What U.S. Failure in Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Will Mean

In our newest Op Ed, published in The Hindu, one of India’s largest English-language newspapers, see here, and, in a different version, on Al Jazeera, see here, and Huffington Post, see here, we argue that the unwillingness of the United States and its Western partners (essentially, Britain, France, and Israel; that’s it) to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium under international safeguards is the primary cause for failure in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran.  And the main reason for U.S. obstinacy on the point is that “recognizing Iran’s nuclear rights would mean accepting the Islamic Republic as a legitimate entity representing legitimate national interests”—something that no U.S. administration has been prepared to do since the Iranian Revolution. 

As we go on to explain,

Washington’s unwillingness [to acknowledge Iran’s nuclear rights] is grounded in unattractive, but fundamental, aspects of American strategic culture:  difficulty coming to terms with independent power centers (whether globally or in vital regions like the Middle East); hostility to non-liberal states, unless they subordinate their foreign policies to U.S. preferences (as Egypt did under Sadat and Mubarak); and an unreflective but deeply rooted sense that U.S.-backed norms, rules, and transnational decision-making processes are meant to constrain others, not America itself. 

Because these attitudes are so fundamental, it is unlikely Obama will invest the political capital required to bring America’s Iran policy in line with strategic reality before his presidency ends.  And so the controversy over Iran’s nuclear activities will grind on.”         

We go on to explore what diplomatic stalemate will mean, focusing on prospects for continued development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, American and Western reaction thereto, and growing risks of a U.S.-initiated war against the Islamic Republic.  

We append our piece below: 

Consequences of Western Intransigence in Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran

To maintain the illusion of some prospect for progress in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Istanbul next week.  Purportedly, Ashton will see if the P5+1 dialogue with Iran can be put back on track after yet another round of nuclear talks with Iran failed last month.

Publicly, Western officials blame the failure either on the Islamic Republic’s upcoming presidential election or on that old fallback, Iranian “intransigence.”  In reality, talks failed because America and its Western partners remain unwilling to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. 

As a sovereign state, Iran is entitled to enrich, if it chooses; as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is entitled to do so under safeguards.  The NPT explicitly recognizes signatories’ “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  That this inalienable right includes the right to enrich is clear from the NPT itself, its negotiating history, and decades of state practice, with multiple non-weapons state parties having developed safeguarded fuel-cycle infrastructures potentially able to support weapons programs. 

If Washington recognized Iran’s right to enrich, a nuclear deal with Tehran could be reached in a matter of weeks.  As long as Washington refuses to do this, no substantial agreement will be possible.    

Yet the Obama administration is no closer than its predecessor to accepting safeguarded enrichment in Iran.  This is partly due to pressure from various allies—Israel, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France—and their American supporters, who expect Washington somehow to defy legal principle along with political reality and compel Tehran to surrender indigenous fuel-cycle capabilities.   

But the real reason for U.S. obstinacy is that recognizing Iran’s nuclear rights would mean accepting the Islamic Republic as a legitimate entity representing legitimate national interests.  No American president since the Iranian Revolution—not even Barack Hussein Obama—has been willing to do this.    

Washington’s unwillingness is grounded in unattractive, but fundamental, aspects of American strategic culture:  difficulty coming to terms with independent power centers (whether globally or in vital regions like the Middle East); hostility to non-liberal states, unless they subordinate their foreign policies to U.S. preferences (as Egypt did under Sadat and Mubarak); and an unreflective but deeply rooted sense that U.S.-backed norms, rules, and transnational decision-making processes are meant to constrain others, not America itself. 

Because these attitudes are so fundamental, it is unlikely Obama will invest the political capital required to bring America’s Iran policy in line with strategic reality before his presidency ends.  And so the controversy over Iran’s nuclear activities will grind on. 

The world has experienced such diplomatic stasis before.  In 2003-2005, Britain, France, and Germany worked (ostensibly) to prepare a nuclear settlement with Tehran; Iran suspended enrichment for nearly two years to encourage diplomatic progress.  The initiative failed because the Bush administration refused to join the talks unless Tehran was willing to abandon pursuit of indigenous fuel-cycle capabilities. 

In 2009-2010, efforts to negotiate the exchange of most of Iran’s then-stockpile of enriched uranium for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor collapsed for similar reasons.  In the May 2010 Tehran Declaration brokered by Brazil and Turkey, Iran accepted all of Washington’s terms for a fuel swap, yet the Obama administration rejected the Declaration because it openly recognized Iran’s right to enrich.  Three years later, the administration is once again undermining chances for diplomatic success with its inflexibility regarding Iran’s nuclear rights.            

The world has also seen what happens when America and its European partners demonstrate bad faith in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran—Iran expands its nuclear infrastructure and capabilities.  When Iran broke its nearly two-year enrichment suspension in 2005, it could run less than a thousand centrifuges; today, it has installed 12,000 centrifuges, more than 9,000 of which process uranium gas to produce enriched uranium.  In February 2010, Iran began enriching uranium to the near-20 percent level needed to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) after the United States and its partners refused to sell the fuel; Iran consistently offered to suspend near-20 percent enrichment if it could obtain an adequate fuel supply for the TRR.  After Obama torpedoed the Tehran Declaration, Iran accelerated production of near-20 percent uranium and began indigenously manufacturing fuel plates for the TRR.   

