FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Iran End Game

The latest UN General Assembly gatherings have served to reiterate the grand spectacle of what is wrong, and in some ways right, about world politics. The usual players have turned up to make a scene. We have a vibrant Brazilian leader Dilma Roussef scolding the United States for its surveillance fetish. We have a bobbish Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani wishing to make his mark. And there is the large question mark over what is to be done about Syria.

President Barack Obama is seen to be in a bother. There is the issue of government shutdown at home. The Syrian outfoxing, even if exaggerated, was notable enough to get those on Capitol Hill huffing about American inadequacy. At the United Nations, the President has found himself having to insist he did, in all earnestness, want to bomb Syria, which is another example of how one good violation of international law deserves another. Now, he is insisting that the Assad regime hand over chemical weapons with speedy urgency.

In this heady ride on the carousel of bad events, Obama needs a deal – fast. Iran, the great detractor, might just be an option, though its President may well prove too wily for the plodders of the American empire.

Iran’s President Rouhani is stepping up the focus on talks on the nuclear question, which he sees as the starting point for negotiations between the countries. Deal with the nuclear question, suggests Rouhani, and the rest of the agenda shall follow. “The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into negotiations that is short.” In Rouhani’s view, brevity will be the soul of success. “If it’s three months that would be Iran’s choice, if its six months that’s still good. It’s a question of months not years” (BBC News, Sep 26).

The legal approach to Iran on the basis of nuclear weapons has been one of presumed non-possession and aggressive efforts to prevent acquisition. Obama’s UN address does not change the theme. “We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.” How good of him to express such intentions, given that the administration refuses to accept that Iran would actually be pursuing peaceful nuclear energy to begin with. When it was reported last year, notably by James Risen, that the 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S. had found reason to assume that Iran had actually abandoned its nuclear program, the suggestions disappeared without a trace. Iran’s behaviour is being treated as a form of kleptomania or hereditary disease: choice is redundant in the face of nature.

According to Obama’s address, obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and various U.N. Security Council resolutions must also be abided by, though the Iranian argument that Israel reciprocate has been allowed to die in session.

This is astonishing on one level, not in terms of emotive sentiment, but in terms of how countries such as Israel, with occasional flutters from Washington, will suggest a unilateral strike to prevent a sovereign state from acquiring weapons that the attackers actually have. This is very much a case of law lying dormant while manic realpolitik takes the reins. It is worth noting time and again that this pre-emptive, belligerent sentiment was criminalised in the deliberations of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945. The crime against peace, or “aggressive war” looms, and is being constantly flagged as a just measure in the face of unjust conduct.

This is occasioned by the usual misunderstandings on duties and obligations at international law. Often, a right is confused with being a duty. There is, in fact, no concrete obligation on the part of Iran to not acquire such weapons, whatever vitriolic sense of righteousness is directed at its regime. In fact, there might be a suggestion on the part of Iran to acquire them for its own protection. It remains in a sea of hostile nations, far from being held in the bosom of a tranquil region.

As the invasion of Iraq in 2003 shows, acquiring such a nuclear option may be the only true insurance against attack by the very governments who have already decided, in advance, that Teheran will be belligerent. What they actually do is irrelevant to the suggestion on what they might do.

Countries that insist on attacking Iran unilaterally for not acquiring the nuclear option also ignore the fundamental duties noted in the United Nations charter. For what it’s worth, territorial integrity is a feature that still exists, despite enthusiastic disqualifications.

The U.S.-Iranian dynamics have made for interesting viewing (oh, for that handshake that never was), largely from the view of how Israel has reacted. President Benjamin Netanyahu has been having seizures at the prospect that President Obama might just fall for the Iranian “charm offensive”. Obama is deemed particularly vulnerable given that he has donned the war hat regarding Syria just yet. According to Haaretz, Israel has seen “considerable dangers” in “the Obama administration’s disinclination to take military action, its hesitation and zigzagging in the course of working out its approach, its inability to agree on joint moves with its allies in the region and with other Western powers, and the blatantly defiant posture struck by Moscow.”

Much in Middle East diplomacy is smokes and mirrors, perfumed by the promise of seduction that might yield surprising results. When the politicians return to their various abodes to deal with their domestic fan club and lobby groups, the diplomats will be left carrying the bags. What they might contain in terms of effective deals and promises is anybody’s guess. But the jurist Richard Falk does make a good point in a blog entry on March 23 this year: “There is no evidence that Iran has any disposition to commit national suicide.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He ran for the Australian Senate with Julian Assange for the WikiLeaks Party.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail