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October 26, 2010 |  40 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Niklas  Anzinger

Isolate the Regime in Tehran

Niklas Anzinger: President Obama’s current dialogue policy legitimizes and strengthens radical forces in Iran, while it weakens moderates. The West should adopt a more confrontational strategy which includes consistent political and economic isolation.


The ideologically motivated “change” in foreign policy from George W. Bush to Barack Obama can be exemplified in the debate about the Islamic Republic of Iran. What used to be Bush's "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Iraq is what Obama calls a legitimate partner for a policy of an "outstretched hand". My thesis is that Obama's policy legitimizes and strengthens the radical forces in Iran, while it weakens the moderates. The politicians of the West Iran should adopt a confrontational strategy in dealing with Iran. This includes a consistent political and economic isolation. Only a successful international sanctions regime, particularly with Germany taking a leading role would deter the authorities from its military nuclear ambitions and prevent a military confrontation. A military confrontation would not be the worst case-scenario, a nuclear armed Iran would be.

In this respect, I think it is advisable to separate between three groups of interest: the Iranian regime, the Iranian freedom movement and Israel.

The Iranian regime is a direct supporter of Hezbollah, which is capable of launching tens of thousands of missiles from the southern Lebanese border against Israel. The regime is also connected to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and other radical Islamic forces in the West Bank, Syria and other Middle Eastern terrorist networks. The protagonists of the Islamic Revolution successfully connect their idea with anti-imperialism, which coincides with Latin American Left-populists like Hugo Chavez and their admirers. This agenda may be in doubt if unified in hatred against Israel and the US. This unholy alliance’s desire is the destruction of the Jewish State and to roll back the implementations of "Western decadence". This is precisely; the emancipation of women, the rights of homosexuals and other hard-won freedom rights. It seeks to obtain the technical resources to take this project into action. Specifically: The Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The Iranian Freedom Movement is a diffuse structure which has a characteristic feature; it does not pursue a political program as left wing revolutionaries against the Shah did. Extramarital sex, wearing Gucci sunglasses and open hair become a weapon against the repressive Islamic ideology. In addition, the slogan "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my life for Iran" breaks the classic despotic Middle Eastern interpretation of the world; your own (theocratic) regime is good, everything bad is the result of influences from outside, namely imperialism, Zionism and Western materialism. The slogan undermines the program of the Islamic Revolution, which is directed outward to combat these problems. It is to show that the problems are here with us and not with the people in Beirut or Ramallah. A more apt slogan of this movement is: "Freedom is not East or West, it is universal". The emancipatory content of this theorem can be applied to all other people in the Middle East, who are fed up with daily harassment. This movement includes not directly but in a figurative sense, all people who also want to have this freedom. This movement can bring forth the “moderates”, which politicians in the West always wringing her hands to search for.

Then there is Israel. The threat of Iran's nuclear and missile program is directly exposed to the people there. The Israelis were forced for 60 years to wage war to protect their citizens. Their neighbor’s call for their destruction is nothing new for the Israelis. Yet the possibility of a single weapon of mass destruction to destroy their whole, tiny state combined with the undoubted ideological motivation to use it is indeed a new threat. The situation of the Jewish people is that many people in the world can still dream of their annihilation, but now with the State of Israel they have the means to prevent it. The historic necessity to protect the Jewish people against anti-Semitism in its genocidal form with must be taken into account by western politicians. If history shall not repeat itself, the Iranian regime must be prevented from its plans to carry out a second Holocaust. In addition, Western countries should not have a strategic interest in an unstable Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran. A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians would not be possible by any means, nor could moderate, democratic or secular forces develop. Therefore, states which seek to promote peace and security in the Middle East as desirable goals, should share strategic interests with Israel. That is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Formulated in concrete measures, the key to solving the problems of armed conflicts, anti-Semitism, and radical Islamism are the freedom-loving forces in the region. At first this is the peaceful, democratic and secular movement in Iran. Western politicians could be courageous. They should invite representatives of this group to discuss. They should mention the brave Iranian people protesting in the streets in their speeches. They should show that these people are the ones who can be the protagonists of a new peaceful world order. In contrast, they should recognize that there is no place for the Iranian regime in this world. They should first isolate the regime politically, i.e. remove diplomats, withdraw embassies and boycott the regime’s international political performances. Second, they should isolate the regime economically. The regime is highly dependent on imports from outside, especially in high technology. A smart sanctions regime for the energy and gas sector, as well as for engineering and technology, would make the nuclear option impossible. These two measures would weaken the regime and strength the opposition movement.

In reality, the Western politicians have ignored the problem of a nuclear-armed Iran, or have not seriously addressed it. The so called “human rights dialogue” of the Europeans with the Iranian regime is a cover for its nuclear ambitions. The regime seeks to fulfill its ideological goals pragmatically thanks to European appeasement policy. As the Islamic Republic may not be far away from the technical realization of nuclear armament, Israel is running out of options. Israel warned for years about Iran's ambitions and has been fighting for years against the immediate terrorist attacks from its aggressive neighbors. Israel has been mostly left alone. If the Western states, as well as China and Russia, do not mean to undermine the Iranian nuclear ambitions, then Israel is forced to act alone. In all the speculative action that could prevent a nuclear armed Iran, the leaders of the countries that have no interest in the destruction of Israel should stand on Israel’s side. Even if the Israelis decide a preemptive military strike. This decision would be a penalty in each case. This measure would be associated with wide-spread military mobilization of its neighbors, Hezbollah and Hamas. Terrorist violence against the people who live in Israel would follow. But the Israelis cannot get involved in any experiments. They must not make the mistake of underestimating Iran’s power. One error could be the last. Acting too late would bring the Israelis into an extremely dangerous situation. The timing of the military option is down to when the Israeli government sees no other option.

The measures that have come in particular from the European countries must be taken unilaterally in case of doubt. There is no consensus on how to assess the Iranian threat. Nevertheless, it is an urgent matter to react. Germany in particular as the lifeline of the Iranian regime in the export sector, could single-handedly stop Iranian nuclear ambitions. Germany is the biggest Western trading partner of the regime. It delivers technology that cannot be replaced by any other country in the world. Western leaders should exert pressure on Germany in the first place.

Together with the other measures mentioned there may be a perspective for the people in the region to live together in peace. Nevertheless Western statesmen have to keep in mind that they have limited time. When that time expires, they have to show solidarity with Israel.

However, the current policy of the US administration is the very opposite of these suggestions. The dialogue and appeasement policy was previously mainly a European one. But Obama has consistently failed to engage the Iranian freedom movement and instead, called the Iranian regime representatives of their sovereign state. But Obama cannot engage in dialogue with one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. This is an illusion, which prevents any progress on human rights and peaceful coexistence in the region. The Iranian regime understands only the language of force. Measures must be enforced to make it give up its murderous ambitions instead of making these the subject of negotiations.

Niklas Anzinger is a student of Philosophy and Economics at the University of Bayreuth.

 

This article is shortlisted for atlantic-community.org's student competition "Ideas with Impact: Policy Workshop 2010" sponsored by the U.S. Mission to Germany.

Read the other shortlisted articles in the category "Iran's Nuclear Program" here.

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Tags: | Dialogue | Iran | nuclear program |
 
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Felix F. Seidler

October 26, 2010

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Neither will sanctions hinder Teheran´s nuclear devepolments, nor prevent a military confrontation. New sanctions will only promote the growth of the UAE´s or Oman´s ports. Beside the S-300 missile´s debate, Russia and China continue delivering conventional weapons to Iran. Russia sold the Iranians Kilo submarines, China C-802 surface to sea missiles. Furthermore, no government care about existing sanctions, when political tensions burst to military confrontation. Thus, sanctions do not have critical effects on military issues.

After I read to following document, I am not convinced about Israel´s ablity to strike Iran´s nuclear program succesfully.

Toukan, Abdullah; Cordesman, Anthony H. (2009): Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran`s Nuclear Development Facilities Edited by: Center for Strategic and International Studies, < http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/090316_israelistrikeiran.pdf >.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 26, 2010

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Your argument: sanctions would not weaken the Iranian regime, as military technology may be provided by China and Russia. But you have only mentioned the supply of conventional arms. We are surely agree that the desire of Iran is to realize the nuclear option - this is about the recent discussion in the secret facilities placed in Shiraz, Qom, Isfahan and some other centers. These are usually operated underground in order to build more effective protection against attacks from the air. For such a project you need a high degree of technical infrastructure - tunneling technology, drills and some others. Most of the software configurations of the atomic centers run on Siemens technology. For this reason, the Stuxnet-virus was so effective - because it targeted Siemens technology-driven facilities. Other infrastructure requirements for the "nuclear economy" lie in the oil and gas sector.

For the mechanical engineering technology, Germany is the supplier. At the moment, the corresponding products are mainly provided by medium-sized enterprises. An example is the company Aker Wirth, which provides tunneling technology, without which the underground projects would possibly not be feasible. Germany in this sector generally delivers about two-thirds of the required material. Sanctions could inflict infrastructure damage in the short term, which could not be offset by China and Russia.

For the oil and gas sector, there are current efforts of the Swiss EGL, a subsidiary of property located in Canton AXPO group - it is a deal amounting 18 to 27 billion Euros. Although EGL announced that they would not use Iranian gas in the initial phase of the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline, the supply contract with Iran remains upright.

There's no reason against cutting those ties and prevent the inclusion of Iran into the WTO.

Also the fuel and energy sector could soon cripple the country's infrastructure.

There are many ways, you see. Other countries, like China and Russia would also be set under pressure to abandon their commercial ambitions with a consistent sanctions regime.

