%, 20% or 90% is no body’s business.”

    Brill wrote to Fyi: “Iran may refine uranium to whatever percentage it wants without violating the NPT or its Safeguards Agreement (though a few readers might disagree with this). As long as Iran remains a party to the NPT, though, that information is not ‘nobody’s business.’”

    Note: Fyi never said anything about NPT reporting in his one short sentence. Notice how Brill takes HIS OWN INTERPRETATION of what was said and starts an argument about it.

    Where have we seen this behavior before? Oh, yes, in just about every Brill post.

    Fyi then re-iterates: “NPT does not set any limits on enrichment levels. Neither does AP. It is no concern of any other state what Iran does as long as she is within NPT.”

    Correct. But it is of concern to BRILL!

    Brill responds: ” [Quotes Fyi] ‘NPT does not set any limits on enrichment levels. Neither does AP. It is no concern of any other state what Iran does as long as she is within NPT.’ That’s exactly what I just wrote, isn’t it?”

    Well, no, it’s not. Brill extended Fyi’s statement, interpreted it in his own way, and responded to something Fyi never said.

    Brill attempts to “clarify: “Just as you wrote, Iran is free to do whatever it wants, and it’s nobody else’s business, as long as Iran stays within the NPT. But “staying within the NPT” includes detailed reporting on “nuclear material” under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.”

    Which Fyi never denied or intimated was not the case.

    Fyi responds: “Iran is complying with her NPT obligations, it is the IAEA member states that are not complying with their obligations to Iran.”

    Completely correct.

    Brill expands his interpretation: “If Iran left the NPT tomorrow, I’d feel it was entirely justified in doing so. All I’m saying is that that’s the way it should be done. Either leave and do what you want, or stay and do what you promised. Nothing in the NPT or the Safeguards Agreement says that Iran (or any other country) may stop performing its obligations merely because some other parties are not performing their obligations.”

    Note that here we’re way out past Pluto! Fyi never said Iran should leave the NPT! Fyi never said Iran should “stop performing its obligations”! This is all in Brill’s MIND! OR Brill is subtly suggesting that what Iran REALLY wants is to withdraw from the NPT, kick out the IAEA inspectors, and make “thousands of nuclear bombs”. OR Brill is merely re-iterating his contention that Iran isn’t “doing enough”, i.e., “what you promised”.

    Fyi makes himself clear: “At the moment, no advantage is to be gained for Iran by leaving NPT. Afther the first bomb falls, then perhaps.”

    Correct.

    Brill says to Castellio: “If we assume that the uranium FYI has in mind is “declared,” there’s nothing in dispute here: Iran does not agree that its enrichment of Iran’s uranium is “nobody’s business.” To the contrary, Iran considers it to be the IAEA’s “business,” and accordingly has duly reported it to the IAEA – including, among many other details, whether it is “of low or high enrichment.”

    So here Brill awards himself the trophy! He has established that “there is nothing in dispute here” – except that Fyi was wrong to say Iran’s enrichment level is “nobody’s business” because “Iran does not agree”!

    Except Fyi never said anything about not reporting the enrichment level in the first place!

    So Brill has taken one single sentence from Fyi, mangled it into his own position based on his distrust of Iran, extended it to mean that Iran might want to leave the NPT OR that Iran isn’t living up to its obligations, then decides that Iran agrees with him that he was right in the first place!

    Amazing.

    Are you starting to see what’s going on here? Are these the arguments of someone who is intellectually honest? Or the arguments of someone who just wants to argue for the sake of arguing and establishing that he’s smarter than everyone else here?

  10. Castellio,

    “Is that promise [to report information about enriched uranium] part of the NPT and has [Iran] actually, in fact, broken that promise?”

    Part I, Article 1 of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement has just one sentence:

    “The Government of Iran undertakes, pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article III of the Treaty, to accept safeguards, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within its territory, under its jurisdiction or carried out under its control anywhere, for the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

    Through a roundabout definition that cites the statute under which the IAEA was created, it’s clear that the uranium that FYI refers to – whether it’s enriched to 3%, 20%, 90% or any other percent – ia “special fissionable material,” which in turn makes it “nuclear material” under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.

    The term “nuclear material” appears a whopping 138 times in Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. As you might expect from the “Basic Undertaking” quoted above, the Safeguards Agreement is chock-full of reporting and inspection obligations relating to “nuclear material.” I could cite you many, but the opening portion of Article 81 should be enough:

    “[R]outine inspections in respect of any facility shall include: (a) The form of the nuclear material, in particular, whether the nuclear material is in bulk form or contained in a number of separate items; its chemical composition and, in the case of uranium, whether it is of low or high enrichment;”

    In short, there’s no question, nor any dispute, that Iran’s Safeguards Agreement obligates it to tell the IAEA the percentage to which Iran’s uranium is enriched.

    I’m not aware that Iran has violated its obligations to report any required information to the IAEA (at least if one doesn’t look far back ma to the days of Iran’s dealings with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan). I don’t believe there’s any serious disagreement about this. The IAEA routinely reports its satisfaction that none of Iran’s declared nuclear material has been “diverted.”

    If we assume that the uranium FYI has in mind is “declared,” there’s nothing in dispute here: Iran does not agree that its enrichment of Iran’s uranium is “nobody’s business.” To the contrary, Iran considers it to be the IAEA’s “business,” and accordingly has duly reported it to the IAEA – including, among many other details, whether it is “of low or high enrichment.”

  11. kooshy says:

    Eric

    As usual I thank you for your reply, frankly, from the start of these discussions, I believe, I have understood your position correctly, especially when a few months back you started to dig into TRR fuel soap deal and raised a few questions to Allen and Arnold with regard to significance of the soap tonnage, since then I understand that you have come to question Iran’s possible intentions due to the reason that Iran is not willing to ship up to 70% of its stocked 3.5% enriched uranium, you assume since Iran is not willing to keep less than a bomb worth 3.5% uranium therefore in fact can actually be tinted with a possible brake out capability, you are right in fact both sides that they are dealing on this they all know that, I think the reason is as long as there is a substantial amount of enriched uranium stocked in Natanz there is no possibility of an attack on that enrichment plant by US or anybody else.

    I did not agree with your position, not because I think Iran would want to be able to make a nuclear bomb just like Japan can, I actually don’t believe due to its unique position Iran intends or needs to increase its regional problems with its Turk and Arab neighbors by making more insecurity. I disagreed because it seems to me and other Iranian commentators here that you never completely agreed or understood that the actual dispute is not about the Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment program, therefore Iran need not be further weakened in its region by giving up its rights without a clear acceptance of its independent regional position of power.

    Now you are asking me the same question that you also raised to Arnold a few days back, which I am more than happy to oblige with an absolute yes.

    “To test my hunch, I suggest you answer the question I’ve posed to Arnold several times: If Israel didn’t already have nuclear weapons, would you agree that it should have the rights Arnold insists Iran should have? No need to give your answer here; just consider the question in a quiet moment.”

    Yes, and yes any signatory of the NPT deserves and should have the same exact rights including a brake out capability without discrimination, yes including Israel, which in fact if pushed like Iran currently is by the godfather unlike Iran will have no choice but to oblige, as you know this by itself will reduce a lot of fear by striping the first strike capability out of Israel,. So one must be crazy not to accept, I wish you would also ask me if I be glad and willing to see US be stripped out of its 5300 nuclear war heads.

    Arnold correctly pointed that the rest of the world are not feared by a second strike capability since it will be detected in advance, only the first strikers are the ones who are fearing the 2nd strikers capability, because in fact their first strike capability becomes consequential.

    Iran and Israel have a complete different political and strategic posture, Iran is a legitimate old nation without any real territorial disputes it survives by maintaining calm and security, on the other hand Israel is an illegitimate and disputed carved up state, Israel’s survivor is only possible by making fear to its disputers and surroundings therefore needs to maintain the fear of a first strike capability this is the same as what US power doctrine is always fear of its ultimate weapon. I don’t see this doctoring maintainable much longer, Iran and NK are case and point that attest to this.

    I never beloved you have ill intentions, with all due respects I am tempted to believe you have a North Bay liberal naivety, with regard to nuclear proliferation, you seems to believe since we can’t control the NWS so let’s at least contained any possible further proliferation without considering justice and morality.

  12. I’ll re-post my earlier post here in case anyone missed it, because THIS is what we should be focusing on.

    August 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Let’s once again keep our eyes on what’s important about the Iran situation:

    1) Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. This is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition, certified by the IAEA and the US intelligence community.

    2) The US and Israel and the EU are LYING about Iran having a nuclear weapons program. This is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition.

    3) The ONLY issue the US and Israel and the EU bring up or CAN bring up is whether Iran has some hypothetical “Japan option” in mind – which, since Japan already HAS that option and which BY DEFINITION is INHERENT in mastering the nuclear fuel cycle – is BY DEFINITION discriminatory against Iran.

    4) The onus is NOT on Iran to prove it does not have a nuclear weapons program OR to even prove it does not want a “Japan option”. Iran has done nothing WRONG under the NPT. This, too, is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition.

    5) The onus is on the US, Israel and the EU to stop LYING about Iran and stop violating both the letter and the spirit of the NPT by doing so.

    6) There is NO DISTINCTION between the way George Bush LIED about Iraq and started the Iraq war and the way Barack Obama is LYING about Iran and is therefore intending to start an Iran war.

    7) This is HOW the uninformed public has been totally deceived into believing that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that Iran must “do something” to satisfy this erroneous belief system under pain of military attack.

    Failure to keep these points in mind allows for hasbara propagandists to muddy the waters and provide justification for economic sanctions on Iran which in turn will lead to military action against Iran which WILL seriously damage the US economy and result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iran and possibly elsewhere in the region and even in the United States once the inevitable blowback occurs.

    Do not allow subtle propaganda to confuse your understanding of the above points.

  13. Arnold: “It’s not fun but you can’t just let it rest.”

    Which is why I suspect he’s a propagandist for the US position – or someone who is emotionally tied to the notion that Iran can’t be trusted. There’s no other explanation for why he keeps re-iterating the same weak, discredited notions, and now to the point where he’s contradicted himself totally.

  14. Brill: “Absent any response to my description of your positions in my 4:55 PM post, that’s what I still believe.”

    What did Arnold actually write?

    “These positions that you’re claiming I’m arguing – I don’t think you’d believe I was arguing them if believing that wasn’t necessary to console yourself over holding fundamentally indefensible positions. Positions you’ve conceded you wouldn’t be able to defend legally or morally. I don’t think anyone else thinks that’s what I’m arguing.”

    How does that get translated into Arnold agreeing with your totally dishonest misrepresentation of his position, which is what you infer from your “absent any response” clause?

    Fundamentally intellectually dishonest statement. He gave you a response which clearly denied holding the positions you attribute to him, which you based on a hyperbolic over-extension of a hypothetical.

    And now your argument bounces around to some self-contradictory nonsense about “you want Iran to have a Japan option, but you don’t want them to have the Japan option because you don’t want them to do anything other than what they’re doing – which is what they ARE doing.”

    So now you’ve worm-holed yourself out of existence!

    I agree with Arnold. You can’t be taken seriously on this matter. You’re either completely confused and suffused with a distrust of Iran or you’re a hidden propagandist for the US position trying to divert everyone with nonsense.

  15. Arnold Evans says:

    Unbelievably stupid Eric.

    So why exactly does Khamenei, in your view, agree with you that Iran should have fewer rights than Japan? Because, like you, an Iranian nuclear capability would worry him more than a Japanese one does?

    Very convenient for your argument, such as it is, that he agrees. That means you don’t have to justify a position that you’ve already conceded is unjustifiable.

    But Khamenei isn’t here. Since he agrees with you, maybe you can explain for us. You’ve already told us how you feel, worried about Iran’s program. Your feeling of worry is not a legal or moral reason to limit Iran’s nuclear program. I’m pretty sure Khamenei doesn’t share this emotional worry about Iran of yours – but he isn’t here and for the sake of this argument I’m granting that you speak for him.

    You’ve said explicitly that Iran should accept limits that you’ve invented short of the rights other NPT signatory nations are allowed to exercise. What legal or moral grounds do you (or Khamenei) have that Iran must accept further limits on its program?

    We know you have no answer. You’ve admitted you have no answer.

    Instead you want to invent outlandish scenarios and argue against those. Argue against them then. Take your most outlandish and irrelevant hypothetical scenario that you claim I’m advocating for Iran and tell us what text it violates. What legal or moral grounds exist for prohibiting it.

    You can’t even do that.

    You don’t like being wrong and you’re wrong. You’re being stunningly childish right now. Your arguments are well past the point of absurdity but are steadily becoming stupider.

    I’d rather just stop. I’d rather agree to disagree, but if you insist, I’ll do the argumentation equivalent of hitting you when you’re down. It’s not fun but you can’t just let it rest.

  16. Brill: “What I’ve objected to, again plainly and openly many times, is only nuclear-related activity that has no arguable justification if Iran’s purpose is only to conduct a peaceful nuclear energy program.”

    Which Iran is not doing, which Arnold and I have never suggested Iran do, but which the US is LYING about by saying Iran is doing.

    “I’d not engage in any pointlessly provocative “Japan option” actions that cannot arguably be justified as part of a peaceful nuclear energy program,”

    Which Iran is not doing, which Arnold and I have never suggested Iran do, but which the US is LYING about by saying Iran is doing.

    “But I would have no sympathy for Iran if it were engaged in some open or “hide the ball” activity that clearly had no purpose other than to create the reality or illusion of “nuclear weapons capability,””

    Which Iran is not doing, which Arnold and I have never suggested Iran do, but which the US is LYING about by saying Iran is doing.

    “If Israel didn’t already have nuclear weapons, would you agree that it should have the rights Arnold insists Iran should have?”

    Which is both irrelevant and suspicious because it is clearly an attempt to suggest that we are “demonizing” Israel despite the fact that it actually has undeclared and unacknowledged nuclear weapons which are a direct threat to the region and which Israel has in fact threatened to use in the past.

    What does it matter if it is Israel under question? How about Japan itself? How about Brazil? How about South Korea, well motivated just like Iran to have nuclear weapons if it so desired, which has been guilty of more NPT infractions than Iran? Where is the “disclose more” desire for South Korea? For Brazil?

    Iran was under the Additional Protocol for TWO YEARS! The IAEA went everywhere, did not find a single indication of a nuclear weapons program or any undeclared nuclear activities while Iran suspended enrichment. What happened? Iran’s file got referred to the UNSC for “violations”!

    I – and Arnold – have argued before that your argument against Iran having the Japan option was intended to deny Iran the same rights as Japan. Now you’ve shifted away from that argument because the hyperbole you used was exposed by me as a misrepresentation of the position Arnold and I hold.

    Your argument has now shifted to “I want Iran to have uranium enrichment, I want Iran to have the Japan option – but I don’t want Iran to do anything it’s currently not doing – and somehow this will help prevent Iran from being attacked by the US.”

    But this IS the situation – and has been for YEARS – except for the latter clause! And Arnold and I – and Iran – have never argued for anything else!

    So what are we arguing ABOUT?

    I’ll tell you.

    Not a word from you about how the US is LYING about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING Iran IS doing! Not a word from you about how your “disclose more” suggestion is completely and totally useless because the issue IS NOT and NEVER WAS about “disclosure” to the US!

    So how does doing more than Iran is doing help? No answer. Vague suggestions that it might persuade the US electorate but not specifying any mechanism by which the present set meme that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, which was deliberately inculcated by the US in the world, would be altered absent the US government not changing its propaganda.

    Instead, you want to put the onus on Iran to “disclose more” without specifying WHAT to disclose that Iran has not already disclosed at one time or another – without any useful result.

    All this does is expose your fundamental distrust of and hostility towards Iran – which Arnold has referred to as your “discomfort”. This is basically the position the US electorate is in because they have bought the LIE that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. You claim not to believe that, although you have argued frequently that “no one can know for sure” which basically shows that somewhere in your mind you DO believe it, at least subconsciously.

    This whole business really boils down to the fact that you just don’t believe Iran and you DO believe the US, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    OR, given the way you dishonestly argue the points, that you are a propagandist for the US position who is concealing his belief that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and you wish to divert everyone from the main points I’ve made below to the idea that it is Iran who must justify itself.

    So which is it? Are you just distrustful of Iran (and trust is irrelevant because we know the facts of the situation), or are you just propagandizing to keep the “blame” for the situation on Iran instead of on the US where it belongs?

  17. Castellio says:

    Eric: You write “Iran can refine its uranium; it just needs to keep its promised (sic) to report it”

    Is that promise part of the NPT and has it actually, in fact, broken that promise?

  18. Castellio says:

    Paul: I agree entirely with your statement “We need to take a principled stand that war is NOT a tool of policy, and that includes economic war. Immense suffering has been forced on countries such as North Korea and Iraq and now Iran, as part of the US-Nato drive for global hegemony. The UN Security Council has been turned into a mechanism for creating war!!!! Yes, that’s how perverse the situation we are now in globally has become.”

    And I’m happy to see you mention North Korea in this regard. So much more could be written about this, however…

    But: I think you badly misjudge both Russia and China. I am not saying they are looking for a war with the US, or won’t sell Iran down the river, but they also don’t mind seeing the US dig a hole for itself, which is linked to the fact that they don’t think Iran is about to lie down and disappear.

    These are not fly by night cultures with acquiescent leaders. Georgia, with American and Israeli connivance, started a surprise war. The Russians reacted quickly and won it thoroughly, and the US didn’t dream of intervening, for the simple reason that short of all out war they would have been thrashed. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are now firmly in the Russian orbit (where they were and want to remain) and the west is going to do nothing about it.

    And if you think Taiwan is going to remain independent for the next hundred years I have a bridge to sell you.

    Also, read the post at 8.03 pm, which is a quote from Liu. It explains why even in deep debt the US is not in debt… and why being bankrupt will not stop it from war (perhaps the contrary). The fiat currency which deters American debt from being real debt to be paid in another country’s currency or real goods and services now rests squarely on military might, including might in the oil industry (that is, in the middle east). The US might bomb Iran (under the crazy illusion) that it will actually help its currency remain a fiat currency, the lingua franca, if you will, of finance. The Iraq war and the record oil prices was not bad for the oil companies. They made record profits. Bankrupted many small businesses, but hey!

    It really is a military-industrial-financial conglomerate with its own neoliberal ethos and no particularly fond feelings for the American people that is in charge.

  19. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    At the moment, no advantage is to be gained for Iran by leaving NPT.

    Afther the first bomb false, then perhaps.

  20. FYI,

    “Currently the only concrete benefit that Iran receives from NPT is the Bushehr reactor. That is all. Iran is complying with her NPT obligations, it is the IAEA member states that are not complying with their obligations to Iran.”

    You’re preaching to the choir. I agree completely. If Iran left the NPT tomorrow, I’d feel it was entirely justified in doing so.

    All I’m saying is that that’s the way it should be done. Either leave and do what you want, or stay and do what you promised.

    Nothing in the NPT or the Safeguards Agreement says that Iran (or any other country) may stop performing its obligations merely because some other parties are not performing their obligations. Dozens and dozens of other countries could make the very same complaint as Iran makes. Their recourse would be the same: withdraw.

  21. Arnold,

    “Iran has to deal with your point of view the same way it deals with Bush’s, Obama’s or Netanyahu’s. You want to impose a limit on Iran’s nuclear program beyond anything Iran agreed to. Iran has no choice as a sovereign nation but to advance its program despite your opposition.”

    If you read my post more carefully, you’ll notice my observation that Iran – or at least Khamenei – has never expressed any interest in exercising the rights that you insist it should jealously preserve. Khamenei assert that Iran is interested – and I support Iran strongly in this – only in being free to carry out its peaceful nuclear energy program. Period.

    It’s you – not Iran – who considers it important that Iran jealously preserve its rights to do everything that Japan does – stockpile fuel for thousands of weapons, or build “fuel free” bombs, or any of the other things you think Iran might need to do to achieve “nuclear weapons capability” and thus strike fear into the hearts of the rest of the world. Khamenei describes it more like Garbo: Iran “just wants to be left alone.”

  22. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    Currently the only concrete benefit that Iran receives from NPT is the Bushehr reactor.

    That is all.

    Iran is complying with her NPT obligations, it is the IAEA member states that are not complying with their obligations to Iran.

    The asymmetry of power between Iran and the US, EU, Russia, and China is so much they are disinclined to make an equitable deal with Iran.

    At any rate, tehy are after something else; limitation of the Iranian power.

    This circle cannot be squared.

  23. Dan Cooper says:

    U.S. and EU fail to isolate Iran:

    China, Russia, India and Turkey move into the lucrative void left by U.S. and EU sanctions that aim to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/08/world/la-fg-iran-sanctions-20100809

  24. FYI,

    Maybe my last response wasn’t clear. Just as you wrote, Iran is free to do whatever it wants, and it’s nobody else’s business, as long as Iran stays within the NPT. But “staying within the NPT” includes detailed reporting on “nuclear material” under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. Iran can refine its uranium; it just needs to keep its promised to report it. And if it doesn’t want to keep doing that, all it has to do is withdraw from the NPT.

    Iran could, of course, not withdraw from the NPT and just breach it. But the “manly” thing to do is withdraw first.

  25. FYI,

    “NPT does not set any limits on enrichment levels. Neither does AP. It is no concern of any other state what Iran does as long as she is within NPT.”

    That’s exactly what I just wrote, isn’t it?

  26. Arnold,

    “I don’t care what you think my position is or what you think I’m arguing.”

    Absent any response to my description of your positions in my 4:55 PM post, that’s what I still believe. You certainly have every right not to care what I think (though I’m flattered that you always write so much to tell me that). I thought I’d let you know anyway, just in case you’re ever tempted to correct my misunderstanding.

  27. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    NPT does not set any limits on enrichment levels.

    Neither does AP.

    It is no concern of any other state what Iran does as long as she is within NPT.

    If these other states do not like that, they can go to war. May be they like it more.

    If war is not convenient, then it is best for them to admist their mistakes, apologize, pay compensation, and then work out a deal with Iran if they have a heart-burn with enrichment in Iran.

    But this is all rhetoric, really.

    US & EU have put in place elements of Iranian containment, as though Iran is something like USSR and the Muslims are like Europeans after WWII.

    The policy price that US & EU have specially paid precludes them from any coursae of action that does not entail Iranian surrender.

    As I said before, this game is over.

    The next escalation point will occur when US Navy tries to board and Iranian ship.

    Iranians can fight or they can retaliate by trying to board another vessel.

    A shooting war will ensue very quickly.

    War will begin in earnest.

  28. FYI,

    You wrote to James:

    “To be a powerful country one has to act like one. Iran is a sovereign state – 3%, 20% or 90% is nobody’s business.”

    Iran may refine uranium to whatever percentage it wants without violating the NPT or its Safeguards Agreement (though a few readers might disagree with this). As long as Iran remains a party to the NPT, though, that information is not “nobody’s business.” Iran agreed to report certain information about its “nuclear material” when it signed its Safeguards Agreement. It’s free at any time to withdraw from the NPT, which would automatically cancel its Safeguards Agreement going forward. Until it does, though, it’s contractually bound to account for its “nuclear material” as required under the Safeguards Agreement.

    As you say, Iran is a “sovereign state” and, as such, it could renounce the NPT at will even if the NPT didn’t expressly authorize this. But sovereign states are expected either to live up to their treaty commitments or to renounce the treaty – one or the other.

  29. fyi says:

    paul:

    There will be no war, certainly not until 2012.

    US is broke.

  30. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, on this particular issue, so far it has not spread out into other issues, but on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, I don’t take you seriously any more.

    These positions that you’re claiming I’m arguing – I don’t think you’d believe I was arguing them if believing that wasn’t necessary to console yourself over holding fundamentally indefensible positions. Positions you’ve conceded you wouldn’t be able to defend legally or morally. I don’t think anyone else thinks that’s what I’m arguing.

    You said that Iran should be prevented from exercising the same rights Japan exercises. It’s not something you’ve ever tried to defend. It is something you’ve said it is not possible to defend legally or morally. It is the same position Barack Obama and George Bush hold.

    Once you do that, once you claim to draw your own line completely independent of what the treaties and agreements say, you might as well draw it where Condoleeza Rice draws it. You say that you would allow Iran to keep its current nuclear program and draw a line somewhere arbitrarily short of Japan’s capabilities. Who are you to graciously only limit Iran’s rights by a little bit?

    Once your emotional feeling of worry justifies, to you – as you admit, limiting Iran’s right to its nuclear program, why would Iran, us or anyone care exactly what you would allow and what you would not allow? What if you change your mind? Whatever line you draw is no more defensible than the line Obama draws or that Bush drew following the same process. Or that Netanyahu draws.

    All of these supposed nightmare scenarios you’re drawing up, which have no practical relevance share one thing in common – putting Israel, the US or any country that is not an NPT non-weapons state into any of the “outrageous” scenarios you’ve concocted – then at least acted like you’ve convinced yourself I invented – would make the world tremendously safer.

    Actual weapons are infinitely more outrageous than any of these scenarios you’ve concocted. Infinitely so, and infinitely more dangerous and not figments of your imagination, but real threats to the people of Iran. Your focus on these scenarios, as if they prove a point, is bizarre.

    I don’t care if you disagree. I don’t care what you think my position is or what you think I’m arguing. You’re not even trying to defend your core contention that Iran’s nuclear program should be limited short of where Japan’s is. I guess you feel like if you’re arguing anything you’re not fully wrong.

    Iran has to deal with your point of view the same way it deals with Bush’s, Obama’s or Netanyahu’s. You want to impose a limit on Iran’s nuclear program beyond anything Iran agreed to. Iran has no choice as a sovereign nation but to advance its program despite your opposition.

  31. paul says:

    Canning, good work there, applying the old Blame The Victim principle to Iraq. As the Bully said to the Victim, “stop making me kick the crap out of you!”

    The US CHOSE to inflict death on hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many or most of them children. Period. It was one of the most inhuman and vicious choices in history, but we fail to see this, because inhuman and vicious is par for the course in American Foreign Policy, such that we label it ‘realism’ and sigh that life is hard, life is unfair, and it’s really best not to care.

    As Obama ratchets up his inhuman economic war against Iran, virtually his entire party establishment and virtually the entire alternapunditocracy continues to hail him, inexplicably, as the Last Man Standing for Peace. But it’s no more surprising than his Nobel Peace Prize or than Clinton’s rep. as the ‘Good War Guy’. When Democrats are in power, the consciences of alternapundits turn out to be amazingly flexible, generally speaking. Even the few principled alternapundits, such as Glenn Greenwald, cannot bring themselves to even begin to suggest that maybe Dems aren’t actually more humane or peaceful than Pubs (and maybe they are even worse, since they never have to face an antiwar movement?). LBJ did massively more for this country than Obama has done or will do, and yet he faced a strong antiwar movement. What happened? Why has antiwar turned into a strictly partisan position?

    It’s our job to try to turn that around. We need to take a principled stand that war is NOT a tool of policy, and that includes economic war. Immense suffering has been forced on countries such as North Korea and Iraq and now Iran, as part of the US-Nato drive for global hegemony. The UN Security Council has been turned into a mechanism for creating war!!!! Yes, that’s how perverse the situation we are now in globally has become.

    Obama’s great achievement has been to bring China and Russia firmly on board for the war against Iran. Having agreed to the economic war, they cannot object in any meaningful way when the shooting war starts. But this is not actually Obama’s achievement. The election of Obama gave Russia and China a face-saving opportunity to bow to the throne of the Hegemon. It was really Bush who made it happen. His invasion of Iraq was an incredibly impressive show, even if it was against a much weakened state. Russia’s experience with plane shootdowns in its war with Georgia seems to have confirmed the Iraq impression: not even the most powerful nation on earth that isn’t the US can stand up against US forces. US technology is just too powerful. The deals Russia and China are now signing with Iran are being made with an eye towards the future, towards Russia’s and China’s dealing with whatever regime is in Iran after Obama completes his Regime Change project.

    Nobody cares about Iran and nuclear weapons. Many nations have acquired nuclear weapons and every one that has done so has had to deal with the same deterrent; sure, you could use them, but then what would happen to you? The US, as we know, is busy working its way out of that dilemma with its anti-missile programs, and boy will that be the gamechanger, but Iran will never be able to use any nukes it ever has. So it doesn’t matter whether or not it even has a nuclear weapons program, though it probably doesn’t have one. No, this is about power, about global domination, and for China and Russia, it’s about wanting to stay in the Gold Club. They’ve decided that they’d rather sit at America’s feet than lead the ‘third world’, as we used to call it. On one level, you can’t blame them, What would you do if you were sitting in their place, watching the growing circle of US bases and endless US War Games, and missile defense systems and alliances? They know they can’t fight the US and they can see that the US is quite willing to risk war. That was one of the lessons for Russia in the Georgia War aftermath; that the US was more than willing to risk a war, even a nuclear war. What do you do when the craziest person on your block is also the biggest and baddest? I guess you ask for a spot in the gang.

    But, of course, as Russia and China are discovering, it’s impossible to appease the Hegemon. To appease is to ask for more trouble. ‘Gee, thanks China, that was nice of you to kick Iran under the bus. Say, how would you like a US supercarrier staged semi-permanently within striking distance of Beijing? And Russia, we appreciate your help too. How about some missiles just miles from your border as a nice gesture?’

    It’s good to see that folks are starting to get it that the country that prints the world’s money will be the last to go under economically. Everyone else that is hooked into the ‘international system’ goes down first, which means that the more global trouble there is, the more powerful the Hegemon becomes. But there’s another aspect to this. Because the central role of the dollar depends ultimately on US military power, the US MUST keep expanding its power. A hegemon is like a shark. It must keep expanding or die. The moment the US ceases growing its global power, that’s the moment other countries start asking ‘why’? Why must we bow to the USA? And that question is the solvent that dissolves the power of the Hegemon. The Hegemon cannot allow it out of the bottle. It must seem more and more and more inevitable.

    So if we in the US actually want real change, we need to be willing to reconsider our way of life. Is there a way to live in which we live more in harmony with other nations? There surely might be, and if we want to find out about it, we need to stop dismissing, hating, attacking all nations that are different. Nations that have different approaches to things might have ideas to offer us. Iran and Cuba, for example, both seem to have better health systems than we have, considering their different circumstances. We could learn from that, just as they could learn some things from us. There could be an upside to not having to be the Bully on the Block all the time. Perhaps one could begin to get to know one’s neighbors, begin to make friends, being to share ideas and hopes — and maybe it would turn out that they don’t actually have nukes in the basement.

  32. Rehmat says:

    Israel has shown once again that it doesn’t belong to the civilized world.

    Israel threatens to withdraw from UN Gaza Flotilla probe
    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/israel-threatens-to-withdraw-from-un-gaza-flotilla-probe/

  33. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    To be a powerful country one has to act like one.

    What did China and Russia do for Iran during the dark days of the war against Iraq, when, in one occasion, we has only month of wheat in the country?

    Iran is a sovereign state – 3%, 20% or 90% is no body’s business.

    Almost all commentators here think the issue between Iran and these so-called global powers is the nuclear file.

    That is not so, it is Iranian power.

  34. Kooshy,

    “So to conclude what we understand from your recommendations is, in fact you that you really mean Iran should give up its uranium enrichment program for a fear of an eventual US attack even if the odds for this possible attack are 10%. My question is why you wouldn’t want to say that plainly and openly so everybody easily understands you.”

    I’m surprised and disappointed that you would misunderstand my position to this extent – some others I can understand, but not you.

    As I’ve written “plainly and openly” dozens of times, I strongly support Iran’s “full nuclear fuel cycle” rights, and I don’t think Iran needs, should bother seeking, or is likely to receive any time soon, permission from the US or the UNSC to exercise those rights. I really don’t think it’s possible for anyone to make that more clear than I have.

    As I’ve also written plainly and openly many times, I think Iran should not hesitate to carry out whatever activities are necessary for it to conduct a peaceful nuclear energy program, even if those activities create a suspicion that Iran is also engaging in nuclear-weapons development. An example which I’ve given several times: the stockpiling of nuclear fuel for power plants that could instead be used for bombs if further refined. As I’ve also written several times, if this amounts to a “Japan option,” then Iran has the right to a “Japan option” to that extent. The same goes for whatever knowledge Iran picks up along the way. Iran should be entirely free to use that knowledge in its peaceful nuclear energy program, even if the knowledge might also be useful in a nuclear weapons program.

    What I’ve objected to, again plainly and openly many times, is only nuclear-related activity that has no arguable justification if Iran’s purpose is only to conduct a peaceful nuclear energy program. I’d give Iran every benefit of the doubt in drawing this important line. But I would have no sympathy for Iran if it were engaged in some open or “hide the ball” activity that clearly had no purpose other than to create the reality or illusion of “nuclear weapons capability,” even if Iran’s Safeguards Agreement did not specifically prohibit the activity. A clear example would be one of Arnold’s own favorites: Iran’s right to develop a working nuclear weapon missing only the bomb fuel. Another example from Arnold: the stockpiling of vast amounts of otherwise-purposeless nuclear fuel, enough to make “thousands of bombs,” which Arnold argues Iran should be permitted to do simply because Japan has done the same thing. I don’t agree Iran should be allowed to do either of those things, regardless of whether Japan has done them or could do them tomorrow.

    I’ve made all of this crystal clear several times. Nevertheless, you ask above whether I “really mean Iran should give up its uranium enrichment program for a fear of an eventual US attack even if the odds for this possible attack are 10%.” I’ve never suggested Iran should give up its uranium enrichment program even if the odds of US attack were 99.99% (though I suppose both you and I might hesitate if the odds were actually that high). I’m at a loss to understand how you could have reached this conclusion about my views. What I wrote was that, if I were Iran, I’d not engage in any pointlessly provocative “Japan option” actions that cannot arguably be justified as part of a peaceful nuclear energy program, nor would I stand on a soapbox and proclaim my right to engage in such actions if and when I felt like doing so – even if the odds of a US attack in response to such pointlessly provocative actions were only 10%. For specific examples, see Arnold’s two examples described in the preceding paragraph. He’s given several others over the course of this protracted debate.

    I’m confident Khamenei himself would agree entirely with me. He’s never expressed any desire whatsoever for Iran to do more than is necessary to carry out a peaceful nuclear energy program, just so that Iran can achieve the reality or illusion of “nuclear weapons capability” that Arnold considers to be so important for Iran. Nothing Khamenie has ever said or written, to my knowledge, suggests that he agrees with Arnold, and I believe he’d reject Arnold’s advice in a heartbeat. Khamenei would see no reason to insist on Iran’s right to engage in conduct whose only purpose could be to induce others to believe he is lying when he insists that Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful.

    Frankly, I’m willing to bet that you’d draw the line in exactly the same place if a country other than Iran were involved. To test my hunch, I suggest you answer the question I’ve posed to Arnold several times: If Israel didn’t already have nuclear weapons, would you agree that it should have the rights Arnold insists Iran should have? No need to give your answer here; just consider the question in a quiet moment.

    Sometimes I suspect that you, and probably others, mistakenly conclude that I must agree with Richard Hack’s characterization of my views simply because I don’t respond to Richard any more. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t respond to Richard because I believe he’s rude and I don’t like to encourage such behavior. You should not conclude that I agree with what he writes merely because I fail to respond. Richard usually (though not always) mischaracterizes what I’ve written – especially when he insists that I’ve not been clear about my positions. Perhaps you’ve concluded entirely on your own that my views have not been clearly expressed, but I’ll confess to some doubt about that since I’ve made my positions very clear many times. In any case, please do me the favor of basing your assessments solely on what I actually write, as I’ve always felt you have in the past.

  35. Castellio says:

    I don’t know if this is true, I know its reported:

    (AFP) – 13 hours ago

    TEHRAN — Iran is to stop all trade and oil exports in dollars and euros in retaliation against Western sanctions over its nuclear programme, a top official was quoted as saying Tuesday.

    “We are going to remove dollar and euro from our foreign currency basket and replace them with (Iranian) rial and all other currencies of the countries which accept to cooperate with us,” leading economic daily Doniye e-Ektesad quoted First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying.
    “These currencies are filthy and we will no longer sell our oil in dollar and euro,” Rahimi told a meeting of education officials.

    He did not say when that would go into effect, or how Iran was going to implement that decision as the second largest exporter in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in an energy market dominated by the dollar.

    Rahimi also said that Iran would limit its purchases from the European Union, which amounted to 11.4 billion euros or 27 percent of the Iranian imports in 2009, according to official EU statistics.
    He said this would mainly affect Iran’s food imports such as wheat and soybeans from Europe.

    Rahimi said that “sophisticated equipment,” currently imported, will also be manufactured locally “by the Iranian youths, but it needs time.”

    Following a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions against, the United States and the European Union expanded their own punitive measures against Iran in July over suspicions that Tehran’s nuclear programme is masking a weapons drive. Iran denies these charges.

    Canada and Australia followed suit after the US and EU sanctions, which target Iran’s economy and banking system, banning investment and transfer of technology to its vital oil and gas sectors.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iJ0elHd-dKl2XcrDwbx2KZPTMBtQ

  36. Castellio says:

    PG: Ah! Thanks.

  37. Castellio says:

    Later in the same article:

    “The question the authors of the op-ed piece did not ask was why the US, while vulnerable, is not critically over a barrel by massive foreign holdings of US sovereign debt. The reason is because US sovereign debts are all denominated in dollars, a fiat currency that the Federal Reserve can issue at will. The US has no foreign debt in the strict sense of the term. It has domestic debt denominated in its own fiat currency held in large quantities by foreign governments. The US is never in danger of defaulting on its sovereign debt because it can print all the dollars necessary to pay off foreign holders of its debt. There is also no incentive for the foreign holders of US sovereign debt to push for repayment, as that will only cause the US to print more dollars to cause the dollar to fall in exchange rates.

    In this situation, the borrower enjoys market power over the lender. This advantage that the US enjoys comes from dollar hegemony, a peculiar condition in global finance in which the dollar, a fiat currency that the US can issue at will, is recognized worldwide as a reserve currency for international trade because of US geopolitical power with which to force the trading of critical basic commodities to be denominated in dollars. Everyone accepts dollars because dollars can buy oil and every economy needs oil. Granted, one can buy oil also with euros and yen, but only because these currencies are freely convertible to dollars, and therefore they are really derivative currencies of the dollar.”

  38. Persian Gulf says:

    Castellio:

    well, for macroeconomics, I usually read in English. I don’t know any Farsi resources. just remember a while ago Shargh was trying to get into it, very limited though. it’s hard to find somebody to write as comprehensive has Liu.

    as for Arabic, my Arabic is not that bad, but certainly not in the level to read these stuff.it would be very time consuming.

