Stanley's blog

November-December 2008

  • Israel launches huge air offensive on Iranian nuclear sites.
  • Iran attacks US shipping in the Gulf.
  • Strait of Hormuz blocked.
  • Widespread attacks on US civil installations in the Middle East and Europe.
  • Oil price passes $200.
  • George W Bush brings air and naval forces into the conflict.
  • ???

Alarmist thinking? No. Ask yourself: is there a reasonable possibility? And if there is, what is being done to prevent such an horrific scenario? The rhetoric is hotting up and this in some quarters produces a certain complacency. But remember Aesop’s shepherd boy who cried “Wolf!”.

The recent news suggests that direct talks could shortly start, but we don’t really know. I lived three years in Iran many years ago, negotiating with and for Iranians. One must not fall into the trap of analysing Iranian words and actions in western terms. I’m convinced that the underlying strategy of Iranian negotiators is to confuse: in confusion, the Iranians will have a negotiating advantage. Do you recognise this? Of course, there are differing and indeed conflicting political views in Iran. Hitherto the most extreme rhetoric has come from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whereas the ultimate say is that of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

What is holding up the opening of talks? Europe still demands at least a temporary freeze on uranium enrichment before talks can begin? Why? What is its relevance, other than being a classic western negotiating approach, a relic of the epoch when the West rules the world? Why make the opening of talks more difficult by imposing a pointless condition which gives the Iranian leaders a domestic problem to overcome? Talk of good faith is inappropriate. There is no trust. Trust comes from working together. Working together is facilitated by increasing mutual understanding.

We all know why we do not trust the Iranians. Do we know why they do not trust us?

  • 1953: Prime Minister Mossadegh was removed from power and the Shah reinstated by a coup d’état, supported and funded by the British and US governments.
  • 1953-1979. The Shah ruled with extensive US military support.
  • 1980: Since then, the US has had no diplomatic relations with Iran.
  • 1980-1988: The US actively supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, which began with Iraq invading Iran, notwithstanding the use by Saddam Hussein of chemical warfare.
  • 1987: New US import embargo on Iranian-origin goods and services.
  • 2003: The US ignores Iranian proposal for wide-ranging negotiations to settle all issues

Washington is now considering entering into direct talks with Tehran, a huge reversal in policy and climbdown. It is time that we recognise that direct talks must begin immediately and without pre-conditions. Of course, they won’t progress quickly. Of course, there remains the risk of an Israeli attack, because Tehran knows that such an attack could well be unimaginable after this year: implicit US acceptance is vital for such an attack. It is also time to accept that effective sanctions will not work because of the positions taken by China and Russia. What do the Iranians want?

I see two main aspirations: to return to their status as the leading regional power (which the West supported until 1959); and to be accepted back into the international community. We need to concentrate on the second, so as to reduce their emphasis on the first which could be dangerous.This is a big step to take and such a transformed relationship with the international community, including the United States, involves the US reversing its 27-year policy towards the country. But it’s time to admit that in today’s world, confrontation does not work and the only chance is integration.

A final note: We still do not know whether Iran really wants to build a bomb or merely the ability to build one.

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  1. Good article. Please see my article WAR ON IRAN: THE PERFECT STORM FROM HELL. It outlines that Iran already has weapons of mass destruction, advanced biowar, that can kill hundreds of millions in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East.

    Stirling

    blog Europe: http;//europebusines.blogspot.com/

  2. “I believe President Bush is going to order air strikes (on Iran) before he leaves office”
    -Norman Podhoretz (Lyons, 2007).

    Bush and his cronies say they want peace and diplomacy, but the problem with the members of Bush administration is that you can’t trust them. You can’t take what they at face value. As former Nixon aide John W. Dean wrote, “George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have created the most secretive presidency of my lifetime. Their secrecy is far worse than during Watergate” (quoted in Wittkopf and Jones, 2008, 329).
    The administration secretly planned and prepared for war with Iraq without disclosing it to the general public. Planning began in November of 2001 and included upgrading airfields in various Gulf countries, moving supplies to the region and the construction of necessary facilities. By April 2002, the planning and preparation for war was also being hidden from Congress. Bush had instructed General Tommy Franks not to make financial requests through Washington. “Anything you need, you’ll have.” The money would no longer be appropriated through congress. By the end of July 2002, Bush had approved more than thirty projects totaling over $700 million. Congress had no knowledge or involvement (Woodward, 2004, 122).
    In December of 2002, Bush and Rumsfeld agreed to start secretly deploying troops into the theatre so as not to attract the attention of the press or the rest of the world. The first deployment order went out on December 6, 2002 and deployments continued every two weeks or so thereafter. Troops were given less than a week’s notice at times. In January 2003, the Bush administration arranged for much of its humanitarian relief to be disguised as general contributions to conceal its war planning from the NGO recipients. Yet, when asked about Iraq, Bush’s favorite response was “I have no war plans on my desk.” At one point or another after the planning began, nearly every member of the administration publicly denied any plans to go to war with Iraq (Woodward, 2004, 129).

    A better approach to Iran would be negotiations. While Fareed Zakaria agrees that there is no reason not to use sanctions and embargoes against states such as Iran, he suggests that we also need to “allow a viable way out.” That is to say, we need to negotiate and not merely mandate.

  3. Here after the Ossetia crisis, after US backup for Georgia and Ukrane which both are at Russian doors. I will be not surprised seeing Article titles like BUSH DECLARED WAR ON RUSSIA, well of course this is unreal, most probably wont happen, but IMAGINE seeing it on CNN, instead WAR ON TERROR, now WAR AGAINST RUSSIA. Isn’t it blood chilling? That would be it. .. the hysteria, mutual blaming. What option has USA, if they get bounty here in Georgia, they wont get bounties on IRAN.

    We have NUCLEAR DETENTION, we need to have a TERRITORICAL DETENTION.

    What role does NATO PLAY? I am laughing, NATO is just setting everybody appart, against each other.. all the time.. another funny peace keeping organisation.
    CAN ANYBODY TELL WHAT OTHER ROLE EXCEPT SPREADING US DEMOCRACY NATO HAS. It is useless, it should be suppresed. Because USA will keep on exploiting small countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Then Georgia Ukrane, for their policy (DEEDS), NOW if they get to the doorstep of Russia with ABRAMS, then don’t blame RUSSIANS.. for their SOVIET(NONDEMOCRATIC) nature heritage or policy (OBVIOUS NONSENSE!) – this wont be the reason!!!!!.. It was not about CAPITALISM vs COMMUNISM then, It was and is about cultures, and nations. Thus the territorial detention is needed – To respect everybody’s COURTYARD is essential.

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