Friday, April 02, 2010

Barack Obama: Iran must not develop weapons capacity

Over the summer there were two views presented by US officials. One was presented by Hillary Clinton was a continuation of the Bush administration position that, beyond the requirements of the NPT, the Additional Protocols or any international standard, Iran must not have technology that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon in theory. The other, presented by John Kerry was that the Bush administration position was ridiculous and counter-productive.

Barack Obama has placed the United States solidly on the Bush interpretation of this issue.
"All the evidence indicates that the Iranians are trying to develop the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. They might decide that, once they have that capacity that they'd hold off right at the edge -- in order not to incur -- more sanctions. But, if they've got nuclear weapons-building capacity -- and they are flouting international resolutions, that creates huge destabilizing effects in the region and will trigger an arms race in the Middle East that is bad for U.S. national security but is also bad for the entire world."
I guess I'll make a couple of points. By holding off and not building a weapon, Iran would be more than not incurring more sanctions, Iran would be fully meeting its commitment under the NPT, just as Japan does when it has the capacity but chooses not to build a weapon, as Brazil does, as Canada does, as Romania does, as Taiwan does and the list goes on for dozens of countries.

Obama is also more specific than usual here. What Iran is flouting is not "the rules" or even "its obligations". Iran is flouting UN resolutions aimed directly at denying Iran its sovereign right to technology. I guess in a prepared speech Obama would be more flowery, more deceptive, to mislead his audience into believing Iran has not been singled out.

What are the huge destabilizing effects? Well, Israel's ability to issue unanswerable catastrophic threats will be diminished. The indirectly ruled US colonies in the region will also find it marginally more difficult to justify their cooperation with the United States after Iran demonstrates that technological progress is possible in the face of US opposition. Are Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Jordan actually going to build a weapon against US wishes? No, each of the most important US colonies for Israel's security is not independent enough to consider that, or they would have in response to Israel's weapons. Though another symbol of their impotence may make it slightly more difficult to maintain their status as dependencies of the US.

Does Obama really believe that diminishing Israel's ability to threaten its neighbors and slightly weakening the US hold over the members of its Middle East colonial structure would be bad for the entire world? For me the most shocking thing about Obama is how sincerely he seems to have been convinced that there is no point of view but the American point of view. It is a very unsophisticated, and even immature way of seeing the world. Obama is smart enough that one might expect him to be able to see past that, but there has not been one indication in any speech, interview or communication he's given since becoming president that he's able to question his assumption of the primacy of US sensibilities.

The current consensus US strategy for dealing with Iran is to increase pressure on Iran steadily over a period of years in hopes that at some point Iran will bow to the pressure and submit to the regional order the US prefers, in fact joining the US Middle East colonial structure with or without a nominally democratic facade over a government that is accountable, above anything else, to the US embassy. This strategy of trying or claiming to try to slowly increase pressure takes into account the US calculations that there is for now no military option against Iranian facilities, that there can be no expectation of Iran submitting to the types of sanctions the US may be able to produce over the near term and that Iran's government is not currently under significant pressure from any internal opposition.

1 comment:

Lysander said...

In the case of North Korea, the US seemed to do everything it could to move NK from being nuclear capable to being nuclear, period. Now we have a repeat performance.

Once Iran becomes easily nuclear capable, what will it do when threats continue? Once the US moves out of Iraq/Afghanistan and leaves no easy target for retaliation? Is there an argument for Iran to become fully nuclear? Could the US/ Israel behave in such a belligerent fashion as to convince the Iranian leadership that mere capability isn't enough? That an actual nuclear needs to be on call 24/7?

I will think on this further and write more later. In what situations would it be in Iran's interest to develop nuclear weapons and maintain an Israel like ambiguity about it? What advantages/disadvantages does it have over mere capability? What global conditions would allow Iran to do that without risking the Loss of China/Russia as semi-allies?