July 3, 2008

Nuclear Iran: Diplomatic endgame fast approaching ...


Said Sun Tzu, “All warfare is based on deception, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away.”

In a recent piece over at Commentary Emanuele Ottolenghi suggests that Iran is pulling the wool over the world’s foreign policy intellectuals heads through clever techniques that propagate uncertainty about its nuclear intentions:

“And here we see why Iran’s behavior over the past six years has been neither irrational nor foolhardy but rather shrewd, calculated—and successful. Even while loudly repudiating allegations that it is pursuing a military program, the regime has used every technique at its disposal to sow confusion and encourage divisions among its adversaries."

"If Iran is telling the truth and desires solely nuclear energy—which would be peculiar, to say the least, considering that under its sands rest the world’s second largest natural-gas reserves and the world’s fifth largest crude-oil reserves—its behavior these past six years makes no sense. The regime would seem to have had everything to gain from making it crystal-clear to the world that it has no intentions of developing nuclear weapons. Instead, it has rejected repeated and alluring incentives designed to seduce it into demonstrating the non-existence of the efforts it continues to insist it is not undertaking. In the process, it has had to suffer painful economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States. Its six years of defiance and stonewalling have led to increasing diplomatic isolation."

"As a matter of simple logic, then, it is only rational to conclude that Iran is working, and working very hard, to become a nuclear power. But there may be logic of a different and no less compelling kind behind its actions. For, at the end of these same six years, many in the West remain fiercely committed to the idea that discussing the dangers of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power—let alone discussing how to stop it—represents a greater threat to the world than does the Iranian pursuit itself."

"For a significant portion of the world’s foreign-policy makers and intellectuals, any confrontation with Iran on the matter of its nuclear program is dangerously provocative and therefore to be avoided. In particular, prominent European leaders have roundly denounced the supposed “adventurism” of the Bush administration and insisted that (in the words of one leading German Social Democrat) “military options must be taken off the table.” Authoritative American voices joined this chorus in the wake of a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that declared (in an assertion supported by no other intelligence agency in the world) that Iran had suspended its nuclear-weapons program in 2003. More recently, elements within Western foreign-policy establishments have gone a step further and have begun to suggest that the world can “live with” an Iranian bomb.”
Read the rest here

In the meantime blogger, Steven Clemons Washington Note , is concerned that the neocons are once again gaining leverage on the Iran issue: “Last September, I wrote a Salon.com article explaining the many reasons why despite neoconservative obsession with bombing Iran, President Bush would not do so. He had tacked a different direction. Part of my case, though not all of it, rested on the fact that one of Vice President Cheney's staff members had allegedly told a private group in Washington that the VP himself was frustrated with the President's tilt towards Condi Rice, Bob Gates and others who emphasized a mix of diplomatic options over hard power gestures.

More recently, however, in the last six to eight weeks, many of my sources in the State Department, the White House, and the intelligence community tell me that the losers last summer and fall are winning again. David Addington, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, is winning on virtually every battle he is fighting -- from not moving forward on new legal protocols that would be more internationally palatable on combat detainee rights to shelving the Law of the Seas Treaty ratification. But they say that the level of tension in the White House over Iran is also growing -- and the diplomatic game plan that before was dominant seems to have deteriorated significantly -- particularly since the departure of former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns and the firing of Admiral William Fallon.” Read the rest here

Personally, I think the Neocon re-emergence is timely and auspicious!

Local (Australian) blogger Kotzabasis, response to the Clemons piece is creditable and a must read:

“Diplomacy is eminently the best way to resolve conflicts. But beyond a certain point the art of Talleyrand becomes completely ineffective and to continue it with an irreconcilable determined enemy is not only a barren exercise but also extremely dangerous, as one has to fight this enemy in the future when he will be much stronger at an immensely higher cost.”

“In the case of Iran, diplomacy has reached its barren point. The Ahmadinejad regime should be clearly given the option of immediately ceasing and dismantling its nuclear program or stand facing an indetermined force de frappe at an unspecified time. And it should be made crystal clear to the regime that this attack would be targeting the higher echelons of the government, the military, and its religious leaders. This threat against its triumvirate leadership could steer an existential turmoil in the latter that could lead to a “palace revolt” against the Ahmadinejad leadership replacing it with a moderate one which would yield to the demands of the international community.”

Be forewarned, unless the diplomatic stakes are raised significantly, some time in the next 12 to 18 months the President of the United States will be forced to make austere choice, either he will take massive action to thwart Iran from reaching a nuclear threshold or he accepts defeat, and therefore a future with Iran possessing an ever growing nuclear arsenal. Does anyone really believe that the former cold war rules of nuclear balance, namely M.A.D. will apply in the Middle East once Iran goes nuclear, more than ever, in light of Ahmadinejad’s past warnings about Israel? Only last month he decreed that Israel is, “about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene."

Failing American action I suspect that Israel will soon be on the verge of making a choice of its own and hence, the next time hundreds of IAF F-15 and F-16’s take off, they may well be en route to Western Iran, NOT on a training drill over the Mediterranean.

It would be understandable for readers misconstrue my position on Iran, truth is, I would much rather a diplomatic solution but for diplomacy to stand a chance both Europe, America and indeed the world must up the diplomatic ante, quite considerably I might add.

As the Commentary article concludes, "... the Iranian strategy of obfuscation, duplicity, and delay" is working.

“All warfare,” Sun Tzu wrote, is based on deception. When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away.

"It is also true that, in diplomacy no less than in war, deception works because those being deceived prefer to live within the deception rather than to acknowledge the sobering facts..."

Further reading

July 2008 FACTBOX - How might Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites?

The Unthinkable Consequences of an Iran-Israel Nuclear Exchange

H. Con. Res. 362

Home

14 comments:

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Excellent post Otto.

The end game is near as you stated. It is obvious that diplomacy alone, though preferred, is NOT going to stop Iran.

Their quest for nuclear weapons will not stop until it is stopped by means other than talk.

For years Iran has used the cloak of diplomacy to continue to develope nuclear and other capabilities and the naive crowd of the world has allowed this to continue.

Occassionaly Iran would offer a bone when they thought the heat was getting more than they could trust and then that bone would suffice the appeasers and Iran would continue thier Jihadidst development all the while.

They will not stop because thier goal is Middle East domination and the destruction of Israel with Europe and The United States in their far reaching sights.

The danger is real and the left refuses to accept this fact. This is also one of the MANY dangers of Barack Obama. His naive apprach of sitting down on his magic diplomatic carpet thinking that Achmanutjob will just cow down before his eloquent talking is
dangerous and stupid!

WomanHonorThyself said...

"As a matter of simple logic, then, it is only rational to conclude that Iran is working, and working very hard, to become a nuclear power...Try telling this to the lefty West haters my friend...great work Otto!

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

So glad you are back Otto!

Diplomacy can only be effective as the extension of force- force that is a credible threat because it will be decisive if unleashed, and because it plainly will be
unleashed should diplomacy fail.



Force without diplomacy is sheer brutality, the law of the jungle. But diplomacy without force, or the threat of force, is an invitation to chaos - no
law at all.

MK said...

"....many in the West remain fiercely committed to the idea that discussing the dangers of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power—let alone discussing how to stop it—represents a greater threat to the world than does the Iranian pursuit itself."

Exactly, they know us better than we know ourselves. And this is why they continue to pursue their Nuclear agenda, once they get it, they can't be stripped of it. Look at North Korea, everyone is absolutely terrified of kicking their ass. Besides i understand why the Eurabians are not willing to take on Iran with force as backup, they don't have any force to back up tough talk, so like small whining girls, they can only nag America to put aside threats of force and beg Iran to do something that will give them immense power and leverage once achieved.

“All warfare,” Sun Tzu wrote, is based on deception.

He talks about the attackers deceiving their enemy, what about when the victims themselves are hell bent on deceiving themselves. isn't that like handing over victory and isn't that what most of us in the western world are doing, deceiving ourselves into believing that if we just stop saber-rattling the Iranian bogeyman will just go away.

Karen said...

Well done, Otto. Diplomacy, while always the preferred path, only works with a willing adversary. The murdering thugs in Iran have no intention to allow common good to prevail. They simply don't care about their own people. Certainly not for ours. Or Israel.

How'd that 'diplomacy' thing work out for the newly released hostages in Colombia? Libya conceded only after the war in Iraq began and it was a little to close for comfort.

Z said...

Nothing to add...just wanted to tell you I so admire your posts and thank you.

To mistake that we're dealing with a man of integrity whom we can trust in Iran could be the biggest mistake the West EVER made.

Bolton is great on this subject, too.

Z said...

By the way, since you're an honorary American in MY book, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, Otto!
And thanks for your great work in support of our country!

Z

AI said...

Z: THANKS! That's very kind of you ...

Aurora said...

Great post, Otto. Comprehensive and informative as usual. One of America's greatest strengths is knowing when to fight and having the dynamism to do so. Iran is a problem which is just not going away diplomatically unfortunately.
On another note, happy fourth! God bless America.

Americaneocon said...

"I think the Neocon re-emergence is timely and auspicious!"

Thanks Ottavio!!

WomanHonorThyself said...

hey there in AussieLand..Happy Fourth of Juuuuly my friend! :)..heh

MK said...

Happy Birthday America, may you have many, many more and thank you for what you are, a beacon for what is good, for freedom, for liberty, for hope in this dark and dangerous world and for being the protective brother who we don't appreciate and acknowledge enough.

Thank you most of all to your sons and daughters who put their lives on the line, in distant parts of the world for those they don't even know, for something bigger than themselves.

subadei said...

"Does anyone really believe that the former cold war rules of nuclear balance, namely M.A.D. will apply in the Middle East once Iran goes nuclear, more than ever, in light of Ahmadinejad’s past warnings about Israel? Only last month he decreed that Israel is, “about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene."

Perhaps Sun Tzu's greatest admonishment was "know your enemy." Those that would profess Ahmadinejad's political/executive prowess as being more than mere rhetoric in an effort to bolster conservative support domestically and excite anti-Western ideals within Iran's "proxy's" afar would do well to reconsider that sage bit of wisdom.

"It would be understandable for readers misconstrue my position on Iran, truth is, I would much rather a diplomatic solution but for diplomacy to stand a chance both Europe, America and indeed the world must up the diplomatic ante, quite considerably I might add."

That's a refreshing bit of reason, Otto. I agree that the diplomatic ante needs to be stepped up. But the thing is, unlike North Korea, Iran isn't effectively and globally isolated. Quite the contrary, Russia, China, Japan, etc. many big players have economic and energy dealings with Iran. Iran has played it's cards in a sage fashion as of late. The more, say, China comes to rely on Iran for a sizable portion of it's petroleum imports the less realistic any martial intervention, be it American or Israeli, becomes. At least in keeping with global harmony, as it is.

Here's what I see; Iran will obtain nuclear arms and the world will, as it did with Pakistan, effing well deal with it.

layla said...

Great post Otto. Happy belated Independence Day down under!