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View Full Version : Ominous words from Jackie Shire


mvantony
09-26-2009, 05:30 PM
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Wonderment
09-26-2009, 05:48 PM
So?

It's not really news that Iran is interested in WMD, nor is it news that they are making progress toward potential weaponization. Nor is it even news that this second facility exists.

The only question is how will the world respond and will the response be effective?

There are several scenarios that even I can think of off the top of my head:

1) Iran gets nukes and the world has to deal and then the world has to figure out a) how to keep them from ever using them and b) how to make sure Iran's WMD program doesn't trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.

2) There is a democratic revolution in Iran and the Ayatollahs pack their bags.

3) Arm-twisting sanctions make Iran say "uncle."

4) The US gets into a third war in the region.

5) Israel tries to take out the nuclear program by military means without provoking a world war.

Since only #1 makes the slightest sense to me, I think all the talk of 2-5 is just diplomatic noise. The US has to say "No options are off the table" even though there is almost zero chance of military action. Israel has to bluster, even though they have no way of taking out Iran's WMD program short of all-out war, which is unthinkable. The sanctions will probably kick in and hurt the Iranian people, but not enough to make the regime drop the nuclear program (with a great risk of being counterproductive).

Wonderment
09-26-2009, 06:44 PM
I'm pretty sure Juan Cole argued here on BhTV that there's no evidence that Iran wants a nuclear weapon, and I think other heads and certainly several commenters in the forum here have too, not to mention countless people elsewhere.[/QUOTE

Well, the two positions are not mutually exclusive. Iran has created a situation of -- shall we say-- nuclear ambiguity? (Where have I heard that phrase before?)

In other words, there IS no evidence that they want a nuke; on the other hand, there's good reason to believe that they do.

I heard Obama's press conference yesterday. The elephant in the room was the Israeli nuclear program. He never mentioned Israel, of course, but when he mentioned the IAEA (see below) how could you not think of Israel's non-compliance, nuclear stockpiling secrecy and rogue status viz a viz the Nonproliferation Treaty?

[QUOTE]And I think that the response that you saw today indicates the degree to which this intelligence is solid and indicates the degree to which Iran was constructing an enrichment facility that it had not declared, contrary to U.N. resolutions and contrary to the rules governing the IAEA....

What we saw at the United Nations in the Security Council was a strong affirmation of the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and as a consequence, the IAEA is strengthened, and those countries who follow the rules are strengthened when it comes to dealing with countries like North Korea and Iran that don't follow the rules. ...

Anyway, I am certainly hoping that Ahmadinejad keeps his mouth shut and that Iran makes some good moves at the Oct. 1 talks. The last thing Obama needs now is to get distracted by the Middle East drama kings and queens.

The priorities the US are healthcare, immigration reform, economic recovery, climate change legislation, and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lyle
09-26-2009, 06:55 PM
Israel has done the groundwork for #5, and is prepared to attack if they decide to do so. My guess is they won't, but you never know. The Saudis and others may even be encouraging them to do it. Who knows?

Wonderment
09-27-2009, 01:00 AM
Can sanctions work? (http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/can-sanctions-work-against-iran/)

Baltimoron
09-27-2009, 01:40 AM
Sanctions, aside from allowing the administration to get some cred domestically and maybe some sort of coalition with the EU that might endure, only gives Beijing more cred and a greater market share in Iran.

Baltimoron
09-27-2009, 01:51 AM
I'd rather the US do something about nuclear proliferation, if it can't lead on creating a viable WMD regime. What concerns me about Iran's program more than any work the Iranians did, was, that the program would be non-existent but for A.Q. Khan. The issues that surround Khan's successful efforts to export product in places like Libya, Iran, and the DPRK have a greater impact on global stability than the specter of a state getting more powerful. States get more powerful; and, states slip down the scales again. But, the notion, that nukes are symbols of state power and equalizers, is a greater threat to national sovereignty than UN boosters could ever hope for on their best days. I have no fear of Chad becoming the world's hegemon, but I'd prefer it did it by having a world-class economy, health care delivery, and an educated, wealthy population, not the latest doomsday weapons.

