U.S. Policy Toward Iran

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 9, 2008
Iran Missile Test

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Today, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns testified on U.S. policy toward Iran. We thought DipNote's readers would be interested in what Under Secretary Burns said:

"...I have no illusions about the grave dangers presented by the behavior of the Iranian regime, or the difficulties of changing that behavior. I am convinced that we cannot do it alone, and that a strong international coalition is crucial. Hard-nosed diplomacy, backed up by all the tools at our disposal and as much leverage as we and our partners can muster, is also an essential ingredient. As Secretary Rice said earlier this year, 'America has no permanent enemies, we harbor no permanent hatreds. Diplomacy, if properly practiced, is not just talking for the sake of talking. It requires incentives and disincentives to make the choice clear to those with whom you are dealing that you will change your behavior if they are willing to change theirs.'

That is the kind of approach that helped produce significant breakthroughs with Libya several years ago, including its abandonment of terrorism and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is the kind of approach that is beginning to produce results in our multilateral diplomacy with North Korea. It may or may not produce results on Iran, with whom we have had a relationship burdened by deep-seated grievances and suspicions, and a long history of missed opportunities and crossed signals. But it is important for us to try, bearing in mind that our audience is not only the Iranian regime, but also the Iranian people and the wider international coalition we are seeking to reinforce. At a minimum, it seems to me, it is important to create in this Administration as strong an international diplomatic mechanism as we possibly can to constrain Iranian behavior, on which the next Administration can build. Our choices are not going to get any easier in the months and years ahead, but they will be even more difficult if we don't use all our diplomatic tools wisely now."

Comments

Comments

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- Well Joe, my best advice to the Russians on how to be a super power by definition is that the definition is not simply the projection of military power.

To be a true super power, one must feed the world for it generates the good will neccessary to have lasting influence upon nations.

That's another reason why the Soviet Union no longer exists, beyond the failed socio/economic model of Communism.

To get back to Amadinijad's conundrum ...you wrote: "My end was that President Ahmadinejad of Iran will not be as easily moved as Kim was due to the countries natural resources."

You can be as rich as you want to be, but if you have nowhere to spend it, what good is it?

Which would also prompt me to remind Russian arms dealers that when there's no one left to buy the weapons, there will be no place to spend the profits....not because of sanction, but because there will be no one left to take your money.

Kind of self defeating to have Russian biologists helping Iranian WMD efforts over the years, with or without the Russian government's knowledge.

And Joe, the thing about "the now" is that its context surrounding "the now" is filled with the echos of the past.

We're witness to that in the form of comments herein, as well in the world at large.

It's not that the past doesn't matter, or even relevent to "the now" so much as it colors the events of "the now". Time being a constant state of flux, between the past and the future. The perception of that "color" ...well....how do you convince a blind man the sky is blue if he has always been taught to believe it is brown?

I think, in order to learn....any individual must first acknowledge one's ignorance of knowing everything, for there's simply too much imput available for any one brain to absorb in a lifetime.

And that is a humbling realization when it is truly achieved.

The Russians made a mistake at that meeting, for they failed to recognise that in learning their history, it was also possible for their history to earn our scholarly respect, and respects to it were being paid.

I think that the mindset of having "lost" the cold war prevented them from seeing this as anything but grandstanding and crowing over the West's "victory". And I put these adjectives in quotes because they are not correct decription of reality as humanity itself has won. Only perceptions of national pride have lost.

As I said to Zharkov, "We arn't out of the woods yet."

Precicely because of the echos that surround the context of our "now".

I used to be an audio engineer, studied the physics of sound, accoustics...

If one thinks of an echo as a wave form that is a secondary reflection of a sound source, there can exist in the same volume of space wherein echos collide and waveforms intersect, two phenomena existing simultaneously in "the now" where one may experience a frequency cancellation or a mutually reinforced node of amplitude called a harmonic, depending on point of reference in the room.

The trick for any live sound engineer (or diplomat) is to create a "room" or "context" that has niether phenomena occuring out of proportion with a correct and accurate representation of the original sound source over the entire frequency spectrum, as well as the correct amount of reverb (or echos) for the environment, as an enhancement to the "space" created. (or reality, if you will).