The argument is always at this point: If we do not do it, the others will. Apart from the fact that some things are just indecent, I wanted to counter this way of thinking by calling for unilateral sanctions.

My other argument was, after all, that there is no other way to prevent the scenario of a nuclear-armed Iran. Why the policy of dialogue is counter-productive, I will give an explanation elsewhere in more detail.

I have also read some documents about the possibility of an Israeli military strike - even some who are optimistic. But in my opinion, this is not effective. Finally, it should not come to that. It just does not change the fact that Israel will be forced to act when international efforts should fail. That was another argument of mine.

For all of my statements I can give you the sources in request.
 
Unregistered User

October 26, 2010

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I am hereby requesting the sources for all of your statements, especially those regarding the iranian nuclear weapons program. Thanks in advance.

Note by ADMIN: Thank you for your comment. Your question is of course fair enough, but please do not post anonymous comments.
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Thank you!

 
Sascha  Lohmann

October 26, 2010

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Arguing from a hawkish position, the author advocates a policy that is actually already pursued by the Obama administration and its European allies. Moreover, he makes the case for supporting any policy undertaken unilaterally by Israel including a possible military strike. This would not only throw the entire region into chaos but would also severely decrease Israel’s security as Iran’s proxies in Gaza and Lebanon could effectively retaliate. Besides the fact that he gives no empirical evidence for his main thesis (which is indeed correct and would had been worth to concentrate on), several of the author’s claims need to be reexamined.

Firstly, he mischaracterized the current Iran policy pursued by the West as the proposed policy alternative of a more confrontational approach is already part of the current efforts. Thus, his argument seems to be at odds with facts on the ground. The applied strategy, the so-called “two-track policy” which was basically formulated by Dennis Ross, Special Advisor to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, does consist of a pressure track that complements the engagement efforts. So far, this strategy has already put a considerable strain on Iran. Therefore, a “consistent political and economic isolation” has been the leitmotif of the Obama administration’s pressure track but in order to build a stable international coalition, the problem of free riding remains a tremendous obstacle in order to keep it together. Iran is an attractive market as well as a resource-rich country which encourages sanction busting trade by third parties seen in the case of China. Nevertheless, even conservative commentators such as Robert Kagan applaud the president for his efforts to isolate Iran (Robert Kagan, Obama’s 5 Foreign Policy Victories, in: The Washington Post, June 29, 2010, ).

Secondly, his strategic claims about Israel need to be put into perspective. There is no doubt that the threat for Israel is real and palpable as an Iranian nuclear breakout capability would significantly alter the existing balance-of-power in the region. But Israel, beside his own, has a de-facto extended nuclear deterrence guarantee from the US which would make an Iranian nuclear attack a rather suicidal act which no present or future Iranian government is likely to execute. Moreover, the Iranian regime does not attempt “to carry out a second holocaust”. One should also have no illusions about the malicious and unacceptable rhetoric of the Iranian president toward Israel which is primarily aimed at his conservative electorate base in Iran (as well at those in the opposition) to generate domestic support. Against the backdrop of the leadership’s negotiation performance and the announcements that came after the imposition of further sanctions, it is clear that we are in fact dealing a rationally calculating political actor (that just knows very well how the generate feedback within the Western media…). Lastly, Israel has not been left alone considering the massive foreign aid, material support, and international solidarity the country receives from the US (and to a considerable extent also from Germany). Therefore, it is not forced to act unilaterally in any regard.

Thirdly, there are a few other points which would need to be revised. The author conceives of the Iranian regime as a monolithic bloc unimpressed of the Western coercive measures. But this is not the case. Just recently, the Supreme Leader’s remarks he gave to a student audience in the holy city of Qom included hints that sanctions are creating fissures among the political and religious leadership. Moreover, the author gave no evidence about what forces within the Iranian regime were strengthened exactly by the imposed sanctions. While this is absolutely true in the case of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that have significantly increased their sway over vital parts of the Iranian economy, the religious leadership is reportedly losing more and more control as Iran is gradually turning into a military dictatorship.

In conclusion, besides these diverging points of view, I share the author’s overall perspective that there is a need of focussing more on human rights violation (an issue that Kenneth Pollack has recently reiterated). Concerning the nuclear program, one has to be careful not to overestimate the prospect of change from within Iranian society. One the one hand, the scope and impact of the green movement (which is not entirely secular at all - just recall the ‘Allah-is-great’-chants by supporters that resonated throughout Tehran during summer nights in 2009) has been vastly exaggerated in the wake of the highly disputed presidential election by the media and pundits. On the other hand, the nuclear program is perceived as an unalienable right across the Iranian party spectrum with the vexed consequence that even a government led by moderates would not instantly abandon the nuclear program but most likely continue enrichment of uranium.

Arguing for a more coercive diplomacy and at the same time hoping for some “freedom-loving people” somewhere in the country that could bring about change does not materialize into a real policy alternative. Instead, as Germany could by no means “single-handedly” stop the Iranian nuclear ambitions - e.g. Siemens equipment can be secretly purchase on the international black market - an engagement policy based on concrete reciprocity has to be formulated within the transatlantic alliance and rigorously applied in order to prevent the conflict from going viral.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 26, 2010

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Mr. Lohrmann,

I really thank you for your statements. It leaves me some critical points, which I have to explain in more detail. In addition, you attached some points, which I was indeed very fishy about.

First of all a point we can clear up a misunderstanding: “The author conceives of the Iranian regime as a monolithic bloc unimpressed of the Western coercive measures.”

Indeed I am aware of the points you are mentioning.

I shall quote my comment on Mr. Heinrichs paper:

---

Three reasons why dialogue with the Iranian regime is about to fail:

1. The regime at its weakest in Iran. It would have to turn off even the reformist Islamic ("moderate") wing of the Islamic Republic in order to maintain power. Yet they only thing they have is violence. This weakness was impressive in the uprising last summer. The first may be at its limits for the moment, but the regime faces a dead end in domestic policy.

2. His power sources are mainly abroad: Islamists and left-wing populists, but also anti-Israel sentiments of the Middle Class in Western countries, and of course in dealing with the West. The West provides the know-how for its intensive armament.

3. The regime knows no secular power politics calculus, such as the Soviet Union. It is driven by anti-Semitic destructive dynamics. The totalitarian dynamics can be described by terms of Hannah Arendt: not only the persecution of the opposition for what they “do”, in addition the regime pursued people for what they are (such as Baha´i, women, homosexuals ...).

It is this totalitarian dynamic that makes compromise impossible.
Precisely because of its internal political weakness, the regime will never make substantial concessions in foreign policy. The chances of Western countries that are serious about preventing a nuclear-armed regime are to promote the weaknesses of the regime - that is, the democratic opposition to support for regime change.

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To comply with you demand to go into detail: You have a very accurate assessment of the balance of power in Iran. In fact, the balance shifts towards the militant wing of the Revolutionary Guards - the election of President Ahmadinejad is only an indication. He emerged from the Revolutionary Guards. He has occupied several important posts in the political administration and the judiciary with people from the Revolutionary Guards. In recent decades, they have achieved a high degree of control over the economic sector (see Emmanuele Ottolenghi and Ali Alfoneh). There is talk of a control which comprises about 70% of the economic sector. It is certainly accurate to say that trade with Iran necessarily involves the Revolutionary Guards. Personally, I have specifically traced this trade, such as Swiss EGL, the Hamburg-based European-Iranian Trade Bank (EIH) and the mechanical engineering company Aker Wirth. Some colleagues have collected more data about other companies. Especially the studies of Ottolenghi and Alfoneh I hold in respect of relevancy. However, I am speaking of an intra-systemic dynamics. The various (semi-)public authorities are integrated in a totalitarian system and can ultimately agree in their hatred of Israel, the U.S. and the West.

Those who are to be strengthened with a confrontational approach are not only the middle class, which lead the protest at the beginning. It is, above all, the workers who have come together to several uprisings. The poor classes and students are involved. The regime has no legitimacy in Iran at all.

You see quite right that I may be idealizing this opposition movement. I tried to explain the interpretation of the slogans that could fulfill our hopes in them. At least they deserve a chance. I think this is a cause worth supporting. These people have driven the elder establishment (Karrubi, Moussavi, Rafsanjani) as figureheads in front of them. In truth, they themselves have determined the direction of the protest. I think a support of this protest could bring the dynamics of this totalitarian system to falter. Stability in the Middle East is certainly not possible with this regime. I will also be happy to confirm this thesis in more detail.

But another thing: "The author advocates a policy that is actually already pursued by the Obama administration and its European allies."

I would object that. I call this project half-hearted. The statements of the U.S. administration are inconsistent. I leave out the economic boycott for a moment - here I critically object to Germany, and some other European countries, such as Switzerland. (To my evaluation, Switzerland seeks the "strategic partnership", according to statements of Foreign minister Calmy-Rey.)

The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran always try the same trick. First they put the hated West with aggressive rhetoric in a state of shock. While that is still busy formulating its outrage diplomatically appropriate, the regime in Teheran soon suggests that they are ready to talk about the nuclear program. None of the statements of President Ahmadinejad seems crazy enough to rob the West the vague hope of his rationality.

Why has the Obama-administration joined the UN Human Rights Council? Why is the US-administration so much focused on the Middle East conflict. The withdrawal of troops in Iraq are may bring more room for the Iranian regime to enhance its terrorist ambitions in the region. The lifting of the boycott of Syria is playing into the hands of the Iranian regime.

In the end, I object your assessment of the Iranian threats against Israel. But I will continue to perform elsewhere, if we continue with the other points.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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I want to stress another point.