Francoamerican
09-27-2009, 06:50 AM
From an interview with Jackie Shire (http://www.theworld.org/tag/jacqueline-shire/) on Iran's second uranium enrichment facility:

And from Ha'aretz today (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1117106.html):

From a strictly "realist" point of view Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons is a "rational" response to the threats that Tehran perceives: The Bush Administration spoke repeatedly of "regime change" in Iran and there are still large contingents of American military forces in the region, doing precisely that---in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama's rhetoric is more muted, but the recent denunciation of Iran by the US, Britain and France, hardly bodes well from their point of view. Moreover, Israel has been known to launch unprovoked attacks on Iran, and, as we all know, Israel's nuclear arsenal could easily annihilate Iran.

So why do you expect Iran to behave differently? Do the laws of realpolitik, of which the US and Israel are such incompetent practitioners, suddenly cease when Iran is concerned?

Francoamerican
09-27-2009, 12:14 PM
Maybe, but that doesn't take you very far. The same, after all, is true of the responses of jihadists like this Hamas guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i08L09V0_sg) (see video starting at 0:36), Al Qaida, etc., given their goals and assessments of their enemies, etc.).

Yes, but Iran is a state and acts "rationally" to protect itself against perceived threats. Unlike Jihadists and terrorists, who speak only for themselves and have nothing to lose but their own lives, Iran has everything to lose in a nuclear war. Do you really think it seeks to self-destruct?


Iran's push to develop a nuclear capability began much before all that. According to Anthony H. Cordesman (http://csis.org/expert/anthony-h-cordesman) from the Center for Stategic and International Studies (from Wonderment's link (http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/can-sanctions-work-against-iran/)):).

True, but not before it knew of Israel's nuclear capacity.

I don't know which attacks you're referring to, but the (in large part terrorist) proxy war Iran is fighting against Israel through Hamas and Hizballah, not to mention Iran's incessant threats to destroy Israel, is more than enough "provocation" for whatever you might have in mind.).

Excuse my bÍtise. I was thinking of Israel's destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. But even so, I am sure that Iran has never forgotten this incident.


I don't. At least not as a result of any analysis they might carry out of the current situation from their perspective. I believe that if their behavior is to change, they must be forced to change it (non-violently if possible).

I agree.

Wonderment
09-27-2009, 03:59 PM
And from Obama's statement at the G 20 summit in Pittsburgh ...

I hate to tell Obama he's being played here, but he's being played here (and not by Israel, for a change).

Obama seems to be thinking that he (the new sexy and charismatic leader of the free world; uh-oh delusions of grandeur?) will bring a new coalition of the willing to bear on Iran via sanctions. He was very impressed with some Chinese and Russian grumbling about Iran in Pittsburgh, and he's hoping Iran will become the new North Korea (bad, bad boys with psychopathic supreme leader).

But that won't happen. If the sanctions regime is going to have any teeth (i.e., cause immense pain to the Iranian people) it will be a Western effort led by the usual suspects and meddlers in Iranian affairs (USA, Britian, France and their close allies).

There will be no international condemnation of Iran because Iran is already too influential and because other countries will buy their argument (if Israel has 200 rogue nukes why can't we?). Plus, who among the nations cares? Pakistan, nukes galore; India, nukes galore; China, nukes; Russia, nukes; USA, a gazillion nukes -- that's just how the world is. We've lived with that threat for 64 years since the crazed Americans annihilated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with their atom bomb.

And then what happens with Iran a couple of years down the sanctions road when Saddam Hussein-like they may or may not have nukes, depending on how paranoid the guys on Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue are?

More shock and awe?

Now if Obama were to keep his eye on the prize (abolition of nukes) this could all go in a different direction. Example: If Israel agrees to having 1000 inspectors combing every inch of the country, will you, Mr. Ayatollah?

AemJeff
09-27-2009, 04:19 PM
I hate to tell Obama he's being played here, but he's being played here (and not by Israel, for a change).

