Wednesday, August 19, 2009

David Albright insults South Africa

It is not very often that I am offended by members of the US foreign policy community. My priorities and sensibilities are different from most of theirs, and interacting mostly with each other they've developed ways of evading uncomfortable facts that strike outsiders such as myself as deceptive, but usually harmlessly so. For example they love elliding the very big and important distinction between Iran being capable of producing a nuclear weapon in theory and Iran having an actual nuclear weapon. And that works well when they are interacting with people who are either uninformed or who share their point of view. But when an informed opponent points out that there of course is a huge difference, they do clumsily retreat from that point and all is well.

But I was actually stunned when I read David Albright's paper "Nuclear Iran: Not Inevitable" when he discusses South Africa.
In 1989, newly elected President F.W. De Klerk decided that in order for South Africa to end its international isolation it must give up both its oppressive system of apartheid and its nuclear arsenal.

... ... ...

Propelled jointly by worldwide opposition to its nuclear weapons and revulsion to apartheid policies, the de Klerk regime had little choice but to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
How dare he?

The struggle against Apartheid was a struggle against Apartheid. The people who died, who went to prison, who gave their lives, whose families suffered as they fought - they were applying pressure to end South Africa's system of racial discrimination. South Africa's nuclear program, (just as legal as its co-developer Israel's program was) was not even an afterthought in the international pressure.

Albright knows that there was no South Africa anti-nuclear movement. His lie that there was worldwide opposition to its nuclear program that operated jointly with the opposition to apartheid is an insult to all of the people involved in the actual struggle against Apartheid.

Nelson Mandela or any of the freedom fighters would smack Albright across his mouth if in their presence he tried to appropriate the struggle they gave so much for to fit his weird anti-Iran analogy.

He even went so far as to put the nuclear issue first the second time he mentioned these supposed two joint crimes of Apartheid South Africa. It's just ridiculous. Just proof that people in his community only interact with each other and have formed a bubble that grows more and more detached from the reality the rest of the world lives in.


Lysander said...

I don't think it's so much that Albright lives in a bubble, but rather that he assumes no one will challenge him. Sadly, he is correct.

Arnold Evans said...

When I read them, they sound like they believe what they're saying. In their world the only people who follow the issues closely enough to discuss them share their ideological backgrounds. That can't help but lead to their taking logical shortcuts that won't hold up under scrutiny. But you're right it only lasts because they don't get exposed to scrutiny.

Now, I'm not that sad about that. If the US foreign policy community had a better feel for Iran in 2003, Iran today might have a very small and humble nuclear program and a long-term, possibly permanent commitment that the program remain on the workshop level.

Iran definitely benefits from the lack of perspective of the US foreign policy community.