03 November 2007

U.S. neither morally nor logically armed to negotiate with Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continues to insist the American administration is "fully committed to a diplomatic solution with Iran" and is prepared to negotiate the differences between the two countries. There are conditions of course. She doesn't want to sit down with them one-on-one, as they prefer, and Iran must first “fully and verifiably suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities” and “persuasively demonstrate that it has permanently abandoned its quest for nuclear weapons.” She knows full well, of course, these conditions are unacceptable to the Iranians. So why the reluctance to talk it out?

Part of the reason may be the weakness of the American position. Consider first the demand that Iran abandon "
its quest for nuclear weapons.” Iran insists it isn't engaged in any such quest. If it was, the objection would be that this was in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, and the treaty says non-nuclear nations must not develop such weapons. But the United States is also a signatory and the treaty also says nuclear nations must rid themselves of their weapons. That the United States is not doing. It is rather awkward, therefore, for the Americans to demand Iran adhere to the treaty when they are violating it themselves.

Or consider the accusation the Iranians are providing arms to their Shia colleagues in Iraq. American actions have caused upwards of 600,000 deaths in Iraq, created over 4 million refugees, and broken and scattered that country's heritage, and they expect to be taken seriously when they complain about the Iranians sending some weapons across the border to assist their coreligionists? Iran cannot be expected to hold the same respect for American chutzpah that we do.

And then there's the American quibble with Iran assisting Hamas and Hezbollah. This, when the Americans provide the Israelis with billions of dollars in arms, helping them build the most formidable military in the Middle East. American bias in the Israeli/Palestinian quarrel is the major source of Arab and Muslim hostility toward the United States and a major source of Muslim extremism. How can the Americans look the Iranians in the eye and accuse them of being trouble-makers when their own behaviour sits at the root of Middle Eastern tension?

In summary, on the key issues the U.S. simply isn't in a moral or logical position to negotiate with Iran. It appears, therefore, to opt for sanctions, constant hectoring and calls to its allies to gang up on the perceived villain. Iran claims not to be interested in developing nuclear weapons, but it surely recognizes that if it wants to negotiate as an equal with the United States, there may be no other way.

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