Thursday, August 31, 2006

Securing the Middle East with a Nuclear Iran?

First the introduction:
Even as the United States, the EU and others work to stop it, Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons seems inevitable. But is this such a bad outcome? In "Blueprint for Action," Thomas P.M. Barnett explores the security implications involved from a U.S. point of view of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and why it may be the best thing for the United States and the wider Middle East.

There was a discussion on CSPAN from an author (don't remember the name) that his theory was that the world is safer because of Nuclear Proliferation and not less. He basically said that we should encourage nations to get nuclear weapons and not discourage.
Iran is not a source for, or a supporter of, the jihadist movement embodied by al Qaeda. As a Shiite state, its definition of “revolution” differs from that track altogether.

Yes we can say that Iran's Shiite state has different philosophies than al Qaeda but does that mean that they have different goals? Are they willing to join forces for a common desire? And do they always use different tactics? But have we not seen that Iran is willing to use the same tactics through Hezbollah and Hamas as well as the Shiites in Iraq?
Iran is a nation-state first and foremost, not some transnational religious-inspired movement.

So I must be fooling myself that the Mullahs have no power in Iran. They may not want to do the dirty work but this does not mean that they will not use proxies or recruits to spread their ideology. Iran has for decades wanted hegemony over the Arab countries. That is why Saddam actually had some support from other Arab nations in his fight with Iran.
Iran is not interested in overthrowing the West’s political and economic order, it just wants to receive its due place in those corridors of power.

Yes it wants respect. But respect does not come from acting like a child and secondly respect is earned not granted.
Often from what I see, it is authoritarian regimes want/desire respect. North Korea is much the same way. Lastly there is no "due place" for any nation. They just like members of a team must find their own place and this is hopefully with respect to others.
Quest for the bomb:
But even in its quest for the bomb, Tehran displays a calculated cynicism throughout, demonstrating all too well that it understands that nukes are for having, not for using.
Iran will get the bomb, no matter how the United States or its allies seek to prevent that outcome. Tehran was the regional power most pleased by seeing both the Taliban and Saddam deposed.

Yes that is a rational understanding but there has been enough indications that Israel may be a target even if it is not with use of the nuclear bomb. It may just send over a missile as an act of terrorism-even if it is just dude.
So if Tehran is going to get the bomb no matter what, the question shifts from “What can the United States do to prevent it?” to “What does the United States get out of it?”

That is a logical question. But what did we get from China, Pakistan or North Korea? This still has not convinced me that prevention from them making a bomb is not worth it.
Iran is the one country in the region where it’s the rulers who hate the United States and the public that loves us

I can agree with this statement, from my reading and from people I have met.
Why? Because a huge hang-up in the Palestinian-Israeli struggle has been the Muslim world’s sense of military inferiority, which was first proven in a series of wars across the latter half of the twentieth century and which remains codified in the popular imagination by Israel’s possession of both the bomb and a nuclear superpower sponsor willing to wage war on its behalf — two things the Middle East’s Muslim states have always lacked.

Some how they managed to not feel inferior when the wars broke out in 1948 and 1967. With five armies and Israel's back to the sea, they could not "win". So whose fault is that? Saddam effectively destroyed his and Iran's war making ability for some time. It also seems that Barnett has little memory of history. Many of the Arab states had the backing of Russia and presently China is getting into the picture. So yes they had the backing of a superpower with the bomb. And from an editorial from Kuwait: Arabs Must 'Accept Defeat' in Lebanon
. Which is basically saying just get over it. Spend your energy on something more productive than hate.
Security through nuclear equality?
Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons levels that playing field in a proximate sense, by finally allowing the Muslim Middle East to sit one player at the negotiating table as Israel’s nuclear equal. This is not just opportune, it is crucial.

But as I mentioned earlier not too many people in Arab States would like that idea. This then would quickly result in Saudi Arabia aquiring the Bomb. Which is rumoured to take around 6 months if they wanted it. Turkey which has already had nuclear weapons on its soil before Cuba did. Would we want a dozen countries having the Bomb? If one went off (accidentally or on purpose), can you imagine what the world would go through?
Would Iran give terrorists the bomb? Only if terrorists could get Iran something that it could not otherwise achieve directly with the West.