  39. Castellio says:

    Here’s a quote from Liu that might interest Brill and others. I don’t know how directly relevant it is to Iran, but I think it of some relevance.

    “In August 2007, President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez bought $500 million of Argentine bonds that were due to the IMF. This was decided by Chavez two years earlier during the inauguration of Tabare Vazquez as President of Uruguay.

    This trade of bonds would be the Argentine third emission of Bono del Sur by Venezuela under Chavez, as a proposal for an alternative financing mechanism for Latin America. It aims at supporting regional integration via financing cross-border projects. The bonds purchases are funded by borrowing states: Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay.

    The program was dismissed out of hand by neo-liberals as a pipedream that would end in disaster. Yet there have been three successful tranches of debt issued at $3 billion value. The bonds, purchased by local and international investors, have performed rather conventionally.

    The project was consistent with Venezuelan foreign policy aims to reduce Latin American dependence on Washington by assisting friendly governments to promote regional integration, The $5.5 billion aid programme came as subsidized loans and below market gasoline to Central and South American governments. The $3.4 billion purchase of Argentine bonds and the purchase of Ecuadorian bonds were announced the day that Venezuela joined the South American customs union, Mercosur. The financing program was linked to a new institution, the Banco del Sur, that Venezuela was constructing with South American partners.”

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/LG29Dj05.html

  40. Castellio says:

    PG: Yes, I’ve been reading Liu for awhile. Is there good work written in Arabic or Farsi on this?

  41. Persian Gulf says:

    Castellio (August 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm):

    in that respect, I have found Henry C K Liu’s writings insightful.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/LG29Dj03.html

    link to his website is provided at the end of the article.

  42. Castellio says:

    “Today we learned that Stephen Harper wants a backroom deal with Ignatieff’s Liberals to keep Canadian soldiers in the military mission past 2011.”

    http://www.ndp.ca/harper-cant-be-trusted-on-afghanistan

    It seems a very plausible development.

  43. James Canning says:

    Kazem Jalili, speaking for the Iranian parliament’s foreign affairs/national security commitee, said today that Iran has already made clear it is prepared to discuss the nuclear programme with the P5+1, that the US is aware of this fact, and that Iran will not allow itself to be pushed.

  44. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You stated that China and Russia have no “legitimate concerns” regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. Do you mean that Iran should continue to enrich to 20% even if the TRR fuel is available soon?

    Don’t you think it is unwise in the extreme to be dismissive about the concerns of two of the major powers on the planet? Expecially when those two powers have been supportive of Iran’s nuclear programme!

  45. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Given that China and Russia support Iran’s enrichment of LEU, would it not make better sense for Iran to ascertain precisely what those two countries want to happen?
    While the sanctions do have some benefits for Iran, the negative aspects are not inconsiderable.

    Iraq could have obtained an end to the UN sanctions, if it had as its dictator someone with better education, sophistication, and ability to deal with the leaders of other major countries. Sadly for Iraq, Saddam Hussein was grossly ignorant and egomaniacal to an extreme. And vicious.

  46. Castellio says:

    RSH: Hubris gets us all.

    Fiorangela: Thanks for your thoughts.

  47. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    The “surge” in Iraq was in fact the wrong choice G W Bush should have made in 2006. Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton advised Bush to make deals with Iran and Syria, and pull all US forces out of Iraq. This would have saved many hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, four years later, and the US still has not made deals with Iran and Syria!

  48. kooshy says:

    Eric

    It sounds like we have now pass the “show more disclosures“ stage, since more disclosures can’t possibly eliminate the core of the issue, which in fact is a “nuclear weapon capability” which it really means a “brake out capability” which as we all learned it also means a “Japan option”.

    Therefore if by perception you agree with the US that Iran should not be allowed to a Japan Option (which eventually if Iran is accepted to enjoy its full NPT right will naturally inherits this capability) doesn’t that put you in odd with your insertion that Iran should have full nuclear fuel cycle and even defy UNSC directives.

    So to conclude what we understand from your recommendations is, in fact you that you really mean Iran should give up its uranium enrichment program for a fear of an eventual US attack even if the odds for this possible attack are 10%. My question is why you wouldn’t want to say that plainly and openly so everybody easily understands you. This is the same thing I have been hearing and reading for past 6-7 years which the Iranians didn’t buy, would you think by making it more fearsome they will buy and fold, or they may get confused by the twisted fancy verbiage and sign.

  49. Fiorangela: That stuff reminds me of the Situationists back in the ’60′s, and related movements. Very big on how city planning and architecture affect social control.

    I tend to ignore that stuff as not being useful, since nobody on the receiving end can basically change the way states build stuff, short of blowing it up. And while I could understand the Situationist obsession with the “derive” and such, in the end there are more effective ways of dealing with oppression, namely EFFECTIVE terrorism.

    Unfortunately, there are very few EFFECTIVE terrorists. The Palestinians are some of the least effective terrorists in the world. If I were running the show there, Netanyahu and most of the Israeli cabinet would be dead by now.

  50. Fiorangela says:

    re the Kagans, Richard Steven Hack, are you acquainted with the work of British geographer Derek Gregory? He argues that “the surge” (Kagan’s plan) had internal traps that were devious in the extreme and that deliberately set Sunni against Shi’ia.

    “The Biopolitics of Baghdad” looks an awful lot like the replication in architecture and spatial arrangement in Israel that Eyal Weizman describes in “Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation.

    a review of “Hollow Land:”

    “Covering everything from Israeli architectural aesthetics, checkpoints and border terminals, to the Wall, Ariel Sharon’s conception of depth security, Israeli urban warfare doctrine and targeted assassinations, he repeatedly penetrates the surface of his extensive empirical research, locating the social narratives which give birth to these phenomena.

    He is primarily concerned with charting what he calls the “elastic geographies” of the occupied territories (p. 5), a continually modifying frontier in which architecture and space become both a form of power and a conceptual way of understanding the political issues at stake.

    . . . In a series of chapters covering Israeli settlements, checkpoints and the construction of the wall, he exposes not just the extensive control of Palestinian society, but also the way in which Israel’s sense of security has come to depend on a conception of the territories as a malleable and vulnerable space. The spread of these control mechanisms in Israeli society, he claims, constitutes a “cognitive and practical system that sees the physical separation of Jews and Arabs, and the total control of Palestinian movement, as an important component of Jewish collective security” (p. 155). ”

    “partition and enclosure” are key concepts in the Israeli psyche; as such, the concept is important in understanding Haggai Ram’s “Iranophobia: The Logic of An Israeli Obsession.”

  51. Brill: “If Arnold cares to deny any of this, I think it’s best that the denial come from him, not from some self-appointed spokesman.”

    And I’m quite sure he will.

    This is the fallacy of taking someone’s hypothetical example, blowing it up all of proportion to what was intended, then using it against them. You have no argument against the hypothetical, so you divert it and apply it to the base argument where the hypothetical is completely irrelevant.

    “Arnold believes that Iran’s preservation of these rights will reduce the risk that the US will attack Iran.”

    I can’t remember Arnold ever arguing any such cause and effect. What Arnold has said is that a) Iran should be allowed the same status as Japan, and b) he doesn’t think the US will attack Iran. I agree with a), disagree with b).

    “I, in contrast, believe that Arnold’s suggested course of action would expose Iran and its people pointlessly to a much higher risk of US attack than otherwise would exist.”

    Without, however, being ale to specify HOW it COULD be a much higher risk since you can’t point to ANY mechanism that would directly influence the US electorate’s perception of Iran regardless of how Iran acts, NOR how any mechanism would deflect the US intention for war which is the real basis of the entire “crisis”.

    “This means that the US will not be sure how close Iran is to producing a nuclear weapon. The US will worry that Iran, if provoked, might withdraw from the NPT and build a nuclear weapon very quickly.”

    The obvious solution: stop provoking Iran with threats of regime change and attack over its LEGAL enrichment program.

    Once again, you clearly take the side of the US in all this, despite all evidence that the US has nothing but bad faith in this matter.

    I re-iterate that the US KNOWS as FACTS that Iran does NOT have a nuclear weapons program, that Iran CANNOT have a nuclear weapons program under the NPT any more than Japan can (and in fact less so as I’ve pointed out earlier), and even if Iran DID have one, it would not be a significant factor necessitating any military action.

    All of which you once again ignore, because just like the US, you are hostile to Iran and are intent on putting the onus on Iran to justify its behavior when in fact it is the US that should be required to justify its accusations – which neither it nor you can do.

    “If not, and the US thus fails to reach the conclusion that Arnold hopes for, the US might decide that it must attack Iran before Iran has achieved ‘nuclear weapons capability.’”

    And the US would be legally and morally in the wrong for doing so and in fact would NOT be doing so since the US already KNOWS differently – and this is the point Iran should keep stressing in its public statements.

    “But I think the opposite is more likely – not certain, but more likely: the US will attack Iran before or when the US believes the “now or never” point has arrived.”

    On this we agree. However, none of your suggestions for Iran will alter that course. And it is incorrect to suggest that the onus is on Iran to do something which by definition will not alter that course.

    “I think Iran would be better off just limiting its nuclear activities to whatever is necessary to carry out a peaceful nuclear energy program.I think Iran would be better off just limiting its nuclear activities to whatever is necessary to carry out a peaceful nuclear energy program.”

    Which is precisely what they ARE doing and once again neither Arnold nor I have ever suggested they do anything else. That is YOUR completely irresponsible – in fact, dishonest – interpretation of our position.

  52. Fiorangela says:

    Castellio, I agree; the banking cartel is at the heart of the quest for Iran. Fascinating as the discussion over nuclear options, capabilities, rules, protocols, etc. is, it’s irrelevant. Nuclear proliferation is the pretext, the scare tactic, the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor without having to destroy any American assets.

    Topics that require mastery to understand the game that is being played include Islamic/Shariia finance; the difference between Rothchild and Adam Smith; how to move beyond Friedmanomics; Dutch Disease.

    Someone mentioned earlier that Iran’s economy runs on 60% state-controlled resource revenue. Recall that in the early 1900s Iran trusted the US above all other to help Iran create a just system of taxation and of accounting for its oil wealth. W. Morgan Schuster went to Iran to help implement those systems. Russia and Great Britain objected to Schuster gaining access to their piggy bank. Schuster was back in the US before two years had expired.

  53. Kooshy: It’s taken a while for the suckers to stop drinking the Obama Kool-Aid and realize that he isn’t the “Great White Hope” (pun intended) they thought he was. Such people do not get elected as President in this country, not for a century or more. Being an anarchist and not a liberal, it was easy to for me to spot him as just another slick-talking black politician early on in his campaign. I complained all during his campaign on Matt Yglesias’ blog that Obama was utterly wrong in his foreign policies.

    There are still a lot of people, including Yglesias, who are carrying water for Obama and willing to give him more scope to screw things up. It won’t be until he starts the Iran war that they finally realize, like Stephen Walt said and as I said long before Walt, that Obama is just “Bush Lite”, a slicker, more polished version of George Bush, at least as far as foreign policy goes.

  54. Castellio says:

    The international banking system is a cartel, and the most important weapon in the American imperial arsenal. Breaking free from an American dominated international banking system is the struggle of our time. We need an analysis of how the Bolivarian countries are considering moving forward.

  55. Arnold has argued that Iran has the right to build a working but “fuel free” nuclear weapon, or as many of such weapons as Iran sees fit. Arnold has also argued that Iran has the right to stockpile any quantity of nuclear fuel it sees fit – low-enriched, highly-enriched, right up to 99.9% pure if Iran likes. Though Arnold hasn’t actually said the following, I’m confident he’d also assert that Iran has the right to place each of its “fuel-free” bombs on a table right next to a bomb-fuel module specially designed to fit in that bomb, and that Iran wouldn’t violate the NPT as long as it doesn’t actually drop that bomb-fuel module into the pit of the bomb. Nor would Iran violate the NPT if it refused to disclose anything at all about its “fuel free” bombs, and that is precisely what Arnold would suggest Iran disclose: nothing at all.

    If Arnold cares to deny any of this, I think it’s best that the denial come from him, not from some self-appointed spokesman.

    Arnold doesn’t say Iran should go out and do this tomorrow, or even the next day (though he doesn’t say either that Iran should not). What Arnold does say, however, is that (1) Iran should not give up any of these rights; (2) Iran should not hesitate to exercise any or all of these rights whenever it sees fit; (3) if Iran decides to build a “fuel free” nuclear weapon, it need not and should not disclose anything about the device because no “nuclear material” will be involved; and (4) Iran should disclose nothing more about its nuclear program than it’s already promised to disclose.

    Again, if Arnold cares to deny any of this, I think it’s best that the denial come from him, not from some self-appointed spokesman.

    Arnold believes that Iran’s preservation of these rights will reduce the risk that the US will attack Iran. The US will need to worry that Iran might exercise these rights and that, if Iran does, it won’t disclose any more than its Safeguards Agreement requires. This means that the US will not be sure how close Iran is to producing a nuclear weapon. The US will worry that Iran, if provoked, might withdraw from the NPT and build a nuclear weapon very quickly. This frightening prospect will cause the US to respect Iran more, reducing the risk that the US will attack Iran. The less Iran discloses about its nuclear-related activities, the more uncertain the US will be, and thus the more respect the US will find it necessary to show Iran.

    To some extent, Arnold contends, Iran’s limited nuclear-program disclosures have already garnered for Iran some of the respect from the US that Arnold urges Iran to seek. At times, Arnold has even argued that the US may already be fearful enough to refrain from attacking Iran.

    I, in contrast, believe that Arnold’s suggested course of action would expose Iran and its people pointlessly to a much higher risk of US attack than otherwise would exist. I don’t believe the US presently worries that Iran is even remotely close to “nuclear weapons capability.” If and when the US concludes that Iran has progressed significantly farther, or loses confidence that it can determine whether Iran has progressed beyond the “point of no return,” the US might do exactly what Arnold hopes the US will do: show more “respect” for Iran, and decide never to attack Iran because doing so has become too risky. But the US might decide instead that it doesn’t want to show more “respect” for Iran. The US’ current attitude toward Iran suggests to me that this is and will long remain a significant possibility. I am also influenced by the US’ emphatic and repeated statements that it intends never to let Iran achieve “nuclear weapons capability.”

    Possibly the US is just bluffing when it says such things. Perhaps the US’ attitude toward Iran will improve. But the US may not be bluffing. Its attitude toward Iran may not improve. If not, and the US thus fails to reach the conclusion that Arnold hopes for, the US might decide that it must attack Iran before Iran has achieved “nuclear weapons capability.” The US might do this just a day or so before Iran reaches the “point of no return.” It might instead do it weeks, or months, or even years before Iran has achieved “nuclear weapons capability,” for the simple reason that Iran’s limited disclosures have left the US uncertain how far Iran has progressed. The US might attack even if Iran has not taken a single step to develop its “nuclear weapons capability.” That is precisely what happened, after all, in Iraq in 2003.

    The critical “unknown,” of course, is when, if ever, the US will decide to attack Iran because it really doesn’t want Iran to achieve “nuclear weapons capability” and fears that the “now or never” moment has arrived. Arnold appears to be confident that Iran would get past this point without being attacked – i.e. that the US’ decision would be “never” rather than “now.” Arnold’s prediction may be correct. But I think the opposite is more likely – not certain, but more likely: the US will attack Iran before or when the US believes the “now or never” point has arrived.

    Even if I’m incorrect – if, for example, the odds are, say, 90% that the US will “blink” and let Iran slip past the point of no return – I think the residual risk (10% in this example) will be far too high for Iran to accept, given the severe consequences if the US does attack. I think Iran would be better off just limiting its nuclear activities to whatever is necessary to carry out a peaceful nuclear energy program. Khamenei appears to agree with me. A peaceful nuclear energy program is all he’s asking for. I’ve seen no evidence that he believes Iran’s chances of accomplishing that worthy goal will be enhanced if Iran insists on its right to create the illusion or reality of “nuclear weapons capability.” I am confident he recognizes, as I believe, that the risks of Arnold’s quest for “respect” far outweigh its potential benefits.

  56. Fiorangela says:

    Eric wrote:

    “As I think more about it, though, it seems to me that this approach would inevitably be uncertain of success and, more important, might be unnecessary. Given the high and unmet Iranian demand for these banking and insurance services (aka “profit opportunity”), financial and insurance institutions would appear to have a sufficient incentive to try to evade the sanctions without active encouragement from Iran and, if they make the effort, probably will prefer to avoid any detectable link to Iran.”

    The fines that were imposed on nine or ten major international banks by Robert Morgenthau’s shop were imposed precisely because those organizations engaged in “stripping” — dealing with Iran but “stripping” identification of Iran as party to the transactions, by various means. In several instances, the practices had been going on for nearly a decade. Morgenthau’s shop exposed the ways in which major international banks had created work-arounds, shut them down, and imposed fines as a deterrent.

  57. kooshy says:

    RSH

    “Off topic: Want some humor today?
    “Watch Senator Barack Obama trash President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy!”

    Richard

    If HP, a supposedly liberal and now also a major internal news source, is trashing him on his major selling point to get elected, specially just a few months before midterms. What should we think is going on, inside the established deciding establishments, sound that they are even more disappointed with him then us to trash him with his base support?

    Considering HP’s open season on him and Fiorangela’s criteria for lawyers, it sounds to me this Harvard trained lawyer is no longer considered qualified for selling mouth wash,
    With this new Arab poll, it is a disappointment to what Zbig thought and told on morning Joe back then in 08.

  58. Torpedo launcher boats join IRGC fleet
    www dot presstv dot ir/detail.aspx?id=138150&sectionid=351020101

    Bloody fast boat – 70 knots, 82mph!

    More interesting article on this here from earlier – the boat is a copy of a British speedboat. The article covers possible Iranian tactics and possible US counter-tactics.

    Future Iranian (Bladerunner 51/Bradstone Challenger Copy) Speedboat Swarms vs. U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers: Van Riper Redux?
    www dot defensereview dot com/iranian-bradstone-challenger-speedboat-swarms-vs-u-s-navy-aircraft-carriers-van-riper-redux/

    Good point in the article: The missile boats can carry MANPADS, so the usual suggestion that they are vulnerable to US aircraft/Navy choppers might not be entirely correct.

  59. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Russia, China, US, EU have no legitimate concerns about Iranian nuclear program.

    Analogous infractions obtained for Egypt and South Korea which they chose to ignore.

    If US wants to go to war against Iran, Russia, China, EU cannot prevent it.

    And afterwards, do you seriously think that EU, Russia, and China would sanction US?

    In the international relations, power and legitimacy go hand-in-hand.

  60. Off topic: Want some humor today?

    Watch Senator Barack Obama trash President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy!

    www dot huffingtonpost dot com/2010/08/10/obama-vs-obama-on-afghani_n_676836.html?igoogle=1

  61. Fyi: “If the war against Iran comes, it will come regardless of what Iran does. Just like Iraq. Any way, Iranian leaders have made their decision.”

    I agree with that completely.

    Mr. Canning: While I think Iran should try to make a deal on the TRR fuel, and indeed they really would prefer to since it would be quicker, if more expensive, to buy the fuel or swap LEU for it and they are under time pressure for those isotopes, it’s really a side issue.

    A plausible case could be made that they should ignore the whole issue and concentrate on my points I mentioned below. They should be calmly and plainly stating the obvious, i.e., those points, and put the onus back on the US to prove its case. Meanwhile, they should continue to cooperate with the IAEA as per their base Safeguards Agreement, but do nothing more until the US shows some good faith (which will never come).

