Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Duck and cover

Several weeks ago, I blogged about Iran and how it's only a matter of time before the shit hits the fan. Well, the fan is on high, and there's a big pile of shit heading straight toward it. The Europeans have finally admitted that their two year diplomatic campaign has achieved precisely nothing (funny, I could've told them that two years ago...) and now it's looking like Russia and China are lukewarm to the idea of imposing sanctions. Not that it matters, because sanctions would essentially be pointless unless the world community stopped buying Iranian oil, and that's simply never going to happen. So pretty much, we're screwed. There's no easy way out of this, but doing nothing is much, much worse than doing something. At any rate, I wrote an editorial on the matter scheduled to run next week. We'll see. In the mean time, here's the rought draft:

Political Philosopher Nicollo Machiavelli famously said that war cannot be avoided, it can only be postponed to the advantage of others. This harsh reality may soon come to fruition over Iran’s much-publicized and worrying nuclear program.

Earlier this month, officials in Britain, France and Germany were forced to admit that their two-year diplomatic campaign to convince Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions had proved utterly nugatory. In what was originally an effort to avoid imposing sanctions on the Fundamentalist Islamic nation, the two-year diplomatic exercise has not only failed in stopping Iran’s nuclear program, but it has also afforded them a two-year window to fortify nuclear facilities and otherwise prepare for a military attack, as well as covertly pursue nuclear research. Above all, the European attempt to avoid imposing sanctions has all but made sanctions inevitable.

But even sanctions, at this point, are unlikely to be effective. Partly because, as it is widely believed, Iran will have already gone nuclear before any such sanctions would take effect. Sanctions would be ineffective, however, mostly because Russia and China, having veto power and the U.N. Security Council, will not allow any meaningful sanctions against Iran. Not to mention that such sanctions would ultimately be more adverse to the general population than members of the regime, ala Saddam Hussein.

To make matters much, much worse, Iran has pledged to react to any sanctions by cutting its oil exports, spiking oil prices. Though the United States would not be directly affected, having put in place an embargo against Iranian oil in 1995, the implications of an Iranian oil stoppage could be globally devastating.

We have crossed the point of no return in dealing with Iran and from this point forward, any resolution to this conflict will not be easy, quick, painless or pleasant. Iran’s president is, technically speaking, a raving lunatic. He has expressed a desire to annihilate Israel, questions the historical accuracy of the Holocaust and has said that he wishes to prepare his country for the coming of the Islamic Messiah, or Mahdi. The thought of this man having “his finger on the button,” as it were, should be universally horrifying. And to certain extent, it seems to be.

What the so-called International Community lacks, however, is a consensus on how to proceed. At the very least, the Europeans have conceded, though belatedly, that negotiations with Iran are futile. Beyond that, we can expect a great deal of quibbling and bickering over the wording of resolutions, timetables and consequences. Meanwhile, Iran will bide its time, knowing that it holds two enormous bargaining chips — oil and nuclear proliferation — that are both capable of mass destruction.

The time for diplomacy has passed and sanctions are ineffective. Military conflict is often referred to as “the last option,” but it is nevertheless an option. Though with weakened credibility and stretched military personnel following the invasion of Iraq, coupled with scattered and fortified Iranian nuclear sites, even the effectiveness of military action is called into question.

Whatever the resolution to the crisis, it is likely to get worse before it gets better. Buckle up and hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Blogger Brett said...

Two things my friend:

1. "nugatory" - I had to look it up.

2. Even if you change gigs, don't stop writing opinion pieces. They are well considered and enlightening.

And yes... there is a bumpy ride ahead. And if you do the math that no one really wants to do right now, the ride could be far bumpier than just another armed conflict in the middle east.

Note: I'm no political scientist, just a songwriter who - thinking ahead - believes this does not look good.


PS - Consider this for a future writing: While the UN is at best impotent and at worst fatally corrupt, the existence of the UN may be a formal way of preventing what might best be characterized as "major regional conflict" or what alarmists might call "world war."

1:59 AM  
Blogger Brett said...

I tried to preview that and accidentally published it. I swear, I swear my trigger isn't hair-thin as my comment would suggest.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

As far as the 'nugatory' thing goes, I felt like everyone else writing on the issue was using 'futile' or something similar, so I thought I'd throw a curveball.

Thanks for the compliment about my articles. If I change gigs, it will hopefully be to a political magazine or similar enterprise, so theoretically I'd be writing more opinion pieces without the sterilization of the 'editorial' process.

I'm not sure I totally follow the thing you said about the UN. Care to elaborate?

And from your comment, I didn't really get a 'hair trigger' vibe, but I guess that's because, comparatively, I think everyone has a slow trigger finger.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current Iran-Nuclear Hullabaloo

Iran (as a signatory) IS NOT in contravention of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (see for details), whilst the USA (as a signatory) IS. Other countries (i.e. like India or Israel (who are NOT signatories to the NPT) are behaving unacceptably in the World nuclear arena, however because this is in legion with the USA, no fuss is raised.

No-one is reporting on the actual background events surrounding Iran – i.e the stated establishment of their Oil Bourse on 23rd March 2006. To verify this, go to Google/News & type in Iran + Nuclear – you get over 12,000 results. Type in Iran +Bourse & get 40 results – all independent media organisations. Make no mistake, the lies that are being spun surrounding Iran’s Nuclear Intentions instead of any honest reporting on the Oil Bourse is the new version of the previous ‘45 minute’ Iraq WMD misrepresentations.

The Washington Post reported [*] that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iran’s nuclear program revealed that, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.”

[*] Dafina Linzer, “Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb U.S. Intelligence Review Contrasts With Administration Statements,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005; Page A01

Watch how the Mainstream Media will shape the 'Iran Nuke' (or is that Nuke Iran') story to publicly sanction whatever military action is in store to prevent the threat to the Oil Dollar hegemony, exactly as was done with Iraq's WMD & the '45 minute' claim (in the UK at least). Iraq (in Sept. 2000) tried to ditch the oil dollar too - see

Further info on the subject of the Iranian Oil Bourse is available at any of the links below:

11:13 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

You know, you're right. This is all a conspiracy to keep Iran from basing its oil exports on the Euro instead of the dollar. It has nothing to do with the security of the United States and our allies.

You're right about Israel and India, too. They're both fundamentalist theocracies calling for the annihilation of American allies and carry an ambition for a regional, if not global, fundamentalist Islamic hegemony. Israel, in fact, has threatened to nuke itself.

No one's going to give a rat's ass about oil in 20 years anyway. In the end, it's truly inconsequential as to which currency holds a monopoly over the oil trade. The faster we can develop alternative energy, the better.

And posting as anonymous is rather cowardly. All future anonymous comments will be deleted.

12:45 PM  

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