With America and its European partners once again blowing an opening to accept Tehran’s nuclear rights and close a nuclear deal, we are likely to see another surge of nuclear expansion in Iran.  Certainly Iran will continue enriching, at the 3-4 percent level needed for power reactors and at the near-20 percent level needed for the TRR, and installing more efficient centrifuges.  Iran also plans to commission a heavy water reactor, perhaps as early as next year. 

Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) consistently certifies that no nuclear materials have been diverted from safeguarded Iranian facilities, all of these steps will be cited by Israel, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, and other U.S. constituencies hankering for military action as evidence that time for diplomacy has run out.  Additionally, the Islamic Republic may find legitimate reasons—for example, building maritime reactors—to begin enriching above 20 percent.  While such higher-level enrichment would be done under IAEA safeguards, this would also be interpreted in America and Israel as provocative Iranian “escalation.”   

Obama would prefer to avoid another U.S.-initiated war in the Middle East; thus, he will keep endorsing ploys (like Ashton’s trip to Istanbul) to maintain a façade of diplomatic “engagement.” But his unwillingness to revive America’s deteriorating regional position through serious diplomacy with Tehran will increase pressure on him to order U.S. strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities before his presidency’s end.   

Rather than openly abandon the delusion of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, Obama will try to placate hawkish elements by escalating America’s ongoing “dirty war” against the Islamic Republic—including economic warfare against civilians, threatening secondary sanctions against third countries in violation of U.S. WTO commitments, cyber-attacks, support for groups doing things inside Iran that Washington elsewhere condemns as “terrorism,” stoking sectarian tensions, and fueling further violence in Syria to prevent Tehran from “winning” there.  But that, too, will only further destabilize the Middle East and bring America and Iran ever closer to overt confrontation.          

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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79 Responses to “What U.S. Failure in Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Will Mean”

  1. James Canning says:

    Some of Obama’s White House advisers admitted to the Financial Times that the US blocked any reasonable P5+1 offer to Iran last year, due to worries about the elections (in the US).

    I think the US would accept Iranian enrichmenbt to 5% or lower. I think the P5+1 would accept such enrichment.

    I think Iran needs to consider accepting half a loaf. In fact, Iran appears to be willing to consieer half a loaf, but Israel lobby wants to block even that.

  2. BiBiJon says:

    James Canning says:
    May 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    “I think the US would accept Iranian enrichmenbt to 5% or lower.”

    And, what is Iran supposed to accept? Sanctions in perpetuity?

    http://www.lobelog.com/new-congressional-sanctions-push-aimed-at-killing-iran-diplomacy/

    The only chance Iran has for getting US Congress to remove sanctions, is by escalating the situation on multiple fronts including the nuclear front.

  3. jay says:

    BiBiJon says:
    May 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Guardian’s message is directed to Cameron/Hauge – the dynamic “we want to improve ties with everyone” duo who improve ties with countries by arming the islamist opponents of governments to the teeth!

    The “let’s remove Syria from Iran’s orbit” dream – originally sold as a prophecy by Mr. Netanyahu to Cameron/Hauge, then to Mr. Obama – has become a nightmare for Europe. But no, Mr. Cameron wants to continue to improve ties by arming the Al Qaida inspired islamists some more!!

    Here is one dimension in which the Guardian article comes short – Turkey is being played like a fool!! Would the islamists be content with the “secular” Turkey on their border? Would they form a temporary marriage with the PKK to bring down Turkey? Would NATO need to get involved? Would the fight reach the borders of Europe?

    The fire started by these myopic politicians may end up consuming them!!

  4. kooshy says:

    1-Bussed-in Basiji says:
    May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

    “Sanctions and economic warfare have been one of the greatest blessings for Iran, just like the war was which taught us to rely on ourselves for our own defense.”

    2-fyi says:
    May 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

    “In a remarkable macroeconomic act of political courage, Iranian leaders devalued rial and went about waging the economic war.
    And the Iranian people concentrated on day-to-day survival rather than trying to overthrow the government.”

    Thank you both, reading your conclusions one can and should start to understand and capture the fact that Iranians collectively as a nation, with long term interest, due to their long history with tremendous amount of social and political experience do understand international hegemonic (colonial) politics, as a result they are willing to submit themselves to economic, social hardship in exchange for their country’s long term interest. I think this is the most valuable experience (due to an almost perfect and honest articulation by IRI leaders) Iranian have gained since the revolution of 1979, amazing that now days even in LA there are very few expatriate Iranians that believe US/West is fair in dealing with Iran as a nation, regardless who governs Iran, that is an achievement considering the exposure of the US /Western based expatriate to western media.

  5. kooshy says:

    BiBiJon says:

    May 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    “Guardian has thrown in the towel’

    Thanks of the editorial, but to me, that looked more like pulling off their underwear rather than the towel.