So it is with US/Russian bilateral relations that diplomatic harmonics and frequency drop-outs occur, and are tamed by the leadership to create a more balanced "now".

And so I look at greater assertion of military presence in part as taking their responsibilities to things like the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) seriously.

And in that respect these efforts are eliminating drop-outs in international security coverage in real time.

At the same time, some policies the Russians take on serve to undermine long term security, including their own.

Their relations with Iran are a good example of this duality.

The UN can create a harmonic with a resolution...mutually reinforcing the will of nations, but the goal is not to have to impose that will in the first place.

Rather, it would be best if the Iranians really understood that they can choose another path that won't involve howling feedback from the main speakers.

But, unlike Communism which in essence was an economic ideology to begin with, a theocratic ideology is not as able to adapt a better model when the old one no longer serves the people's interests.

And this is I think far more of a factor in producing fixated negotiating postures than anything else when seen in isolation as a "source". But all factors including resources must be factored into "the mix".

Perhaps the metaphor is not as clear as I'd like, but it's the best I can articulate it at the moment. Hope folks grasp what I'm saying.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 17, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Eric, you missed the point completely.

My position has always been: Without the good America and Americans do, where would the world be? In chaos is the answer, which makes the preservation of all aspects of America the goal, centered from HOME BASE first, not last.

We had the economic advantage and now do not. A capitalist system is premised on money and use, protection and control of that money...no more and no less. It should flourish well, and does, in a true democracy who's leadership does not lose sight of impute functions related to the People of whom they represent, not the extended interest of corporations first. This is what got us into this mess. It is not very complicated.

They tried to use economic History to blame ALAN GREENSPAN, but he was most elementary on more than one occasion with the simplicity of: You cannot keep sending work and money out of a business or country and keep printing money to compensate for it with some belief that it will all level out somehow. Greenspan is not the problem, Congress was. Not the President, not Military intelligence, not our intelligence network, not the DOS, but Congress. If there has been any abuse of power in this Great Society, it is in the representation of the people. Politics, Greed and predictability were the compensation factors that gave the power of a simple event to lead to a record oil price, which devalued our overall economy here in the US and internationally with the drop in currency price. So we get Mexico to honor us and lower the price, etc. Who is going to replace the funds lost at the bank? The taxpayer, not Russia or Iran, who is going to replace the jobs lost? ...you get the drift.

Our leadership made America's economic stance weak and this was duly noted by the Russians in the extended talks back in the 90's?the point being WHAT DOES AMERICA HAVE TO OFFER ITS ALLIES beyond military might if our economy fails or is controlled externally. Inside of five years, they were on top of the game -- and where were where? -- going downhill quickly, selling out and giving away our jobs, money, food, military hardware (not really selling them), our lives -- to what end? Russia and China both fired more than a warning shot, and no one listened. Now where do we stand?

Iran is simply a pawn of Russia. Russia has moved into a Major Power with our help and with great ease, yet no one seen it coming?

Russia is more than an impressive world power at this junction, belittling them is blissful ignorance -- even with our safeguards. We need to get back in the game and sometimes that means to admit you failings and regroup at home, not sporadically as needed or after a problem.

You will not do anything with Iran until you open talks with Russia on the nuclear umbrella, pure and simple. They will continue to use their pawns..and by the way, on July 14, 2008 America was referred to as pawns and not major pieces on the board by their new President..in open statement to the press. They also intend to hold economic talks which will be more exacting than G8 with world leaders and are not including the US. We have some serious problems NOT BEING addressed.

Iran is not the real problem here and even I was just pulled into the tangential deferment so often used.

Jim
|
Texas, USA
July 18, 2008

Jim in Texas writes:

And again we yield.

I have been around long enough to remember the day the embassy was taken. Do you remember the outrage? I still am!

Fifteen years later, I was fortunate to speak with an Iranian who was on that front line that day. What started as a "can I share your table" at lunch turned into a 4 hour conversation. What I thought "I knew" was from the television and reading the news papers. It did not match what he said.

I was upset about the "taking over the embassy." He was upset about the "Shah." It was the first time I was informed about the Shah and found out how much I really didn't know. Since that time, research and history has proven him correct.