So we are going to trust the Mullahs? We are also to assume that terrorists will never have something to offer. Iran can already achieve anything it wants from the West. It does not need to blackmail the world.
In which scenario do you think Tehran might risk it all by sponsoring a terrorist WMD strike against Israel or the West — when it has something to lose or nothing to lose? If America wants Iran to act responsibly in the region, it needs to give Iran some responsibility for regional security.

But why should we risk those scenarios to start with? That's it maybe others (including Arabs, Israelis, etc) do not want Iran to have hegemony over the Arab States. I don't see Iran being responsible on many levels so no why give them more responsibility?
Everybody wins:
Meanwhile, offering Tehran’s government-reform elements economic carrots in exchange for denying the hard-line mullahs their self-perceived nuclear security blanket remains an unworkable approach.
In sum, this scenario pathway presents wins for all sides. The United States finally gets a Muslim security partner in the region worth having (as opposed to, say, the “sick man of the Arab world,” Egypt, or even the let-them-eat-cake royal mafia in Saudi Arabia).
Israel finally gets enough buy-in from the Islamic world for the two-state solution to proceed. Iran gets to return to its rightful place as regional-power-of-note and its public experiences growing economic connectivity with the outside world, which in turn, will inevitably restart a political reform process that rapidly marginalizes the mullahs’ religious-based political rule.

No, not everyone wins. Israel and most of the gulf states as well as much of Europe would be within range of WMD from Iran. I wonder what economic carrots we could possibly offer that has not been given or can not be obtained by Iran. Oil prices are high, Iran is able to sell as much as it wants, what more could they want?

In conclusion, yes maybe nuclear proliferation can make the world safer but I would want it under the direction of "Liberal Democracies". When free people get to decide their government in Iran and not under an Islamic Regime then I would accept Iran as a nuclear partner if that is what the people of Iran want.

1 Comments:

Blogger hank_F_M said...

From an an unpublished post in my writers block file:



Hans J. Morgenthau is among the most venerated scholars in the field of International Relations. His seminal text, Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. (1948) , see for a short but excellent summery of a long book.

He proposed the following:

All political phenomena can be reduced to one of three basic types: keeping power, increasing power, and demonstrating power. Internationally, these patterns are transformed into policies: status quo (keeping power); imperialism (increasing power); and prestige (demonstrating power). The quote is from the article.

NOTE: “power” is used in neutral political science meaning of the ability to influence or cause. Also he does not necessarily impute good or bad to the policies though his prejudice can be seen from where he puts Imperialism.

These “political phenomena” tend to operate because of ones place in the structure, even if one does not think in these terms. They are often masked by the concrete proposals and issues of the day.

The United States in the post World War II era is classic status quo.
France, since DeGaulle, follows a classic Prestige Policy. The French leadership would like the honor and glory that was the French leaderships in better days, but tthey do not want to upset the status quo that gives France it’s prosperity or their platform to demand more prestige. It is often difficult to separate an anti-status quo from a prestige policy, the rhetoric in both cases sounds the same.

*****************

To restate your post:

Nuclear proliferation is not a problem if every body is following a status quo policy and every knows it.

Does the group that runs Iran want to get invited to bigger and better cocktail parties on the diplomatic circuit - overturn or increase their role in the system to their ideal/favor or maintain a brave front to stay in power. If you figure it out don’t tell me: tell Secretary Rice. A big question since each situation should be handled differently.

If, as you suggest, Iran really wants a change in the status quo (not simply more prestige) but without overturning the system, after which it follow a status quo policy, would create quite a dilemma. If done well it could produce a stable balance of power reducing the chance of serious war their for several decades, but from a human rights stand point it condemn the populations of several countries in the area despotism and probably some demoicde for those same decades.

Genuine democracy is a good thing. Whatever the policy chosen, it will require a large enough consensus that the chance carrying any of the polices to the point of stupidity will be greatly alleviated.

9/01/2006 10:22 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home