Saturday, May 12, 2007

Arguments against Western Hostility Towards Iran

Article in Znet
PDF at
Here, we examine and debunk the common myths and charges against Iran and provide a list of twenty reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention in Iran. The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions in order to avert a new even more horrifying catastrophe in the Middle East.

This is an excellent article. When I find an article that looks like I could have written it, if I had the time or inclination, I have to link to it so that I can find it later.

I'll add a tiny bit about what is on offer with regard to negotiations. The US position is that it cannot begin negotiations until Iran commits to suspend enrichment. From the US point of view, this precondition could serve only one purpose: It has to be the case that the US does not believe Iran would willingly trade enrichment for what the US is willing to offer in terms of trade incentives or security guarantees.

If the US believed it had an offer that either Iranians could accept or that any constituency of Iranians would consider good, the US would release details of that offer and either the Iranians would accept the offer and stop enrichment or those in Iran's government that reject the offer would face pressure from the Iranian people, for example in the next elections.

It has been a year since the US has offered to come to the table to negotiate after Iran suspends enrichment. If there was an offer to be made, it would have been made a year or maybe six months ago, and Iran would have suspended then.

An illustration might be if I was to walk into a clothing store and ask for a suit, but I won't tell exactly what I am willing to pay for it now, but if I wear it out, I'll call from home to negotiate a price. Of course, once the store has made a commitment to sell me the suit without knowing what I'm willing to offer, when I do make an offer it will be minimal.

Recently US diplomats have said the US is willing to suspend sanctions while Iran suspends enrichment and after six months, Iran would be able to resume enrichment and sanctions would resume. Iran already knows what is on offer is minimal, the only impact of a six month suspension would be six months of delayed progress on its program plus the costs of stopping and restarting.

The US is only willing to make limited concessions over the enrichment issue because the US concessions are the only leverage the US has to pressure Iran to be more accepting of Israel. If the US was to normalize trade with Iran in exchange for a suspension of enrichment, Iran would have more resources to use to support Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran's support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and anti-Israel Palestinians and Muslims generally, is the core of the US dispute with Iran.

Where we are left is that the US has been much more successful than I expected in expanding its sanctions against Iran slightly beyond Iran's nuclear program but no where near successful enough to persuade any segment of Iran's political leadership or society to abandon enrichment.

This equilibrium will continue until Iraq becomes unbearably expensive for the US and Iran offers to turn down the temperature in Iraq in exchange for relaxing US pressure on European and Asian countries' trade with Iran.

I still consider military strikes on Iran - outside of support for terrorist operations on Iran's periphery which are happening now - to be vanishingly unlikely.

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