For this I quote Mr. Heinrichs:

"A second, but not more convincing, alternative would be to accept a nuclear armed Iran. This policy approach would have to deal with well-known instruments, Such as containment, deterrence, and therefore, détente. It would include Guaranteeing a nuclear shield to countries around the region, above all, Israel. Massive anti-ballistic missile defense system would have to be installed. This approach would therefore include arming countries examined as Saudi-Arabia and the United Arab Emirates To strengthen their military power. But no one knows if Israel would accept such a situation, or if it would try to prevent it by attacking Iran alone. "

As Jeffrey Goldberg has written recently: a preemptive strike against Iran by the Israelis is very likely to happen, if the West fails to stop Iran from the grip to the bomb.

Why this is so?

1. I do not share the assessment of Mr. Lohmann that we can assume that Iran will not use the atomic bomb against Israel.

Former President Rafsanjani, who is still seen as a moderate, said: "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

I think if we have learned something from the 20th Century, it is that anti-Semites make their threats become true, if they can.


But that is not so important. The reason is:

2. Although Iran does not use the atomic bomb directly, they are a significant step closer to their goals.

I assume, Mr. Heinrich´s estimates for the arrangements in case of a nuclear Iran are unrealistic. It is at least certain that this regime with a bomb in its hand is unpredictable. The regime has announced the destruction of Israel and would be capable of doing this with an atomic bomb. In that case, Israel cannot provide security for its citizens. According to surveys, about 27% of the Israelis would leave the country if Iran has a nuclear bomb. One can imagine that this is not the common citizens, but those who can afford to move: the political and economic elite. That is an exodus no country can cope.

A nuclear first strike would bring terrible consequences. But a nuclear armed Iran is not an option.

Israel is aware of this horrific calculus.
 
Felix F. Seidler

October 27, 2010

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According to the sanctions issue, I would like to make one more comment.

Sanction´s effects could be seen very well in the cases of North Korea and Iraq. First, the population has suffered. Second, the regime just had to pay higher prices for the needed goods. Both countries, thenceforth, found other ways, for example Macao, Turkey and Dubai.

Thus, the Iranians will be able to go shopping on the black market. Intellegence can hardly survey any ship heading towards Iranian ports. Especially, when ship has a short trip from the UAE´s or Oman. Companies in Malaysia or Indonesia can make all orders they want and, henceforth, just take the shipment over to the Gulf states. Only the prices are significantly higher, but the Iranian government can cut other budgets to pay those bills.

 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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I think I made my argument, why sanctions would be effective.

Instead, I explain the difference on Iraq in detail:

Why the population has suffered so much under the sanctions: To a much greater extent, Iraq was dependent on an oil revenue economy without manufacturing. There is no need for many workers in oil production, i.e. the people were linked to the state oil pension system. The distribution of oil rents is dependent on the "ideological commitment" to the stately Baath Party. Thus, the Baath Party kept the economy in the country under control on a much greater degree. The regime could therefore compensate external sanctions simply by cutting the oil rents.

Back in Iraq, as now in Iran, above all Germany it was, which was the delivery for export of weapons technology.

Iran is organized more "pluralistic," the authorities are not monolithic. The distribution cannot be controlled centrally. The divisions in the regime would leave - after all, there are even people within the establishment who argue for the good of the population. In addition, the well-being of the population is not dependent on gasoline imports and engineering technology in the short term.

There is enough reason to skip this technology transfer - it is to attach the military infrastructure.

In fact, the regime concentrated its resources on the military economy. For this reason, they have often not paid salaries to the workers for a long time, so there were numerous protests.

The regime clings to the straw of the military program. Like I said, it can only react with force in the inside. If you would stop the gasoline import, the military infrastructure could collapse in a very short time. If the technology imports will be canceled, lacks of important supplies technology for the military program would follow.

In my view, the regime would collapse very quickly in that case. Of course, that is always speculative. But you see, there is enough reason for a smart sanctions regime.

And North Korea: There are many, many more relevant differences. I do not think this comparison is serious.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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Dear Mr. Lookman,

Please read my comments on the character of the Islamic regime here and in the comment on Sascha's paper.

I claim, you make the same mistake made by the Director of Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Volker Perthes: You compare the nuclear dispute with Iran with the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Therefore, you have to deny substantial differences.

The U.S. (when was the United States a totalitarian regime?) and the Soviet Union were children of the European enlightenment. They had a material interest in the lives of their citizens and the amassing of material goods. The ideology of the regime in Iran is strongly opposed to this kind of “materialism”. This regime has a different character. President Ahmadinejad: "The message of the Islamic Revolution is global and not limited to specific time and space. It is a message for all humanity and it will spread. Have no doubt. It is the divine will. Islam will conquer the world. Islam will conquer the highest peak in the world. "And, in addition on suicide bombing:" The art is perfected when it portrays the best life and best death. The Art explains how to actually live. Is there an art more beautiful and holy than the martyrdom? Those who undermine these principles, undermine the principles of our independence. "

Ahmadinejad and his fellow Revolutionary Guards Corps are the executors of the Khomenei-ideology. They seek to fulfill the mission of the Islamic Revolution.

The aesthetic of politics, the desire for death, the glorification of martyrdom - besides all differences, this can best be compared with National Socialism. It is up to us to apply the insights of Hannah Arendt, Franz Neumann and Theodor W. Adorno.

"Meanwhile, the Zionist propaganda machine made sure that Ahmadinejad's statement wrongly represented has started a life of its own, just like the story launched by neoconservatives that Iraqi soldiers would have thrown Kuwaiti babies from their incubators."

If you do this write-up so easy, then I do the same. You are following a misguidance: "Reliable Sources Indicate that Ahmadinejad's statement was translated incorrectly". The Iranian president says that almost every day. Ayatollah Khomeini said it, the clerics say, all the Revolutionary Guards say it. You should take a look at http://www.memritv.org/.

In my view, your assessment is based on sentiments towards Israel and the United States.
 
Joerg  Wolf

October 27, 2010

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Niklas' above response refers to a comment by Paul-Robert Lookman, which I had to delete. Paul-Robert's comment did not address Niklas's arguments.

Instead the comment was an article in itself with the headline "Is a nuclear Iran an existential threat to Israel?"

For the sake of transparency, I have uploaded his comment/article here:
http://www.atlantic-community.org/app/webroot/files/articlepdf/iran...

The debate here in the comments section should focus on the merits of Niklas analysis and policy recommendations.

Thank you all for your interesting comments and constructive debate.
 
Alexander  Pyka

October 27, 2010

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I would like to leave a quick comment on your comments, especially those concerning the Iran-rhetoric against Israel and an Israeli military strike against Iran, which many of these posts seem to center around.

Concerning the latter - I already mentioned this, but I will never tire to repeat myself in this regard: a preemptive military strike by Israel or any other nation would be illegal under international law. Violating and therefore further eroding the prohibition of force in Art. 2 Nr. 4 UNCh would be a huge setback for promoting international law as the only legitimate framework in which decisions of military action should be made. The following erosion of confidance in the whole system would draw a straight line from the UNSC's inability to act in the Iran-Iraq war etc. Facing rising nations like China, which already challenge that fragile order of predominance of international law, do we really want to completely undermine the system of values and rules that we critizise Iran does not sufficiently respect?

Besides, as argued by me before (see last post), a strike against Iran would make no military sense. If you want another, maybe more ostensive and less scientific source, try this (Arte):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agdcEmwunpA


Regarding Iran's rhetoric against Israel, I have to agree with Sasha's well balanced comment here. Any credible threat by Iran to use nuclear weapons against Israel would be the end of the regime. Its leaders speeches are much rather directed towards stabilizing their position internally than to actually realize them. Khamenei also declared on numerous accounts that "Islam condemns the massacre of defenseless people, whether Muslim or Christian or others, anywhere and by any means." They might be religious fanatics, but they are not completly crazy and very well able to realize that a nuclear attack would cost thousands of muslim lifes and gain little to nothing.

In addition: Iran actually building a nuclear bomb would be fairly easy to notice: until today, all relevant nuclear facilities are under IAEA-safeguards. Actually producing HEU to a point where it becomes usable in a nuclear weapon would under all circumstances require Iran to throw those inspectors out and openly violate its safeguard agreements. From that point, it would still take around one year until Iran actually possessed a crude nuclear weapon.


Of course, and here I agree with both Niklas and Sascha, sanctions should specifically target IRGC-money, influence and companies abroad.
 
Felix  Haass

October 27, 2010

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I have to take issue with two of Niklas‘s points, outlined in his essay and his comments.

(1) You consider the Iranian regime as fundamentally irrational since it follows a religious logic and not a material one. If this is the case, I don’t see how intensifying sanctions is going to solve this issue. Wouldn’t any good fanatic (beware, I’m being ironic here) leader who sees his end coming throw himself and his military (that is as fanatic as the leader) into a last glorious battle? Especially if he is serious about statements like “Is there an art more beautiful and holy than the martyrdom?“ So if you consider the Iranian regime as completely fanatic and not receptive to rational thinking, wouldn’t a policy that is supposed to overthrow the regime (by creating a popular uprising) actually lead to more war and not less, since the regime wants to further its apocalyptic ideology by any cost?

(2) Ok, let’s assume Iran’s leaders are actually receptive to rational thinking (a view that I support). How exactly would imposing harsher sanctions that cripple the economy help the moderates in Iran, if Iran can blame the woes of its economy on foreign (=U.S.) intervention? Wouldn’t that strengthen the widely held view among Iranians that the West is trying to strip the Iranian people off its right to nuclear energy? I mean, wouldn’t we observe the typical rallying-around-the-flag-effect?

Nevertheless, I do share the view that sanctions specifically tailored on slowing the nuclear program (which are already employed though not systematically enough) could prove effective – although I don’t support sanctions that would cripple the whole Iranian economy and enrage the Iranian people (see point 2 above). But at the same time, we have to make clear to the Iranian regime but most of all to the Iranian people that sanctions are not about nuclear energy but about nuclear weapons. Thus, sanctions must be accompanied by a policy of clear-cut incentives for the regime and a détente of the overall context in which the conflict is taking place.

Just for the record, I also think that the Iranian Freedom Movement is a cause worth supporting and I’m not a friend of the current Iranian political system either. But we have to be careful how exactly any policy aimed at supporting the Freedom Movement is actually designed if we don't want this policy to backfire (see my comment on Felix S.’s post).
 
Felix F. Seidler

October 27, 2010

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Dear Felix, you consider Iran´s leaders to be "receptive to rational thinking". But critical is, what kind of rationality are we talking about? We cannot apply our Western constructs of rationality to people, who have been socizalized in extensivly different circumstances. Some of the essential factors in this case are culture, religion, political system and history.

Thus, with a look on the on Iran´s leaders biograhies, we see a very different kind of socialization from our´s. Therefore, we should keep in mind, when talking about Iran´s decisionmakers, that those actors follow their own kind of rationality.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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Thank you for your statements, Felix. I will clarify my arguments.

(1) Well, glad you ask. The term and the concept of rationality is one of my major fields of study. However, I have never said that the regime is irrational. Sometimes they are (see Iraq-policy), but generally they are not. It has goals (construction of an Islamic state, revolution export, destruction of Israel), it has restrictions (the reactions of the West, own resources) and it has a pragmatic approach. It is rational. One can achieve its goals very rationally, even though these objectives seem to be completely insane. In my view, the regime is rational in a murderous way.

It is fanatical at the same time. As I said, I think we should take the rhetoric of those in power seriously. I promise you, I can give an anti-Israeli quote from every eminent figure of the establishment.

(2) The sanction question: From the above model is easy to answer. We simply attach the regime´s restrictions. With stronger restrictions it cannot fulfill its objectives. If it cannot meet its objectives, then it will break apart. There will be internal disputes and external pressures. As I said, the only prospect for peace and security is that the regime will be overthrown. Think about how regimes in the past were brought to be overthrown then think of measures to enforce this. My argument is that sanctions could enforce the regime´s breakdown.

You also fear that "Iran can blame the woes of its economy on foreign (= U.S.) intervention". As I said, the regime is vulnerable on the inside. The people blame the regime. They are not as stupid and blame the West. They should be trained ideologically, but they know the tricks of the regime. At demonstrations they called “Death to the dictator” and instead of “Death to Israel, death to USA” the called “Death to China, death to Russia”.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

October 27, 2010

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Mr Anzinger, president Obama plays the game by the book. No state, large or small, should interfere in the internal affairs of another state. We have our international institutions to address the matters that seem to bother you. I feel “consistent political and economic isolation” is hardly an incentive for a government to join its opponents at the negotiating table. And sanctions have never worked, however harsh and however long they were applied (Cuba, Myanmar, …). You seem to turn things upside down. Even if Iran is seeking a nuclear capability, that would only serve as deterrent against heavily armed and aggressive powers in the region and beyond.

Hezbollah may have missiles, but these - again - are defensive, serve as deterrent. It has never started a war, only acted in self defence against agression. Hamas was democratically elected to form a Palestinian government and has every right to resist an oppressor and occupying power which defies UNSC resolutions and international law at large. Have overlooked Syria’s Golan Hights occupied by Israel? As regards Latin America, having read Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States (see my review of his book on AC) and hence aware of the history of US interventions in that part of the world, I fail to see what is wrong with anti-imperialism.

Rather than “the threat of Iran's nuclear and missile program”. I suppose you mean “perceived threat…”, as there is no evidence whatsoever of any threat. This brings me to Ahmadinejad's “statement that Israel must be wiped off the map". It has long been established that this statement was translated incorrectly. Unfortunately, the Zionist propaganda machine made sure that this story started a life of its own. Neoconservative forces were - unsuccessfully - trying to manufacture a casus belli for an attack on Iran. Israel’s neighbours all want peace with Israel, if only Israel would withdraw to the borders of 1967 and accept UNSC resolutions. No sensible Israeli fears an Iranian nuclear attack, knowing perfectly well that such an attack would sign for its own destruction. A nuclear armed Iran will not destabilize the Middle East, it would stabilize it as it would restore the balance of power given Israel’s nuclear undeclared and uninspected capability. The alternative of course being for Israel to give up its nuclear capability.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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Referring to Alex:

I really had a lot of arguments with students of the law about the institutionalization of international law.

Nevertheless, I think this is not relevant for my argument. I take the military action of Israel as given in the event of failure of the nuclear dossier. I tried to explain, why Israel would be forced to do it in another post.

I quote: “It is at least certain that this regime with a bomb in its hand is unpredictable. The regime has announced the destruction of Israel and would be capable of doing this with an atomic bomb. In that case, Israel cannot provide security for its citizens. According to surveys, about 27% of the Israelis would leave the country if Iran has a nuclear bomb. One can imagine that this is not the common citizens, but those who can afford to move: the political and economic elite. That is an exodus no country can cope.”

This is neither my decision, nor is it my argument. I argue for the prevention of this murderous situation. Please keep that in mind.

On the question of a military preemptive strike: if it would not make sense, the Israelis would not do it. And believe me, they know it better. Recently I followed a discussion of the Security Conference in Herzliya (Israel) – everyone knows that they have to enforce every measure that would make a military intervention unnecessary.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 27, 2010

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Mr. Lookmann,

Well, I suppose sanctions have worked in the case of Libya and South Africa. But I think, I made enough arguments about why sanctions particularly on Iran would be effective.

I take your ruminations about "Hezbollahs defense missiles" and "democratic elected Hamas" into account. But from my perspective, this is not a position to discuss. This has nothing to do with my argument. This discussion shall not be an ideological war. We have ideological differences we will not be able to discuss in that frame.
 
Tobias Heinrich Siegfried Sauer

October 28, 2010

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Niklas,

many important points have been discussed already, so I would like to add only one (and rather small) argument.

Concerning sanctions, I think it would be helpfull to differentiate between sanctions aiming at making it impossibile to construct certain goods (as nuclear weapons) and sanctions aiming at influencing decisions. In reality, of course, such a distinction would is necessarily blurred, but it could inform our analysis.

I would agree, that we shoud impose tougher sanctions regading the first group of sanctions, that is, all goods and technologies that could be used for nuclear activities as long as there is no co-operation between Iran and the international community. But we should make no mistake: Sanctions and Smuggling are always appearing together and Iranian engineers will start to construct their own desired goods. Russia and China also appeared more reluctant to impose such sanctions (and, unfortunately, the EU is talking about exemptions as well).

The more important question is: How can we change Iran's cost-benefit-analysis in a way that Iran does not want to build nuclear weapons.

To change this analysis, we could impose more sanctions (2nd-group sanctions), so Iran would suffer economically. They were imposed against Iraq, to give one example. These sanctions went with extremely high humanitarian costs. As the Iraqi-case makes clear as well, they don't necessarily lead to revolution. Instead, they can be easily presented as actions by the hostile international environment and cause a rally-around-the-flag effect.

It might be more helpfull to offer incentives (not too much to the regime, but more to the population). These offers should concern security, economy, and prestige. Incentives would work the same way as sanctions (2nd group) and should be designed specifically to accomodate demands of influential groups of Iran's society. They probably will be more sustainable (as they can offer permament advantages) and cannot easily presented to the public as "hostile".

I'm also afraid we are concentrating way too much on Ahmadinejad's very agressive radical rhetoric. We should focus on the basic problems instead.
 
Pamela Michele Gray

October 28, 2010

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At the risk of violating a point of etiquette, I would like to first address a commenter's point.

Mr. Alexander Pyka writes:

a preemptive military strike by Israel or any other nation would be illegal under international law. Violating and therefore further eroding the prohibition of force in Art. 2 Nr. 4 UNCh would be a huge setback for promoting international law as the only legitimate framework in which decisions of military action should be made.

Mr. Pyka, may I point out that allowing any legal framework to become in effect a suicide pact would be 'a huge setback' for the given framework.

For all commenters here who point out the obvious weaknesses of sanctions, e.g., black market resources, alienation of Iranian population, etc., I would counter that you allow the perfect to obstruct the good.

And in attempting to protect the Iranian people from the deleterious results of sanctions, the EU, in its neverending idiocy, has just permitted Iran to import/export gas and oil, and the concommitant financial transactions required to pay for it. In practice, this props up the very regime that oppresses the Iranian people the EU wants to protect. (Citatation at the end of this post.)

I agree with Mr. Anzinger's goal of isolating Tehran and I think the method of water-proof sanctions is a good one. (I've got doubts about the feasibility, but that's a different argument.)

I disagree with Mr. Anzinger's emphasis on anti-semitism as a motivating force of Iran's
policy. While there is always the possibilty of a true fanatic launching a nuclear strike against Israel, as a policy it gets Iran nothing. It gets Iran worse than nothing, given retaliation that would surely follow. And just imagine - what card would any of them have left to play? A country full of vaporized Zionists would be a country that no longer provides the raison d'etre for the existence of any of these regimes. No, they need Israel to stay on the chessboard.

What rationale, then, explains Iran's implacable desire for nuclear weapons? I think it is more about hegemony over the Arab states of the Gulf and the Persian Gulf itself. The mere threat of a nuclear Iran has a very interesting strategic effect in Iran's favor. Uncertainty. The calculus of a response is very different when you know the gun pointed at your head is loaded. Your options are limited and probably violent. If you DON'T know, the calculus probably involves preserving as much flexibility as possible, both for yourself and your enemy.

