Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is Germany off the Team?

Four months since I've posted. Sorry.


Germany — a pivotal player among three European nations to rein in Iran's nuclear program over the last two-and-a-half years through a mixture of diplomacy and sanctions supported by the United States — notified its allies last week that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses to support the imposition of any further sanctions against Iran that could be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

The announcement was made at a meeting in Berlin that brought German officials together with Iran desk officers from the five member states of the Security Council. It stunned the room, according to one of several Bush administration and foreign government sources who spoke to FOX News, and left most Bush administration principals concluding that sanctions are dead.

The Germans voiced concern about the damaging effects any further sanctions on Iran would have on the German economy — and also, according to diplomats from other countries, gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Germany's withdrawal from the allied diplomatic offensive is the latest consensus across relevant U.S. agencies and offices, including the State Department, the National Security Council and the offices of the president and vice president. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, the most ardent proponent of a diplomatic resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, has had his chance on the Iranian account and come up empty.

The Fox News article continues with supposed US plans to bomb Iran. A week of bombing to destroy Iran's air defenses and then the attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

How will Iran respond? According to this article, Iran won't respond in any significant way. Iran is already doing all it can to hurt the US in Iraq and can't do any real harm anywhere else.

Maybe you laughed out loud at the previous paragraph, maybe that seems plausible to you. In either case, there is nothing further I need to say on that matter.

The interesting issue is not the bomb plans that gave the article its headline. It is the defection from the sanctions regime by Germany.

If this is true, this is a huge story. No, there will not be a bombing of Iran unless Tehran has Cheney on its payroll - which has been alleged with various levels of facetiousness in the past.

My best guess since the IAEA agreement was signed to clear Iran's remaining questions has been that Iran has to a large degree won this conflict. Iran will continue its enrichment program while the most effective charge against it is being removed.

Iran's victory will be solidified when Russia, China or Germany publicly announce that they will not support sanctions if Iran cooperates with clearing the questions or has cleared the questions. Until then, we may be in garbage time, but the game isn't quite over.


Ziad said...

Alex, good to have you back.

Are you still convince all that talk of war by the White House through various leaks to the press is all a bluff? Designating IRGC a 'terrorist organization,' talk of a 3 day blitz and now this Fox News report?

I'm worried a bit though it seems Iran isn't. If the sanctions push is faltering and America has no military option, then the U.S. really is, to use a poker term I read on another board 'playing with glass money;' the chips in front of them wont be there for long.

Arnold Evans said...

Hezbollah survived. Iran must be certain it would survive a bombing attack and hurt the West enough that the attack will be seen as a mistake.

Bombing probably is the single action that would most effectively bring up the date of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

I still doubt there will be an attack. Also, the tone of the US when discussing Iran is a lot different from the tone used in discussing Iraq in 2002.

George Bush sounded cocky in 2002. If you don't disarm we'll disarm you. George Bush sounds a lot more humble in 2007. No options are off the table but we are working hard on the diplomatic track and hope that will yield results.

He doesn't sound like he believes bombing would work, which was not the case in 2002.