  6. Sineva says:

    jay says:
    May 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm
    The west its seems has forgotten the basic lessons of afghanistan,or rather in their desperation to try and stop irans rising power and the wests crumbling status quo they were prepared to try anything,and I`m sure it looked so easy after libya,no doubt they hoped that after assad was gone the pro western “moderates” would take care of the islamists,of course its just as likely that they werent even thinking that far ahead,sadly the west never does when it comes to the middle east

  7. Sineva says:

    BiBiJon says:
    May 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm
    Well said,I agree

  8. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    May 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm
    The americans apparently do not agree with your assessment james,the most they are willing to offer is no further sanctions,the ones in place stay in place,but then I guess thats your idea of “half a loaf”,in that case iran should offer half a loaf as well,it should agree to limit its replacement of 20% producing ir1 centrifuges to the exact same number of ir2`s,personally I think its a most generous offer,now of course the ir2 is much more efficient and will produce quite a bit more 20% enriched,but hey nobody said that the 2 halves of the loaf had to be the same size merely that their are two of them ,right james?,thats sort of like the deal irans being offered now,a very small and miserable “half a loaf” indeed

  9. Richard Steven Hack says:

    :Turkey may support U.S. to establish no-fly zone in Syria
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-05/10/c_124695045.htm

    :Turkey claims evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22484115

    Clearly Turkey aims to be involved in the upcoming foreign military intervention by the US, NATO and Israel – as predicted.

  10. Richard Steven Hack says:

    ‘Evidence’ Syria used chem weapons: Kerry
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/evidence-syria-used-chem-weapons-kerry/story-e6frf7k6-1226639801714

    More propaganda for the upcoming foreign military intervention.

  11. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Meanwhile, Israel continues to prepare for the upcoming attack on Lebanon.

    Israeli mock raids over S. Lebanon
    http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2309982&Language=en

  12. nico says:

    James Canning,

    I read time and again from you that the US attacked Irak because of Saddam not screaming loud enough that Irak has no WMD.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/dec/08/iraq1
    “US seeks one excuse for war in 12,000 pages of denial
    As Iraq insists it has no weapons of mass destruction, Washington is losing patience with anyone who wants to prevent another conflict”
    (Many thanks for the link in the Cyrus’ Blog)

    Thus when you say that you were not supporting the Bush/Blair claim of WMD in Irak while it is nowaday totally debunked.
    And in the same movement you claim it was Saddam fault all the same because of Irak not denying enough the abscence of WMD.

    Well, what should we think about that ?

    Obviously you are supporting UK and western behaviour.
    And somehow you are justifying the criminal acts by shifting the burden of proof in the Irak case.

    It is exactly the same as shifting the burden of proof on the Iran Nuclear file.
    http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2013/05/frederick-dahls-own-goal-on-parchin-speculation-and-iran.html

    “And this is where we see the true rhetorical benefit of such reasoning and how it can be used as tool of subtle persuasion: it has the effect of shifting the burden of proof. We come up with the speculation, and then require the other side to prove that our speculation is not true. No matter how much they object that there’s no evidence of what we speculate must exist, we dismiss their concerns: the fact that there’s no evidence that three-legged goblins exist, is not proof that they don’t exist. Similarly, we imagine the scary, nasty nuclear things that may exist in Iran, and then we require Iran prove that our imaginary nuclear things don’t exist. The IAEA can say everyday that they don’t have proof of any nuclear weapons program in Iran — it nevertheless could exist. So, the other side is then caught in a jam: they can refuse to try to prove the negative, in which case they seem guilty, or they can try fruitlessly to prove a negative, in which case they also end up looking guilty. ”

    You are continuously questioning Iran goal in the 20% enrichment, while the delivery of such product was denied by the US for medical purpose.

    Once again you are shifting the burden of proof.

    Your position is interesting as it is archetype of western LYING habits, bad faith and faithless behaviour.

  13. nico says:

    James Canning,

    Once again, nothing personnal about that.
    Your position as an archetype of western position is a nice platform to aim at western policies.

    Regarding the way to debate and your question regarding the difference between (known) facts, (reliably sourced) arguments and (gratuitous) assertions, I can only deeply encourage you to do some reaserch about that it will greatly help you.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate

  14. nico says:

    James Canning,

    Addtional links that could greatly help you and enhance your posts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

  15. BiBiJon says:

    BBC throws in the towel (h/t iranaffairs.com)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22456875

    Kooshy jan,

    throw in the towel means:

    to admit defeat or failure. e.g. The union was forced to throw in the towel and settle their bitter dispute with the company.

    Etymology: based on the literal meaning of throwing a towel into the ring in boxing (signaling that a fighter can no longer continue by throwing a towel into the area where the fight takes place)

    ———–

    Guardian, and BBC should be regarded as ‘opinion makers.’ Sheeple uncritically go by what these ‘venerable’ media institutions say. Just like NY Times, they reflect government policy consensus. But, when Guardian/BBC appear to be going against the grain, in fact they, more often than not, are paving the way for a policy U-turn that was the government’s intention to begin with.

    The Guardian editorial, and BBC’s BBC Middle East bureau chief’s opinion piece may be the harbinger of shift in policy — admitting defeat.

  16. kooshy says:

    BiBiJon

    Thanks, I was pointing to its Ghazvini Definition/ interpolation.
    After reading the latest Guardian and Now BBC’s editorials on Syria, admitting defeat on their policy recommendation (both like Juan Cole staunch supporters of war in Syria), it sounded like that these “respected and prominent ” editorial boards must have got a rough passage through streets of Ghazvin rather than being severely beaten in the matching ring.

    Cheers

  17. jay says:

    BiBiJon says:
    May 11, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Has the “towel been thrown in?”

    I think the “towel has been thrown”, but it is in mid-air and it is yet to “land”!

    Two trips by Kerry and Cameron did little to change Russia’s stance on the Syrian situation. A peace conference was discussed for mid May, then pushed to late May, and now with conflicting signals from the West, may be just for “show”.