    Or they could offer to ratify the AP as a means of buying time to prepare further for the coming war – PROVIDING they can ensure that the further intrusive inspections do NOT provide the US with a richer targeting list. That might be difficult to ensure.

    But they should make that offer only with a specific condition that the US recognize their right to enrichment. That would be a very specific gain that, while it wouldn’t stop the US from planning a war, it would make it more difficult for the US to establish exactly WHAT it’s complaining about in terms of the Iranian program in the UNSC. Again, that wouldn’t really change the basic dynamic, nor would it help Iran with the ignorant US public as Brill suggests, but it would help Iran LEGALLY at the UNSC. And it would give cover for the Russians and Chinese to veto further sanctions at the UNSC which might buy Iran a little time.

    Which of course is why the US will never recognize that right – it destroys the US’ whole case. So offering to ratify the AP really in the end won’t help at all. Without that legal case established, ratifying the AP as Brill suggests would gain Iran nothing and cost Iran significant risks in terms of information revealed to the US that could be used against Iran.

    So we’re back to the bottom line. Iran should concentrate on the core issues: Iran has the right to enrich, the US is DEMONSTRABLY lying about Iran’s intentions and the existence of any nuclear weapons program, and that’s all that needs to be said by them.

  62. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I think you are dead wrong to believe Russia and China want to keep Iran repressed. Russia wanted to keep the nuclear issue in the UN Security Council, and Russia and China both were concerned, and are concerned, about Iranian enrichment to 20%.

    A cavalier dismissal of the legitimate concerns of Russia and China is an extremely foolish approach to those countries that you recommend Iran adopt. Nothing could better serve the interests of the idiot, vicious warmongers in the US!

  63. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    Is it not important to bear in mind that the Clinton administration cut back fairly sharply on “defence” spending, and in so doing but the federal budget back into balance, and more. Then “9/11″ offered the war and “defence” profiteers their chance to reverse the course things were going, and to wallow in trillions of dollars of “defence” spending/squandering! What fun! Houses of 10,000 or 15,000 square feet, for the lawyers, lobbyists, and other fixers! Multiple houses! Numerous luxury cars! Screw the grossly ignorant American taxpayers!

  64. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    If Russia and China were supportive of Iranain LEU production in Iran, they would not have voted for a UNSC sanction that aims to take that right away from Iran.

    Iranian leaders take cognizance of those 2 states but those 2 states also need an independent Iran (but not too independent).

    Each of the protogonists is in a zero-sum game. That is why it can no longer be ended.

  65. Mr. Canning: “I would be cautious before accepting the spin either Kagan puts on things.”

    That’s not the point. The point is that Kagan read the President correctly. This was a typical Obama BS session where he makes a lot of vague statements that anybody can take as supporting their position. This was Tony Karon’s point in his piece. But it also means that Obama has not changed his position one iota, which is why Kagan is happy and David Ignatius is wrong when he thinks Obama is changing his position in favor of negotiation.

    This is just another step in the course for war. As others have mentioned here, you can find tons of similar statements from Bush during the run up to the Iraq war. As long as the bottom line of my points mentioned below are not changed, the course for war is not changed.

    Bottom line: If Kagan is happy, it’s not good. The only way Obama could impress me would be to make a change in his view of the situation. That did not happen at this meeting – and it simply is not going to happen.

  66. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    If the war against Iran comes, it will come regardless of what Iran does.

    Just like Iraq.

    Any way, Iranian leaders have made their decision.

  67. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    China and Russia both support Iranian enrichment of LEU. Surely it does not take a genius to see that Iran should do what it can to meet expectations of Russia and China, as part of its pursuit of acceptance of its enrichment of LEU.

    I think your readiness to encourage Iran to ignore China and Russia is very bad thinking and bad strategy for Iran.

  68. Brill: “Beyond that, though, I’d foreswear gratuitous “Japan option” provocations (for example, building “fuel free” nuclear weapons) that others consider such important rights that Iran should risk war to preserve them. Fortunately, Iran’s leadership doesn’t appear to consider these rights to be all that important either.”

    And neither Arnold or I ever said we did. Nor did we advocate Iran doing so or that we thought Iran intended to do so. This is your complete and totally dishonest misrepresentation of our position. No one suggested Iran should build “fuel free nuclear weapons” at any time. Arnold merely said, perfectly correctly, that such a device is perfectly harmless.

    Everyone, this is the danger of getting off point on the Iranian issue. You end up discussing a lot of side issues and hypotheticals that in the end are not relevant to the main points I mentioned below and which merely provide ammunition for those whose hidden agenda is to put the onus on Iran for resolving what is totally a made-up issue.

  69. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Kagan brothers are neocon warmongers, helping to dupe the American people and thereby to “protect” Israel, no matter how many trillions of dollars it costs the US taxpayers. I would be cautious before accepting the spin either Kagan puts on things.

  70. Fyi: “I think US, EU, Russia, and China will not admit defeat verbally or at UNSC. In practice, they will do so by undermining sanctions when they have no choice but to work with Iran.”

    That’s not my point. I don’t say the US will actually ever admit defeat. My point is the exact opposite – they will not ACCEPT defeat because they CAN’T.

    Look, unless you and others are arguing that the US government AND Israel are BOTH just babbling nonsense to gain some other goal somewhere than Iranian regime change, none of this makes any sense. You don’t ratchet up a major crisis, threaten war, spend hundreds of millions imposing sanctions, move military assets around the world – and then sit back and say, “Gee, guess that didn’t work…We’ll just accept enrichment and hope the world forgets we did all this for ten years trying to start a war.”

    It’s just not realistic to have that level of Pollyanna thinking. What happened in Afghanistan? What happened in Iraq? Did Bush just say, “Gee, maybe Saddam really doesn’t have any WMDs” and then back off despite the fact that it the whole exercise was predicted to fail by people who thought about it? And the fact that attacking Iran is going to be a whole different ballgame than attacking Iraq doesn’t change the equation. You don’t do all this stuff JUST to sound belligerent for your constituents for local domestic politics. You do it because it’s your JOB – your job for the people who paid millions into your campaign funds and who expect billions in profits in return or your ass is back out at some college instead of being President of the United States with all the perks and egoboo that provides.

    This is not a game. The US government is serious about being in a permanent war economy. It’s what has run this country for the last fifty years. It’s not going to change because Iran is going to be a difficult target.

  71. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    I agree with Kagan, he has the correct understanding.

    But it all goes back the facts that US is unwilling or unable to even acknowledge to herself not even at the level of planners let alone principles.

  72. Philip Weiss on Obama’s briefing of news people:

    Neocons are happy with Obama’s Iran briefing
    mondoweiss dot net/2010/08/neocons-are-happy-with-obamas-iran-briefing.html

    Tony Karon on the meeting:

    Obama manages to be all things for everyone on Iran
    www dot thenational dot ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100809/OPINION/708089960/1080

    Quote:

    A “meeting like this”, in other words, may not have been directed at the Iranians at all. US administrations have learnt that the best way to enlist key members in the media to sell their policies is to seduce them with privileged access, distinguishing them from the quotidian scrum at the daily White House press briefing.

    By that measure, it seems to have worked a treat: the long-time neoconservative thinker Robert Kagan criticised dovish commentators he said were clutching at straws over Mr Obama’s comments about further talks. Administration officials at the meeting “made perfectly clear – in a half-dozen artful formulations – that, no, there was no new diplomatic initiative in the offing,” Kagan said. He emphasised, as did White House officials speaking to reporters on Friday, that the president had low expectations of any progress in new talks with Iran. And, he added, “I left feeling sympathy for this and every administration. The ‘news’ out of this briefing was that the administration wanted everyone to know how tough it was being on Iran.” Kagan was clearly impressed.

    End Quote

    Quote:

    While Ignatius might like to imagine that he was among the first to see a signal to Iran of a renewed willingness to negotiate, the meeting may have had a more prosaic political function. Mr Obama’s Democratic Party is facing a difficult congressional election in November. While foreign policy is unlikely to be a major focus for voters, Republicans have been pummelling the administration for being soft on Iran. And key Democrats have warned that the perception that Mr Obama is insufficiently responsive to Israel’s concerns is hurting their ability to raise funds.

    Grandstanding House Republicans last week introduced a bill that would endorse Israel’s right to bomb Iran if it does not halt its nuclear programme – the sort of resolution that nobody on Capitol Hill wants to be seen resisting. In that climate, convincing respected Iran hawks that his administration is holding Iran’s feet to the fire may make sound political sense.

    There’s a problem, however. The US military, and reportedly even Mr Obama himself, are well aware that bombing Iran in order to stop it from gaining nuclear weapons is a potentially catastrophic and not even particularly effective option. But domestic politics may require tough talk to threaten the Iranians, although it’s not clear exactly what is being demanded of Iran by way of a final outcome. And if Tehran remains defiant, the president could find that his own rhetoric has narrowed his options.

    End Quote

  73. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    AD is viewed by Iranians as a bargaining chip.

    They will only use it when their dossiere is back in IAEA.

    Which is never.

  74. FYI,

    “The way forward for Iran is quite clear – continuing with nuclear development – with or without war – ignoring UNSC resolutions.”

    A few observations:

    1. Continue with nuclear development.

    I agree – including enrichment on Iranian soil. I’d stick to what’s necessary for peaceful nuclear energy, though I wouldn’t shy away from any peaceful-energy activity merely because it raises suspicions – for example, enriching fuel for future use in power plants that could be refined further into bomb fuel. Beyond that, though, I’d foreswear gratuitous “Japan option” provocations (for example, building “fuel free” nuclear weapons) that others consider such important rights that Iran should risk war to preserve them. Fortunately, Iran’s leadership doesn’t appear to consider these rights to be all that important either.

    2. Ignore UNSC resolutions.

    Presumably you mean the UNSC’s “stop enriching” directives. Is there any choice? Pretty tough to “continue with nuclear development” without ignoring UNSC resolutions – unless Iran is prepared to stop enriching uranium on its own soil (a mistake, in my view).

    3. “With or without war.”

    Obviously it will be one or the other. I’d accept the risk of war rather than yield on #1. But “upgrading” Iran’s nuclear-program disclosures to match what most other countries disclose, as I’ve suggested, would not require yielding on #1 at all. It would require yielding only on Iran’s “Japan option” right to conduct nuclear activities beyond what’s necessary for its peaceful-energy program (e.g. stockpiling fuel sufficient for “thousands of bombs;” building “fuel-free” ready-to-fire nuclear weapons) in an effort to achieve “respect” that some naively believe will reduce the risk of war but which will instead increase that risk significantly and pointlessly.

  75. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    The TRR re-fueling is immaterial to the outstanding issue between Iran and UNSC.

    What Mr. Mottaki is stating is that they will suspend 20% enrichment when they have a deal.

    I am not saying anything in contradiction to that.

    But UNSC has been trying to keep Iran down by removing a sovereign right from Iran.

    They should have had the decency to declare war and spend bllod and tresure to do so rather than trying to scare Iranians into surrender.

    And if, for a variety of reasons, they could not find war convenient, they should never have raised the stakes for keeping Iran down so high.

    But now we are were we are.

    Iranian leaders, perhaps wrongly under-estimating the destructive power of the United States, have not surrendered.

    UNSC can either backdown or escalate to nowhere.

    After the war, there will be a financially-ruined US, a wounded Iran, a wrecked Iraq, a damaged world economy, a discredited UNSC, and a destroyed NPT, CTBT, and pssoible CWT.

    This where UNSC has brought us; the so-called guardians of peace and stability in the world.

  76. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The issue is what is in the best interests of Iran, and the Iranian foreign minister is quite able to see beyond petty issues of hurt pride. If Russia and China both support Iranian enrichment of LEU, does it not make sense for Iran to proceed as it has announced, to seek completion of the exchange? Ignoring the UN Security Council would be an act of eggregious arrogance and stupidity, along the lines of the catstrophic pathetically bad judgement exercised by Saddam Hussein.

  77. James Canning says:

    Eric Cantor, one of the worst of the neocon idiot warmongers in the US Congress, has helped to block $100 million in US military aid to Lebanon, as punishment for the recent incident. The US has provided $720 million in military aid to Lebanon, since 2006, in the foolish expectation this could serve to weaken Hezbollah and “protect” Israel. Lebanon itself, of course, needs protection from Israel! This thought would never enter Cantor’s head, apparently.

  78. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    I agree with you that a deal for TRR is desirable for all.

    I disagree with you that Iran should pay any attention to UNSC.

    As I stated before, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that UNSC will never close this sorry chapter.

    And Iran will not surrender to the diktat of the Permanent 5. Too many snactions, too many slaps in the face, too many counter kicks, and too many threats have been put on the table.

    This is finished as Mr. Ahmadinejad had stated in 2007.

  79. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I was making two points:

    1) Iran needs to make a deal, so it can show the world it is prepared to make a deal and stick with it.

    2) Iran needs to suspend enrichment to 20% and have grounds for doing so.

  80. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    We should remember that Charles XII of Sweden largely helped cause the destruction of the Swedish Empire by taking a large army too far into the Russian heartland (and in fact, into Ukraine), when he needed to stay near the Baltic to ensure good communications and re-supply of his army. Many people are not aware that Sweden controlled most of the Baltic shorelands in 1700.

    Iran should proceed asap with a deal for the LEU exchange, to re-fuel TRR, and suspend enrichment to 20% as a tacit part of the arrangements.

  81. fyi says:

    James Canning August 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    What is your point?

  82. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Will you please outline the deal that could possibly be reached?

  83. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Saddam Hussein’s gigantic ego, ignorance, and stupidity prevented Iraq from obtaining an end to the UN sanctions. Your encouragement of Iran to ignore the UN Security Council is to encourage the Iranians to play into the hands of the warmongers. I agree with Mr Hack that Iran needs to make a deal, fairly soon.

    Has Hillary Clinton in fact stated what Iran “needs to do”? I rather doubt it, because she wants to conceal or paper over the defferences that exist between Russia and China, and the US, regarding what the problem is and how best to resolve the problem.

  84. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Re: Aug. 10th, 9:13am- – Russia and China make clear they accept Iranian enrichment of LEU. Iran took a gamble when it started enriching to 20%. (2nd cascade just opened.) Iran suggests strongly it will suspend enrichin to 20% of the nuclear exchange is completed, so the TRR has what it needs.

    The neocons and other elements of the Israel lobby, may well be hoping Iran continues to enrich to 20% AND that they can stall any nuclear exchange. Their goal is to set up yet another insane war in the Middle East, intending to “protect” Israel – - meaning to facilitate continuing oppression of the Palestinians by Israel.

  85. FYI,

    Thanks. Interesting observation about the possible “benefits” of sanctions – nice to think that something good, however small, could come from them. Peter the Great’s observation does appear to have come true in Lebanon, as you point out.

  86. fyi says:

    Eric A Brill:

    I simply do not know the answer to your questions regarding availability of other financial institutions for providing maritime insurance to Iran. I imagine there are many in Cyprus, Malaysia, Singapore, Uruguay, Malta, Greece and other places that might supply this.

    For Iranian leaders, however, the essential problem is an state-dominated economy that is run on basis of political patronage. There are some valid reasons for this (keeping a minimum floor under the 60% of the Iranian population that depend on government handouts for their day-to-day existence) but there is also a lot of scope for inefficiency, graft, and nepotism.

    I think the Iranian leaders will be well-advised to accelerate the privatization of their economy to combat snactions. The banking and insurance sector in Iran is weak and the sanctions could be an impetus to change that.

    At the end of the day, in my opinion, the sanctions will once again slap and beat Iranians and their leaders into a more disciplined and more organized state. Another painful learning process for Iran.

    Peter the Great used to fight with Sweden quite frequently, getting defeated often. During one such defeat he is purported to have said: “Be not concerned! Eventually the Swedes are going to teach us how to fight.”

    Same dynamics obtained in Israel-Lebeanon Wars; eventually the Arabs learnt how to fight. I wonder if any strategist in Israel ever considered those words of Peter the Great. Likewise for US, EU, Russia, and China.

  87. FYI and Fiorangela,

    I’ll mention again my considerable ignorance about the details of sanctions enforcement.

    It was helpful to read FYI’s reminder that the most “biting” sanctions involve banking services (especially trade-finance) and maritime insurance (I’ll stop worrying about pistachios and Persian rugs), and his suggestion that Iran might be able to circumvent those sanctions by chartering and capitalizing institutions in friendly countries, such as Venezuela, presumably under ownership arrangements that obscure the connection with Iran.

    My initial reaction was that this effort would fail – the Iranian connection would be quickly detected by the Stuart Levys of the world. I then thought that perhaps I’d been too hasty in reaching this conclusion, and thus should consider whether there were in fact effective ways of hiding the Iranian sponsorship.

    As I think more about it, though, it seems to me that this approach would inevitably be uncertain of success and, more important, might be unnecessary. Given the high and unmet Iranian demand for these banking and insurance services (aka “profit opportunity”), financial and insurance institutions would appear to have a sufficient incentive to try to evade the sanctions without active encouragement from Iran and, if they make the effort, probably will prefer to avoid any detectable link to Iran. I also wonder whether significant injections of capital would be necessary if the sanctions-evading efforts were made by already established non-Iranian institutions, rather than the newly-chartered institutions contemplated by FYI.

    FYI, doesn’t it seem less risky for these sanctions-evading efforts to be made, as I’ve suggested, by companies with no links to Iran and sufficient capital already available? I recognize one obvious response: there simply are no such non-Iranian institutions willing to try to evade the sanctions. Is that the reason you feel it’s necessary for Iran to charter new companies in foreign jurisdictions?

  88. Interesting article in today’s New York Times on the recent increase in Iranian students studying at US universities, and the difficulties they face in getting to the US, getting out and back while they’re studying (e.g. for visits home, summers abroad, attendance at foreign conferences), and returning home to Iran when they’re finished:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/education/10students.html?scp=1&sq=iran%20student%20california&st=cse

  89. See Omid Memarian’s Daily Beast article on a 20-year old letter allegedly written by Mir-Houssein Mousavi:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-07/iran-sponsors-terrorism-according-to-a-letter-allegedly-written-by-mousavi/

    Assuming here that the letter does suggest that Iran was sponsoring international terrorism back then – a conclusion that Memarian reaches based on quoted passages that strike me as ambiguous – the question that came first to my mind as I waded into this article was this:

    Which aspect of this letter-resurfacing will Mr. Memarian emphasize most: (1) the letter’s suggestion (so he argues) that Iran was sponsoring international terrorism; or (2) the fact that the letter was written by the leader of the Greens, whose only complaint about these alleged terrorist operations was that he wasn’t being kept in the loop?

    Any guesses?

  90. Off-topic – see article in today’s NY Times on Netanyahu’s testimony to Israeli commission investigating flotilla incident:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/world/middleeast/10flotilla.html?ref=world

    I still have a question which may have been answered somewhere in all the post-event coverage, but I’ve missed it.

    My (vague) recollection is that the Mavi Marmara was about 75 miles off shore when the Israeli navy seized it. Setting aside the question of whether the Israeli blockade of Gaza is legal (i.e. assume here that it is), and assuming Israel had ample reason to believe that the Mavi Marmara intended to challenge the blockade, is it legal for a country that has established a blockade to venture far out into international waters to stop ships? Is it not required to wait until the ship has entered the blockading country’s waters?

