Friday, 1 July 2011


The US-led Cold War against Iran has been tightening in the last few weeks as NATO has been trying to overthrow the Gaddafi regime. The British government has accused Tehran of conducting missile tests intended to determine if they can deliver nuclear payload at some point in the future. This is a charge that Iran has denied repeatedly, as it has denied wanting to enrich uranium and build a nuclear arsenal. While UK Foreign Secretary William Hague accuses Iran of operating in contravention of U.N. resolutions, namely of wishing to develop nuclear weapons, both UK and the US remain silent about Israel's existing nuclear arsenal or Israel's refusal to negotiate a final settlement for the existence of  Palestinian state.

Iran's nuclear fuel technology program has resulted in more US sanctions (targeting Iran's airline and other companies), with the ultimate goal of pressuring international companies as well. EU followed the US with more sanctions as well, but Iran has not had a difficult time securing needed supplies in the past 30 years, some of those from European countries like Austria, France and even some Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates. But is Iran interested in possessing nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel, Europe and other nations?

The proof is always lacking not only for intentions regarding future policy, but actual intention regarding the purpose of the current nuclear program. This is largely because it is very difficult to prove future intent of the nuclear program. London insists that Tehran has already test-fired 14 missiles, and it has been working on long-range ballistic missiles. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot ascertain if Iran's nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes as it claims, or for military purposes as the US and its allies, especially Israel, contend. In February 2011, the IAEA complained that Iran was less than cooperative.

Does Iran's contemporary history suggest that it would become imperialistic and militaristic like the West, and if it did, is it not the case that it can easily be contained by so many countries, including China and Russia that have a greater geopolitical interest than the West?

The head of Iran's atomic agency, Abbasi-Davani, has been a target for assassination in the past several months. Tehran has blamed Israel, but there is no proof any more than there is proof about the various incidents of Iranian scientists targeted as well as computer programs, and segments of the political opposition that tried to take advantage of the Arab uprisings in the first half of 2011 to stage protests in Iran. Israel, largely driving the Western Cold War against Iran, has repeatedly argued that Tehran has been distracting the world with the Arab uprisings in order to build its missile and nuclear arms program. 

A number of US senators have been trying to use the human rights record of Iran to persuade public opinion and governments to adopt stronger anti-Iranian policies. The ultimate goal is to pressure China not to help Iran with its nuclear energy program, and to punish companies selling everything from defense technology to spare parts for Iran's refineries. However, the human rights record of Iran must be measured against that of the rest of the Middle East, not Norway and Sweden. According to human rights organizations, the US has one of the worst human rights records in the last ten years among advanced countries, thus it does not have much credibility around the world criticizing other human rights violators.

Can a containment policy toward Iran work as it did with the Communist bloc? Many in the US government certainly believe so, as do many Europeans. The problem with the effort to win the new Cold War is that the US no longer enjoys the preeminent global role that it did during the old Cold War. The only solution is political and Iran has repeatedly made gestures in that direction in order to achieve the international legitimacy that many within the government want. Given that there are competing factions within the government, given that China and Russia are willing to negotiate, why is the US, Israel and the larger EU members only interested in confrontation instead of resolution?

If there is an end to the diplomatic and economic Cold War with Iran, doesn't that mean that:
a) the US and its partners must acknowledge Iran as the major Middle Eastern power;
b) the war on Islamic terrorism as a pretext for military invasions and perpetual hostilities would have to end; c) Israel would have to come to terms with the Palestinians and its neighbors;
d) US concedes losing the battle for determining the Middle East balance of power to Russia and China;
e) a new Cold War would have to follow, for without it the US cannot possibly justify its exorbitant defense spending and keeping NATO as an extension of its military?

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