I'm also not convinced that the emphasis on a resolution coming only from Western powers is necessarily helpful. It is the Arab states that are really threatened more than anyone else. Yet, I've not read anything really comprehensive about where they might fit in all this. If anyone has any reading suggestions, I'm all eyes.

Here is the citation re: EU sanctions.

E.U. rules let Iran import, export oil, creating possible split from U.S. policy

The European Union issued regulations this week that went well beyond a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in June, outlining tough restrictions on the sale of equipment and technology to the Iranian oil and gas industry, as well as on investment in those sectors. But the regulations - unlike legislation passed by the U.S. Congress - allow for the import and export of oil and gas to the Islamic republic.

"If you want to send a tanker filled with refined petrol to Iran, and you have proved that you are not carrying any other goods that we deem illegal, Europe has no problem," said a European official who specializes in sanction policies and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "We don't want any negative effect on the Iranian population or to deprive them of energy, so we do not follow U.S. measures that go beyond United Nations sanctions."

The E.U. will also permit financial transactions needed to import of oil and gas to Iran

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/27/AR2...

 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 28, 2010

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Tobias und Siegfried, I guess we still have different premises, but we come to the same conclusion regarding sanctions.

Nevertheless I think you miss important aspects in assessing the character of the regime. I already explained in detail, why the situation in the Iranian dossier is different to Iraq. Following these differences why sanctions can be effective. We have a consensus here, but our approach is different.

Let me add a few points to clarify:

I quote your assumption: “The more important question is: How can we change Iran's cost-benefit-analysis in a way that Iran does not want to build nuclear weapons.”

1. The regime´s goals described by you are interchangeable with those of any other nation-state: economic development, political prestige and foreign policy interests of security. The ideological structure and premises of the regime remain unnamed. But:

a) It is an Islamic theocracy with world domination ambitions and claiming the goal of destroying Israel. It is not a nation state with regional interests. "The problem that humanity faces today is not with Iran as a nation-state and a country, it is with Iran as a vehicle for Khomeinism, Iran as the Islamic Republic, Iran as a cause rather than a country." (Amir Taheri)

b) The Iranian regime's power sources relate precisely to this expansive claim, which secures allies in the global jihad and international right and left anti-Semites. Inside, it is unstable, as the protests of last year showed impressively. For this reason, any substantive foreign policy concessions of the regime would be fatal, it simply cannot afford it. The situation is different from the Cold War: while the foreign policy adventure the ailing Soviet Union more and more declined over the decades, it is the lifeblood of the Islamic Republic.

c) The regime is ready to sacrifice enormous economic resources for its expansionism, rather than using them for its economic development. Solely because of this expansion, it sees its prestige in the humiliation of the West and the threat to Israel.
Remember my rationality model and consider the different goals. What would the regime do to fulfill these goals? A serious analysis does not hold a denial of these goals – that would be wishful-thinking.

2. Your approach would not be fundamentally different to the common approach of the West. You already mentioned that this approach failed. In fact, the West has tried for 30 years to provide the regime with strong incentives to reach a compromise. Lately Obama, who went so far as to give the democracy movement in Iran not even verbal support.

The claim that the Bush administration´s policy of regime change has failed against the Iranian regime is also false. There was never a consistent regime-change strategy against the Islamic Republic. The largest Iranian opposition group is still on the U.S. terror list and the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried talks with the mullahs about post-war Iraq. The current Wikileaks documents show the extent of intervention of the Iranian regime in post-Saddam Iraq.

I conclude: The essence of your approach is to buy the good will of the regime with generous concessions. This attempt to "Peace in our time" through concessions to a totalitarian anti-Semitic regime and the betrayal of freedom and security interests of partners of the West has already dramatically failed once.

This is the reason why I demand a consistent regime-change strategy.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 28, 2010

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Mrs. Gray, you are mentioning an extremely important point: "I think it is more about hegemony over the Arab states of the Gulf and the Persian Gulf itself."

It is indeed the Arabic states such as Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and others, who fear a hegemony of the Tehran-Damascus axis (lately maybe even Turkey).

But compare that with my characterization of the Khomeini ideology: world domination ambitions, the totalitarian dynamics to these demands is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism fantasizes the abstract ruler of the world (Israel, the Zionist lobby in the U.S.) in order to destroy the concrete object and to "liberate" the world. This is in fact comparable to the Nazi mobilization. In the destruction of Israel this salvation idea is included. This is the basis of the twelf-shia, the specific shape is called Mahdism. The twelfth Imam Mahdi will reappear in the era of destruction and lead the Muslims in a total war against the infidels. The destruction of the worst enemy is thus only the initial spark for total war.

I understand that this sounds completely crazy. But only for one who has not dealt with this ideology. I´ve already made literature recommendations (Amir Taheri, Wahied Wahdat-Hagh).

We may have our differences here, but as we agree on the conclusions we could instead focus on the geo-politic situation, if you like. The role of Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and Jordan would indeed offer more insights. A specific issue in that context is Lebanon.


 
Tobias Heinrich Siegfried Sauer

October 28, 2010

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Just two short comments:

Pamela, you are absolutely right: there does not exist an embargo concering oil and gas, there does exist only a financial restriction making it illegal for European companies to invest in new oil and gas fields. Regrettably, the EU currently even talks about loosening this measure (in light of the Nabucco-project).

The European measures translate UN-Security Council Resolutions in European law. If we want tougher sanctions, the Security Council has to decide them, otherwise it is unlikely that Iran would be much impressed: It could sell its oil elsewhere (China, for example). By the way, U.S. companies are investing in Iran as well, using non-U.S. affiliates.

Here we are at the core of the sanctions-problem: Sanctions and smuggling and other circumventing activities are unseperable twins. That's why I am not so confident regarding the effectiveness of sanctions, even if they did work sometimes (but at extremely high humanitarian costs!). The risk is high that in the end, by imposing stricter and stricter sanctions, we will achieve neither the perfect nor the good but instead we will find ourselves with an nuclear-armed Iran, an anti-Western population doing business with China.

Niklas:
In fact we assess the regime differently. I am not as sure as you are that the regime is expansionist in its character. I also do not believe too much that it is acting predominantely on the basis of religious ideology. Instead, in my view, it is driven by the fear to lose its power; a situation that after last years protests seems not so unrealistic at least for Ahamdinejad, but who knows, how revolutions evolve?

That is why I think we (the West) have actually a strong ally in Iran, but we have chosen to ignore that ally. The ally is: (Parts of the) Iranian population. As the Regime is trying to preserve its power, it needs to be attentive at least to a certain point, to the population. So if the West could threat with new sanctions or offer incentives, the population (or parts of it as the business community) will dislike that and they will articulate that. The regime will have to be careful not to alienate its population too much. One difference between sanctions and incentives (both 2nd group, see above) is that sanctions can easily be presented as hostile, while incentives are hardly depictable like that. Furthermore, sanctions need to be backed up by all major trading partners, China included. Incentives instead could be offered by the U.S. and the EU alone, without the need to find a compromise in the Security Council. Still, China and Russia might join. Other differences I have alreay explained above and in other comments.

Sanctions also strengthen the eocnomic grip of Iran's many state enterprises on the Iranian economy, as independent businessmen (and women of course) will not be able to conduct business anymore, while the state-owned companys will fill the gap and produce goods that before were imported from the outside. Ironically, sanctions might even strengthen the regime.

In history, sanctions have worked rarely. It is hard to assess how effective they really were, but the picture is mixed at best.

Incentive-Strategies have been tried rarely, and in fact, they have not been applied yet vis-a-vis Iran. Existing incentives are either very vague ("promotion of Iran as a tourist destination") or concentrate way too much on the regime - which probably has no interest in incentives and following better relations, because, as you write yourself, needs a "hostile" international environment for ideological purposes. Incentives should therefore concentrate not only the regime, but on the population. In other words, as little as possible incentives should be offered to the regime (security above all), and as many as possible to the population (in the fields of the economy and of prestige). Unfortunately, that is so far no part of the tansatlantic approach.
 
Felix F. Seidler

October 28, 2010

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According to Iran´s behavior other regional state´s security perception have been mentioned here many times. Thus, I would like to recommend two articles (s. below). Whether one may agree with all arguments and proposals made (I do not), both authors underline, however, Israel and the Gulf states are immensly scared about a nuclearized Iran. Furthermore, both articles make highly considerable remarks about Teheran´s evolving ambitions for regional power and/or hegemony.

- Goldberg, Jeffrey (2010): The Point of No Return, IN: The Atlantic, 306 (2010), No. 2, 56-69.
- Lindsay, James M.; Takeyh, Ray (2010): After Iran Gets the Bomb, IN: Foreign Affairs, 89 (2010), No. 2, 33-49.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 28, 2010

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Tobias, consider the Iran-Iraq war (Chomenei: “Through Iraq we will march to Jerusalem.”), the ambitions in post-war Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Lebanon.

As I said, the regime does not have any ties to the population at all. There is no population to be “attentive”.

And in addition, I already countered your argument that the UN-Security council, China and Russia shall all act in consent:

1. It is an urgent matter to react.
2. Waiting for a united consensus may take too much time, while a nuclear-armed Iran is not an option.

Solution: Sanctions have to be imposed unilaterally but those, who have no interest in an Iranian nuclear bomb. That would also push the other allies. Would they like to be associated as a partner of Tehran?
 
Alexander  Pyka

October 28, 2010

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Just a short follow up on Pamela Michele's comment, since I was addressed directly. You write "may I point out that allowing any legal framework to become in effect a suicide pact would be 'a huge setback' for the given framework."