  91. Fiorangela says:

    Eric – you wrote: “I don’t claim to know how the US and EU enforce their financial sanctions against Iran, but “chartering joint bank and insurance companies domiciled in friendly foreign states such as Venezuela” doesn’t seem like something they’d have much difficulty detecting. Can you elaborate a bit on what you have in mind?”

    I don’t claim to know much about that either; I have gleaned from quick internet research that several NGOs as well US Dept of Treasury as well as (former) New York DA Robert Morgenthau are running what I consider a shake-down racket, that has produced what NY Mayor Bloomberg termed a “windfall” to the NY state and NYC coffers.

    In one instance, an NGO — a special interest group, not a government agency, targeted an international corporation based in UK, focused on that corporation’s dealing with Iran, insisted that the transactions were illegal and managed to extract a fine in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, from the corporation.

    Morgenthau’s office has run the same shake-down on nine or ten international banks/financials, for a total take of about a billion dollars:
    Lloyd’s $350 m fine
    Credit Suisse $536 m settlement
    Barclay’s
    ABN AMRO paid settlements

    Then there’s Stuart Levey’s office at Treasury: he twists the arms of international corporations doing business with Iran to “shame” them into terminating those relationships.

    Qui bono?

    All of this is pivoted on the false premise that Iran is acting outside the law in its nuclear program.

    I have become a citizen of a nation that funds its budget by stealing from and shaking down other countries and corporations, on the basis of a lie. Families that run their finances that way are called crime families and their children (rightly) live lives of shame.

  92. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    US is broke and she will remain so over the next decade (at the very least).

    Again, I think the entire approach of US, EU, China, and Russia to Iran was wrong since it took a managable problem within NPT and IAEA and turned it into an intractable problem with only win-loose possibility.

    That strategy made sense only if there was metaphysical certainity that Iran will surrender (on this issue). When she did not, the anatgonists only escalated (to nowhere).

    Iranian leaders, I suspect, understand this situation so they will carry on their nuclear activities while trying to minimize their costs.

    I do not believe that Israel or US will attack within the next 2 years. They got these sanctions, I am sure, by promising all kinds of things to other states. One of which probably was absence of an attack.

    I think US, EU, Russia, and China will not admit defeat verbally or at UNSC. In practice, they will do so by undermining sanctions when they have no choice but to work with Iran.

  93. Interesting article on how the US is pressuring China over North Korea economic sanctions in order to coerce China into cooperating on Iran sanctions.

    Timing key as US stir-fries sanctions
    www dot atimes dot com/atimes/China/LH11Ad02.html

  94. For those interested in Iran-Saudi relations, this article recaps the history.

    Iran-Saudi rivalry deepens
    www dot atimes dot com/atimes/Middle_East/LH11Ak01.html

  95. Fyi: I would agree with you except that you point out the big problem – the US, Israel and the EU will have to admit defeat ten or fifteen years down the road when there is no Iranian bomb in evidence.

    THAT’S the problem – the US and Israel will never admit defeat.

    That means they will go to war to avoid that admission.

    But it’s NOT EVEN an admission of defeat which is at stake here – it’s the MONEY the war profiteers will make from a war with Iran.

    And they will NEVER give that up, even if the US were willing to admit defeat.

    And even if they were, ISRAEL will never stop trying to destroy Iran.

    All of which means Iran does NOT HAVE ten or fifteen years.

  96. fyi says:

    kooshy:

    UNSC will never acknowledge Iran’s rights.

    That would be an admission of defeat by Permanent Five and those who voted with them.

    Moreover, why would UK, France, China, and Russia give up the leverage that they have on US and also on Iran?

    There will never be a reversal of that resolution; look at Iraq which is technically still under UN sanctions dating to 1991.

    The way forward for Iran is quite clear – continuing with nuclear development – with or without war – ignoring UNSC resolutions.

    As time goes on, the sanctions will erode.

    Give it ten years, at the most 15.

  97. kooshy says:

    RSH

    “Personally I would hope Iran would decide to just give up and ratify the Additional Protocol and allow massive intrusive inspections. The primary benefit would be to force you to come up with some other hasbara garbage to justify your presence here.”

    Impasse or no impasse This is Not going to happen, unless US of A and the USNC fully recognize Iran’s NPT right including the natural inheritance of the now famous “Japan Option” or as US calls it Brake Out capability which is part of fuel cycle knowhow and industrialization and return of Iranian nuclear file to its legal place at IAEA.

    Eric’s is correct, only when he acknowledges that Iran does not have any intentions or planning for building nuclear military capability since specially it further complicates its security in a region, Which Iran for many years, has worked hard to build trust and security among continuously threaten population by the intruding none regional powers.

  98. Let’s once again keep our eyes on what’s important about the Iran situation:

    1) Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. This is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition, certified by the IAEA and the US intelligence community.

    2) The US and Israel and the EU are LYING about Iran having a nuclear weapons program. This is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition.

    3) The ONLY issue the US and Israel and the EU bring up or CAN bring up is whether Iran has some hypothetical “Japan option” in mind – which, since Japan already HAS that option and which BY DEFINITION is INHERENT in mastering the nuclear fuel cycle – is BY DEFINITION discriminatory against Iran.

    4) The onus is NOT on Iran to prove it does not have a nuclear weapons program OR to even prove it does not want a “Japan option”. Iran has done nothing WRONG under the NPT. This, too, is a FACT, not a hypothetical proposition.

    5) The onus is on the US, Israel and the EU to stop LYING about Iran and stop violating both the letter and the spirit of the NPT by doing so.

    6) There is NO DISTINCTION between the way George Bush LIED about Iraq and started the Iraq war and the way Barack Obama is LYING about Iran and is therefore intending to start an Iran war.

    7) This is HOW the uninformed public has been totally deceived into believing that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that Iran must “do something” to satisfy this erroneous belief system under pain of military attack.

    Failure to keep these points in mind allows for hasbara propagandists to muddy the waters and provide justification for economic sanctions on Iran which in turn will lead to military action against Iran which WILL seriously damage the US economy and result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iran and possibly elsewhere in the region and even in the United States once the inevitable blowback occurs.

    Do not allow subtle propaganda to confuse your understanding of the above points.

  99. Brill: A typically massive misrepresentation of Arnold’s position. If this doesn’t establish your intellectual dishonesty, I don’t know what will.

    Arnold has suggested that a country with the knowledge to make nuclear weapons and the uranium lying around at 3.6% enrichment capable of being enriched to 95% and the centrifuges to do it is an acceptable option for the world. He argues that such a country is not a nuclear weapons or proliferation threat.

    You turn that into an argument that Arnold is advocating “hundreds of nations with the uranium to make thousands of bombs and the knowledge to do it” and even “to assemble an unlimited number of “fuel free” but otherwise ready-to-fire nuclear bombs.” Arnold has merely said that a nuclear weapon with no material is not a threat – and that is correct. More importantly, Arnold has never advocated Japan actually building “an unlimited number of “fuel free” but otherwise ready-to-fire nuclear bombs.”

    This is clearly a totally dishonest misrepresentation of Arnold’s position. Arnold is not interested in establishing that every nation should have a Japan option, but that if Japan is allowed that option, then Iran should be allowed it as well. And since in fact that Japan option is merely the result of the technology of the full fuel cycle, BY DEFINITION if countries are not allowed it, it essentially repudiates the entire NPT and denies nuclear energy programs to anyone but the current NWS.

    Then, when it is suggested that it would be better if Israel, Pakistan and India did not have actual nuclear weapons, you dismiss that with the request that we ask them to disarm – which in fact is precisely what the US and the UN should be doing.

    Clearly you have a beef with Israel being asked to disarm, since I don’t think you really care about either Pakistan or India.

    Quote:

    “Iran’s nuclear case should, and can only be reviewed… under Iran’s current NPT obligations and rights.”

    Iran is clearly within its rights to insist on this. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council, US and EU have all disagreed with Iran and imposed sanctions. We’re at an impasse.

    End Quote

    So what? Your suggestion that Iran “disclose more” – which is far more useless than the request that Israel disarm which you dismissed derisively – isn’t going to resolve that impasse because the impasse is the INTENTION of the US and Israel.

    Quote:

    “If Americans do want to see more disclosure about Iranian peaceful nuclear program and intentions …, they in fact need to first recognize Iran’s full NPT rights including full nuclear fuel cycle….”

    Iran is clearly within its rights to insist on this. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council, US and EU have also disagreed with Iran and imposed sanctions. We’re at an impasse.

    End Quote

    Ditto. Once again you put the onus on Iran to do something MORE which we’ve already established will not change the impasse.

    “I assume you mean “NPT coupled with Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.” If so, Iran agrees with you. Most of the world disagrees. That’s precisely why the IAEA drafted the Additional Protocols and 100 countries agreed to them.”

    Once AGAIN – as did Iran for TWO YEARS. Another fact you refuse to acknowledge as relevant to your “disclose more” nonsense.

    Quote:

    Since you’ve added the word “informed,” I agree your statement probably is true, though not by as wide a margin as I suspect you believe. My hope is that it will become even more true if Iran takes confidence-building steps to persuade the still-large doubting portion of the “informed world,” and that the “informed world” will then use its disproportionate influence to persuade the far larger “uninformed world” that Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful, just as you and I believe.

    End Quote

    And once AGAIN, the “uninformed world” is irrelevant to the situation. The issue is that some of the INFORMED world – namely the US and Israel – are LYING about the issue. 16 US intelligence agencies whose report is KNOWN to Barack Obama stated that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program – and they did not even establish that there was one, I add AGAIN – in 2003. Yet Barack Obama repeatedly states that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. This is a LIE. No amount of Iranian disclosure will affect the fact that the US and Israel are LYING. The US and Israel and the EU have deliberately convinced the “uninformed” of a LIE. No amount of disclosure – which would not even be REPORTED by the controlled media in the US – would be able to change the “uninformed” opinion – and the uninformed opinion does not control the actions of the US and Israel governments anyway.

    Quote:

    I’m not quite sure what you mean, since I’ve never suggested the Additional Protocols should be applied “in a discriminatory fashion” to Iran. The Additional Protocols don’t govern Iran’s “Japan option” rights that you consider it so vital to preserve: Iran’s rights to stockpile enough fuel to make “thousands of bombs” and to assemble an unlimited number of “fuel free” but otherwise ready-to-fire nuclear bombs.”

    End Quote

    This is totally dishonest. You know full well that you yourself have argued that Iran needs to “disclose more” – in fact, more than the Additional Protocol requires because Iran has ALREADY DONE THAT FOR TWO YEARS. You keep saying Iran should “disclose more” than Japan but Iran has ALREADY DONE THAT FOR TWO YEARS. You say you mean Iran should disclose “as much as” Japan, but since Iran already did that with no benefit, clearly you mean Iran should disclose MORE than Japan. And since you do not believe Iran should be allowed to have the Japan option, that is discriminatory. Worse, it is an attempt to deny Iran ANY capability to enrich uranium as is allowed by Japan because the Japan option is inherent to uranium enrichment technology.

    The statement that the AP does not govern the Japan option is meaningless. By definition, the Japan option is allowed to ANY state that masters the fuel cycle. Therefore if you believe the Japan option is not to be allowed to any state which has mastered the fuel cycle, you are in essence repudiating the NPT entirely. All you would allow a state to do is buy light water reactors from the current NWS. This is clearly unacceptable to any sovereign state with the resources to enable its own nuclear program – especially states which are under threat from the NWS such as Japan is from China and Iran is from Israel. Therefore, to allow Japan the Japan option and deny it to Iran is discriminatory.

    Arnold is arguing that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. He doesn’t care whether Japan has the capacity to make “thousands of bombs” because he knows Japan would not do so unless directly threatened – and “thousands of bombs” is irrelevant hyperbole in any case. The same applies to Iran – except that as I point out, Iran doesn’t have the industrial resources to make “thousands of bombs” or even a strategically significant number of them within a reasonable time frame to be militarily useful, while Japan can. So the Japan option is almost useless to Iran – and I believe the Iranians know it.

    Which makes the US and Israel LYING about the Iranian program that much worse – and that makes your argument that Iran would gain ANYTHING from disclosing more than it has already disclosed worthless.

    Personally I would hope Iran would decide to just give up and ratify the Additional Protocol and allow massive intrusive inspections. The primary benefit would be to force you to come up with some other hasbara garbage to justify your presence here.

  100. fyi says:

    Eric A. Brill:

    The aim of the sanctions is to throw sand in the machinary of Iranian external trade.

    There are 2 major components of this: denial of letter of credit causing an Iranian private or public entity to have to dispatch people with suitcases of money to pay for good and services and the other is the absence of maritime insurance.

    So what one can do is to create private insurance agencies and banks that are chartered in other friendly countries. These financial institutions will then issue then help Iran cirumvent these obstacles.

    At the present time, Iran lacks the insurers that are capitalized for maritime insurance. These have to be either created from scratch or obtained from abroad and injected with necessary capital. Likewise for the Merchant banks.

    It is likely that Iran will do both _ issuing more private banking and insurance company charters, as well as establishing/buying such financial companies abroad. The ones abroad could be Joint Ventures.

    US & EU cannot do anything to these insititutions as long as they have no presence in US and EU. And their business cannot be tracked since the other side of the transaction has no incentive to report it to US or EU.

    This will take a few years and once in place, there will be no going back to status quo ante even if sanctions are rescinded.

    US & EU have pushed and directed Iran business away from them and once gone it won’t come back at least for these types of services.

    The jury is still out if Iran could raise capital in Asian capital markets.

  101. Arnold Evans says:

    OK Eric. You both speak for Iran’s leaders and believe that Iran with the same capabilities as Japan would worry you in a way that Japan does not.

    You’ve put your worries into Saudi Arabia’s voice. Into China’s voice. Now even Iran’s Supreme Leader agrees with you. To read what you write, according to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Iran is far less trustworthy than Japan. Everyone shares your, the US’ and Israel’s bias against Iran. Now including Iran’s leadership.

    I was annoyed earlier. I’m much less annoyed now.

  102. FYI,

    “I think US and EU financial sanctions are the most biting set of these sanctions – oil and gas will always find buyers. Iranians could compensate by liberalizing their financial sector (de-nationalization) and by chartering joint bank and insurance companies domiciled in friendly foreign states such as Venezuela.”

    I don’t claim to know how the US and EU enforce their financial sanctions against Iran, but “chartering joint bank and insurance companies domiciled in friendly foreign states such as Venezuela” doesn’t seem like something they’d have much difficulty detecting. Can you elaborate a bit on what you have in mind?

  103. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    Israelis do not even understand Arabs, let alone Iranians.

    And for the life of me, I do not understand why they have so much trouble pronouncing the letter “h” after a vowel in Arabic. After a while listening to their experts’ mispronounciation, it bcomes quite grating.

  104. Fiorangela says:

    Richard, nothing I say here is personal or intended to be so. I try to stay in the realm of ideas; sometimes I fail.

    speaking of ideas and failing: I wrote a comment about my readings in Haggai Ram’s “Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession,” but it seems to have disappeared.
    Perhaps Bp. Sheen’s chalkboard angel has graduated to the ethernet.

    The following passage from “Iranophobia” is of keen interest. Ram makes the argument that to the extent Israel deigns to study Iran, it does so from a position subservient to military, government, and political mandates. Ram’s own research on Iran has been constrained because Ram strays from the prescribed template and draws his own conclusions.
    Ram writes in the postscript:

    “Israeli historians of Euro-America are generally unfamiliar with, and often look down upon, Middle East (including Iranian) languages, histories, cultures, and societies. Nor have they been too shy of demonstrating this utter lack of knowledge either. For example, a prominent Israeli historian of Medieval European Christianity recently asked me at a social event if it were true that Aryanism was first introduced in Iran after the 1979 revolution! . . .

    . . .”Israeli production of knowledge about Iran is thus in a position of subalternity not only in relation to the knowledge produced on the capitalist West but also in relation to the knowledge produced on the Middle East. This introduces yet another asymmetry: the centrality of Iran in the Israeli public sphere stands in stark contrast to the general ignorance of those who claim to be able to speak and write about it.

    “This relative ignorance about Iran is linked . . .to the Israeli polity’s practices of closures and partitions* . . .Israel has commonly comprehended Iran on the basis of these closures and partitions. Iran served as a repellent and frightening external other whose primary role it was to protect the Jewish state from “Oriental” “outsiders within: who threatened the Western cosmopolitan character of Israeli society. The canonization of Iran as a backward, Islamic, and threatening Oriental dictatorship is related to a moral panic about the waning social cohesion of the Jewish state in light of the emergence of “marginal” and “deviant” groups since the latter half of the 1970s. In addition, by constructing Iran as a radical external other, Israeli “moral entrepreneurs” periodically renewed militaristic narratives of states of emergency, hence reinvigorating an image of the Jewish state as a beacon of Western rationality and civility in an increasingly volatile, hostile, irrational, and fanatical region.” (pp. 125 – 127)

    *closures and partitions: in reference to the “Euro-Israeli self-image, which sees itself as an extension of Europe, . . .[E]fforts to mark clear borders of identity between Jews as Westerners, on the one hand, and Arabs as Easterners, on the other hand, have permeated Israeli institutions . . .” p. 4
    Amy-Jill Levine explains the Jewish practice of separating milk from meat, for example, as one of the many cultural reminders to Jews of “closures and partitions,” of Jews as set apart from all others.

    Be aware that, in Der Judenstaat, Theodore Herzl’s definition of the zionist state, Herzl insists that “We are a people — one people,” and “The Maccabeans will rise again.” The appearance of an other set of Jews — Oriental Jews — challenges the notion of Jewry’s essential unity, set apart from all other peoples.

    Natan Sharansky locates the defining myth of Jewry in the Exodus (Moses is central); Iranian Jews remind Ashkenazi Jews of their Oriental, Abrahamic origins. Abraham removed himself from his origins in Ur, in Mesopotamia; he shook from his feet the dust of orientalism, but Mizrahi Jews remind Ashkenazi of their Abrahamic origins in Ur. Today’s Israel is experiencing an Abrahamic-Mosaic identity crisis.

  105. KOOSHY,

    You wrote:

    “Iran’s nuclear case should, and can only be reviewed… under Iran’s current NPT obligations and rights.”

    Iran is clearly within its rights to insist on this. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council, US and EU have all disagreed with Iran and imposed sanctions. We’re at an impasse.

    “If Americans do want to see more disclosure about Iranian peaceful nuclear program and intentions …, they in fact need to first recognize Iran’s full NPT rights including full nuclear fuel cycle….”

    Iran is clearly within its rights to insist on this. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council, US and EU have also disagreed with Iran and imposed sanctions. We’re at an impasse.

    ARNOLD,

    You wrote:

    “If Israel had no weapons and was willing to accept ‘Japan option’ status, that would … be a tremendous improvement over the current situation …”

    It sure would be, wouldn’t it? Maybe we should send a letter to Israel demanding that it scrap its nuclear weapons and accept “Japan option” status.

    You wrote:

    “If every nation was to accept [Japan's] status, then in practical terms, there would be nearly no nuclear threat. It would be an incalculable advance of the human condition.”

    If hundreds of nations had enough nuclear material to make “thousands of bombs” and the technical know-how to do so on short notice, this would be an “incalculable advance of the human condition?” I’m confident that very few people agree with this. I doubt you believe it either.

    You wrote:

    “The NPT as negotiated is a good agreement.”

    I assume you mean “NPT coupled with Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.” If so, Iran agrees with you. Most of the world disagrees. That’s precisely why the IAEA drafted the Additional Protocols and 100 countries agreed to them.

    You wrote:

    “Iran reaching Japan’s status would not pose the threat to Israel that Pakistan and India pose to each other or that Israel poses to the rest of its region.”

    Who can dispute that actual nuclear weapons are more threatening than a mere “Japan option?” Maybe we should send letters to India, Pakistan and Israel demanding that they scrap their nuclear weapons and accept “Japan option” status.

    You wrote:

    “Most of the informed world, as you’ve conceded, does not believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons.”

    Since you’ve added the word “informed,” I agree your statement probably is true, though not by as wide a margin as I suspect you believe. My hope is that it will become even more true if Iran takes confidence-building steps to persuade the still-large doubting portion of the “informed world,” and that the “informed world” will then use its disproportionate influence to persuade the far larger “uninformed world” that Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful, just as you and I believe.

    You wrote:

    “Iran should not commit to a disclosure regime that would be used in a discriminatory fashion to prevent Iran from attaining a Japan option, which is what you’re advocating.”

    I’m not quite sure what you mean, since I’ve never suggested the Additional Protocols should be applied “in a discriminatory fashion” to Iran. The Additional Protocols don’t govern Iran’s “Japan option” rights that you consider it so vital to preserve: Iran’s rights to stockpile enough fuel to make “thousands of bombs” and to assemble an unlimited number of “fuel free” but otherwise ready-to-fire nuclear bombs.

    Regardless of whether Iran has the right to do all that, I don’t think its in the interests of Iran or the rest of the world that Iran do so. I am confident Iran’s leadership agrees with me. I acknowledge that some Iranian officials reportedly believe Iran should preserve a “nuclear option,” though I’ve seen no reason to believe that even they accept your extreme view of what Iran ought to preserve. More important, regardless of how those officials may feel, I believe Khamenei is telling the truth when he insists that Iran has no desire for nuclear weapons, ever. My impression is that seeks only recognition of Iran’s right to carry out a peaceful nuclear energy program. I have almost no doubt that he’d put that in writing if asked, and that he wouldn’t insist on a “carve-out” of Iran’s rights to stockpile enough fuel to make “thousands of bombs” and to assemble an unlimited number of “fuel free” but otherwise ready-to-fire nuclear bombs. If you were to advise Khamenei that Iran should preserve such rights, my strong hunch is that his response would be something like this:

    “Why would I want to do that? When I say Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful, I mean exactly what I say. Why would I insist on Iran’s right to do things that can have no purpose except to make others doubt my word. Shame on you for suggesting this.”

  106. By the way, folks, you won’t read it in any US media – only the BBC is covering it so far in a very limited way – but Hassan Nasrallah revealed today as promised captured video footage hacked from Israeli drones that were conducting surveillance the area of Lebanon where Rafic Hariri was assassinated prior to the assassination. Besides this technological feat of Hizballah, he revealed a number of Lebanese Israel spies who admitted that they were trying to set up Hariri for assassination or convince Hariri that Hizballah was trying to assassinate him.

    While not proof of Israel’s complicity in the assassination (for one thing, the drone footage appears to not be dated), clearly there is reason for the Hariri Tribunal to look at these accusations. Nasrallah says if they do not, clearly the Tribunal has been politicized.

    I see CNN’s Web site now has a post up about it.

    Read Hizballah’s statement from Al Manar here:

    www dot almanar dot com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=149742&language=en

  107. Kooshy: I agree with you about the so-called “defense cuts”. They’re a scam, like everything else Congress does.

    Not to mention that the minute the Republicans get back into office, they would be repealed. In fact, the minute the Democrats make sure they still have control of Congress, they would be repealed – or the defense budget would be expanded elsewhere.

    People need to remember this at all times – the military-industrial complex CONTROLS CONGRESS TOTALLY. Obama came in promising a more rational defense department and under Obama military spending has INCREASED across the board.

    Nothing short of a total “voter revolution” that kicks out virtually every member of Congress and replaces them with people who are not Democrats OR Republicans and who are against the “permanent war economy” can possibly solve the problem.

  108. Rehmat says:

    It’s Israel and not the Islamic Republic is isolated. 118-member-strong Non-Aligned countries supports Tehran’s civilian nuclear program, so does NATO member Turkey and several South American countries. Dr. ahmadinejad is the second most popular leader amongst the Arabs – first being Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah.

    The most scary part for the Zionist entity is that more and more Jews in Diaspora are turning against it. It’s this isolation that VIPS believes may push Israel to a suicidal attack on the Islamic Republic – being assured by Joe Lieberman, McCain, Hillary Clinton and other ‘Israel-Firsters’ that Obama will have no choice but to joint the war on Israel side.

    VIPS: Israel may attack Iran in August
    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/vips-israel-may-attack-iran-in-august/

  109. Fiorangela: “US has been behaving like Richard Gere, hiding behind the mask of George Mitchell.”

    You’ve just described Brill, too.

  110. Arnold: “I’ve offered before, we can agree to disagree. Don’t lie about my position because not only will nobody believe you, but even if your anyone believed your lie, it wouldn’t make your position defensible.”

    Ah, but Arnold, Eric is not that sort of person who can “agree to disagree”. Eric is a propagandist, a hasbara. I’d hesitate to call him a “troll”, but OTOH it’s hard to distinguish a hasbarist from a troll – it’s a matter of style more than anything. Trolls tend to be crude. We have to admit Eric is not crude.

    He can’t engage us directly, so now he makes vague references to “commenters on this site” and engages only with those who haven’t tagged him for what he is – a hasbara.

    We might as well do the same – just keep reminding everyone how we refuted his positions repeatedly over the last couple weeks and pointing out the intellectual dishonesty of his current propaganda campaign against Iran.

  111. Michael Kerwick says:

    Fiorangela

    What I meant by the word empire was more eloquently put into words by Glenn Greenwald in an article in Salon “What collapsing empire looks like”

    I was shocked to visit some East Coast USA cities and communities where manufacturing has ceased and the town center shop were boarded up. One should not forget that cities like Venice were mini kingdoms.

  112. Oh, here we go,

    Brill now decides he can’t engage the people on this site directly, so now he couches everything in vague terms and references to unknown posters here. The alert reader will wonder why he is engaged in this sort of sophistry.

    “It merely enables the questioner to show what a “Japan option” demand really is – a tactical tool, nothing more or less – not a courageous and principled defense of “equality” as its proponents claim it to be. Each Iran supporter then can decide for himself whether the undeniable usefulness of this tactical tool for Iran is sufficient to offset the risk of nuclear proliferation that inevitably must exist in order for the tactic to be effective.”

    Naturally, Brill refuses to discuss MY argument, which is at odds with Arnold’s, that Iran really doesn’t even want a “Japan option” in the tactical sense Brill mentions, or that even if Iran did, it COULD NOT have such an option because Iran is not Japan and its geopolitical and technological and economic resource circumstances are different. Nor does Brill acknowledge that the Japan option is INHERENT in mastering the fuel cycle. Brill continues to gloss over the fact that he has not and cannot establish what Iran should do to “disclose more” – he just keeps repeating that in every more vague ways as his “mantra”. Plus he conveniently forgets to mention AGAIN that Iran HAS disclosed all its activities back during the TWO YEARS it followed the Additional Protocol, and this had absolutely NO effect on the situation.

    Plus Brill continues to rely on the fact that people might forget that Arnold and I have already dragged out of him the fact he has a hostility toward Iran which does not exist toward Japan or any other nuclear state. A hostility which he suspiciously does not seem to maintain toward Israel.

    This is not the behavior of someone who is trying to be intellectually honest.

    So if we’re discussing what an intelligent but observant reader might wish to examine, I suggest starting with those by going back over the posts of the last couple weeks where Brill got his butt handed to him by Arnold and me.

  113. Fyi: “The phraseology is quite common. I have heard it in connection with Syria uttered by Ms. Rice.”

    It gets worse. I saw a transcript of a conversation between some State Dept spaz – I forget who it was, maybe Rice or Albright – and the President of Lebanon where she actually said, “Do you know who’re talking to?”

    No American knows how to be “diplomatic”. US diplomacy gaffs are legendary. There’s a reason Americans are referred to as “ugly Americans”.

  114. Mr. Canning: “While some US military planners may toy with the idea of employing tactical nukes in an attack on Iran, the idea is insane and the UK would oppose it strongly (as it opposes any idiotic Israeli or US attack on Iran). Use of nukes is a nonstarter in any serious planning for an attack.”

    Well, I tend to agree but the fact is that US strategic and tactical doctrine allow for it. Worse, as the article points out, it’s now been downgraded to theater commanders to make that decision – although I suspect they would clear it with the White House anyway to cover their butts.

    “Any attack on Bushehr would be insane, not least because thousands of Russians are working there.”

    I agree – but the Israelis are insane. Doesn’t give me any comfort.

  115. fyi says:

    Fiorangela:

    Yes, that is why WWI and WWI were such a God-send for us, poor benighted colonial people – it liberated us from the yoke of colonialists the world over.

    Any way, Rome is not a good analogy for US. Spain under Olivares is.

    And US Defense budget is closer to 1.3 trillion dollars once you include all that has been hidden elsewhere.

  116. paul says:

    Obama is making many empty gestures as the elections approach, absolutely, ravingly desperate to motivate progressives. He even sent a pro-labor message to the government in Guatemala!!!! Election cycle after election cycle, Democrats govern like right wing Republicans, and then assume that they can rope their base back in as election approaches with a few empty gestures. One of these election cycles, the progressives will not provide the usual pavolivian response that the Dem leadership relies on.

    So be sure, the military budget will continue to grow massively. It is, from the point of view of the High Command, the main part of the US budget that matters. And it must have excuses. Iran is expected to provide one heckuva excuse.

  117. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    In regards to economic foundations of post 1815 world; they were gone, in my opinion, by 1905. Momentum kept things going until 1914.

  118. kooshy says:

    “Today we hear of 300 Billion been cut over time from the Pentagon budget. What happened to the Romans is happening to the U.S. but over a shorter period of time.”

    Sure just when we are getting close to the midterm elections, our dears are thinking of cutting the budget for military, to encourage the now discouraged and disappointed democratic anti war base back in the voting boots. How convenient, we just found out that we can’t no longer afford wars and run away military expenses, well at least just till after the November elections.

  119. Fiorangela says:

    Michael Kerwick wrote: “Over time they have shown the arrival of the Roman Empire, the spread and reach of the empire and their departure and decline, due to military over stretch.

    Today we hear of 300 Billion been cut over time from the Pentagon budget. What happened to the Romans is happening to the U.S. but over a shorter period of time.”

    And yet — if the Roman empire had persisted far into time, perhaps the great Italian city-states, laboratories for republican rule, art-as-architecture and as town planning, hotbed of the Enlightenment, would never have come into being: no innovation and expansion of banking practices, no creation of the corporate form and shared risk shared reward investment. The Italian city states and Renaissance Enlightenment were mother’s milk to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison: out of the ashes of the fall of Rome arose the US Constitutional republic.

    Contemplating the ‘fall’ or at least fragmentation of the American empire, one can speculate whether California and Texas will form their own states and if Mexico will become part of one or both of them; what states join to form a seceded South? Will Ohio join the eastern states as they form a competing state, contending with the Great Plains states that will also be the Big Shale states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, the Dakotas)? Will the federation completely fail or will some vestiges survive? How will the US look 50 years from now? It might be better.
    To quote Herzl: “If you will it, it is no legend.”

  120. Michael Kerwick says:

    To Iranian@Iran

    One of my favorite T.V. shows is the English Television Channel Four, Time Team. They excavate historical archeology and experts make judgments of the findings. Over time they have shown the arrival of the Roman Empire, the spread and reach of the empire and their departure and decline, due to military over stretch.

    Today we hear of 300 Billion been cut over time from the Pentagon budget. What happened to the Romans is happening to the U.S. but over a shorter period of time.
    The Central Bank is printing Billions of Dollars and deflation is on the way.

    I think that over time sanctions on Iran will not be such a bad thing. It forces them to innovate and with peak oil on the way, does not allow them to squander their resources.

    We see the desperation of the Oil Giant’s when they have to drill so deep in the Gulf. The U.K. has spent Billions on 2 war’s and only last week of their ministers was proposing cutting back the 1/3 litre of milk given to kids up to 5 years old to save a small amount of money, until he was slapped down.

  121. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The economic foundations of the long period without a general European war, after 1815, were still intact in 1914. A significant change was the rise of Germany and the relative decline in the power of Britain, but this need not have led to a general European war. The subject is fascinating and offers good warnings for our own times.

  122. Fiorangela says:

    correction: Primal FEAR.

    not nearly as entertaining as Pink Panther.

  123. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    With 60% of Iraq being Shia, the control of the central government by the Shia was a certainty, once the idiots in the Bush administration destroyed the Sunni power structure. Nothing will change this fact, and Jacques Chirac told Tony Blair this would be the result of the US/UK invasion if it went ahead.

    The Shia, however, have to share the oil wealth with the Sunnis, to some degree but likely considerablly less than what would obtain on a per capita basis.

    The Christian Zionists who support Israel, right or wrong, and even encourage the wrong side of the equation, are generally ill-educated “low church” Evangelical Protestants.

    To admire Israel surely should not be to encourage gross stupidity in the actions the government of Israel has taken and is taking, in its treatment of the Palestinians.

  124. Fiorangela says:

    Eric, re: “More important, the distinction you cite is largely invalid: good lawyers in either category tend to have similar skills – notably here, an ability to bargain effectively to reach settlements beneficial to both sides, often using approaches that may seem flawed to others. ”

    I was thinking of the distinction between an advocate and a counsellor/negotiator.

    Richard Gere’s role in Primal Scream is an extreme example of an advocate:
    “If your mother says she loves you, get a second opinion; if you want justice, go to a whorehouse. And truth? Truth is the perception I create in the minds of the jury.”
    Such an advocate does not use logic to seek truth or to solve problems, he manipulates logic and rhetoric to achieve a predetermined goal in a zero sum game.

    A counsellor massages his client and other parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome, considering the facts, law, and logic of the situation. That’s the George Mitchell role.

    US has been behaving like Richard Gere, hiding behind the mask of George Mitchell.

  125. kooshy says:

    Arnold
    “Most of the informed world, as you’ve conceded, does not believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The US believes and is concerned, as you are that Iran is developing the capability to produce weapons. Which the US concedes, as you do, that Japan already has.”

    Iran’s nuclear case should, and can only be reviewed, with available facts (already more than any other NPT member) of Iran’s nuclear case presented under Iran’s current NPT obligations and rights. Iran’s national rights, sovereignty, and independence cannot be used as a token of assurance for American paranoia, while in fact elected representatives of Americans continuously and without contest militarily, economically and politically threaten Iran at will.

    If Americans do want to see more disclosure about Iranian peaceful nuclear program and intentions to satisfy their own self made paranoia, they in fact need to first recognize Iran’s full NPT rights including full nuclear fuel cycle without using the usual verbiage concealments. This can easily and broadly be explained whenever one encounters a paranoid American questioning Iranian’s nuclear intentions, hope fully this informed group of Americans will also take the task to explain with their votes to the not so paranoid, American representatives that currently are incentivizing others to attack Iran, including the current speaker of the house who is representing a libral northern California district.

  126. Arnold Evans says:

    You are a total moron Eric.

    Sometimes this valid distinction can be illuminated by asking a “Japan option” proponent whether he would insist on the same rights for Iran’s enemies. If Israel did not already possess nuclear weapons, for example, would he insist that Israel be allowed to achieve what Japan has: enough otherwise-purposeless nuclear fuel to produce “thousands of bombs” – along with the right (not claimed by Japan) to withhold important information about its nuclear program? If the “Japan option” proponent’s answer for Israel is different from his answer for Iran, or if he declines to answer because the question is “hypothetical” or he claims not to understand it, an intelligent observer might conclude that the proponent’s concern for “equality” is not really the basis for his “Japan option” demand.

    Japan’s nuclear position is not like that of Israel of the United States. I think this is at least the third time I’m explaining this. Japan could not make a weapon without visible preparations – either leaving the NPT or breaking in a very conspicious manner, its fissile materials safeguards agreement.

    North Korea and China have no fear at all, none, that Japan will launch a surprise nuclear attack that will destroy one of their cities.

    If Israel had no weapons and was willing to accept that status, that would 1) be a tremendous improvement over the current situation that doesn’t seem to concern you much 2) it would be what Israel would have agreed to by ratifying the NPT.

    If every nation was to accept that status, then in practical terms, there would be nearly no nuclear threat. It would be an incalculable advance of the human condition.

    The NPT as negotiated is a good agreement. Iran reaching Japan’s status would not pose the threat to Israel that Pakistan and India pose to each other or that Israel poses to the rest of its region.

    You’ve read this before. You understand it. You want, for reasons you cannot defend, Iran to have less capability that Japan and less than was negotiated. You’re becoming ridiculous.

    Just stop.

  127. Arnold Evans says:

    Eric, you’re arguing an indefensible position. You’d really be better off stopping. You’re not as stupid as you’re seeming right now.

    Logic is merely a process, a method – not a substantive value. It doesn’t work until you plug in some premises. It works even better when you plug in both premises and conclusions, and then examine how well they’re connected. If a commenter on this website concludes, for example, that Iran’s right to the “Japan option” must be staunchly defended, and insists that his conclusion reflects nothing but a principled demand for “equality,” logic can be useful to point out that the commenter seems less concerned about equality when he insists that Iran should disclose much less about its nuclear program than Japan does – so much less, in fact, that most of the world believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons while virtually no one believes that about Japan.

    That’s what’s known as a flat out lie. More than one. Why? Who do you think you’re fooling? This is becoming really stupid.

    Most of the informed world, as you’ve conceded, does not believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The US believes and is concerned, as you are, that Iran is developing the capability to produce weapons. Which the US concedes, as you do, that Japan already has.

    Iran should not commit to a disclosure regime that would be used in a discriminatory fashion to prevent Iran from attaining a Japan option, which is what you’re advocating.

    Given a US commitment not to apply it in a discriminatory fashion, Iran has already put forward several proposals to implement every disclosure agreement Japan implements and more.

    You’re just lying Eric. Transparently. Not one person who’s seen this comment section thought, even for a second, that what you presented was a fair presentation of anyone’s position. Why Eric? You’re really not going to get tired of this.

    You agree with the United States that Iran should have less capabilities, regardless of what it discloses, than Japan. It is not a position that can be defended. Just stop trying to defend it. I’ve offered before, we can agree to disagree. Don’t lie about my position because not only will nobody believe you, but even if your anyone believed your lie, it wouldn’t make your position defensible.

  128. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    Many non-Muslims like Israel.

    Hindus are just in awe of Israel’s prowess.

    In US, clearly a large number of assorted Protestants support Israel and are also consciouly enemies of Islam.

    Catholics aren’t.

    USG, through her elected officials, is reflecting the choices of a majority of American people. And American people, like all people who live in a representative system, have a right to be wrong.

    They elected, however, Mr. Bush twice.

    I think only the poor eceonomy in 2008 dissuaded them for voting for Mr. “Bomb Iran” McCain since they feared for their livelihoods.

  129. Castellio says:

    An excerpt from the Pink Panther…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AaXcCW9TaE&feature=related

    Our good inspector comes upon a blind beggar with his monkey, and while trying to fine the blind beggar for not having the appropriate papers, actually facilitates the bank robbery going on behind him. In fact, when the bank manager runs out to catch the thieves, our good inspector knocks him cold.

    Nah, couldn’t happen in the real world.

  130. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    What is reasonable to Iranians is not acceptable to Saudi Arabia and other Sunnis partly because of that to US.

    Iranians want, as far as I can tell, an implicit understanding that Iraq will be a Shia dominated state, allied to Iran.

    None else, not even Turks, are willing to yet concede that.

    Arabs states, and US, would like a strong Sunni Iraq to “balance” Iran – as far as I have been able to tell.

    The approach is wrong – this silly balance of power concept – in my opinion. I will explain:

    It is based on a complete misunderstanding of the historical record of what happened (or did not happen, depending on your point of view) in Europe between the Congress of Vienna and the Great War. Almost everyone interprets that period as a success of balance of power politics. What they miss is the peace interest that existed among the parties during that period of time. It was only when the economic foundations of that peace interest crumbled that war became a distinct policy choice.

    So, based on my opinions above, I agree with you that the enormous economic benefits that would accrue to all states in the region, could be used as the basic foundation of an (economic) peace interest. I just do not think that anyone among US leaders will accept that argument. After all, they all have been fed the balance of power concept and wedded to it.

    Note that for US, my paradigm can make a lot of sense since it reduces their “Defense” costs over there. But as I stated a few threads back, the US planners first have to accept the facts-on-the-ground that I mentioned in connection with Iran. They must also accept other facts with regards to Turkey (she does not need NATO as much anymore) and Palestine (the 2-state solution is finished/dead/kaput), in Lebanon (It will be another Shia-dominated state), and that Egypt, as Middle Eastern power, is also finished.

    All of these are very hard for D.C. to accept. Just like General Motors leaders who ground the largest corporation on Earth to the ground.

  131. You wrote to Richard Steven Hack:

    “My speculation is Brill didn’t do a lot of courtroom lawyering (standup law, I call it); my guess is more negotiating/mediating…”

    You’re largely correct, though not entirely. More important, the distinction you cite is largely invalid: good lawyers in either category tend to have similar skills – notably here, an ability to bargain effectively to reach settlements beneficial to both sides, often using approaches that may seem flawed to others. When I recommend, for example, that Iran expand its nuclear-program disclosures without insisting on an immediate quid pro quo, you should not conclude that I missed “bargaining chip” training somewhere along the way.

    You wrote to Richard Steven Hack:

    “I was thinking about your conflict with Mr. Brill … I understand Brill as a person trained in the intellectual discipline of the law and logic … and [, for] one trained in that classical manner, to reject the conclusion that logic dictates is the definition of irrationality and insanity. You would not want to hire Brill to sell mouthwash; selling does not rely on logic, it relies on psychological manipulation. Propaganda is the practice of psychological manipulation. The hasbara handbook instructs the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) to use emotional appeals and to deliberately use fallacious arguments in order to collect adherents to their point of view; that is, to form an unthinking mob, the antithesis of the logic and rationality on which Mr. Brill relies.”

    Oddly enough, though you kindly distinguish my methods from those of your hated “hasbara,” Mr. Hack often accuses me of being just that (so do you on occasion, though less crudely). And though the distinctions you draw suggest that Mr. Hack would be better than I at selling mouthwash, he claims the logic crown as well. He writes of himself: “*I’M* incapable of thinking other than according to strict logical processes” (more than I would claim for myself). Each reader can decide for himself whether Mr. Hack or I would be a better mouthwash salesman. I’m flattered merely to learn that he respects the method you cite as my strength when you discuss the “conflict” between us.

    Logic is merely a process, a method – not a substantive value. It doesn’t work until you plug in some premises. It works even better when you plug in both premises and conclusions, and then examine how well they’re connected. If a commenter on this website concludes, for example, that Iran’s right to the “Japan option” must be staunchly defended, and insists that his conclusion reflects nothing but a principled demand for “equality,” logic can be useful to point out that the commenter seems less concerned about equality when he insists that Iran should disclose much less about its nuclear program than Japan does – so much less, in fact, that most of the world believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons while virtually no one believes that about Japan.

    Highlighting the commenter’s selective concern for “equality” might cause an intelligent but puzzled observer to question, as he should, whether the commenter’s motives are as principled as he claims. The observer might suspect, as he should, that the commenter insists on the “Japan option” for Iran for a different and less noble reason: because it is a useful tactical tool for keeping aggressive world powers at bay. Plain and simple, a country that has nuclear weapons, or at least is capable of producing them on short notice, commands respect.

    This coveted respect can be achieved more quickly if the country can keep the world guessing about what it’s up to. Even the mere illusion of nuclear-weapons capability might do the trick, at a small fraction of the cost of reality. Such an illusion is useful, however, only if other countries fear that it might be real. To create and maintain that fear, an illusion-creator must hide enough about its nuclear operations that outsiders cannot distinguish illusion from reality. Unfortunately, this useful ambiguity cannot be achieved, or at least maintained for very long, unless a real possibility exists that the country could manufacture nuclear weapons behind the informational screen it maintains.

    The necessity for this actual dangerous possibility is why Iran’s “hide the ball” efforts upset not only enemies of Iran, but also many strong supporters of Iran who insist that it fight back exclusively with tactics that do not thwart what many consider to be an even more important objective: nuclear non-proliferation. Logic can be useful here to show readers that the distinction posed by some commenters is a false one: those who support Iran (and therefore insist on its “Japan option”) versus those who “hate” Iran (and therefore oppose its “Japan option”). The valid distinction, logic-fed observers will see, is Iran supporters who believe Iran should use any tactic that works versus Iran supporters who believe Iran can and should attain its proper place in the world without using tactics that make the world a much more dangerous place.

    Sometimes this valid distinction can be illuminated by asking a “Japan option” proponent whether he would insist on the same rights for Iran’s enemies. If Israel did not already possess nuclear weapons, for example, would he insist that Israel be allowed to achieve what Japan has: enough otherwise-purposeless nuclear fuel to produce “thousands of bombs” – along with the right (not claimed by Japan) to withhold important information about its nuclear program? If the “Japan option” proponent’s answer for Israel is different from his answer for Iran, or if he declines to answer because the question is “hypothetical” or he claims not to understand it, an intelligent observer might conclude that the proponent’s concern for “equality” is not really the basis for his “Japan option” demand.

    Thus, asking such a question about Israel does not make one a “hasbara.” It merely enables the questioner to show what a “Japan option” demand really is – a tactical tool, nothing more or less – not a courageous and principled defense of “equality” as its proponents claim it to be. Each Iran supporter then can decide for himself whether the undeniable usefulness of this tactical tool for Iran is sufficient to offset the risk of nuclear proliferation that inevitably must exist in order for the tactic to be effective. Some will say “yes;” others will say “no.” But at least they will understand in advance that the choice affects much more than Iran’s effort to achieve the respect that all supporters agree it deserves.

  132. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I think the phrasing is very poor, but yes it is used by US officials – - but not when the other party is Israel! Syria, ok, Iran, ok. Not with Israel. And why is that?

  133. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The enormous economic benefits flowing from close cooperation by Syria, Iran and Turkey, and Iraq, argue that good relations will continue. An idiot general taking power in Turkey is probably a rather remote possibility. Iran’s own best interests are served by supporting the territorial integrity of all Middle East countries.

    And Iran seeks better relations with Saudi Arabia – - something in the best interests of both countries. This means trying to ensure a reasonable settlement of the Iraqi central government’s powers etc (so Sunnis are not cheated outrageously).

  134. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    The phraseology is quite common.

    I have heard it in connection with Syria uttered by Ms. Rice.

  135. James Canning says:

    Humanist,

    Is Hillary Clinton correct in saying the Iranians “do know what they have to do”? This is insulting lawyer-speak, which is all too typical of Clinton (and helps explain why she is so incompetent in trying to deal with Iran – - if in fact she is trying, or instead is only pretending).

  136. kooshy says:

    Fiorangela

    In Norooz (spring) of 1970 I visited professor Frye in Shiraz when he was living in the Naranjestan (orangery) Ghavam House and garden, at the time he was Director of the Asia Institute in Shiraz.

    Ghavam house and gardens is one of historic sites of Shiraz, god bless him, Dr. Frye most have a good experience living in some of the most historic houses of Iran,it must feel somewhat like living in the Belvedere palace in Vienna.

    Qavam House (also widely called “Narenjestan e Ghavam”) is a traditional and historical house in Shiraz, Iran.It was built in the mid to late 1800s by Mirza Ibrahim Khan. The Qavam family were merchants originally from Qazvin. But they soon became active in the government during the Zand dynasty, followed by the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasty as well.The Qavam “Naranjestan” preserves the elegance and refinement enjoyed by the upper class families during the nineteenth century. The paintings on the low ceilings of the house are inspired by Victorian era Europe.

    During the second Pahlavi era, the House became the headquarters of Pahlavi University’s “Asia Institute”, directed by Arthur Pope and Richard Nelson Frye. Frye and his family also lived in the house for a while as well.
    The house today is a museum open to the public.

    Here is a link to Ghavam house in Shiraz

    http://www.stockholm360.net/list.php?id=shiraz

  137. fyi says:

    Humanist:

    I agree with you.

    I think this issue of possible negogiations is over for the next 2 years.

    May be in the next US and Iranian Administrations.

  138. Humanist says:

    James Canning.

    You wrote “Hillary Clinton claims again today that the US wants a negotiated settlement to the nuclear dispute.”

    What exactly she said was “…we remain open to engagement but they do know what they have to do”.

    In my amateurish view that was a loaded statement….arrogantly expressed…….an indication of a bad faith before the negotiations starts …did she mean ”they” have to accept whatever US wants?

    No one can detect any sign of “mutual respect” in that kind of condescending pre-requisition

  139. fyi says:

    James Canning:

    In regards to a kurdish state, many public commentators assume, as you do, that Iran would oppose its formation or emergence.

    That is true as far as the current situation goes but things could change.

    There could be another military coup in Turkey with a foolish general – a Turkish analogue of Lon Nol or Zia Al Haque – taking an agressively anti-Iran line.

    Iraq might be spiraling out of Iranian orbit into an anti-Iran posture.

    Syria becoming an overtly and virulently anti-Iran state.

    It all depends.

    The Iranian planner will not countenance the emergence of the Kurdish Republic lightly but it could happen.

    My point was that Iran can facilitate it and further that its creation is not necessarily a threat to Iran.

    In regards to the Israel-Arab War (now a Pan-Mulsim war against Israel and soon to become a Pan-Islamic war against Judaism and Protestant Christianity) I just do not see how US can, by herself, resolve it. It has been 19 years since Oslo – one cannot, like Ambassador Indyk, blame the failure on the nefarious Iranians.

  140. James Canning says:

    Richard Steven Hack,

    While some US military planners may toy with the idea of employing tactical nukes in an attack on Iran, the idea is insane and the UK would oppose it strongly (as it opposes any idiotic Israeli or US attack on Iran). Use of nukes is a nonstarter in any serious planning for an attack.

    Any attack on Bushehr would be insane, not least because thousands of Russians are working there.

  141. James Canning says:

    Iranian@Iran,

    The US would benefit enormously from a substantial reduction in its military forces deployed in the greater Middle East. There is no “empire” that can “crumble” — the notion belongs to idiot neocons who used the concept to help deceive the ignorant American public into believing the squandering of trillions of dollars on foolish military adventures in the Middle East, was actually in the best interests of the US “empire”.

  142. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You don’t think the US has the power to force through a resolution of the Israel/Palestine problem? The power certainly obtains, but America’s ability to use the power intelligently has been compromised thoroughly by the Israel lobby.

  143. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran’s policy of supporting the territorial integrity of all the countries in the Middle East is one that fosters stability. An independent Kurdistan is not acceptable to Turkey, for good reasons.

  144. Fiorangela says:

    thanks for the photos, kooshy.

    That’s the location from which Dr. Frye ran a foundation for study of Iranian culture. We toured the building; it has many beautiful rooms, including one room completely covered in mirror tiles, as beautiful as many of the shrines. The fretwork on windows is fascinating, the courtyard is charming and peaceful.

    (we did not, of course, see any private living areas.)

    I will pass these links along to the other members of our tour group, including Richard’s brother.

    I have a large number of photos of Persians in native dress from various eras in Persian history. The photos are from a museum that I think is just next door to “Middle East House,”* Dr. Frye’s building. I was so busy snapping photos that I did not listen to the guide’s explanation of what I was seeing. I’m tied up this weekend or I’d take a quick trip to Isfehan to visit the museum again ;) or I could ask someone on RaceforIran is they could identify some of the figures, if I post the photos to a blog site.

    *the name is something like that; I’ll have to check my notes

  145. kooshy says:

    More pictures on professor Frye house in Isfahan
    http://www.farsnews.net/plarg.php?nn=M643057.jpg

  146. Fyi: The article may be partially correct. Apparently the reactor needs two fuel canisters a year. One was shipped in 2007, the other has been produced in Russia but not delivered as of April or May. But I don’t know for sure.

    I found an article that said this:

    Quote

    “The real fuel” will be made available at the facility a couple of months after its opening leading to an optimization of its operations, he said.

    Until now “virtual fuel” has been used instead of “real fuel” in tests carried out at the light-water reactor plant owing to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) curbs on Bushehr’s nuclear fuel.

    End Quote

    I have no idea what “virtual fuel” is, but I assume it’s not a radioactive threat so they use it for testing purposes. The quote implies the real fuel has not been introduced yet. So Bushehr could be attacked without a major radiation dispersal hazard.

  147. kooshy says:

    Pictures of The House in Isfahan president Ahmadinijad gave to Professor Richard Frye of Harvard for use while staying in Iran

    http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=113121

  148. fyi says:

    Leveretts:

    An independent Kurdish state is not necessarily a bad thing from the Iranian perspective. It actually could prove to be advantageous for Iran by relieving the Kurdish problem in Iran.

    If Kosovo can be independent, why not Kurdistan?

    And another Iranic state is not such a bad thing for Iran.

    I am not suggesting that Iranian are going to play this card now or in the near future; they will be harming their relatioship with Turkey as well as Syria and the larger Arab world.

    However, if things go bad fro Iran, they could.

  149. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    Like everything else in life the reality is somewhere between Iranian bravdo and
    US optimism.

    Those states and populations that need access to Iran will continue to do so since they have no alternatives. This includes all the states north of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq.

    These states and their populations need the usual day-to-day, state-to-state interactions and private business interactions with Iran.

    And some like Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanisatn, Tadjikistan and Armenia are counting on the success of long-term projects with Iran.

    Arabs states of the Southern Persian Gulf are between the rock-and-hard place. They will try to politically reduce their interactions with Iran and demonstrate that they will enforce UN sanctions. But their commercial business of Iran is too vital to them and it will continue. [Iran could refuse to sell them fresh food.]

    Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and others already have poor relations with the Islamic Republic. But they are recipients of Western largess for that: Egypt get $ 6.0 billion annually, Jordan $ 200-400 million, etc.

    I think US and EU financial sanctions are the most biting set of these sanctions – oil and gas will always find buyers.

    Iranians could compensate by liberalizing their financial sector (de-nationalization) and by chartering joint banck and insurance companies domiciled in friendly foreign states such as Venezuela.

    These sanctions, could help accelerate the privatization of the Iranian economy and usher in better much needed reform – just like the US sanctions in 1995.

    I think that US is not isolated in the region since the other states still believe that US can help them in areas such as Israel-Arab War in Palestine, or with terrorism, or protection from foreign incursions.

    But I also think it is becoming clear to the regional states that there is so much that US can do and that they (the regional states) must also be proactive. A long way to go – 300-pound men with diabetes nimble statesmen do not make.

  150. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    The fuel is already in Iran.

  151. fyi says:

    Castellio:

    The empirical conclusion from your question is that US does not have the power to end that siege.

    And if US does not have the power to end that siege, she certainly no longer has the power to the end the Israel-Arab War in Palestine.

    Once these facts regarding US power are accepted – among other facts – US planners can move ahead. Until then, watch tactical plans that make no sense.

  152. Serifo says:

    The neocons and the Zionist regime are the only ones being isolated both regionally and internationally ! :) Iran on the other hand is expanding its billateral ties with other nations ( specially poor muslim majority nations ) throughout the globe. Just today , the president of my native African country Guinea – Bissau had a very warm meeting with president Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini. He even visited Imman Khomeini`s site !

  153. With Bushehr about to go on line, the Iranians tested its air defenses by shooting down several drones.

    Eyes on the skies over Iran’s reactor
    www dot atimes dot com/atimes/Middle_East/LH10Ak03.html

    Quote

    An aerial assault on Bushehr would have to take place before any nuclear fuel arrives at the site. Beyond that point, an attack on the reactor would release deadly radioactive fallout into the entire Persian Gulf region and beyond. Besides the catastrophic human and environmental toll of such an attack, the sea lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies pass would be endangered.
    The Iranians know this. In 1980, Iran bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear power plant before it contained any radioactive material. Osirak was quickly repaired by the French contractors who built it. Eight months later, Osirak was partially destroyed by Israeli jets, aided by Iranian intelligence.

    End Quote

    Quote

    Israeli military and politicians usually equate Iranian access to nuclear fuel for electrical generation with Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. A light water reactor, Bushehr won’t be capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium (unlike Israel’s heavy water reactor at Dimona).

    However, Bushehr’s becoming operational would affirm Iran’s right to develop and utilize nuclear technology, and give Iran the status and prestige of a nuclear power. Israelis claim this would pose an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.

    Once Bushehr’s nuclear fuel arrives from Russia, whatever military options against Iran that may be “on the table” that include Bushehr will have to come off. Israel and the US have only a few weeks to launch an attack on Iran before Bushehr has the means to begin generating electricity.

    End Quote

  154. Fiorangela says:

    We’ve discussed Iran’s so-called child soldiers and the propaganda masters raise the issue to heap further opprobrium on Iran when the “financial and political opportunities present themselves.”

    In 2001, Chris Hedges spent several weeks in Gaza and wrote about what he saw:

    It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.
    “Come on, dogs,” the voice booms in Arabic. “Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!”
    I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: “Son of a bitch!” “Son of a whore!” “Your mother’s cunt!”
    The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
    A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
    Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered–death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo–but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

    That’s how Israel’s soldiers behave.
    When confronted with that knowledge, here’s how Israel’s elite Jews process the information:

    Hedges has come in from the camps in Gaza and is in Jerusalem, on his way home. He writes about his first night in Jerusalem:

    I have been invited to dinner with a friend, a surgeon, and his family in their affluent home in West Jerusalem. His father fled Vienna for Palestine shortly after the Nazis took over Austria. They are liberal Israelis, no friends of Sharon and no friends of the growing religious right. They support the creation of a Palestinian state. I worry about them every time a suicide bomb explodes in the city.

    At the table I try to make them grasp, just for a moment, what I felt watching the children on the dunes in Khan Younis. I tell the story. They admit that it is wrong, and then add, “But you have to understand, the Palestinians are brainwashed.” I concede the point, hoping only to impart the raw cruelty of what I saw. I try again. I fail. I fall silent.

  155. Interesting article on whether the US is planning to use tactical nukes in Iran, pursuant to our discussion on this. I maintain the US won’t use them, at least until things get desperate.

    But I could be wrong. From this article it appears the US is trying to integrate
    tactical nukes with conventional weapons, and possibly specifically for use in Iran.

    Note that this article is several years old, but the considerations presumably remain current.

    Targeting Iran: Is the U.S. administration planning a nuclear holocaust?
    www dot campaigniran dot org/casmii/index.php?q=node/10628

    Quote;

    The planning of the aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

    The contents of this highly sensitive document remains a carefully guarded State secret. There has been no mention of NSPD 35 by the media nor even in Congressional debates. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

    In this regard, a recent press report published in Yeni Safak (Turkey) suggests that the United States is currently:

    “deploying B61-type tactical nuclear weapons in southern Iraq as part of a plan to hit Iran from this area if and when Iran responds to an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities”. (Ibrahim Karagul, “The US is Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Iraq Against Iran”, (Yeni Safak,. 20 December 2005, quoted in BBC Monitoring Europe).

    This deployment in Iraq appears to be pursuant to NSPD 35 ,

    What the Yenbi Safak report suggests is that conventional weapons would be used in the first instance, and if Iran were to retaliate in response to US-Israeli aerial attacks, tactical thermonuclear B61 weapons could then be launched This retaliation using tactical nuclear weapons would be consistent with the guidelines contained in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and NSPD 17 (see above).

    Israel’s Stockpiling of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons

    Israel is part of the military alliance and is slated to play a major role in the planned attacks on Iran. (For details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).

    Confirmed by several press reports, Israel has taken delivery, starting in September 2004 of some 500 US produced BLU 109 bunker buster bombs (WP, January 6, 2006). The first procurement order for BLU 109 [Bomb Live Unit] dates to September 2004. In April 2005, Washington confirmed that Israel was to take delivery of 100 of the more sophisticated bunker buster bomb GBU-28 produced by Lockheed Martin ( Reuters, April 26, 2005). The GBU-28 is described as “a 5,000-pound laser-guided conventional munitions that uses a 4,400-pound penetrating warhead.” It was used in the Iraqi war theater:

    The Pentagon [stated] that … the sale to Israel of 500 BLU-109 warheads, [was] meant to “contribute significantly to U.S. strategic and tactical objectives.” .

    Mounted on satellite-guided bombs, BLU-109s can be fired from F-15 or F-16 jets, U.S.-made aircraft in Israel’s arsenal. This year Israel received the first of a fleet of 102 long-range F-16Is from Washington, its main ally. “Israel very likely manufactures its own bunker busters, but they are not as robust as the 2,000-pound (910 kg) BLUs,” Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, told Reuters. (Reuters, 21 September 2004)

    The report does not confirm whether Israel has stockpiled and deployed the thermonuclear version of the bunker buster bomb. Nor does it indicate whether the Israeli made bunker buster bombs are equipped with nuclear warheads. It is worth noting that this stock piling of bunker buster bombs occurred within a few months after the Release of the NPSD 35¸ Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (May 2004).

    Israel possesses 100-200 strategic nuclear warheads . In 2003, Washington and Tel Aviv confirmed that they were collaborating in “the deployment of US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Israel’s fleet of Dolphin-class submarines.” (The Observer, 12 October 2003) . In more recent developments, which coincide with the preparations of strikes against Iran, Israel has taken delivery of two new German produced submarines “that could launch nuclear-armed cruise missiles for a “second-strike” deterrent.” (Newsweek, 13 February 2006. See also CDI Data Base)

    Israel’s tactical nuclear weapons capabilities are not known

    End Quote

    Quote:

    Several Western European countries, officially considered as “non-nuclear states”, possess tactical nuclear weapons, supplied to them by Washington.

    The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five non-nuclear NATO countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, and one nuclear country, the United Kingdom. Casually disregarded by the Vienna based UN Nuclear Watch, the US has actively contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe.

    As part of this European stockpiling, Turkey, which is a partner of the US-led coalition against Iran along with Israel, possesses some 90 thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs at the Incirlik nuclear air base. (National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

    Consistent with US nuclear policy, the stockpiling and deployment of B61 in Western Europe are intended for targets in the Middle East. Moreover, in accordance with “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs (stockpiled by the “non-nuclear States”) could be launched “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” ( quoted in National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

    Moreover, confirmed by (partially) declassified documents (released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act):

    “arrangements were made in the mid-1990s to allow the use of U.S. nuclear forces in Europe outside the area of responsibility of U.S. European Command (EUCOM). As a result of these arrangements, EUCOM now supports CENTCOM nuclear missions in the Middle East, including, potentially, against Iran and Syria”

    (quoted in http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/nato.htm italics added)

    With the exception of the US, no other nuclear power “has nuclear weapons earmarked for delivery by non-nuclear countries.” (National Resources Defense Council, op cit)

    While these “non-nuclear states” casually accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, without documentary evidence, they themselves have capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads, which are targeted at Iran. To say that this is a clear case of “double standards” by the IAEA and the “international community” is a understatement.

    End Quote

  156. Pirouz: Don’t know if I saw the Abedin article in Asia Times.

    Of course missiles are a better idea. I didn’t say one or the other was better, just that once your missiles are fired and your target isn’t down, it would be useful to be able to ram the target with or without crew remaining on the boat.

  157. Pirouz says:

    Richard, isn’t that simply a repost of the Abedin article that appeared previously in Asia Times Online?

    And I still maintain that FACs armed with AShM represent a greater threat than LOTBs in the suicide attack role.

  158. Interesting recap of the probable Iranian response to an attack by the US. Also interesting comment on the “no war, no peace” attitude on both sides up to now – which may be changing, because, like I said, it can’t go on forever.

    Mahan Abedin writes in a guest editorial for Informed Comment:
    Abedin: The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran
    www dot juancole dot com/2010/08/abedin-the-illusion-of-a-%E2%80%98limited-war%E2%80%99-against-iran.html

    By the way, note he thinks Iran will use “suicide boats” as I suggested, too.

  159. Iranian@Iran says:

    As time goes by, things will get much worse for the US and its allies. The Obama effect is dying out and many in the region saw him as the “last chance” president for the crumbling US empire.

  160. Video of IRGC maneuvers in the Persian Gulf (April 22, 2010):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahf8j1yiQPY&feature=player_embedded#!

    Shows mass speedboats manuevers, speedboats firing missiles, Iranian commandos abseiling from helicopters onto a ship, and an impressive night speedboat missile attack.

  161. More Israeli provocation in Lebanon:

    Navy fires on Lebanese fishing boat
    www dot jpost dot com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=184088

  162. Interesting additions to Iran’s navy.

    Tehran completes construction of 4 new light-class Qadir submarines, which are entirely domestically made.
    planet-iran dot com/index.php/news/21009

    From GlobalSecurity:

    Yono Class Midget Submarine

    In 1991 the Iranians obtained 2 midget submarines from North Korea. It was believed these were of the “Yugo” class. The North Korean Yugo Class submarines are themselves based on a design originating in the former Yugoslavia. These North Korean submarines had a surfaced displacement of 76 tons and a submerged displacement of 90 tons. They had a surface speed of 10 knots and could make 4 knots submerged. Armament was in the form of two 530mm torpedo tubes for torpedoes or mines. Yugo class submarines also had the ability to carry 6-7 divers in addition to the crew of 2.

    In 2005 Iran announced it would start production of its first indigenous submarine. The hull was launched in 2006. In 2007 the Iranian navy unveiled a submarine, named the Qadir (also written Ghadir), first of a number of planned midget submarines of the Yono class. The Qadir was otherwise extremely similar to these Yugo boats, leading observers to suggest that this was an Iranian design based heavy on that class. Iranian authorities asserted that the Qadir was an entirely Iranian design, and that the vessel could launch anti-ship missiles. Such a capability would have required the installation of more advanced systems into the submarine or the operation in concert with other vessels capable of guiding any such missiles. The Qadir does have provisions for mounting a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV), a type of craft that Iran has also developed.

    More pictures here of the Qadir and also Iran patrol boats:
    www dot irandefence dot net/showthread.php?t=48919

  163. This sounds like an interesting book.

    Schneer traces lead-up to the Balfour Declaration
    news dot yahoo dot com/s/ap/20100809/ap_en_re/us_book_review_balfour_declaration

    Quote:

    Schneer recounts the promises Britain made to Arabs and Jews as well as to its French ally that left each party with a conflicting vision of Palestine’s postwar future, subjecting the fate of the promised land to varying interpretations.

    Hussein, the grand sharif of Mecca, who launched the Arab revolt against the Turks in 1916, won promises of an Arab kingdom, but the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine as well as Britain’s role in what is now Iraq remained ambiguous.

    At the same time, British and French diplomats conspired in secret to divvy up the region, with Palestine’s governance to be placed in the hands of an “international condominium.”

    To Schneer, Britain’s Zionists were “inspired opportunists” who viewed the war with the Turks as an opportunity to win backing for their dream of a homeland in Palestine, where 85,000 resident Jews comprised one-ninth of the prewar population. Emerging as Zionist leader was Chaim Weizmann, a Russian-born chemist whose discovery of a fermentation method for a key ingredient in explosives was important to the war effort and helped win him contact with David Lloyd George before he became prime minister.

    The author concludes that support for the Zionist cause owes a considerable debt to stereotypical beliefs among the British about the power and unity of world Jewry. Government officials figured that a statement of support for a Jewish homeland would generate backing for the war among American Jews and Jews in Russia.

    But it was no easy matter for Weizmann and his fellow Zionists to get Britain’s Jews to embrace the cause. A vocal and powerful group of anti-Zionist Jews who favored assimilation and steadfastly denied the existence of Jewish nationality continued to press their case until Weizmann finally prevailed.

    End Quote

    Will be interesting to see how this work stands up and how well it explains the intermediate origins of the current conflict.

  164. Castellio says:

    There’s a disconnect here. There are surveys of the Muslim populations who increasingly don’t believe in American or Israeli goodness, yet somehow the public ‘analysis’ does not begin with the major factors causing that response, but turn towards complaints with Iran.

    People who haven’t drunk the cool-aid don’t call the rampaging gorilla in the room ‘a peace process’. And none of the survey figures is in context or understandable if one doesn’t point to on-going, substantial, long-standing crimes against humanity prosecuted in the light of day for all to see: the collective punishment and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouins, including an unbroken siege.

  165. Keep this in mind: Out of 43 Presidencies between 1789 and 2008, as well as those with other party affiliations, only 15 have served more than one consecutive term in office. This means Obama doesn’t have a really great chance of serving a second term, even though both Bush and Clinton before him did.

    So the odds are pretty good that a Republican will take the office in 2012. And if not in 2012, the odds are REAL good that a Republican will be in office in 2016. And in 2012, the Democrats may also lose control of the House and Senate which they barely have now, making it easier for the Republicans to push for a war. Does anyone here think a Republican, at this juncture, will NOT start a war with Iran? Anyone here know a NON-fruitcake Republican who has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning?

    And if a Democrat wins, the odds are good it will be Hillary Clinton – and she’s a major hawk on Iran.

    Bottom line: The future does not look good for avoiding a war. The meme is set in the public’s mind, the Congress has bought in on it, the sanctions will be proved useless within a couple years at most, and Israel will not wait forever or be restrained by the US forever, and the military-industrial complex won’t wait forever either – just as long as Afghanistan goes on and no longer at best – they got those hundreds of billions from Iraq, they’re getting hundreds of billions from Afghanistan – and they want those hundreds of billions from Iran, too.

  166. Persian Gulf: Anyone expecting this to come back down is going to be disappointed. Israel is not going to stop pushing, and neither is the military-industrial complex, which owns the US Congress, nor the right-wing Republicans and neocons.

    The only reason Bush and Cheney did not start a war between 2007 and 2008 was because 1) Bush was a lame duck and they were hoping McCain would be next, and they were divided on whether starting a war would help or hurt the Republicans in the elections, and 2) the Pentagon was pushing back because Iraq and Afghanistan were so screwed up (and still are), and 3) they still wanted Israel to start it to take the blame off Bush for starting a third war; but Israel balked.

    But Israel won’t balk forever. If Obama doesn’t start the war, or his successor, Israel will. If Obama doesn’t start the war in his first term, his re-election support will be hampered and Israel may start it. If he doesn’t start the war in his second term, if he gets one, a Republican or some Democrat more willing to do so, namely Hillary Clinton, will in the next term.

    I’ve repeated this often enough. The “crisis” atmosphere can’t be maintained forever. If Iran can hold out for another five or ten years, with no bomb evident, then it will seem ridiculous to continue to say they are an “imminent” threat. What this means is that Israel or the US has to attack Iran before that happens. It does not mean a war will not happen.

    But just because the war drums subsided for a year or so doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    Iran’s opponents are those who will profit from a war with Iran. They are not going to change their minds about that.

  167. Persian Gulf says:

    I think we are in a situation similar to 2005-2006 with the main difference that at that time the pressure for Iran was an imminent attack and now the collapse of the system from within with the crippling sanctions (at least the psychological pressure looks the same to me). and like that time, if only Iran could withstand for at least 1-1.5 year without a blink, the sentiments would get reversed. in a 2 year period, if Iran could resist, then, I expect most of those who are in favor of pressure now would question it’s very logic, as was the case in 2007-2008 (and as I remember the last U.S election, Obama was one of those people).

    the same is the case for the majority of the opponents of the Iranian system. they are now having a great hope, once again and tacitly of course, that pressures will work and they get what they want. once this tactic loses its meaning, they would change mind over night. IR’s opponents, like IR itself, are very opportunistic. banking on them, as the U.S did so often, would be a serious policy mistake for the west!

  168. By the way, where’s Nasser? He’s always claiming everybody hates Iran, Iran sucks, etc.

    The problem here, as Arnold has pointed out repeatedly, is that the Arab street doesn’t control the Arab states. So Iran CAN be “isolated” by those states under pressure from the US. Unfortunately for the US it has only so much pressure it can put on some other world powers, such as Russia, China, Brazil, India, etc. So the “isolation” will never be complete enough to be useful.

    Besides which, the whole concept of “isolation” is a scam anyway. It’s just another propaganda point to justify an eventual war. Iran is not North Korea, with a South Korea right next to it which has a powerful economy and military, so the North can be marginalized. Iran is a strategic regional power with three times the population of a North Korea. It’s impossible to “isolate” Iran.

    So the sole purpose of Obama’s rhetoric is simply to goad Iran and ratchet up tensions and further justify an eventual war. It merely establishes once again that Obama is a liar and a war-monger.

  169. Excellent piece, although as Paul notes. it’s the Arab street that isn’t marginalizing Iran, but the elites seem to be.

    This is the pattern everywhere – the state is always against the interests of its population, by definition, because the state is always controlled by the rich and powerful, and the goal of those people is always to stay that way at the expense of everyone else.

    Fiorangela: So Brill thinks my ability to crush his “arguments” is “vicious”. Revealing.

    Castellio: The Gaza siege goes on because Obama is helpless to do anything against Israel – if he wants to be re-elected, that is. The same is true about an Israeli attack on Iran. He won’t be able to stop it and will have to support it if it comes (or preempt it with a US attack to avoid it.) Anyone who thinks Obama has the intestinal fortitude to do ANYTHING against Israel’s wishes (and the wishes of the US military-industrial complex, with which Israel is deeply intertwined) is delusional.

  170. paul says:

    James, Obama doesn’t need a bridge to Iran. All he needs to do is make a good faith effort to negotiate, as Turkey and Brazil demonstrated. We are complicating what is simple. All that does is give Obama political cover.

  171. paul says:

    The point seems to be that elites in US associated countries are turning hard against Iran, due to Obama’s combination of threats and bribes, and that increasingly, opinion on the street DOESN’T MATTER, as we saw when the Iraq war happened. Elites are convinced that they have the power to control the street no matter what.

    But good article. The results of this survey are fascinating.

  172. David Sheegog says:

    This Bloomberg article makes the point that Ahmadinejad was speaking to in the article from ME online when he referred to “the pitiful Europeans”, as well as indirectly making the point that the US and Europe are being played by the Russians and the Chinese:

    “It’s boom time for Russian and Chinese oil traders,” said Michael Swangard, a London-based international trade lawyer at Clyde & Co., which counts BP and Lloyds of London among its clients. It’s “practically impossible” for Europeans to buy Iran’s oil or sell it gasoline, he said.

    The last line of the article:

    -Iran wants to spend $26 billion on new refineries and $11.5 billion to upgrade existing plants to become self-sufficient in the production of gasoline, the Oil Ministry said on July 26. The government aims to meet its own needs in another two years, Deputy Oil Minister Noureddin Shahnazizadeh said at a conference in Bahrain in May.-

  173. Fiorangela,

    You wrote to Richard:

    “Richard S Hack, I was thinking about your conflict with Mr. Brill…”

    I’d promised you a response, but it’s not worth a long one. It doesn’t matter whether Richard Steven Hack and I agree on things. I don’t care, and I’m sure others don’t either. I do mind his personal attacks, but any response seems only to egg him on. Occasionally Richard makes comments that deserve a response, even praise, but I’ve set the bar very high for him because he reacts so viciously.

  174. Castellio says:

    What confuses me, and perhaps someone on this list can help, is simply this: why is the siege on Gaza still in place?

    Clinton says it can’t go on, apparently Obama said the same… but it goes on.

    For the US to have Israel lift the siege to improve American standing in the Middle East as well as the administration’s standing in the US is not rocket science. To say that not to do so is immoral should (I suppose) go without saying.

    Turkey made an issue of it (although even on this blog the country was chastised for its ‘over-the-top’ reaction), and if the Turkey-Israel relationship is important, is really a good idea to try to have a coup in Turkey rather than lift the siege in Gaza?

    Why is the siege still in place? Is it being held as a bargaining chip? For what? And how unethical is that? I’m truly at a loss here.

  175. James Canning says:

    Hoagland argues that Obama should pursue better relations with Iraqi Kurdistan, as a means of facilitating dealing with Iran. Actually, Syria and Turkey are both excellent bridges to Iran, but the idiot Republicans in the Senate have been delaying confirmation of Obama’s nominee for US ambassador to Damascus.

  176. James Canning says:

    David,

    Interesting article. Iran has been importing about 30% of its petrol (gasoline), and the sanctions afford an opportunity to cut the subsidy and blame the cuts on the US, the EU, et al.

  177. James Canning says:

    The Iranian foreign minister, Mottaki, was quoted today as saying he did not see a new war in the Middle East as imminent, and that in his view “there are still a few rational people” left in the US and the West. He makes good points.

    Hillary Clinton claims again today that the US wants a negotiated settlement to the nuclear dispute.

  178. David Sheegog says:

    Reading this enlightening article, and thinking about it in conjunction with Seznec’s article, I’m reminded of the Financial Times’ and The Economist’s dire prediction: ‘EUROPE TO COLLAPSE TOMORROW!’ has been regular fare in both publications for over 20 years. I did notice this piece from ME Online that seems to support the idea that Iran is hurting economicallly: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=40464 and may hurt more in the future. Still… Iran’s central bank chief was quoted in the article:

    “Reducing the consumption of imported goods means confronting the sanctions. There is no other way,” Mahmoud Bahmani told a news conference.
    “Sanctions are happening and we should not be scared or frightened. We should convert the sanctions into opportunities.”

  179. James Canning says:

    Bravo! What arrogance and stupidity on the part of the US, to think America can “isolate” Iran and perhaps bring down the government. Totally delusional “thinking”!

  180. Castellio says:

    Yes, a good piece. I worry that what is written, even though read by the functionaries in the US government, won’t be retained.

  181. Liz says:

    A good piece.