The administration still insists that it hopes diplomacy will solve the Iranian nuclear program controversy.  But it’s insisting on diplomatic measures that are unlikely to succeed.

Under the fold: “stick and kick” diplomacy…

It’s bad enough that we’ll only talk to Iran through proxies in the United Nations–we’re negotiating with the negotiators–but to top it off, the deal we’re authorizing the negotiators to negotiate with Iran is manifestly bogus.

A Reuters report from Monday carried the Bush machine’s latest attempt to puppeteer an agreement with Iran.

The European Union is ready to share the most sophisticated civilian nuclear technology with Iran if it agrees to halt uranium enrichment on its soil, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Monday.

But the initiative seemed likely to be rejected by Iran.

Iran is likely to reject the deal for the same reason it rejected an almost identical deal offered by the Russians a few months ago.  It’s a raw deal.  Saying you can have a nuclear energy program if you don’t enrich uranium on your own soil is like saying you can have an automobile industry as long as you don’t make your own cars in your own country.  

Thinking Iran would fall for a scam like that is the rough equivalent of trying to buy 21st century Manhattan for a fistful of wampum.  Only young Mister Bush and Dick and Don and Condi would think they might get away with it.  Or maybe they know they can’t get away with it, and don’t care.

Are They Really That Dumb?

In January 2006, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, “There is simply no peaceful rationale for the Iranian regime to resume uranium enrichment.”  

Condi’s becoming more and more like her fellow Bush administration luminaries all the time.  It’s difficult to say whether she actually believes her own balderdash or if she figures she can say anything and nobody will call her on it no matter how ridiculous it is.

The argument that an oil rich nation like Iran doesn’t have a legitimate reason to pursue nuclear energy is a non-starter.  Iran has reasonable ambitions to emerge as a modern industrial nation.  Building up its infrastructure will require increased energy consumption.  The less of its own oil it needs to provide its domestic energy needs, the more it has to sell to other, larger emerging nations like China.  

As time marches on, Iran’s big oil clients will move away from fossil fuel energy to nuclear energy.  At some future date, the demand and price of oil will drop to the point where it’s not worth the cost of pulling it out of the ground.  Other emerging nations of what we once called the “third world” will want to make the jump straight to nuclear energy, and will be looking to import the technology from countries that already have mature nuclear energy programs.

If, at that point, Iran cannot enrich its own uranium, it will be up the creek of proverbs without a paddle.  Nobody will want to buy its oil, it won’t have the kind of nuclear energy anybody wants to import, and it will be wholly dependent on other nations to supply fuel for its reactors.  

One might reasonably expect Secretary of State and former professor of political science at Stanford University Condoleezza Rice to understand that.  Is she playing dumb, or is she just being dumb?

Middle East, Take Two

Even as he echoes the diplomacy mantra, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is planning two big show-of-force demonstrations aimed at bringing Iran into line with America’s demands: the big “bunker buster” test in Nevada and a multi-battle group naval exercise in the Arabian Gulf.  

In “stick and carrot” diplomacy, you give an adversary a choice between a nice, tasty carrot and a club upside the head.  What the Bush administration is practicing with Iran is “stick and kick” diplomacy.  Take a club upside the head or a steel-toed boot up the other end.

For reasons we previously discussed, Iran cannot accept a “no enrichment” agreement.  If America continues to insist on one, we’ll all too probably watch a rerun of the Iraq show.  

“Negative proof” arguments that the target nation has or seeks to possess weapons of mass destruction (we can’t prove they don’t have or want them, therefore they must have or want them).

Comparisons of the target nation’s head of state to Hitler, and claims that he’s psychotic.  

Scare noise about “state sponsor of terrorism” and “destabilizing influence.”

Half-baked attempts at diplomacy that have little chance of succeeding.  When they don’t succeed, blaming France, Germany, China, Russia, the UN, and any other scapegoat that happens to be handy.

What about a “catalyzing event,” the next Pearl Harbor on 911?  The U.S. naval maneuvers in the Gulf will supply ample opportunity for such a thing.  Games of “chicken” on the high seas lead to shots being traded.  Maybe a surface combatant hits a mine.  Maybe an Iranian patrol boat gets lucky and hits an aircraft carrier with an anti-ship missile.

And the mightiest nation in history jumps headfirst into another quagmire.  


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Read his weekday commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.

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