Monday, July 21, 2008

Speaking Softly When Unsure About the Big Stick

I'm a bit concerned about all the public rhetoric from Western leaders (including Secretary of State Rice, British PM Brown, etc.) about the terrible consequences Iran faces if it doesn't open negotiations to end its nuclear program. Yet another anemic Security Council resolution is not a major, awe-inspiring threat; unilateral sanctions can pinch but unless China is fully on board then they remain annoyances rather than existential threats. I don't know that the groundwork has been laid among the P-5 and Germany about what stronger measures against Iran would entail--and I don't know that other states are convinced that an Israeli or U.S. military strike is imminent and therefore they need to pull out all the stops to get Tehran to the table to talk seriously.

So in order to counteract any possibility that negotiations might succeed, use the hostile rhetoric to sabotage the attempt. Great.
The view in Iran is that there is a high likelihood of a potential war to destroy the Iranian state within the next 20 years.

There, in Tehran, lies the view that Turkey, Pakistan - singly or together - may attack Iran, fully supported by US, EU, Saudi Arabia, and others.

The nuclear capability of Iran, i.e. the ability to build a nuclear weapon on short notice is a matter of state and society survival for Iran.

This view is not a narrow one; many thinking Iranians inside or outside of the government share this view.

Can US & EU guarantee the survival of Iran against a virulently anti-Shia Pakistan armed with nuclear weapons? I think not.

If the aim of these discussions is some sort if Iranian surrender with Iran giving up nuclear capability it will fail. If the aim is to pave the way for a US-EU war against Iran, that war will not change the strategic calculus. If the aim is to give enough inducements to Iran so that she will take into considerations the US-EU interests in the Levant and the Persian Gulf then there might be a small chance for success.

Iranians, in my opinion, will go to war now to maintain their nuclear capability than to face the prospects of almost certain destruction 20 years from now at the hands of Turkey or Pakistan.
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