The international legal framework is not a suicide pact as it does not prohibit the use of force per se - as we all know. It much rather offers multiple options and exceptions but under very strict requirements. Israel naturally has a right to self defense under these strict circumstances. The point is, that they are not fulfilled yet, as they require an immediate threat (to quote the so called "Caroline-Formula" which defines the right to anticipatory self defense: "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation"). Even if we would interpret this more broadly; an actual Iranian nuclear bomb would take the country at least another year to build. Israel itself just recently pushed its estimate of when Iran has the bomb to 2014. And since Iran would have to throw out the IAEA-inspectors, remove seals and cameras from their facilities etc. the beginning of the actual manufactering process would be noticable to the international community. Hence, it simply is far too early to talk about self-defence.

The UNCh is very strict about any exeption from the prohibition of force for a reason. And it is in our common mutual interest that these rules prevail for they are the only legitimate factor of order in international relations. As a former British House of Lords judge put it: "The law of the jungle is no longer acceptable; simply because it is a big jungle."
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 28, 2010

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On the IAEA:

A report, I have written recently (the quotes may not be all correct in detail, because I retranslated them from German to English):

The former Director General of the IAEA Mohammed El-Baradei was not famous for clear statements on the nature and progress of the Iranian nuclear program during his 12-year term, ending 30th of November 2009. Shortly before his term ended on 24 August El-Baradei confirmed to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that emanates from Tehran nuclear threat would be "exaggerated" and that there was "no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program," whereas the authorities do have concerns about violations of the control requirements [1].

The designated successor of El-Baradei, Yukiya Amano, also based this assessment on 3 July 2009 [2]. With the release of the IAEA Board Report, 31 May 2010 [3] Amano began to roll back on his position. The recent inspections of two UN inspectors were rejected reference by Iran, while they have made erroneous statements in the past. He had "full confidence in the professionalism and impartiality of the inspectors' [4]. Months earlier in February, President Ahmadinejad claimed, that Iran was officially a nuclear power [5]. The report explicitly refers to the accumulation of highly enriched uranium that can be used for nuclear warheads, as well as the removal of nuclear material, to request further investigation [6].

On 9 June 2010 the Security Council of the United Nations made a new sanctions package [7].

However, Amano kept unclear of any concerns about the Iranian nuclear weapons program. In August he talks still only of "suspected military implications"[8].

On 6 September 2010 a confidential IAEA report claimed that Iran had "repeatedly boycotted the monitoring of its nuclear program [...] also IAEA seals have been broken at several nuclear facilities" [9]. Moreover, "the concern continues about certain activities that could help build a nuclear warhead for a missile"[10]. On 13 September 2010 Amano expressed critical behavior of the Iranian leadership in the IAEA Board of Governors, "Iran has not shown the willingness to cooperate in order to confirm the peaceful nature of its nuclear program." [11]

Conclusion: The Director General of IAEA, Yukiya Amano seems to continue the concept of his predecessor El-Baradei. Amano does not want to see any evidence of the military nature of Iran's nuclear program and insists on the cooperation with the inspectors, despite attempts to deceive and disguise the obvious tactics of Iran.

[1] http://www.taz.de/1/politik/nahost/artikel/1/iran-baut-keine-atomwa...
[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL312024420090703
[3] http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2010/gov2010-28.pdf
[4] http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2010/amsp2010n015.html
[5] http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/02/11/ahmadinejad-says-iran-nucle...)
[6] http://www.hagalil.com/archiv/2010/06/10/iran-51/
[7] http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-06/iran-sanktionen
[8] http://www.cicero.de/97.php?item=5215
[9] http://www.focus.de/politik/weitere-meldungen/iaea-iran-behindert-w...
[10] http://de.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idDEBEE68604G20100907
[11] http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=187926



I have written another more general report if you are interested. But this is the actual case. If strongly doubt that the IAEA is trustworthy.


 
Alexander  Pyka

October 28, 2010

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Dear Niklas, in order to construct a case against someone like you try to do it against the IAEA, you need to prove - so to speak - the actus reus, the guilty act, and mens rea, a motive. The former is in deed supported by the indications you describe, although I would still see them as being far away from substantial proof. To understand your comment better, could you explain what motives the operational part of the IAEA, which is manned with numerous reputable scientists, could have to conceil an Iranian weapons program that they allegedly have sound proof for?

What I know is that ElBaradei was intentionally soft on the language in his first reports (not explicitly calling it a "non-compliance" of Iran with its safeguard obligations) in order to leave room for the board of govenors to come to a decision on the matter as well as leaving room for diplomatic options - in my point of view he simply tried to de-escalate language and situation. If at all, accusations of politized decisions can go towards the board, which in deed has some inconsistancy in its decisions to report a case to the UNSC in all directions (e.g. when comparing Iran to the South-Korea case which I described earlier). Recalling the dual-use factor and the difficulties in actually proving the intent of military purposes, I find it much more likely that there is no "bad intent" behind the IAEAs actions.

Anyhow: a short explanation of motives would help me a lot here.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 28, 2010

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As you know, hardly any of the UN organs are under observation. How could they, there is not a higher entity. For this reason I bring forth no indictment of the IAEA (that would go way beyond my capacities), but I criticize their actions. There is enough reason to criticize this organization.

You wrote in your last comment: "The problem here is, that Iran has violated some obligations stemming from its INFCIRC/153-treaties (safeguards) with the IAEA, but these violations are (1) mostly from a time before 2002 (2 ) in most cases already healed by the over-obligatory cooperation with the IAEA in the period between 2002 and 2005 and (3 not) were grave enough to be a sufficient justification for the "crippling sanctions" that some call for. "

You see, there are new reports for a long time in a high number. Therefore, in view of the facts your statement seems very doubtful to me.

In addition, the IAEA has no force at all to call Iran for transparency. This is only in the capacity of nation states. For this reason, the IAEA relies on the nation-states and will not make statements that are inconsistent with the objectives of nation-states. It can be said that the IAEA is willing to see how the various nation states do. Their constellation is projected in the IAEA. For this reason, the opinions of the IAEA are so extremely contradictory. As I showed in my last comment, there is no reason to play down the nuclear program.

Current keynotes:

- End of June, Iran had denied two IAEA inspectors to enter, because they had allegedly supplied false information in the last report on the Iranian nuclear program (Amano had "full confidence in the professionalism and impartiality of the inspectors”)

- According to the report, IAEA called Iran to further explain why there were broken seals in a uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. In response, Tehran claimed that it happened "accidentally"

- The report also states, that the enrichment facility in Natanz has at least produced 22 kilograms of uranium that is enriched up to 20 percent between February and middle of August 2010. The plant also produced far more than 2,800 kilograms of uranium with a low enrichment level of 3.5 percent.

- The Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) showed once again that Iran is expanding its nuclear program and could soon come into the possession of nuclear weapons

- Also, there is continued concern about certain activities that could help build a nuclear warhead for a missile.

With these facts, I ask you: Why do you work with obviously false facts in your comments? At least it seems so to me, but maybe you can explain that.

But again for the argument: What does it matter how long the enrichment process takes? These plans have to be carried out anyway. There are other assessments that speak of a way less time frame.

In February 2010, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran was now a "nuclear power”.

That shouldn´t be enough reason to carry out measures to stop his plans? Why take the risk?
 
Alexander  Pyka

October 29, 2010

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Dear Niklas, thank you for the further explanation of your thoughts on the IAEA. Although I believe we simply have to agree to disagree on this. You provided more hints for sfaeguard breaches - and you are absolutely right, of course I also see that Iran often operates in a gray zone between breach and fulfillment, first not declaring a nuclear site, then letting inspectors in anyhow etc. And yes, the IAEA can be criticized for its decisions and I completely agree that their actions are inconsistant in many cases. But that refers mostly to the decisions of the board of governors which is composed of state representatives that follow their own agendas. I believe such agendas are much less likely with the secretariat (but since neither of us can prove intent here - in any direction - I do not want to insist on this).

Referring to the "false-facts" I would have to know which facts exactely you are referring to - the facts you describe ("enrichment of uranium, expanding nuclear program, concern, could") are not illegal under the safeguard. Besides, many nations have shown a certain reluctance to cooperate with the IAEA for national security reasons - with which I only want to say that the inconsistancy goes in both directions; other countries "violate" their safeguards as well (again: South Korea) without anyone suspecting a military program. So it is back to simply not trusting Iran - which is absolutely understandable to me - I only want to stress, that constructing the legal argument against Iran here based on the NPT/IAEA is very hard.

Finally, just to also answer your last question real quick: it matters how far Iran is away from actually possessing a nuclear bomb in order to legally determine the right to self-defence of other actors in the region, which could legitimize a military attack on Iran (see my comment above). Stopping Iran's ability to build a nuclear bomb - yes of course, but only while we respect its rights to peaceful use at the same time. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war? Yes, that is a risk I would not be willing to take.
 
Nabi  Sonboli

October 29, 2010

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As someone who has lived all his life in the Middle East, I understand and appreciate your concerns about peace, democracy, human rights, etc. However, I do not agree with your solutions. The problems there cannot be solved by emotional reactions and double standard actions. We have witnessed about 50 years of instability and war in the region. Who has launched all these wars and for what reasons? Who has been responsible for them? Hundreds of people have lost their lives in these wars and instabilities from Lebanon to Afghanistan. It is not so easy to justify them by mentioning security concerns and preemptive self-defense. Do war, instability, intervention, occupation, sanction, isolation etc. contribute to peace, development, democracy, and human rights? Do all those who launched them, now are in a better and secure position?
With regard to Anti-Semitism and Iranian threat to Israel, you need to know there is no anti-Semitism in Iran. It was Iranians who first saved Jews from slavery in Babel more than 2500 years ago and from then they are been living in Iran. It is good for you to know that 20000 Jews have one MP while every 200000 Muslim have one MP in Iran. Israelis are wise enough not to turn the biggest country in the region into thier long term enemy by launching a military attack.
To have a better understanding of the situation on the ground, I hope that you find an opportunity to read the history of the region that has been written by the people there, visit the regional countries and talk with the people.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 29, 2010

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Well, you can´t observe stateguard breaches if the country does´t allow you to. That is possible within the NPT. The indications for a military character of the nuclear program are overwhelming – even according to the IAEA. And in order to get certainty, you have to make political and economic pressure - not to mention the illegitimacy of the regime.

Maybe you got the facts right, but you randomly chose old quotes, which were indicating a non-military character of the nuclear program. Even if I have to roll back on my statement that you got the facts wrong – you obviously fogged the IAEA-position.

But what should Israel say to “legally determine the right to self-defence of other actors in the region”? The observatory of this wishful-thinking process is evidentially anti-Israel biased. Not to go into details, but if you´re interested, I also wrote a paper about this. As I claimed plausibly, Israel wants to prevent a military confrontation by any means. But the Israelis cannot allow the other states (it is the states, not the law!) to determine when they are threatened in their existence. Historically, this would be suicide.

The Israelis do know a lot more about the nuclear program than the international organizations (Ronen Bergman – The Secret War with Iran), of course. If they didn´t have a lead in knowledge, they wouldn´t be existing any more. Not that they wouldn´t share their insights, but there is simply no interest in Europe. The Europeans want to enforce their appeasement strategy.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 29, 2010

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This post was directed to Alexander.

Nabi, there is nobody who denies the rich culture of your country. But this culture does not explain the current situation.

You pretend that there were no threats against Israel and so Islamization of Persian Culture.
 
Nabi  Sonboli

October 29, 2010

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If you just count the threats of Israeli officials against Iran and compare them with Iranian officials against them, I'm sure you will reach to a different conclusion. I'm sure you do not expect that Iran follow appeasement policy toward Israeli threats, including nuclear ones.
I would also want to make some more points with regard to the nuclear issue. You are not alone in assuming that Iran is looking for nuclear weapons and may use it against Israel. However, it is a cold war way of thinking about security and deterrence. Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan and then collapsed while it had the most sophisticated nuclear weapons. US could not succeed in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq with all its nuclear weapons. Failure of Israel in Lebanon is another example. Nuclear weapons have lost their importance and there is no reason Iran look for them.
Furthermore, if Iran wanted to make nuclear weapons, she would not implement the additional protocol voluntarily for more than two years from 2003 to 2005. Even at present also Iran is ready to do so, if the other sides remove sanctions. It means that Iran is sure about its intention and nuclear program. With regard to nuclear attack against Israel, not only Iran but no other country in the region can do so, because, any nuclear attack will lead to loss of life of many innocent people including Jews, Muslims and Christians in whole region including Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.
Security is a comprehensive concept and we cannot separate those who live in a region to secure and insecure. What is necessary is to think about peace, security and development for all, not just some.
Iranian culture still explains the current situation. I have explained this issue in a separate paper and mentioned that because of cultural, historical, social and geopolitical reasons, Iran cannot follow an expansionist foreign policy. We need to distinguish the real behaviors with distorted images.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

October 31, 2010

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Mr Sonboli,

First, I would like to join Mr Lohmann to welcome you in this debate, which circles around the question formulated by Atlantic Community’s (AC) editors team as “What could a successful strategy for the transatlantic partners to overcome the deadlock on Iran's nuclear program look like?”. You will have noticed in AC’s introduction page that this student competition was sponsored by the US Embassy in Berlin and that AC openly communicated that strengthening the transatlantic partnership is part of its mission.

As for some of the students the rhetoric of your president, Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seems to be the key decisive factor in the policies of “the West”, a thing which in my view has been grossly overstated and misconstrued, may I request you to take a look at what I have said on this matter in my various comment here and then perhaps let us know how you view this.

In your above contribution you argue that “looking for nuclear weapons” and maybe using them “against Israel” is a Cold War way of thinking. I am not sure that the examples you use in support of your argument are valid. The implosion of the Soviet Union had mainly to do with a flawed (economic) model, and Vietnam and Afghanistan could never be “stabilized” with nuclear arms. Surely you will agree with me that a nuclear capability serves exclusively as a deterrent to discourage aggression with conventional arms. Not only would the deployment of a hypothetical Iranian nuclear weapon in Israel be a death warrant to “of many innocent people including Jews, Muslims and Christians in whole region including Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon”, it would also lead to immediate nuclear retaliation and hence act as a death warrant to Iran as well.

Iran seems to have gained from Washington’s military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has become a regional superpower. In one of your comments you seem to imply that Iran could play a crucial role to help pacify matters in these troubled countries. Could you elaborate on this point, please? When you speak about your “separate paper” in which you mention “that because of cultural, historical, social and geopolitical reasons, Iran cannot follow an expansionist foreign policy”, can you please tell us where we can find that paper? Incidentally, in one of my comments I made mention of Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s article “Iran’s "Green Wave" Opposition and its Ties to Global Geopolitics” (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21584). Dit you take a look at that article. What is your take on it? MRZine also wrote an interesting piece on this issue, see http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/hp160310.html
 
Nabi  Sonboli

October 31, 2010

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Dear Niklas
I do not expect that the US provide and publish documents that weaken its long-term position against Iran. If you want to rely on US docs, please pay attention to their claim about existence of WMDs in Iraq before invasion and the result of inspection after that. Also please follow US and Israeli’s propaganda about Iranian nuclear program and reaching to bomb within two years during the past 20 years!?. These are the countries that you think have enough information about Iran.
Dear friend, if they had more information, be sure that they would have provided them to support their arguments and would not mention a laptop and then even change their position in this regard. Furthermore, if they had enough information, they would not fail in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.
You have referred to terror. That's a good point. At least during the past two decades Iran has been mentioned as the main supporters of terrorism. I'm sure you know who were those that attacked the US in sep11 and where they came from all many other terrorist activities before and after that. And you know that the US was among the main supporters of Taliban in 2001. I would also like to know your opinion about all those hundreds of thousands of innocent people that have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. I’m sure you agree that more than 90 percent of them had nothing to do with terrorism and WMDs.
If you are really concerned about democracy, human rights and WMDs, these valuable ideals cannot be achieved by double standard. The root cause of problems in the greater Middle East is intervention, occupation, invasion, sanction, isolation etc. This lose-lose game has just weekend the US, and those who live in the Middle East and have led to shift of power from West to the East. You can encourage the US and its allies to go deeper in the quagmire that they have created for themselves in the M.E, by continuing past mistakes. If you are really concerned about peace and security for all, It can be achieved through mutual understanding, confidence building, engagement and cooperation.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 31, 2010

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You are wrong - correcting past mistakes meant exactly to breakdown the Iraqi terror regime. Unfortunately as a matter of fact there were no options but a military intervention - this was exactly the result of a policy ruminating about "mutual understanding, confidence building, engagement and cooperation" to encourage the ambitions of the Middle East dictators who orchestrate the terror spread in the whole world. These could be sure to get "mutual understanding" in reciprocity for their terror campaings. That is the exact negative component of these terms. Same in Iran, same debate, same policy of dialogue.

The world of international law, souvereign states and mutual agreement is an illusion blinding its eye from the horrors in Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Lebanon and many, many other issues which were never santioned by international "understanders" because they were not interested in the "activities of souvereign states". This rhetoric was the cover for the Sudane gouvernment-driven genocide, mass rapists and mutilations of the people in Darfur. Now, the appeasers know what they can do - they can protect Iran from the "US/Israel-ambitions" to break down their nuclear armament project.

In contrast I think there are options in the Iranian dossier to prevent a military confrontation. These were the exact subjects of my paper.
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

October 31, 2010

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Mr Anzinger,

With due respect, I feel Mr Sonboli's rationale about the flawed reasons why the US went to war with Iraq is absolutely right, and I am convinced the vast majority of the world community shares that view. It is equally true that for quite a few years propaganda machines have tried to “sell” a nuclear WEAPONS programme in Iran which would require immediate intervention. Happily enough, in vain, so far...

Mr Anzinger, with your statement “correcting past mistakes” you seem to justify military intervention in a sovereign state without any UNSC mandate. This, as a matter of course, is absolutely illegitimate, as Mr Pyka has so eloquently and repeatedly argued. And I wonder what good it does if you continue hitting the “orchestrate the terror spread in the whole world” key, where Mr Sanboli has dealt with that subject adequately.

If I read you correctly, you are dragging new elements into the debate instead of pursuing Mr Sonboli’s arguments. It would be interesting to see exactly how you respond to “I would also like to know your opinion about all those hundreds of thousands of innocent people that have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. I’m sure you agree that more than 90 percent of them had nothing to do with terrorism and WMDs.”

Mr Anzinger, I feel your Iranian guest on this debate is entitled to answers to the questions he volunteers. I feel his statement “The root cause of problems in the greater Middle East is intervention, occupation, invasion, sanction, isolation etc.” is very much to the point. Surely, as host on this page, you might like to pursue these statements and come forward with counter arguments, if you have any.

I look forward to seeing your comments.
 
Niklas  Anzinger

October 31, 2010

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Well, I think we would be drawing circles here, as you repeatedly termed a "propaganda machine", "Israel lobby" and claimed the US were a totalitarian regime.

With all due respect, I don´t see any coinicidence in our different ratios if you claim Hezbollahs missiles are defensive - claiming the differences you asked for is therefore not an easy thing.

In brief terms to show you my argument is valid: From my perspective, the people in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered of brutally oppressing despotic regimes and the ratio of the West holding these despots in place for legitimate representatives. Without this ratio I think war at least in Iraq could have been prevented a long time ago. There would have been measures to break down the Saddam regime, if the West (especially the US) had a more accurate assessment of the character of this regime. In Afghanistan, well, there was always war.

“The root cause of problems in the greater Middle East is intervention, occupation, invasion, sanction, isolation etc.”

Yes, this is according to your logic only the genuine inhabitants of a country a allowed to mutilate their women, surpress everything providing at least the sweet little bits of freedom one can have in this life. I can´t tell in brief words how broken this logic is.

From your point of view, we would have to accept the Somali warlord, who threw down the opposition by mass executions and calls out a new state. You might object, that this is not an internationally legitimate act. Well, in fact it is how almost every state in the world once was stated. Thats what Hobbes analyzed and came out with the thought of law enforced by a souvereign entity. Additionally, the law according to your unterstanding wouldn´t have any means to prevent the Somali warlord from slaughering innocent people. Isn´t the sense of the law to sanction violations? How could this exactly happen without intervention if any other measures (remember I argue for these measures) fail? You have no souvereign entity in your thinking, you have fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of Hobbes´ theory.

In addition, out of a better understanding of this premise, one could make a good argument: In fact, it is Iran which is intervening and invading (Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Hamas, Hezbollah), it is Syria occupying (Lebanon). From my point of view it is the Iranian regime occupying the Iranian people.

Mr. Lookman, I think you are only interested in violations of the international law and in the misconceptions of intervention and occupation if and only the US and Israel are to blame for.
 
Nabi  Sonboli

November 1, 2010

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Why sanctions are Wrong, inefficent and self-defeating?
One important assumption of sanction is that if we do not give this or that technology or benefit to a country, she is not able to achieve it. Based on this assumption western countries, especially the US, imposed different unilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iran during the past three decades.
This assumption neglects the creativity of others. Although, International cooperation will substantially decease the necessary time and resource, however development of science, technology and economy is not something that must be imported from abroad or is only possible through cooperation with others.
There is no sovereignty on science and technology. A big country with enough resources and talents can achieve its independent development through appropriate management. If western countries could achieve their development, the others can do, too. There are many cases of independent achievements and Iran is no exception. Although, Iran has been under severe sanctions by the US and its allies during the past three decades, but it is now much more powerful than before the revolution, when it was a US ally, and more developed than many US allies in the Middle East.
Another wrong assumption is that sanction is peaceful instrument to achieve political objectives. However, if we compare the consequences of sanctions with casualties of nuclear and chemical weapons, we reach to the conclusion that sanction2 is a WMD more dangerous than others. 13 years of sanction against Iraq killed more than 1.5 million people, mainly children. We oppose WMDs because we believe that the lives of people are valuable and sacred and WMDs demolish a society without distinction. If targeting population of a country is wrong, what is the difference between targeting them by nuclear and chemical weapons and targeting them by sanctions?
As sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s manifested clearly, sanctions are even worse than Nuclear and chemical weapons, because those weapons kill and destroy every one. Some of them may be responsible or be able to defend themselves or flee from the battle field. But the target of sanctions is mostly children, elders, women, patients and the poor section of societies, those who are not responsible and cannot defend themselves at all. If the west is concerned about human rights and democracy, they know that sanction and military threat do not strengthen but weaken both.
From a different point of view, sanctions are more destructive that WMDs. Sanctions damage both the targeting and target. It leads to mutual or even multilateral destruction, because it prevents or limits trade and interaction among nations. In this way, it not only has negative effects on sanctioned country, but also it has negative effects on its trade partners and has domino effects on others.
Although, some talk about smart or targeted sanctions that only target officials and some industries, but actually there is no such a thing. Any action that prevents or limits interaction and trade between nations sooner or latter has it effects on other parts. Preventing Iran from achieving new technologies through sanction has other direct and indirect consequences. Preventing Iran from achieving peaceful nuclear technology create more problems for needed people in hospitals, more environmental pollutions in big cities and more problems in agricultural fields. All these fields related to life and wellbeing of the people.
Furthermore, they increase political risk and prevent long-term investment in the energy section of Iran. Iran does not benefit, but the others lose more. The main reason behind rise of oil prices during the past few yeas was former sanctions against Iran, Iraq and Libya during 1990s. Those sanctions led to more income for former sanctioned countries, including Iran and more burdens on global economy and western nations. For these reasons sanction is essentially wrong and implementing them increase the responsibility of supporting countries.
Inefficient tool
Sanctions are not only wrong, but for the following reasons, they are inefficient:
1- Putting more pressure against Iran for behavior change and/or even regime change has been and is the main argument behind UNSC resolutions and sanctions against this country. It is three decades that Iran has been under severe unilateral and multilateral economic, technological and military sanctions. If this argument was right, it had already succeeded and it was not necessary to implement new round of sanctions.
2- Iran is a reach country with enough revenues to invest on needed technologies and develop them internally. Sanction is efficient if it prevents a country from having enough hard currency to invest and finance its needs. During the past three decade, increasing oil revenues has put more resources at Iranian government disposal. It not only has been able to satisfy its needs but also to have many achievements in the field of science and technology. For example, has been able to develop its military technology and decrease its dependency on others. It has not been an easy job and without expenses, but Iran has done it.
3- Iranian society is young and talented. Iran has invested more on education during the past decades. So there is no scarcity of knowledge in Iran. This is why sanctions dose not work against such a country.
4- In a globalized economy it is impossible to impose sanctions on a country in a way to have severe impacts on its will. Supporters of sanction neglect the impact of self-interest in international business. Sanctions just weaken economic relations with some but strengthen it with others. Though, the supporters of sanction can achieve the support of some politicians to give their votes but they cannot convince all businessmen to forget their interest.

Self-defeating Policy
As a policy or strategy to achieve specific goals, sanctions are counterproductive and self-defeating, because of their negative consequences:
1- Based on the pre-revolution US designed Iranian Nuclear program, Iran needed 20 Nuclear Power plants by 2000. Implemented sanctions after the revolution prevented Iran from achieving this goal. However, it intensified Iranian need for nuclear technology and led Iran to follow a self-sufficiency policy in this field and design a comprehensive program that includes enrichment. So, sanction is the root cause of the existence of Iranian independent nuclear program. If we didn’t have sanctions in the past, we did not have the current situation. More sanctions increase Iranian needs for nuclear technology and makes more investment necessary.
2- The majority of experts, researches and even many politicians believe that lack of trust and confidence is the main problem behind Iranian nuclear issue. The question is that, is more resolutions and sanctions a confidence-building measure or confidence-destroying one? During the past 6 years the UNSC has issued many resolutions and implemented sanctions. What have been their achievements? They have just intensified Iranian mistrust toward the sanctioning countries.
3- Furthermore, Global powers cannot impose sanction and at the same time expect more transparency and less effort in the direction of self-sufficiency. Sanction and threat not only do not lead to more transparency but also makes it more difficult. The reason is clear: a country which is under severe sanctions, embargo, or other restrictions cannot follow its peaceful program in a transparent manner. Less transparency caused by threats and sanction lead to more mistrust and concern.
4- Passing more resolutions just institutionalize the differences and turn them into hostilities and contribute to failure of diplomacy. Gradually, different counties interest remains in keeping them in place and it makes ending them more difficult. Latter on there will be so much business like negotiations among UN Security Council members about who will benefit removal of which item from the sanctions list.
5- Iran is a major player in central, south and west Asia. Sanctions will prevent cooperation on other fields that are necessary. During the past decades, US sanctions against Iran prevented many cases of cooperation that were in the best interest of the US. By imposing more sanctions, other countries, too, close their hands in cooperating with Iran. There are so many International and regional problems, like terrorism, extremism, drug-trafficking, and other crises and instabilities in the Middle East that cannot be solved without having Iranian cooperation. It is not possible to put more pressure on Iran on nuclear issue and ask for Iranian cooperation on others. If we want to solve the problems, all concerns and interests should be taken into account.
6- Sanctions weaken relations between nations and turn it into a play card in the hand of some lobbies. The more the US and EU weaken their relations with Iran, the more they weaken their own decision making power. It is not in EU and US interest to put their nation’s interests in the hand of some groups.
7- The effects of sanctions will not limit to Iranian economy and society. Iran is located between Afghanistan, Central Asia, Caucuses, Turkey, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. Iran is located at a strategic cross road among all these countries and has strong economic relations with most of them. Without Iranian Market their will be no flourishing economy in Dubai. Weakening Iranian economy through sanction will weaken the regional economy of west and central Asia as a whole. At present there are so many crises in the region, from Afghanistan to Iran, and Caucuses. Because of interlinkage and interaction between different social, economic, political and security problems in the region, worsening one would not contribute to solution of others.
 
Nabi  Sonboli

November 1, 2010

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Mr. lookmann
Thank you very much.
I think this a debate is about how to deal with a country with 75 million people, having different opinions, have a strategic location, with enough regional influence. This is a strategic debate and needs a comprehensive way of thinking, not an ideological one.
By mentioning past experiences in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, I want to put into question the importance of nuclear issues both as a defensive and offensive instrument. New threats do not come from where nuclear weapons can be applicable. I do not also believe in there importance in changing balance of power. An irrelevant weapon is not an instrument of power. Did by nuclearisation of Pakistan and North Korea change the balance of power in their benefit? Has nuclear Israel been more secure and more powerful? It is also not right to believe that they bring prestige. If it is true, North Korea and Israel as the smallest nuclear states must be very prestigious in the world.
I will come back to other questions latter.
 

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