Once again, Bush and his gang of water heads have found a way to make it embarrassing to agree with them on an issue. And I do agree with them for a change, at least in their overall goal. The cause de jour is denying nuclear weapons to Iran.
I'm no big fan of Iran. These are the brutes that wanted Salman Rushdie killed because he wrote a book. They not only took a group of American diplomats and citizens hostage, but may have even elected one of the hostage takers president. And President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems about as stable as a bottle of nitro strapped to a pogo stick. This isn't the kind of guy who you want to welcome into the Nuclear Club. It's bad enough Kim Jong-il is blowing the ink dry on his membership card.
Given all this, why wouldn't Bush be able to convince everyone at this end of the galaxy that we need to stamp "denied" on Iran's nuclear application? It's his customary one-two punch of strong-arm tactics and hypocrisy.
First of all, Iran is entitled to develop nuclear power technology. Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes "the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination". They are only prohibited from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.
Should we blindly accept Iran's claim that all they want is to pursue the peaceful development of nuclear energy? Not if we're sane. President Carter noted that, "This explanation has been given before, by India, Pakistan and North Korea, and has led to weapons programs in all three states. Iran must be called to account and held to its promises under the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
However, simply telling Iran they can't develop nuclear energy is like telling a farmer that he can't buy fertilizer because he might use it to make a bomb and this makes his neighbors nervous. He can contend that he's buying it to improve his crops. The law is on his side. Denying him the fertilizer is convicting him of a crime he hasn't committed just because he might. Are we now applying the standard of "innocent until we imagine that you could be guilty"?
To make matters worse, The Hypocrite-in-Chief has America doing research that actually violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the NPT. The United States pledged under Article VI of the NPT "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament".
The United States has announced plans to develop new weapons, such as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, or "bunker buster". While researching new weapons may not be explicitly prohibited, it doesn't adhere to the spirit of "cessation of the nuclear arms race" or "nuclear disarmament".
If you don't think we're actively researching these weapons ask yourself what that "Divine Strake" nonsense was about. How can you test the feasibility of a bunker buster while not violating the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? You detonate 700-tons of conventional explosives above a bunker and examine the results. No plane or missile can deliver a 700-ton bomb, but the test showed the effect of dropping a small nuke on a bunker.
The technological boondoggle of a missile defense system, another favorite Bush plan, violates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This is considered highly destabilizing. That's because the best way to undermine such a defense system, which depends on the development of new, highly sophisticated systems, is for potential enemies to just build a lot more of the weapons that they already have. It can stop 1,000 missiles, but can it stop 50,000? Bingo! Instant arms race!
These activities follow the strange logic that making new, scarier weapons doesn't constitute an arms race and will increase the stability of international relations. The Bush Administration is also trying to pull a fast one when it talks about "reduced numbers of nuclear systems". Going from fifty Hiroshima-style bombs to one 10-megaton hydrogen bomb is a reduction in the number of nuclear systems. It's also a 10-fold increase in destructive force.
This "Do As We Say, Not As We Do" diplomacy doesn't go down smoothly. It's hard to defend and embarassing. It's almost as embarassing as when Dubya stands behind a podium, stares down the barrel of the camera lens and mutters the equivalent of "...or else!"
For the final cherry on top, consider that while we have invaded a country we thought was trying to develop nuclear weapons, we've never attacked one that actually did have them. Iraq gets clobbered. The Soviet Union and North Korea don't. This sends a simple message. If you want to be safe from the U.S. you need nukes.
But there may be hope. After lots of bluster and vague threats from Washington, Condi Rice may have pulled a winning strategy out of her hat. Her latest offer allows Iran to develop nuclear energy under a very watchful international eye. If they play by the rules they may even be allowed to enrich their own uranium one day. I don't know what chucklehead would believe that Enrichment Day will ever arrive, but it sounds good and demonstrates the right spirit.
This is a fair solution. It shows respect for the NPT. It makes the Iranians look unreasonable if, as they claim, all they really want is peaceful nuclear power. And it doesn't rely on dragging Iran into a dark alley and beating the shit out of it.
The question now becomes if Dubya will have the patience to follow through on these diplomatic overtures. He's just as likely to pop up one day and declare, "Time's up, Ahmie! Operation Hot-Time-In-Tehran is a go! Better head for yer bunker. You'll be getting' a visit from my new friend, Barney. I call it 'Barney' cause it'll burra down after ya like a hound after an armadilla in a hole."
If we're lucky, Condi will catch him on his way to the pressroom, swat him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and say, "No!"
We need to return to being a nation that adheres to the treaties it signs, even when that isn't the easy or most desirable course. If we don't like the treaties, we need to negotiate new ones, not just walk away from the existing ones. We need to replace force and unilateralism with diplomacy and international co-operation. If we don't, we're headed for the ass whupin' that eventually befalls all bullies.
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