Now, Under Secretary Burns stated "...with whom we have had a relationship burdened by deep-seated grievances and suspicions, and a long history of missed opportunities and crossed signals." I think he got this backwards.

After talking tough, the Carter Administration yielded and showed the world American's weakness. The current administration has for years talked tough and now America yields again.

This administration continues to send mixed signals to the world and the American people. This is not Diplomacy but Propaganda.

And right before an election... Does this administration have no shame?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- I wasn't targeting your point Joe. Just expanding on something you said in passing, along the way to making your point.

But hey, I always take someone who's claiming "the sky's falling" on our nation with a grain of salt.

I just don't buy it Joe, so we'll just have to agree to disagree on your point. Which by the way I've commented on many times before on other threads here.

"Iran is not the real problem here..."

Funny, I thought Iran was the topic of this thread for some reason... Seems to be the problem at hand...no?

We need a suggestion box for topics I think, that way the staff at Dipnote can devote one regarding the economic impact of foreign policy in general, pro and con.

Then you can let 'r rip....and I'll gladly debate you.

But on the assertion you made regarding Iran being Russia's tool...that's interesting. Unless you have your own intel, I'd say Iran was never told to by Russia, because they were more than happy to launch some fireworks all by themselves.

Besides, the "Frankenstien" Russia has helped to create is likely to turn on its master.

And the Russians know this.

Better factor this fact into your theory.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Jim, it's called exhausting diplomacy, which is going to be neccessary if any kinetic action is to be justifiable upon that becoming the last option.

I wouldn't read too much into a one time meeting.

Patrick
|
Maryland, USA
July 18, 2008

Patrick in Maryland writes:

I thought it was proven the photo ia a hoax. Why is it still up there??

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Jim, Ironic that the Iranian revolution was all about ending the Shah's overbering state security policies (SAVIK) and now you have MOIS, Bassij all conducting brutal crackdowns for many years since on the population. Including religious minorities, ethnic minorities, any and all political opposition, and factory workers and unions looking for a timely paycheck and better working conditions.

I have no doubt that were the regime to be removed, that more mass graves will be found than in Iraq. Filled by the one's who claimed to be bringing an Islamic Utopia to fruition.

----------

P.S. Joe, a lot of things surrounding your point happens to be major campaign issues in this election. Because Dipnote policy states: "The blog is not open to commentspromoting or opposing any person campaigning for election to a political office or promoting or opposing any ballot proposition."

It becomes a little problematic in fully adressing your domestic issues here. In respect to where things are headed.

Too bad in a way...it would be a real treat to see the candidates themselves conduct an impromtu "town hall" on Dipnote, on foreign policy.

If the following quote from a separate topic currently up is relevent:

"It may not be quite clear yet as to what impact social media will have exactly on foreign policymaking. What is evident, though, is that foreign policy does not operate in a vacuum, and it must incorporate or respond to changes in communications."

I appreciate the goal of this not becoming a battleground between political parties, but I was thinking their personal participation could be restricted as well to the above policy, so that ideas alone are discussed, rather than the merits of the individuals.

And that would require a lot of dicipline from both, but it could put the blog itself front and center in the public's awareness and that might be a real good thing given that the public would have a greater understanding of how US foreign policy is actually being conducted. As well as promting greater awarenesss of the role the Dept. of State plays in all of it.

Which is as I understand it, the "onus" of State's delving into social media in the first place.

Iran being a top issue in this election, and the public's understanding being critical to long term solutions...the question of where the future policy may differ from present is an essential element of the debate.

I hope the pro's and con's will be duly considered by the Dipnote staff.

Dipnote-"the art of the possible", as such, should hold it's own in think-tank town.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

That's the real photo Patrick. The fake photoshopped one erased the unlaunched missile in the foreground and replaced it with a composite of the three others launching to make it look like they all launched as planned.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 19, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Having just watched the press briefing in Geneva, the Iranian representitive talked of woven Iranian carpets, and his country being a "beacon of Democracy" in the region.

There was no answer, other than more nonsense spoken than I've heard in any 10 minute time span in my entire lifetime from any single Iranian I've heard talk on this issue, save possibly Amanidijad himself.