Obama seems to be thinking that he (the new sexy and charismatic leader of the free world; uh-oh delusions of grandeur?) will bring a new coalition of the willing to bear on Iran via sanctions. He was very impressed with some Chinese and Russian grumbling about Iran in Pittsburgh, and he's hoping Iran will become the new North Korea (bad, bad boys with psychopathic supreme leader).

But that won't happen. If the sanctions regime is going to have any teeth (i.e., cause immense pain to the Iranian people) it will be a Western effort led by the usual suspects and meddlers in Iranian affairs (USA, Britian, France and their close allies).

There will be no international condemnation of Iran because Iran is already too influential and because other countries will buy their argument (if Israel has 200 rogue nukes why can't we?). Plus, who among the nations cares? Pakistan, nukes galore; India, nukes galore; China, nukes; Russia, nukes; USA, a gazillion nukes -- that's just how the world is. We've lived with that threat for 64 years since the crazed Americans annihilated hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with their atom bomb.

And then what happens with Iran a couple of years down the sanctions road when Saddam Hussein-like they may or may not have nukes, depending on how paranoid the guys on Downing Street and Pennsylvania Avenue are?

More shock and awe?

Now if Obama were to keep his eye on the prize (abolition of nukes) this could all go in a different direction. Example: If Israel agrees to having 1000 inspectors combing every inch of the country, will you, Mr. Ayatollah?

I have to admit that reading you pick up on far-Right anti-Obama rhetoric and flipping it around as a critique from the Left just gives me the creeps.

And I don't understand the apparent relative support for the Ayatollahs - whom I think are nearly the least liberal force on the planet and the engine driving one of the more dangerous and brutal regimes currently in existence - from a left wing, or from a pacifist point of view.

Wonderment
09-27-2009, 04:57 PM
I have to admit that reading you pick up on far-Right anti-Obama rhetoric and flipping it around as a critique from the Left just gives me the creeps.

You mean the one throwaway line in the post about delusions of grandeur with a question mark? You might look at more of the substance of the post and not focus on that. But if you insist, I AM concerned about the Obama cult of personality that has emerged since he was nominated and elected (a nomination I supported and an election I worked hard on). If that is "far-right," I'll plead guilty.

And I don't understand the apparent relative support for the Ayatollahs - whom I think are nearly the least liberal force on the planet and the engine driving one of the more dangerous and brutal regimes currently in existence - from a left wing, or from a pacifist point of view.

I harbor no love for the Ayatollahs. I think Ahmadinejad is a complete idiot, and his bosses, though not as stupid, are anti-democratic religious fanatics and megalomaniacs. I detest theocracy in general.

But one would think, all that goes without saying. Everyone on the planet who supports human rights is opposed to the Ayatollahs and its election-stealing figurehead. It's a great leap from there -- and one that a pacifist would never make -- to bomb them or torment their citizenry with sanctions.

AemJeff
09-27-2009, 06:10 PM
You mean the one throwaway line in the post about delusions of grandeur with a question mark? You might look at more of the substance of the post and not focus on that. But if you insist, I AM concerned about the Obama cult of personality that has emerged since he was nominated and elected (a nomination I supported and an election I worked hard on). If that is "far-right," I'll plead guilty.



I harbor no love for the Ayatollahs. I think Ahmadinejad is a complete idiot, and his bosses, though not as stupid, are anti-democratic religious fanatics and megalomaniacs. I detest theocracy in general.

But one would think, all that goes without saying. Everyone on the planet who supports human rights is opposed to the Ayatollahs and its election-stealing figurehead. It's a great leap from there -- and one that a pacifist would never make -- to bomb them or torment their citizenry with sanctions.

I'm not trying to be too obnoxious, here. I wasn't the most ardent Obama supporter, but him winning was fine by me. It concerns me that the periphery, from my perspective, seem to have an all-or-nothing attitude. It also concerns me that what looks like a credible attempt to do what's doable seems to be yielding a characterization of him selling out - as if giving the base (or even giving me) everything that they want was ever going to be possible. I'd prefer it if my side doesn't indulge the urge to eat our own, especially now, when it's critical that something gets accomplished. If that's not a good description of where you are in this, I apologize for pointing my finger at you.

