07 December 2011

Talking to Iran

I am beginning to get the uneasy feeling that we are psyching ourselves up for war with Iran. With the Americans' two Middle Eastern buddies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, egging their patron on, with the U.K. exchanging unpleasantries with the Iranians, and with Canada's new militarism offering a "ready, aye, ready" attitude, we seem to be moving in a dangerous direction.

All this is ostensibly about Iran developing nuclear weapons. If this is indeed Iran's intent, I fail to see how an attack would deter them. It might delay them, but it would also provide them with greater justification and probably greater determination.

True, they have signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, so arming themselves with nuclear weapons would indeed be naughty, but then they wouldn't be alone in failing to meet their obligations. The treaty requires the nuclear powers to rid themselves of such weapons and they aren't. And of course nuclear-armed Israel hasn't even bothered to sign the treaty.

If Iran really does want nuclear weapons, it will almost surely obtain them. Even North Korea managed that. And, considering Iran is in a nuclear-armed neighbourhood and it has a hostile relationship with three nuclear powers—the U.S., U.K. and Israel—a nuclear ambition would be understandable. The question, perhaps, is do we want to influence that ambition or would we rather wait for a nasty surprise as was the case with Pakistan? If the former is the case, then the answer is dialogue. Jaw-jaw rather than war-war, as Churchill put it.

Canada, rather than leaping to support every act of hostility toward Iran, might suggest the U.S. and Iran sit down and work out their differences across the table, not with preliminary talks but with unconditional, comprehensive negotiations. These would include Iran's nuclear designs as well as the Americans', and of course the Israelis'; Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah and the Americans' support for Israel; Iran's hostility toward Israel; American support for the assassination of Iranian scientists; the roles of the U.S. and Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan; and so on—everything on the table.

The Americans might keep in mind that the slide into mutual hostility began when they, in collaboration with the British and the Iranian military, overthrew the progressive, democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. An apology from the United States for this egregious act might be a good start.

No comments:

Post a Comment