The man was sitting on a gaping hole in the carpet of his rhetoric. Hope Mr. Burns pointed that out to folks.

From what I heard from Solana, the Iranians have been given 2 weeks to come up with a firm yes or no.

In my opinion, the P5+1 is being taken for a magic carpet ride.

As it ever was. Same old thing, different day.

When and if the P5+1 withdraw the offer made and get down to serious efforts to end the problem, then you might get a strait answer if the Iranians are looking at only sticks and no carrots anymore, because they had no coherant response to give to the carrots. No response , no carrots.

Withdraw the offer and the P5+1 will get the Iranians to finally take it seriously, but it has to be taken off the table for them to realize they are on the losing end of their failed "diplomacy". One may offer it again if they say they are now willing to accept its terms and conditions, but they need to know it is a limited time offer.

Not an open ended one....because that only serves their "strategic" motives for stringing out the process.

Otherwise, in two weeks we will have another non-answer.

Count on it.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 19, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Our own actions at home affect the validity of our representation abroad. That is a truth Statement on which all is premised...

The views of governing are always political and the historical valuation, which you like to use so much, is not one sided politically at all. In fact the overall reading would encompass both political parties, so there is no divining rod or line drawn...the point is simple:

How can America be a power with no real base to work from beyond corporate leverage, which is a DIRECT VIOLATION of the LOGAN ACT. We have moved to a corporate America and the citizen is last, not first. This has been going on since 1978...so, yes it is political, but again:

Without America, where would the world be? If we put our people last, we will give up our power vested in the Constitution which is the basis for our Democracy. It is about America, not politics and what we stand for. Hypocrisy doesn't hold value with money for everyone....

Our own actions at home affect the validity of our representation abroad. That is a truth Statement on which all is premised...

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Actually Joe, I think as important as what we do for our own citizens lends validity to our policies abroad, it is far more important to people in other nations what our actions are within those nations that lend the most validity (or lack of) with that audience.

This is not to say that other governments are separate from either the problem or solution, their presence in the context is a given. Just as history supplies context to "the now".

Here's an example:

Wedding Parties in Afghanistan involve the firing of guns in celebration, and is tradition among the people. Unfortunately, this creates the appearance of a gun battle, and on several occasions whole wedding parties have virtually been wiped out...by US airstrikes.

There's a very simple solution to this, and it need not be further tragedy for Afghans, if only President Karzai would speak to his people and ask them to inform the NATO forces of wedding plans so that the commander can send rice and salt with a personal representitive as gifts to the happy couple instead of possibly mistaking the event for lack of that info as being Taleban activity.

I don't think you understand what leverage is all about Joe, because it isn't allways about arm twisting.

It's all about trust.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 23, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

I'm not sure who will read this question since this topic is now on the second page.

I just read the report "Ex-Advisers Warn Against Threatening to Attack Iran" which Scowcroft and Brzezinski both voiced their concern about using threats of force against Iran. Reading this article prompted me to wonder "Who shapes the State Dept. policy?" Who are the varies factions that get to put in their say over our foreign affairs and the like? I don't know about Scowcroft, but I read a short bio on Brzezinski and this guy has amazed me. Time and time again in his long career he's made startlingly accurate predictions about things that were going to happen 5, 10, even 15 years in the future. When I look around and see the so called experts on TV and in print voicing their opinions on what will unfold in the future, most of them are wrong -- usually often and by a wide margin. Judging the vagaries of world events and the consequential effects is notoriously difficult, heck, a lot of learned scholars didn't see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming and I couldn't even tell you what's coming on TV tomorrow. So when you've got a guy who is batting much higher than average, I wonder if his voice still has any sway over current policies? How much influence do think tanks and foreign analyst consortia have in our government? Or does it depend on the current administration? Answering some of these questions would be a great way for the DipNote to pull back the curtain on the sometimes (read: often) mysterious workings behind the State Dept. and give us common joes a glimpse into the vast machinery of our oldest institution.

As far as Iran goes, continued united pressure with incentives may break down the resistance to change over time, that sounds like a good way to go, but threatening people with violence of the worst sort, backing them into a corner, will make those people fight all the harder. I know if I, (and probably most people) feel my life threatened with no way to escape, I'll lash out in desperation, make a last stand and go out guns blazing so to speak. People are geared to fight to the death when their very existence is in peril so I don't see how creating fear and thus clouded reactionary thinking in the minds of those we want to persuade could have any beneficial effect. Intimidation is an important part of diplomacy, it is he iron hand inside the velvet glove, it has it's place and every once in a while it's time to take the gloves off. This does not seem like the context to use it. Even Sun Tzu wrote that when you have your enemy cornered, do not fight -- but instead allow them an escape route but hedge them in so that they wear themselves out fleeing and submit after exhaustion rather than fighting to the death. It may take longer but great plans like what we're trying to accomplish in Iran require patience and nuance. Going by Sun Tzu's advice, instead of being reckless and using brute force at the cost of lives to get what we want, if we consider the welfare of our men and women, as well as those we are currently arranged against, then we are on the true righteous path of the Warrior-Diplomat-Scholar. Which is what our President should be.

But I'm still curious, who pulls the levers at the State Department and determines our policy?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 23, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Kirk, A lot of Iranians hold Mr. B more than a little responsible for Khomeni coming to power in 79. As for far sightedness, the Carter admin. either never saw it coming, or if they did, never tried to stop it in any effective manner.

20/20 hindsight being what it is, makes me wonder if folks in Europe regret having let Khomeni even board the plane to return to Iran.

Things would be a lot different today had different decisions been made. So I take any insights Mr. B may have had with a grain of salt, because when it mattered, he struck out on a wild pitch.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 24, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Well, some Iranians may think Brzezinski had some influence, but if they wish to hold anyone responsible they need only to look to themselves. They supported Khomeni and ushered him into power. It's unfortunate the Islamic Revival coincided with a step backwards to people's individual freedoms, economic development, secular education, and tech advancement. As most moderate Muslims would say, progressive thought and Islamic faith are not mutually exclusive.

I have sympathy for the Iranian people, though, because (1) It's easy to trick a hungry person with food. And (2) The Shah, Pahlavi, laid the groundwork himself for a populist leader to take over. Khomeni was a wolf in sheep's clothing, who used the sentiments of the time to ride the crest to power under the false guise of liberal progression and then instituted a conservative state over the people. He was an adept political maneuverer, a well learned scholar who had excellent public persona, image cultivation, and presence. Unfortunately he was also a cunning devious religious fanatic who had ambitions to seize power all for himself.

On the opposite side, you've got the Shah, who was a progressive thinker himself, but suffered from a lack of the "delicate touch" in administration. For one, he was "installed" and did not go through the years of training under the tutelage of a more capable leader like his father that a lot of princes did. His royalty probably also hindered him, they have a tendency to be separated from the concerns of the people. While he had grand ambitions to modernize, he did not tend to the needs of his people first. The people are fickle and resistant to change, more so if that change results in a loss of economic opportunity, cultural heritage, and property. So when the Shah allowed the British to run roughshod over the country, taking most of the wealth, he made a fatal error- without the money to support the welfare of the people, the people would never consent to change. His heavy handed attempts to suppress the people, push through his modern reforms, and remain in power made the ground fertile for an opportunist like Khomeni to sweep in.

Ironically, the person who would have helped Pahlavi the most was Mohammed Mosaddeq himself. If the Shah would have protected Mosaddeq then he would have garnered the wealth of the oil reserves needed to push through his reforms without resistance. But when Mosaddeq tried to nationalize the oil, British and US governments collaborated on his removal. Truman would have never agreed to such an act. But Eisenhower was a general, who never served in congress, and "to a Hammer everything looks like a Nail." When he saw the opportunity to use tactics that work against a wartime enemy, he did. Eisenhower did a lot of great things in his presidency, but this wasn't one of them.

When Secretary Rice said that between the US and Iran there had been an unfortunate "...history of misunderstandings, suspicion, and mixed messages..." she wasn't kidding. If another country utilized a covert black-ops intelligence agency to infiltrate my country to topple our democratically elected representative solely for their economic gain and security, I'd be pretty distrustful of them, too. Not only was that despicable act a black stain on our history and honor of the US but it has directly affected the situation in Iran we have now.

As for the British, the played a part in it, as well, by not using fair negotiating practices when they used their military presence to pressure Iran into the Anglo-Iranian Oil deal. I don't know much about negotiating, but I do know this, if you have the upper hand and can set the terms, whether it's the surrender of the enemy or a business deal, if you make the concessions too high, even if they agree, inside they will be filled with resentment. Sooner or later that will manifest itself in a different form (the embassy hostage crisis). The US Government is a good utilizer of the Machiavellian strategies, of (sometimes but often not)covert influence, and power bargaining, but they lack the finesse to A. do it smoothly without detection and B. at home and abroad, to stroke the people, seduce them, and reassure them persuasively that their way is the best. We're getting better, the State Dept. is doing things in this area to work on people's hearts and minds, but our history of it has been poor. In the case of Iran, our lack of grace and ease in international affairs with a proclivity for using strong arm and covet tactics has bit us in the ass now that Iran is trying to acquire the nuclear power which will enable them to effectively deter foreign meddling in their affairs. If we hadn't helped the British and tried to manipulate the natural democratic process which ultimately caused it to collapse, they may have become an ally of ours by now, prosperous and free, and inclined to promote our mutual interests through out the region.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 24, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk,

In my reading of declassified CIA and Brit intel files regarding the removal of Mosaddeq, there are a number of factors that you may not be aware of that put more light on the context.

After ww2, both the UK and the US forced the Soviets to honor their wartime agreements to fully withdraw forces from Iranian territory. The Soviets were not happy about this.

The Soviets desired a warm water port and was looking to Iran to provide one. But the only way that would happen is if they were able to kick the UK out of Iran starting with its interests in oil fields the Brits had helped Iran develop. As for stealing the wealth, the Brits actually enabled Iran to become a major energy supplier through their investment in the physical infrastructure, and they were certainly entitled to a return on the investment. But the Iranians profited as well from this, and still are.

So I think that's the wrong way to describe UK or US intent, and the history.

The Soviets were using Mosaddeq for thier own strategic purpose, and what would have followed had he not been removed would have been a Soviet led campaign to assimilate Iran into the Soviet empire through political manipulation, not unlike what happened in Afghanistan in the early years just after the Taraki regime came into power..(post Zahir Shah, post Doud-Zahir Shah's cousin who was removed by Taraki with the help of Russia.

Instead of some Machivellian plan Kirk, what removing Mosaddeq actually accomplished was a fairly stable Iran, instead of one that may very well have ended up looking like the later years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, with a protracted civil war as a result. What has been described as "democratic" in Mosaddeq's rise was actually a concerted effort on the part of the Soviets to gain influence in Iranian affairs. As they did under Khomeni to a fair degree.

So, I have a slightly different take on the history than most, simply because I've read the source documentation.

People can be fooled and I agree that Iranians themselves had been on a number of occasions, especially in 79. Look at how the Taleban came into power in Afghanistan...carried photos of Zahir Shah with them promising to bring the King back to his people.

Iranians still have the problem of being caught in the middle between dysfunctional internal political agendas, and the national interests of world powers.

As I said in a previous post, the regurgitated talking point surrounding past history are a little boring to me.

Been over this particular subject many times with many people, and I encorage research as a means to seeing the truth.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 25, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Well, that does put the situation in an entirely different perspective. That's the problem with learning through things like wikipedia articles- you may get a good general history, some of it is even pretty in-depth, but it lacks the nuance that is require to really understand a situation, so I'm going to follow your lead and try to navigate past the topical information to get as close as I can to original statements, first hand observations, and the intel that doesn't make into the "polished" versions of the truth. In other areas of study, I usually get much better grasp of the subtleties after breezing past the top layer of info and start buying books by scholars (since I bought some of the books on the Foreign Affairs Professional Reading List, it looks like the next few weeks are going to be hip-deep in study. I'd be interested if you have any books you would recommend?). I've always had an interest in diplomacy and world affairs but it wasn't until very recently that I started following events closely and tried to use history to put it in context. It wasn't until a few months ago that I signed up for the automatic State Dept. emails, which has helped quite a bit, but with all of the issues going on and all the information one needs to read and digest to accurately understand them, I feel like I'm playing catch-up to all the folks who've had years, decades even, of study and reflection. Whew! Reading your assessments, as well as some of the other bloggers, has also really helped.

I followed those links you provided earlier in this thread and gave them a cursory glance, but I haven't had the chance to pour over the content as well as I'd like. But as it seems now, it looks like Iran is on the verge of collapse. I wonder what the next step the government is going to take...?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 25, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk, It's been awhile, but let me do some digging through my email, and perhaps I can dig up the link to the information I found, then passed on.

You might try a site search on CIA's website, and see what comes up.

And then for background, try reading up on US lend lease aid to the Soviets, because Iran was the southern route the aid went through.

What will happen next? Anything's possible with a government on the brink of economic collapse, including pushing the US into a war to desperately try and solidify public support for the regime.

Let us hope they don't already have a device, because I think the Iranian government fully capable of martyring its own citizens by nuking Nantez themselves, just to make it look like a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the US or Isreal.

May sound a little far fetched, but then I've put a lot of research into the regime, and if they thought they could get away with it, they would.

I leave it to your imagination to consider the hypothetical results of such an act.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 25, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Thank you very much! I am looking forward to what appears to be some illuminating reading. Thanks again.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 28, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

You guys believe in UFOs too?

Plenty of research on them too, maybe they left some new WMD in Iran -- or perhaps the Ruskies did!

Everyone wants to live, survival and prevailing is the end game, not elimination on a grand scale.

Ultimatums come from weak political or military positions.

Collect comic books? CIA reading room -- get realistic, do you actually think they would let the general public have actual knowledge that is nonbiased or could warp our overall objectives? One of the major functions of CIA and NSA is to protect that information-long and short term.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well Joe, as you seem to be coming from another planet...(seeing is believing, but I suppose anything is possible) LOL!

Is what it is, part of the archived record that was declassified about a decade ago.

Simply lends some context to US thinking in that era. If you can't appreciate it, it's not my problem...only your's.

Much less of a cartoon fantasy than most of your posts I might add, but you arn't here to have a reasonable discussion with me about this or any other subject, are you?

You get what you give brother....ain't no respect deserving for your "imput" if it's given with disrespect for other's.

Suggest you read up on the policies of discussion here, because I'm telling you "no mas" joe...no more. Next time get's my formal complaint to Dipnote, so I suggest you either not engage in little children's games with me, or simply grow up and get real.

Ultimatums come from being fed up to the eyeballs with the status quo. Not from weak diplomacy or strategic position....because the US doesn't "bluff". And neither do I.

So try patronizing someone else Joe, I'm not buying what your selling....

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 28 -- Residents of the central Iranian city of Arak, famous as the site of a heavy-water reactor the authorities are building, held a protest last week against the government's suspected nuclear weapons projects, Iran Focus has learnt.

The Iranian opposition satellite station Simaye Azadi aired footage of the rally on Sunday following an apparent explosion at a petro-chemical factory in Arak.

The television station said it had received the footage from supporters of the main opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq.

"Nuclear energy = money in the pocket of the leader", the demonstrators chanted, in a reference to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "Nuclear energy = killer of the people", they added.

Click here to watch to the video footage

http://www.iranfocus.com/en/

--end article--

I'm not one to support the MEK, being they are on Dept. of State's terrorist org list. But these folks did expose Iran's nuclear program to the world in 2002, and occasionally come up with some interesting intel.

If the above report is true, then public opinion in Iran is not as unified as Aminidijad claims, obviously.

Where's Greenpeace when you need them? Their environmental silence is deafening.

Iran's people are subject to radiation exposure through the same mechanisms of industrial exposure as are anyone else near a nuclear facility or uranium mining opperation, but the standards for safety in Iran are not comparable with nations who have learned the hard way about nuclear power and its health ramifications.

When one considers a statement made by Aminidijad to the effect that those who a going hungry in his country should choose Martyrdom as a solution to their hunger, it gives one pause for thought as to just how much concern for their people's welfare the leadership actually has.

Less than zero in my estimation.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk,

Anytime.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 30, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

For those who think Iran is a threat, Israel has an extimated 200 nuclear weapons and the means to deliver all of them - more than enough to finish off the Islamic Republic, and America has thousands of nukes ready for Mecca and Tehran.

The ayatollahs know this -- and they do appreciate their oil revenue, so tell us again -- in the absence of a first strike by Israel, why do you think Iran attack Israel or America? How can we justify under international law military aggression against Iran without proof of an NPT treaty violation?

Yes, we can violate our own principles and pull it off, but what will that blowback mean for us in the future? Will America later suffer a nuclear first strike because of some other nation's suspicions and guesswork about our secret intentions?

In case we fail to notice, the precedent cuts both ways. If we create new law by our actions, we will be subject to it later on.

John
|
Greece
July 31, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov

Your comparison of U.S.A. and Israel to Iran is unrealistic. U.S.A. and Israel are organized, healthy Democracies full of "safety parliamentary valves", while Iran is a theocratic regime ruled by a small religious fanatic minority.

Nuclear weapons are a serious danger in the hands of fanatic "priests".

Besides, I don't understand your question "why do you think Iran attack Israel or America?". I do not say they will for sure, but from time to time we have heard plenty of "official" Iranian threats.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 31, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ John in Greece, if you are correct, then diplomacy is useless and invasion and occupation of Iran is inevitable. I don't believe Iran's leaders are quite as crazy as you think.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
August 1, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Two days ago I read an article that said Iran's leader was willing to concede a few points, though he didn't specify which, and continue negotiations. His tone was conciliatory. (though I'll be darned if I can find that article now)

This was a surprise to many people and I can't help but wonder what his motivations are. Especially when they reported to their people that they had "won" the negotiation by refusing to bend and that we had lost. My speculations:

1. They're playing for time.

or

2. They are baiting the US so if we refuse they cannot be held accountable for the further breakdown in relations.

or

3. They are attempting a balancing act. The middle east has always been in the precarious position of having to play to many powers, Russia, EU, neighboring countries, and the US. Though they have the support of Russia and are partnered in several organizations, they may be trying to court the US a little to reduce soviet influence. (or, in a deeper feint, they have been advised by Russia or neighbors to open relations and reduce tensions so as to not upset another larger strategy).

or

4. They've had a strategy shift. Either the terms were very enticing, they are buckling under internal or international pressure, they've reconsidered the ramifications of having our army at two sides, un-named saboteurs are inflicting heavy damage, Israel's itchy trigger finger, or some combination of these factors has caused them to change direction.

Personally, I think it's a combination of 1 and 2. Iran is a proud country, with a long long history. I doubt they would do anything that would cause them to lose face, to back track on such strong anti-American rhetoric and refusal to change course might cause that loss of face they fear. So I suspect there is something else going on. Despite what others say, I do not think Iran wants a confrontation- with anyone. They have a sizable plot of land, oil, and now all they want is to have the power to defend themselves and play at a larger table. It could be, wilder guess, that they already accepted the terms (or are going to) but now need, with cooperation from the US, a measure of time and posturing to save face and not to look weak in accepting the proposition.

Those are my thoughts, limited though they may be. Any one else see something in all this?

John
|
Greece
August 1, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov,

I hope so too. We all hope they are not so crazy. The Bush Administration and Secretary Rice have also already proved that they hope too!

-- and U.S. keeps on trying, no matter the difficulties concerning the diplomatic chaos of the other side they have faced for so many years.

According to my instinct -- I agree with Eric in New Mexico that we should follow our instincts -- neither U.S.A., or Israel, nor the rest of the Western World would like a "hot" conflict. Especially, when we talk about "nuclears".

The "Day after" is a "bad" movie!

The Secretary of State made -- it's not the first time -- an extremely humanitarian, positive, peaceful, creative "statement-invitation" that the two countries can collaborate in various levels and can have extremely good relations and of course pure, healthy, perfect results for all sides. As I understood her words, she said (the meaning):

LET'S GO GUYS, in Iran, LET'S MAKE THINGS BETTER, LET'S CREATE! LET'S ALL LIVE TOGETHER AND MAKE OUR LIVES HAPPIER AND BETTER!

What the "priests" say?

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