Regarding Iran, I can't see any strategy that would meet your approval, and satisfactorily constrain the Ayatollahs. Given their history, starting with the American Embassy hostages, the fatwah against Rushdie, and support for malignant insurgencies in Lebanon and Palestine, among other things, I'm not comfortable assuming that an instinct for self-preservation on their part provides sufficient ground for assuming they're not a significant danger.

Wonderment
09-27-2009, 07:04 PM
I'd prefer it if my side doesn't indulge the urge to eat our own, especially now, when it's critical that something gets accomplished. If that's not a good description of where you are in this, I apologize for pointing my finger at you.


Not a problem. I hereby retract the "delusions of grandeur" comment :)

However, there are lots of issues I simply oppose Obama on. I am quite willing to support him when we want similar outcomes and have to compromise. Examples are healthcare, immigration reform and climate change. I will support whatever healthcare bill the Dems. can pass, even though Obama took my preferred outcome off the table before he even began (single payer). I can live with "clean" coal and even more nuclear reactors because I think Obama understands global warming and other key environmental questions. Any immigration bill with a path to legalization for under-documented families will win my support.

I do not support him on issues where we fundamentally disagree, however. I'll list a few: He supports the death penalty; I dont. He supports the war in Afghanistan; I don't. He is opposed to same-sex marriage; I'm in favor.

Regarding Iran, I can't see any strategy that would meet your approval, and satisfactorily constrain the Ayatollahs. Given their history, starting with the American Embassy hostages, the fatwah against Rushdie, and support for malignant insurgencies in Lebanon and Palestine, among other things, I'm not comfortable assuming that an instinct for self-preservation on their part provides sufficient ground for assuming they're not a significant danger.

ALL nuclear powers represent significant dangers because nukes are inherently dangerous.

If you pause to reflect on the history of ANY of the nuclear nations, you will quickly lose your comfort level. I grew up in a society that was -- with great justification -- terrified of nuclear attack. As children, we did nuclear drills in elementary school. During the Cold War (it wasn't cold for many regions of the world caught up in it) we came very close to global nuclear war on several occasions (most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis). Today, the danger is even greater. Not only do you have more nuclear states and nuclear-ready states, but you also have the risk of proliferation to a non-state (which may have already happened).

Israel has a secret nuclear program, subject to zero inspections, and is NOT a signatory to the NPT. India and Pakistan, who have also been at the brink, are not signatories either. North Korea dropped out. All that is very troubling.

Another danger about Israel is that it has invaded two Middle Eastern countries and successfully destroyed their nuclear facilities (Iraq and allegedly Syria). This puts increased pressure on them to try the same trick with Iran. But Iran is not Iraq or Syria. An Israeli attack would be catastrophic. Even George Bush knew that. It's my view that, despite all the rhetoric, an Israeli or US attack, is beyond the pale and not going to happen. That leaves sanctions. Which will fail.


__________________

Wonderment
09-27-2009, 11:02 PM
[QUOTE]This sound like the sort pressure musicians like Alanis Morissette had after a hugely successful first album to do as well or better on her second (which she didn't). Israel isn't going to factor in "image maintenance" or "reputation" in deciding whether or not to attack Iran. This isn't serious. Way too much is at stake in an attack on Iran, from Israel's perspective.[/QUOTE

Sorry. Perhaps I didn't phrase that well. All I mean is that Israeli hawks are encouraged by past military success and, like hawks everywhere, may become overconfident.

It's interesting, however, how you seem to think about Israel as some rational actor who will take things "seriously," realize how much is at stake and act accordingly.

But there are many reasons to believe that nations that feel threatened, are threatened or work themselves into a paranoic frenzy don't act rationally, and that's true whether they are armed with nuclear bombs or cudgels and rocks.

Israel is a nation that has lived by the sword -- by warfare -- for 60 years. The country is inured to nearly perpetual violent conflict celebrates its militaristic culture and conscripts its teenagers straight out of high school. None of that augurs well for a peaceful future.

Finally, it would be foolish to ignore the right-wing takeover of Israel and growing extremism of both the secular and religious sectors. The fanatical and mystical Settler movement is thriving (and growing); the left has shrunk and been marginalized; and secular Likud has split into a weaker Sharon-Olmert-Livni wing and a stronger Netanyahu-Lieberman.

In other words, there was a time when the narrative of peacemaking had some credibility. Peace was made with Egypt and Jordan. Peace with Syria was plausible, and a deal for Palestinian statehood and an end to Settlements was less than hopeless. Now continued serious conflict seems inevitable. Israel's nukes just raise the stakes of that violence.

I see that you are arguing that regional powers like Iran and Syria may pursue nukes out of interests that have nothing to do with Israel's nuclear bombs. I disagree. I think the road map to peace is only through universal nuclear disarmament. It will not work if the US or Russia or Israel says, "Nukes are fine for us, but you can't have them." That's the whole basis of the two-pronged NPT: nonproliferation AND disarmament.

Obama will have no credibility on his promise to pursue abolition (consistent with the NPT) if discussion of Israel's WMDs is off the table.

Francoamerican
09-28-2009, 04:04 AM
I may be wrong, but this seems to be pure speculation. Do you know anything about why Iran began to develop its nuclear capability when it did? In particular, do you know how much of a factor, if at all, Israel's having nukes was? The fact that for a number of decades Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Lybia, etc. didn't see sufficient reason to embark on programs to develop nukes themselves, suggests that Israel's having them wasn't perceived to be especially threatening (or at least not sufficiently threatening). Are you suggesting that Iran viewed Israel's nuclear capability very differently? If so, what is your evidence for that?

Valid points. It is pure speculation on my part. But I think, given the blindingly obvious logic of nuclear deterrence, that Iran's desire to acquire weapons must have been incited either by Israel or the United States.

I doubt whether the states you mention, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, have the means to develop nuclear weapons. Or perhaps the technical and scientific know-how.

An article on dealing with Iran:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/opinion/28iht-edcohen.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Francoamerican
09-28-2009, 05:10 AM
[QUOTE]Israel is a nation that has lived by the sword -- by warfare -- for 60 years. The country is inured to nearly perpetual violent conflict celebrates its militaristic culture and conscripts its teenagers straight out of high school. None of that augurs well for a peaceful future.

Finally, it would be foolish to ignore the right-wing takeover of Israel and growing extremism of both the secular and religious sectors. The fanatical and mystical Settler movement is thriving (and growing); the left has shrunk and been marginalized; and secular Likud has split into a weaker Sharon-Olmert-Livni wing and a stronger Netanyahu-Lieberman.

In other words, there was a time when the narrative of peacemaking had some credibility. Peace was made with Egypt and Jordan. Peace with Syria was plausible, and a deal for Palestinian statehood and an end to Settlements was less than hopeless. Now continued serious conflict seems inevitable. Israel's nukes just raise the stakes of that violence..

Pessimism of the intellect....but where is the optimism of the will? I tend to share your pessimism about world affairs, but I am a little more optimistic about Israel and the ME because I believe that nations, like individuals, are at bottom self-preserving and rational. The problem has always been that nations live in fear of one another, and poised to attack, because they impute hostile attitudes to their neighbors even when none exist. Collective suicide is always a possibility--think of Nazi Germany---but it is rare.

I see that you are arguing that regional powers like Iran and Syria may pursue nukes out of interests that have nothing to do with Israel's nuclear bombs. I disagree. I think the road map to peace is only through universal nuclear disarmament. It will not work if the US or Russia or Israel says, "Nukes are fine for us, but you can't have them." That's the whole basis of the two-pronged NPT: nonproliferation AND disarmament.

Obama will have no credibility on his promise to pursue abolition (consistent with the NPT) if discussion of Israel's WMDs is off the table.

I agree fully with this. But in our lifetimes?