Friday, 05 March 2010

New Sanctions Against Iran?

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VOA News reported on March 4 that the United States, Great Britain, and France are increasing their pressure for additional sanctions against Iran in response to its nuclear fuel enrichment program.

The UN Ambassadors of the three western powers told their counterparts on the Security Council that day that Iran has done nothing to relieve international concerns that its nuclear enrichment program has military applications.

The report quoted UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who said that the recent report from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reinforced fears that Iran is acting deceitfully. 

"While existing measures have had some effect, they have not yet led Iran to change course on its nuclear activities. That is clear from the most recent report of the IAEA, whose charge sheet against Iran is getting longer with each report. It reinforces our fears that Iran is acting duplicitously and illegally," said Grant.

A special report in the New York Times for March 4 entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Program,” included an entry stating: “The U.S. is circulating a draft of new, tougher, sanctions against Iran that would both broaden the scope and intensify three previous rounds of sanctions enacted in an effort to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment and negotiate the future of its nuclear development program.”

“An Expert's Long View on Iran,” a March 5 Wall Street Journal report, included an interview with long-time U.S. foreign policy insider Zbigniew Brzezinski — who was President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, is a member of the internationalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), was a co-founder of the equally internationalist Trilateral Commission, and has attended meetings of the secretive Bilderberg Group.

The Journal summarized Brzezinski’s views as follows:

Try to stop Iran's nuclear program, and make Tehran pay a price if it keeps pursuing it, but don't count too much on sanctions; offer a robust American defense umbrella to protect friends in the region if Iran crosses the nuclear threshold; give rhetorical support to Iran's opposition while accepting America's limited ability to help it; eschew thought of a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and keep talking to Tehran.

Brzezinski said in the interview that he sees two American goals in Iran: "One is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, assuming that is its objective, and to neutralize its strategic political significance if it does. The second goal is to facilitate, carefully and cautiously, the political evolution in Iran toward a more acceptable regional role."

And if a halt to Iran's nuclear program can't be negotiated? Brzezinski said: "Then I think we have no choice but to impose sanctions on Iran, isolate it." But sanctions alone, he says, won't "determine the outcome."

However, cautioned Brzezinski, it's essential to construct sanctions in a way that "doesn't stimulate more anti-Westernism, or a fusion of Islamic extremism and nationalism." He would continue speaking with Iran, too: "Most major issues internationally that have been resolved by negotiation have involved negotiations over a long period of time."

Brzezinski would also avoid a military strike at Iran's nuclear facilities at all costs. Iran, he said, would make no distinction between an Israeli or an American strike. "The Iranians would strike out at us, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Strait of Hormuz." If energy prices then soar, "we will suffer, the Chinese will suffer, the Russians will be the beneficiaries. The Europeans will have to go to the Russians for energy." In effect, he argues, the United States, more than Iran, would be isolated.

One reason that Iran has become such a regional power that Western nations find so troublesome is that the the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent removal of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein removed Iran’s most powerful adversary from the Middle East chessboard. And with Hussein out of power, Shiite Iraqis with connections to Iran moved into the vacuum and have tried to transform Iran’s former enemy into a partner in its own radical brand of revolutionary Islam.

A leading voice against U.S. interference in the region has been Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who was a steadfast opponent of the invasion of Iraq, and is equally opposed to the imposition of sanctions against Iran.

In “Iran Sanctions are Precursor to War,” his Texas Straight Talk column posted on his congressional website last December 21, Rep. Paul decried legislation approved by the House the previous week to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran, stating:

This policy is pure isolationism. It is designed to foment war by cutting off trade and diplomacy. Too many forget that the quagmire in Iraq began with an embargo. Sanctions are not diplomacy. They are a precursor to war and an embarrassment to a country that pays lip service to free trade. It is ironic that people who decry isolationism support actions like this.

Dr. Paul’s statement revealed his knowledge of 20th-century Iranian history as he continued:

We would not tolerate foreign covert operations fomenting regime change in our government. Yet our CIA has been meddling in Iran for decades. Of course Iranians resent this. In fact, many in Iran still resent the CIA’s involvement in overthrowing their democratically elected leader in 1953. The answer is not to cut off gasoline to the Iranian people. The answer is to stay out of their affairs and trade with them honestly. If our operatives were no longer in Iran, they would no longer be available as scapegoats for the regime to, rightly or wrongly, blame for every bad thing that happens. As bad as other regimes may be, it is up to their own people to deal with them so they can achieve true self-determination. When foreigners instigate regime change, the new government they institute is always perceived as serving the interest of the overthrowing country, not the people. Thus we take the blame for bad governance twice. Instead we should stay out of their affairs altogether.

The United States is at a crossroads in its foreign policy and can follow the internationalist approach favored by Brzezinski and his CFR predecessors — a policy that has led to war after war since 1950 — or the non-interventionist policy advocated by Rep. Paul.

Zbigniew Brezezinski with Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) prior to testifying before the committee's hearing on U.S. strategy in Iran: AP Images

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