    Russia’s foreign ministry warned:

    “…. that the intensification of armed conflict would sharply increase the risks that new hotbeds of tension would appear not only in Syria, but also in Lebanon and in the relatively calm region around the Israel-Lebanon border.”

    A shot across the bow? In other words: if you continue to arm these Al Qaida affiliated groups and Israeli’s continue to try to help them then there may be problems on other borders – starting with the Lebanon-Israeli border.

    Lebanon is the least of the problems. Turkey is under intense pressure to “help the insurgents”, and while she has intensified the rhetoric, there is an emerging recognition by Turkey’s ruling financial class that the radical insurgents are becoming a problem for Turkey. The discovery of several Al Qaida cells in Turkey mid April and the Al Qaida weapons traders significant network buildup on Turkey’s border towns along Syria is part of a trend that does not bode well for Mr. Erdogan. Jordan is beginning to face similar problems – although not yet at the scale present in Turkey.

    From the Israeli viewpoint, it appears that knocking down Syria has turned into “knocking on the door of Israel” by the Al Qaida affiliated elements. Do they ante up or fold?!

    It appears that the “towel in the air” is a “trial balloon”! It is a tactic to regroup. The West is trying to buy time to sort things out. If the “towel lands”, then one can say “the towel is thrown in”.

  18. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:
    May 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    “The tsar [Nicholas II] had told his war minister the year before [1904 war with Japan] that he dreamed of extending the Russian empire to China, Tibet, Afghanistan and Persia. . . ”

    looks like Nicola took those dreams to his grave!!!!!!

    Suggestion: STOP DREAMING!

    hague, et al, your graves will never be big enough to contain IRI.

  19. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Saddam Hussein obviously had reason to be aware a conspiracy existed to set up an illegal invasion of Iraq, based on knowingly false intelligence.

    You in effect argue Saddam Hussein was wise not to yell and scream about what was going on. In other words, you think the victim of the crime waws wise to allow it to take place.

    Horrific crime, by the US. Aided by gross stupidity and incompetence on the part of Saddam Hussein.

  20. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Tony Blair knowingly aided and abetted the neocon conspiracy in the US, to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq on knowingly false pretenses.

    You think I approve of the assistance Blair gave to one of the greatest crimes committed in recent decades?

  21. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    Clearly you do not understand the point I make time and time again. I do not argue that the US invaded Iraq BECAUSE Saddam Hussein was too quiet about the facts of the matter.

    I say that Saddam’s GROSS STUPIDITY made it easier for the illegal invasion to be set up and carried forward.

  22. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    “Horrific crime, by the US. Aided by gross stupidity and incompetence on the part of Saddam Hussein.”

    you “conveniently” left out that lil’ poodle, the british pm TB Liar!!! Remember him Jimmy?

  23. nico says:

    James Canning,

    There is a saying in french : There is no worse a deaf man than the one who refuses to listen.

    You did not answer my claim that the burden of proof was upon the US and blaming Saddam for not screaming enough is simply worthless and distorted intellectual construct comparable to sophism.

    What are you trying do demonstrate ?
    What idea do you strive to convey with such claim ?
    My understanding is that you are trying to alleviate the Bush and Blair crimes by putting some fault on Saddam.

    While Saddam was a poor ruler and a tyran, the Blair and Bush were worse by many order of magnitude and there is no excuse for them.

  24. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More provocation intended to get a foreign military intervention…It’s now clear that Turkey is deliberately pushing for war with Syria.

    42 dead in Turkey car bombings near Syria
    http://www.thestate.com/2013/05/11/2766372/several-hurt-in-blasts-near-turkish.html

    “A senior Turkish official blamed Syria, calling the neighboring country’s intelligence service and military ‘the usual suspects.’”

  25. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    If a pretty girl walking down a path in a public park, is attacked by a rapist, should she scream? Perhaps she does not, due to fear the rapist would kill her?

    Monstrous crime, by the George W. Bush administration, in invading Iraq on knowingly false pretext.

    BUT, the arrogant, ignorant, murderous dictator in Baghdad, MADE IT EASIER FOR THE CRIME TO BE COMMITTED. Surely Saddam Hussein was not afraid to shout. But, apparently, too proud. And stupid, frankly.

  26. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    If you look at a post or two above your own, you will see that I flagged Tony Blair for his complicity in the crimes of the George W. Bush administration, in invading Iraq on knowingly fale pretenses.

    Bliar was crucial element in the conspiracy, in my view.

  27. Kooshy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    May 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Rich
    I wouldn’t get too excited Turkey doesn’t have the money to start a war if she did Erdpgan would have started one couple of years back, Turkey would love to have war only if the NATO was willing to pay for it, that we know is not going to happen since NATO countries are economicly insoulvent . Besides their Arab gulfers can’t and wouldn’t pay for the entire NATO armies. So yes everybody including Obama wants war but as usual on the chip, however the other side has shown is willing to pay the price no matter what

  28. Kooshy says:

    On my last comment I meant to say Nato wants war on cheep and no one is willing to pay for the war

  29. Neo says:

    “The west and its allies cynically bleed Syria to weaken Iran

    If western politicians were really interested in saving lives, they would use their leverage to negotiate a settlement”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/07/west-cynically-bleed-syria-weaken-iran

  30. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    May 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm
    Thats a great analogy james,you appear to be saying that because the girl was pretty she was “asking” to be raped,just as saddam didnt do enough to stop the attack[what could he have done?],the fault here is not with the victims as you say it is clearly with the perpetrators,yet you continue to try and cast the blame on the victims

  31. Persian Gulf says:

    fyi

    “Do you know why real-estate is so popular?

    Because no one trusts the government, that Iranian government can turn around and confiscate one’s industrial property from one.”

    again yes and no. trust is not an absolute term per se. when Iranians buy “orageh gharze” that means they trust their government and so on. real-state is popular because it’s by far the best investment you can make specially in Tehran. because you pay almost no property tax for owning a house or making rent for that matter. it’s a very rewarding investment. you just sit on your a** and every few years your investment gets double or triple. if I had sufficient money, I would have bought as many houses as I could in Tehran. and of course high inflation makes your hard gained cash worthless even in the short run. because stock market is a joke, and production makes no sense….

    “And do you know why no one trust the banks?

    Look no further than Cyprus where funds have been essentially stolen by the government.”

    Iran’s government actually just did the same. I don’t know if you heard of “hesabe arzi”. if you had one, you can now get official exchange of your money in rial. that means less than one third of money you put in.

    and why should any Iranian trust the government? even Mahmood’s government? he doesn’t have any regard for public properties and public money. just look at his actions over the past 6 months. he has spent most of his government’s time and probably billions of toman to get his candidate elected. when a government so blatantly doesn’t have any respect for the rule of law, why should anyone trust his government’s policies or for that matter take his words serious?

    “That is why still so many women are buying gold bracelets.

    If I were them, I would do the same thing.”

    not really. among the older generation of Iranian women, there is a saying that no-one would take away their bracelets at the time divorce. other properties are just on the air. to some extent, it was a deep historical insecurity, and lack of entitlement, in their position that made jewellery attractive. well, the new generation is just trying to make it completely upside down. two extremes, apparently.

    “Years of relentless struggle lies ahead, just like the Iran-Iraq War.”

    that’s true. we are at the beginning of such a struggle, albeit with totally different expectations.

    “And the Iranian people concentrated on day-to-day survival rather than trying to overthrow the government.”

    It was all too obvious that the deterioration of Iran’s economy would not lead to toppling of Islamic Republic. my green friends never believed this. surely IR knew this. the question is why Iran’s government didn’t release the exchange rate 7 or 8 years ago and instead applied such a policy at the time outside pressure was just too high to bear? it’s a macroeconomic failure in a grand scale, that a government makes easy loans available to small businesses while at the same time suppresses exchange rate and makes imports very cheap.

  32. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More propaganda to justify Israeli involvement in the foreign military intervention…

    Israel prepares for the worst as tensions over Syria grow
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22486766

  33. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Kooshy: You just keep telling yourself that…

    Turkey warns of response after Syria border town bombs
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22498891

  34. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Playing into Israel’s hands…

    Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Fighters Edging Closer to Full Scale Confrontation
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/hezbollah-al-qaeda-fighters-edging-closer-confrontation/story?id=19144119&singlePage=true#.UY8yDKrbeCc

  35. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    I take it you think the sanctions are in fact hurting Iran, or you would not urge Iran to continue to stockpile 20% urnaium in order to pressure the US et al. into easing the sanctions.

    FYI, of course, claims Iran is stronger due to the sanctions.

    I think the Israel lobby in the US pressures Obama so that the US blocks any deal with Iran that Iran can accept without loss of face.

  36. fyi says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    May 12, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Mr. Ahmadinejad has been the most law-abiding executive in the history of Iran as well as the Islamic Republic.

    I personally believe that Mr. Mashaie is the best candidate for Iran with Mr. Qalibaf being a distant second.

    Also, watch how Mr. Qalibaf is using the resources of the Tehran Municipality for his Election Campaign.

    I cannot answer your questions about the economic policies of Mr. Ahamdinejad; I hope some day he would publish his memoirs and describe and disclose his reasons for his policies.

  37. James Canning says:

    Seneva,

    You are not able to see what steps Saddam Hussein could have taken, to thwart the liar warmongers in the US who obviously were setting up an illegal invasion of Iraq, on knowingly false pretenses?

    What about this: After George W. Bush lied to the American people, in his 2003 “State of the Union” address, Saddam could have held a press conference and said: The President of the United States lied to the American people, and to the world, last night. He falsely stated that Iraq “has tried to buy uranium from Africa”. This UTTERLY FALSE STATEMENT BY THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, is based on forged documents. The CIA is well aware those documents are forgeries, and the CIA was well aware of that fact years ago.

  38. James Canning says:

    Nico,

    You completely fail to understand my purpose in calling attention to the facilitation of the criminal scheme to launch an illegal invasion of Iraq, by incompetence on the part of Saddam Hussein.

    I think George W. Bush was a fool, and that he was duped by liar warmongers. And that Bush was duped thanks to gross incompetence on the part of his National Security adviser. I urge more attention be given to Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, because I think that speech was itself part of the scheme to dupe the President.

  39. kooshy says:

    Rich

    Sounds like, you are having a hard time to understand what is going on, just look at this new headline from Reuters Mr. Davutoglu the engineer of current Turkish foreign policy want the world,/b> meaning the western world which is NATO to fight and bring down the government “military” of Syria. If Mr. Davutoglu had calculated and or could afford a long war with Syria (like Iran / Iraq), he wouldn’t ask and beg for the world to remove Mr. Assad. He would have attacked Syria when Syrian military shout down a Turkish F4.

    “Turkey says world must act against Syria after bombings”

    “Damascus denied involvement, but Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said those behind the attacks were from an “old Marxist terrorist organization” with ties to Assad’s administration.

    “It is time for the international community to act together against this regime,” he told a news conference during a visit to Berlin.”

    Look even the idiot Erdogan is saying we will not be pushed/fall in to a trap (war) they are trying to push us to.

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech broadcast later on Turkish television: “We will not lose our calm heads, we will not depart common sense, and we will not fall into the trap they’re trying to push us into.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/12/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE94A05S20130512

  40. nico says:

    All,

    Am I the only person here to think that the Iranian presidential race is much more uncertain and truly interesting that the ones in many other “democratic” countries ?

    http://news.yahoo.com/analysis-iran-election-race-opens-surprise-candidate-enter-194248271.html

    Hundreds of contenders
    Open race
    Surprise candidates
    Election strategy and choices on parties’ front runner
    etc

  41. JohnH says:

    I think the Leveretts have nailed the US stance: the Iranian government is not legitimate. Only the US government can bestow legitimacy, not elections, not the consent of the governed–only the US government.

    And since the Iranian government is not legitimate, there is no point in negotiating with it.

    AKA–How to Paint Yourself into a Corner 101.

  42. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    May 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm
    Do you seriously think that would have made the slightest difference,that would be like the poles denying that they had attacked the german radio station and that the german “evidence” was fake,the decision to attack in both cases had been made months earlier and there was nothing that could be done to stop it,the only thing the victims could do was to make the enemy pay as a high a price as possible during the attack

  43. Persian Gulf says:

    fyi

    Only what he spent for Mashaei makes him disqualified.it is not about who spent the most of public money.

    The best candidate to me is Jalili. Smart, charismatic, confident, considerate… Qalibaf comes after him. He is competent obviously.

    Mashaei is corrupted. Look no further than recent revealations of Kish incident by Sazmane Bazrasi. Mashaei looks clueless to me with his special look.his election would be dangerous as he will be a puppet for Mahmood. 8 years is enough for mahmood specially for a country of 75 millions people. Mashaei even can’t talk properly.

  44. Fiorangela says:

    James Canning says:
    May 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    James, if the president of the United States, the most powerful country in the entire universe and beyond, was “duped” into war against Iraq, what makes you think that anything that Saddam Hussein, the leader of a then-impoverished, single-resource, cobbled-together nation with an exhausted military, having just emerged from an 8-year long war that was followed by 10 years of starvation-inducing sanctions?

  45. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    PG, fyi,
    Mahmud-jan and Mashaei know that Mashaei will be (rightly) disqualified by the Guardian Council. So the only reason to bring him is to force the GC to also disqualify other candidates with “parvande”- who shall remain anonymous for now.

    Also given the recent statements by the intelligence minister, the SL’s older brother who very rarely speaks to the media and former intel min, Rafsanjani might also be (rightly) disqualified.

    Anyway, Agha Jannati has the bayzatayn to get rid of all these gentlemen if necessary.

    Also SL can always reinstate candidates that were disqualified- like he did for some reformist candidates that were disqualified two elections ago.

    Most Iranians still have problems with the concept of voting for the one you think is best- even if he’s not likely to win- and then getting on with life.

    Unfortunately whoever comes, ends up pedare qabliha-ro dar biyare, so the only thing that matters is winning to protect yourself from the wrath of the winner- and this is across the political spectrum- lefties and Akbar Shah usual worse than righties on this count.

    This is turning out to be the most exciting elections we have had so far. I’m guessing above 85% voter participation.

  46. fyi says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    May 12, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    You mmight be right; you are closer to it.

    I personally think presidents sjould have administrative/managerail experiences.

  47. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    May 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    US would have gone to war against Iraq regardless of what the late Mr. Hussein did or did not do.

    This much is quite clear.

  48. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    May 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    There is “no face” to be saved by Iran in the nuclear confronation.

    If there is any “face to be saved” it is by the Axis Powers.

    Long-range nuclear munitions are the coin of stractegic security in 21-th century.

    No deal between US and Iran are possible; for that we need regime change in Washington DC.

    The inhabitants of Washington DC are truly a degenerated lot; having made – for example – Syria an enemy of US – and for what reason.

    You cannot do business with the current regime in US.

  49. fyi says:

    All:

    On International Law:

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-red-line-non-aggression-8462

    [A futile appeal, in my judgement.]

  50. Rd. says:

    fyi says:

    On International Law:

    “U.S. policies have something to do with stimulating the kind of violent extremism exhibited by the Boston Marathon bombers. “

    Up until 70′s even early 80s. The talk “generally” was about Americanization, specially the youth most every where. Now the talk is about radicalization of the youth and more so even in UK, EU and now in US. The policy makers are so out of touch, or arrogant, they just don’t get it. Such is the reality of our time. One would hope, the disease will continue to die away with as little damage to others.

  51. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You are confident Obama is “bluffing”, and that Obama will allow Iran to build nukes.

    I think you are simply DEAD WRONG.

  52. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You miss my point. A conspiracy set up the illegal invasion of Iraq. Why did Saddam Hussein do nothing to expose the conspiracy? Why did Saddam in effect facilitate the conspiracy against his own regime?

  53. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I do not agree with you that the conspiracy to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq would have succeeded no matter what Saddam Hussein did or did not do.

    I think an essential element of the success of the conspiracy, was the INCOMPETENCE of Saddam Hussein.

  54. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Saddam Hussein HELPED the conspirators to DUPE George W. Bush.

    You appear to think Saddam Hussein’s astonishing passivity, in the face of the campaign of lies against him, should be excused.

  55. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    A very modest sum of money would have amply financed a campaign, by Saddam Hussein, to expose the liar neocon warmongers as the liars they were.

  56. BiBiJon says:

    James Canning says:
    May 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Brilliant, James! Yes, sanctions are a monumental pain in the tush. In the short term it is annoying, in the medium term, Iran’s adaptations will set the stage for a long term economic, strategic, and political transformation of huge benefit to Iran, and non-aligned countries.

    A simple calculation is at the core of policies. Either, Iran is a partner in facilitating/protecting a world order including western legitimate interests, or Iran HAS to squeeze the west out of ME i.e. throw out western interests/influence, baby, bathwater, and the tub.

    As both sides recalibrate, adjust, etc. you might occasionally see false entreaties made to Iran; And Iran’s boa constrictor policies might relax in response. But, I think it would be a mistake to forget the fundamental binary choices that drive both sides’ policies. It the boa happens not to tighten its coils one time the victim exhales, it might just be giving the victim more rope to hang itself; e.g. the Syrian rope,woven by al-Nusra, that now subtends the arc dotted with Erdegan, and assorted Kings and Emirs; they will be very busy looking at their own navels to be bothering Iran for many years.

    Your fixation with 20% is not pilloried here because it is wrong. Rather, it is because you insist everyone look at the wood when folks are more interested in the gazing at the Forrest. That wood could disappear tomorrow, either because Iran stops 20% enrichment, or because newly instituted 90% enrichment will be the rage. Either way, most people recognize the forest will continue to be there.

    And, yes. We are all aware of the wood, James.

  57. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    May 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I am confident that Iranians will not build nuclear weapons during the remainder of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

    I am confident that Iran will be or already is in a position to build nuclear weapons; according to Dr. Cordesman that situation has obtained since 2006.

    I am confident that the confrontation between Axis Powers and Iran will span decades and generations with no resolution.

  58. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Of course Iran is now capable of buildning nukes.

    The issue in reality, in my view, is whether Iranian miscalculations will lead to a termination of Iran’s nuclear programme.

    On another topic, Ali Akbar Salehi has a good interview ith Spiegel.de today, regarding Iran’s ability to help bring about a negotiated resolution of civil war in Syria.

  59. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    I entirely disagree that Iran’s policy must be to seek to undermine “the West”.
    The concept itself is irrational.

  60. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Kooshy: No, YOU don’t know what’s going on. I’ve explained this situation here before and I’m not going to waste time explaining it again to the Pollyannas who are living in a dream world.

  61. fyi says:

    James Canning says:
    May 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    It is not Iranians that are likely to miscalculate; it is their enemies that have consistentlu miscalculated over the last 34 years – including the United States.

    There is no possibility of negogiated resolution of the civil war in Syria; any such statement by Iran must be understood as diplomatic niceties while analogous ones from the United States must be understood to mean death of Assad (and his family, and his associates, and his government and his sect.)

    It behooves the Jordanian and Turkish governments to be ready to accept demobilized rebels as they stream into their countries from Syria – in an analogous manner to the end of the Spanish Civil War.

    I expect them to become a thorn in the side of Axis Powers’ allied states – “We were betrayed!” would be their slogan and overthrow of US friends would be their agenda.

  62. Rd. says:

    “Meanwhile, Nabil al-Araby, secretary general of the Arab League, said that Russia has finally understood that it is the Syrian people who should decide the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. “

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syrian-opposition-%E2%80%9Crearranging-cards%E2%80%9D-preparation-geneva-ii

    ‘Independent & Free’: We will ask for a permission to talk!
    “… Syrian opposition forces said they will consult Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey before deciding whether to take part in the talks.

    http://friday-lunch-club.blogspot.de/

    It appears Mr. Araby has mis-placed his head!!!

  63. BiBiJon says:

    James Canning says:
    May 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    “I entirely disagree that Iran’s policy must be to seek to undermine “the West”.
    The concept itself is irrational.”

    Not any more irrational than the “West” seeking to undermine Iran.

  64. Smith says:

    What Iranian Failure to build an arsenal of nuke tipped ICBMs’ means for Iranian population and state: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/nuclear-strike-tehran-israel?page=1

    The complete study of Israeli nuclear strike on Iran: http://www.conflictandhealth.com/content/pdf/1752-1505-7-10.pdf

    International response to Israeli nuclear strike and complete destruction of the internationally demonized Iran: http://kelason.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/gangnam-style-with-ban-ki-moon.jpeg

  65. Persian Gulf says:

    fyi

    http://alef.ir/vdcfxedyxw6dc0a.igiw.html?187200

    I don’t think Mashaei should be disqualified based on his ideas. in fact, if I were the Guardian Council, I might have approved this guy so to get embarrassed by very poor results (Mahmood’s team probably noticed this in its recent provincial visits and wanted to put the cost on GC). obviously he can’t make connection with ordinary people. he is very hard to understand. just look at that guy’s reactions sitting beside him in this video :) )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ummbfuemONY

    in any case, I think he should be disqualified for illegally using public money for his campaign.

    Political scene is obviously not a place to practice honesty. but a president of a country can’t lie so shamefully in the public eyes as Mahmood does. This has a very negative effect on the public moral. at the end of the day it’s the politics that shapes the culture.

    Mahmood has become a dangerous man. what he has been doing over the past couple of years is disgusting. he used to sit on a carpet, eating bread and cheese (which I don’t think is necessarily a right thing for a president to do ) few years ago while these days spends millions and probably billions to get this guy elected. or tours his distance relatives over the world for free. that’s unacceptable by any means. a lot of officials might have done worse than this in the past, Reza Shah or Nasereddin shah…may have abused public found way more. but that is not the point, and surely not why we have representative officials. that’s also not progress, whatever that means.

    There is no way that Rafsanjani would be disqualified. He is the head of Expediency Council by SL’s mandate. IR will be a joke if that happens (this is a tactic to contain his campaign while others making inroads). that was probably the reason Rafsanjani decided to run and not Khatami. Rafsanjani made the exact same mistake as he did back in 2005. He is late to the race without significant change to his public face. and back then he didn’t make much trips to provinces in the illusion that he is well known. yes, he was known. but known for bad things.
    Rafsanjani won’t be elected, I believe. a winner needs at least 17 million votes (either in the first or the second round) and he just doesn’t have that capability. The only thing I like about him is that he believes in the ballot boxes and puts himself in the eyes of the public for judgment despite so many failures. that’s admirable to me.

  66. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    May 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm
    James as usual you have it all wrong,iran does not seek to undermine the west,it seeks to undermine the wests influence and control in the middle east,to remove western power from the region,and personally I think it has a very good shot at this especially with the way the west is helping it,a smarter less arrogant and more pragmatic west would realise and accept that its status quo was collapsing and that its influence was going to be greatly curtailed and would help to build a new middle east in which it could still have a little influence,sadly however when it comes to the ME the west has never shown any commonsense and so we have the situation that we have today

  67. Sineva says:

    fyi says:
    May 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm
    Its also quite possible that having accepted the victory of assad and the need to repair relations that turkey and jordan might quietly hand back some of these rebels to the syrian government,after all the wahabists among them will only pose a threat to their countries as well.I could well see a lot of them winding up like the cubans who survived the bay of pigs or the iranians after the fall of the shah,living as exiles in the us hoping for the day when they can go back home in triumph while grumbling that they were let down or sold out by the…[take your pick]

  68. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    May 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm
    Actually james the issue is whether western miscalculations lead to a nuclear armed iran or a regional war and with it the destruction of the remaining western backed status quo

  69. Sineva says:

    BiBiJon says:
    May 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm
    Beautifully put,I couldn`t have put it any better

  70. fyi says:

    Sineva says:
    May 13, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I seriously doubt that possibility.

    As long as AKP in Turkey and the Ba’ath in Syria remain in power rapprochement between them will not be possible.

    Jordan is a different story since she is an Arab country and thus may be able to reconcile with Syria.

    I do not see any evidence whatsoever that the Axis Powers are willing to call it quits in Syria; given the damage they have imposed on Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, they would need a face-saving way later.

    Since such a venue is not available, they will fight through their proxies until the last opponent of Mr. Assad’s government has shed the last ounce of his blood.

  71. Nasser says:

    Smith,

    Any comments on the recent political changes in Pakistan?

  72. Sineva says:

    Really james,how would he have proved they were liars?,how would he have proved iraq had no wmd?,you see the onus of proof was,wrongly,on him.It was only after no wmd was found,it was only after the iraqis did not welcome the us as liberators,it was only after the failure to put in place a puppet regime and finally the constant flow of casualties that led people to say “oh we were duped into this war”

  73. Sineva says:

    fyi says:
    May 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm
    Yes I think you`re right the turks have burned their bridges thoroughly with syria.I think assad wont stop until all his opponents had been destroyed or driven into exile,from the looks of it the saa finally has its act together and is starting to infict some real damage on the fsa/wahabists so theres really no reason for assad to negotiate with them.I think some of these groups might find it easier to try their luck in jordan rather than against an increasingly capable saa.I think the war has finally turned a corner and the chances of an fsa/wahabist victory are slim to none.Hopefully at some future point syria and iran will pay the turks,jordanians,saudis,qataris etc.. back with interest for what they`ve done in syria

  74. Nasser says:

    This is the hope of Americans and Israelis. I think they are wrong but still an amusing read
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/13/how_do_you_say_quagmire_in_farsi_syria_iran_hezbollah?page=0,0&wp_login_redirect=0

  75. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    Immediately after George W. Bush gave his 2003 State of the Union address, with its claim Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa, Saddam Hussein should have held a press conference and called Bush a liar.

    Saddam Hussein should have given the press photographs of the many barrels of “yellowcake” that Iraq still had sitting around, years after destroying its nuclear weapons programme.

    I think you have little understanding of PR.

  76. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    I think George W. Bush actually believed Iraq had “tried to buy uranium in Africa”, and that putting this false statement in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address was a key element of the conspiracy to dupe the President.

  77. James Canning says:

    Sineva,

    I find it peculiar that you are so eager to excuse EPIC INCOMPETENCE on the part of Saddam Hussein.

    You seem unconcerned that those who conspired to dupe the President of the US, go unpunished.

    The focus needs to be on the INDIVIDUALS. Not “the US wants this” or “the US wants that”.