April 26, 2015 2:25 am
Published by Thomas Riggins
For our edification The Wall Street Journal on 8 April turned over an entire editorial page to former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz so that we could understand why President Obama’s negotiations with Iran over nuclear issues “will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region.” Let’s take a look at what these two nonagenarians (who served under Nixon and Reagan respectively) present as the reasons for their prediction.
We can ignore the first half of their article which consists of nothing more than pointing out the difficulties involved, should an agreement be reached, in inspecting and monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities. The subtext of this portion of the article is that the US is naive and trusting and the Iranians are crafty and untrustworthy and are likely to cheat and cover up their bomb making progress. “In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect.” But what is the point of even entering into negotiations if your starting position is that the other side is dishonest and won’t negotiate in good faith?
The whole point of making a deal with Iran is to diffuse a dangerous and unstable situation and prevent a military confrontation over that country’s ability to be a nuclear armed regional military threat. It is not just the US who wants to make a deal with Iran. There are six world powers involved: the so called P5 + 1 (i.e., the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). So let’s not just focus on the US and President Obama as our establishment media and the Republican – Israeli lobby alliance tend to do. It is not rational to think that the combined diplomatic corps of the P5 + 1 (no matter how bumbling the US may be) can be bamboozled by the crafty Ayatollahs.
We will now turn to the second half of the article where we will find the really substantive arguments against the Iranian deal as it now appears to be shaping up based on the much ballyhooed “Framework Agreement” announced on 2 April. In analyzing this section of the Kissinger/Shultz paper it becomes clear that their only reason for thinking the deal with Iran won’t really work is that the Iranians will not agree to submit to U.S. hegemony in the region. There is no compromise position available in which the US and Iran can give and take in such a way that both sides can have their interests protected. It is the US way or the highway. Even though the negotiations are with the P5 + 1, Kissinger/Shultz completely ignore two of the P5 (Russia and China) and carry on as if only Iran and the West are involved, and by “the West” they mean “the US”.
The negotiations will only work if both sides cooperate to bring stability to the Middle East as well as resolve the nuclear issues and this requires “congruent definitions of stability.” Messrs. Kissinger and Shultz write, “There exists no current evidence that Iran and the US are remotely near such an understanding.” I think Israel and the West Bank and Gaza is a good example.
The US supplied Israel with both weapons and political support during its military assault on Gaza last year and Israel succeeded, for the time being, in establishing “stability” with regards to its occupation of Palestinian territories. Can we realistically expect that Iran, a supporter of Palestinian rights, will accept this kind of “stability” and adopt “congruent” positions with the US vis a vis Israel and the Palestinians? In fact the US position is not even “congruent” with other members of the P5 + 1. In this, and many other issues, the fact is that the positions of the US are realistically untenable, rest on aggressive, hegemonic behavior, and are the main causes of instability in the region.
It is objectively the case that US actions have destabilised Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, areas of Pakistan, worsened and prolonged the civil war in Syria, supported military dictatorship in Egypt, enabled Israel to perpetuate the oppression and occupation of Palestine, and created the conditions that brought forth the Islamic State. So we must agree with Kissinger and Shultz that there are no “congruent definitions of stability” upon which the US and Iran can cooperate.
The US, due to deep ignorance of the cultures and the peoples of the Middle East (as elsewhere) combined with the fact that its policies are totally focused on the economic interests of its multinational corporations and their extensions and allies with little or no regard for the interests and rights of the local populations, is incapable of providing security and stability for the region. The best expression of this incapacity is demonstrated by the ignorant and unrealistic discussion presented by Kissinger and Shultz in their Wall Street Journal article.
Both men are former Republican US secretaries of state and the best they can come up with to explain the present problems in the region is that Iran (the victim of a CIA directed coup against their democratic government in the 1950s and the installation of the tyrannical government of the Shah, as well as the overt support of a war against it launched by Iraq under Saddam Hussein, when he was our puppet in the 1980s) is trying to create “a new Shiite empire.”
They oppose the Obama administration’s supposed desire to militarily disengage in the region (no boots on the ground-maybe) which will leave the Sunni states at a disadvantage- especially our ally Saudi Arabia (a medieval tyranny second only to the Islamic State [ISIS] whose religious fanaticism it largely shares). They maintain that the region cannot become stable on its own (due to Sunni/Shiite rivalry). Therefore, according to the doctrine of “balance of power” theory of international relations which “suggests the need to bolster the weaker side”, the US has to remain engaged in the area and help out the Sunnis. But if either one of these so-called experts really believed in “bolstering the weaker side” to maintain stability they would also be advocating for the US to support the Palestinians not the Israeli Zionists.
As far as the problems in the Middle East are concerned, the article implies, the US has clean hands. It is all the fault of Iran. “Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilise the Middle East and challenge the broader international order.” In other words, it must comply with the diktat of the US.
If the deal with Iran being negotiated with the P5 + 1 does not go far enough in making the Iranians come to heel to the demands of the neoconservatives in the US and Israel, and the Framework Agreement indicates that it won’t, then the US will likely become even more involved in the area in the future according to the authors of The Wall Street Journal
The only conclusion that can be reached, in my view, after reading this article, is that neither Kissinger nor Shultz know what they are talking about and the sole purpose of the article is to give aid and comfort to the enemies of peace in the Middle East and to strengthen politically those forces backing US imperial domination of the region.
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This post was written by Thomas Riggins