Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 11:46 AM

New Iranian Pres: We Shall Have Nukes! v. Pres Bush: Over My Dead Body!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

A few weeks ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran elected a new president in democratic elections that would’ve made even George Washington, the father of American democracy, proud. Unfortunately, it did not please his presidential heir and namesake, George W. Bush. After all, this curious George only likes democratic elections when those elected share his political views and religious values. And, Iran’s president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clearly shares neither.

(Incidentally, Bush justifies his dismay by insisting that Ahmadinejad’s election was not free and fair because “an un-elected few decided who was on the ballot”. Of course, Ralph Nader could say (and has said) the same about Bush’s election because of the quadrennial collusion by a few un-elected Democratic and Republican operatives to keep credible third-party candidates off the presidential ballot in key states around the country.)

Iranian President-Elect Ahmadinejad: An erstwhile university professor with a bohemian demeanor. The first non-cleric elected as president who espouses fundamentalist views which make most mullahs seem liberal. And, who is a perplexing and vexing character to Westerners accustomed to one-dimensional caricatures of the leaders of radical Islam.

Ahmadinejad is a proud disciple of the father of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. And, he won the presidency and acclaim as the rightful heir to Khomeini by advocating indifference to Western concerns instead of the accommodation and conciliation pursued by outgoing president Mohammed Khatami and proposed by the man he defeated – former president and converted reformer Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Western leaders are apprehensive about Ahmadinejad’s radical views primarily because Iran is feared to be close to (and intent on) developing nuclear weapons. And, they are confounded by his evolving leadership which can be fairly described as enigmatic and charismatic in equal parts.

For example, Ahmadinejad says, quite reasonably, that:

“[Our] peaceful nuclear technology has been the result of the scientific development of the young people of Iran. Iran has a right to achieve scientific development in all fields….We need the peaceful nuclear technology for energy, medical and agricultural purposes, and our scientific progress. We need it for the development of our country and we shall carry on with it.”

Now, only hegemonic Christian fundamentalists could argue with that. And, this is precisely why sober and fair-minded Europeans have been negotiating with the Iranians for years to ensure that the development of their nuclear technology comports with these peaceful declarations.

Yet, Ahmadinejad has threatened to replace Iran’s entire negotiating team because he says they’ve been too timid in their talks with the EU about the purpose and scope of Iran’s nuclear programme. He insists that his diplomats must assume a tone that reflects the uncompromising fundamentalist ideology of Iran’s supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – who has decreed the possession of nuclear weapons a divine right of the Islamic Republic. Accordingly, Ahmadinejad has warned that he will not tolerate any attempts by Western powers to impose conditions (proposed by the EU and backed by the US) on Iran’s nuclear programme.

But if it’s “peaceful nuclear technology” they’re pursuing, what’s the problem, right? Well, thanks to Ronald Reagan, in all negotiations concerning nuclear technology, Westerners now adhere to that cold war mantra: Trust but verify! And, it is instructive that Iran is following North Korea’s negotiating strategy of doing everything possible to thwart EU efforts to verify the “peaceful” design of its nuclear programme.

(Perhaps, like the North Koreans, the Iranians have deduced that possessing nuclear weapons is the only deterrent against becoming the second casualty in President Bush’s “democratic” crusade against the so-called Axis-of-Evil (Iraq + Iran + North Korea): 1 down 2 to go…?)

At any rate, pursuant to Ahmadinejad’s more defiant directive, chief nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian declared last week that Iran’s new position shall be as follows:

“If the (EU) proposal considers Iran’s legitimate and legal right to enrich uranium, we will continue the process (of talks), otherwise we won’t accept the proposal.”

In other words, Iran is now insisting that only if it is permitted to develop nuclear weapons will it negotiate with the EU. Not exactly a premise for diplomatic discourse or a proposal to defuse tensions. After all, the Europeans have already endorsed Bush’s extraterritorial declaration that Iran SHALL not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. And, it seems Ahmadinejad’s defiance has only stiffened Bush’s resolve in this regard. Because, when asked about Iran’s new position at last week’s G8 summit, Bush reaffirmed his declaration as follows:

It’s not just bombs that are unacceptable….[Iran] must give up any process which would enable it to develop nuclear weapons [namely, enriching uranium].

Given these irreconcilable “negotiating” positions, one has to assume that war planners (in Washington and Europe) are busy plotting coordinated attacks “to protect our freedoms”.

But, where a series of UN Resolutions gave the war against Iraq at least a patina of legal justification, no such legal justification or pretext is available to launch preemptive strikes against Iran. (Even though, ironically, in this case the dreaded WMDs – nukes – probably do exist.) Moreover, it is critical to appreciate that – unlike Saddam Hussein – Ahmadinejad was elected by an overwhelming majority of Iranians in elections that were certainly free and fair by Islamic standards.

Therefore, despite endorsing his policy, it seems unlikely that politically correct (and gun-shy)Europeans – including the UK – will join Bush’s coalition of the willing if he decides to use force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Yet, military confrontation with Iran seems inevitable. Because, unlike the North Koreans, the Iranians do not appear to be engaged in a game of chicken just as a bargaining ploy for more food. And, even if Bush and the Europeans determine that it is politically prohibitive to use force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the Israelis might deem it a matter of national survival to launch preemptive strikes unilaterally – just as they did in 1981 when Saddam was poised to go nuclear. And, they can be sure that this time around the American President would welcome their initiative….

Note: Bush was almost handed justification for unilateral military action against Iran when former American hostages began fingering Ahmadinejad, as soon as he was elected, as one of the organizers of the 1979 hostage crisis. But CIA f
orensic experts concluded in fairly short order that the hostage taker alleged to be Ahmadinejad – as seen in photographs from that period – was not him at all.

Former hostage Don Sharer with a photo of himself after his release and a flag that was presented to him by former President Ronald Reagan. Sharer was working at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when he and other Americans at the embassy were taken hostage by militant students on Nov. 4, 1979. Fifty-two of the hostages were held for 444 days. Sharer, along with three other former hostages told The Associated Press that after seeing Iran’s president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on television, they had no doubt he was one of the hostage-takers.

This November 9, 1979 file photo shows one of 60 U.S. hostages, blindfolded and with his hands bound, being displayed to the crowd outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian hostage takers. At least 2 former U.S. hostages say they believe the bearded man, third from right, is Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while several former hostage takers all said they did not think it was Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad dismissed the allegations as “baseless”. And, the CIA concurs….

Comments

  1. Anonymous July 14, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    It may be Iran’s divine right to have nukes but it is also our divine right to do everything to prevent that. Any nation that has as its national purpose the annihilation of anyone who does not religious views should not have such weapons. These people are fanatics. As for the Europeans, it would take mushroom clouds saturating the skies over Israel before they realise any real danger.

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