FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Thaw Sets In

by SERGE HALIMI

Paris.

Could an agreement opposed by Binyamin Netanyahu, the pro-Israel lobby which bends the US Congress to its will, Iran’s ultra-conservatives and Saudi Arabia be a bad thing? Is Israel really in the best position to give the Iranian regime lessons when it has the bomb, has never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has violated more UN resolutions than any other country?

Under the interim six-month agreement concluded on 24 November, Iran will not enrich uranium over 5%, in return for the partial suspension of sanctions. That’s the best news in the region since the Arab Spring.

But the power of the coalition opposing the new deal suggests the reprieve might not last. Already, the main protagonists are each presenting the compromise they have reached as a major concession by the other: Barack Obama claims Iran has given way by halting its military nuclear programme; Tehran says the US has accepted Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment. This battle of conflicting communiqués, less lethal than the other sort of battle, is keeping the hawks on both sides busy: American declarations of victory, immediately broadcast in Iran, get equally belligerent rejoinders, instantly commented on in Washington.

Yet after 30 years of confrontation, direct or through intermediaries, Iran and the US are preparing to normalise relations. The event recalls the historic meeting between US president Richard Nixon and China’s Mao Zedong in February 1972, at the height of the Vietnam war. That transformed the entire geopolitical scene. Economic relations followed. Beijing now finances the US debt and Apple iPhones are made in Shenzhen.

The thaw between Iran and the erstwhile “great Satan” could also help to settle conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. Eleven years after George W Bush launched his “crusade” against the “axis of evil” (1), Iraq is in ruins, the Middle East is destabilised, Palestine is cut off and a swathe of Africa is plagued by jihadist military actions. But the Israeli government persists in pursuing its own destructive course, aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states that want Shia Iran to remain diplomatically isolated and excluded from the oil trade.

Throughout the negotiations with Iran, French president François Hollande and his foreign minister Laurent Fabius dragged their feet, and even tried to prevent a settlement (2). Netanyahu is a lost cause, but at least we can hope that, for the next, delicate, six months, Bush’s ghost won’t spellbind the Elysée.

SERGE HALIMI is director of Le Monde Diplomatique. He has written several books, including one  on the French press, Les nouveaux chiens de garde and another on the French left in the 20th century – Quand la gauche essayait – both are fine works.  He can be reached at Serge.Halimi@monde-diplomatique.fr

Notes.

(1) On 29 January 2002 Bush declared, with reference to an “axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world” (North Korea, Iran, Iraq) that “the United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

(2) See Gareth Porter, “Lavrov Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at ‘Last Moment’”, Inter Press Service (IPS), 15 November 2013.

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

More articles by:

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail