STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
When to Bomb Iran?
By Staff News & Analysis - June 10, 2010

Washington scored a major diplomatic victory when the U.N. Security Council passed a fourth round of Iranian sanctions today. Many thought Russia and China would not back it. And it passed despite a third-world initiative by Turkey and Brazil that weakened a U.S. push for a compromise nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. It shows that Washington, after its disarmament agreement with Moscow and a key multilateral accord on non-proliferation, is still on a roll. Yet all this does little to change the fact that Washington and its allies may be unable to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — if Tehran wants one. The West may yet have to face the choice that diplomacy is designed to avoid — namely bomb Iran or accept Iran with a bomb. Or we may be heading to a scenario of containment — a Middle East version of the Cold War deterrence against the Soviet Union. – Politico

Dominant Social Theme: Maybe these sanctions will restrain a rogue country.

Free-Market Analysis: Sanctions alone will probably not restrain Iran's nuclear program nor its inevitable march toward a nuclear weapon. Iran's leaders have made a deal with Turkey and Brazil that will considerably vitiate any sanctions that are placed against that country. Additionally, Russia and China, while coming on board for this latest round of sanctions, may not be the most enthusiastic of supporters – and their lack of engagement may eventually undo the sanction program entirely.

What is odd about these sanctions, generally, is that the entire dialogue is focused on nation-states. Iran has determined to build up its nuclear capabilities – but that does not mean its citizens have. If Iran seeks and obtains nuclear weapons from whatever source, again that does not mean Iranian civilians are in favor of the policy. Here's some more from the article.

In fact it is clear from a Western vantage point that many Iranians are substantially at odds with their government on numerous issues including, perhaps, its nuclear policies. This does not however have any impact on the larger diplomatic conversation now under way. The sanctions that have just been passed, regardless of their ultimate impact, are certainly aimed at affecting Iran's larger economy. Thus whether Iranians support their current government or not, they will be punished. Here's some more from the article:

Iran claims its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity. But no one in the West appears to believe them. Washington and its allies are convinced that Iran seeks at least the ability to make the bomb — to be "one screwdriver away" from having a nuclear weapon. Few believe that sanctions alone can stop them. In addition, Iran has support from non-aligned nations in exercising its "inalienable right" to nuclear energy under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

U.S. officials admit that the threat of sanctions may be more powerful than the actual measures. Iran has called this bluff before. And probably will again. What if Iran gets closer developing a nuclear strike capability? President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he will do all he can to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But American generals have made clear that military action is not certain to succeed. Israel may act alone, but could well follow the Washington line.

For the powers-that-be, nation states are a most convenient method of control. A nation-state purports to speak on behalf of its citizens, though in fact an elected slate can pretty much claim whatever mandate it wants. Since "war is the health of the state," it is often to the benefit of such political leaders to keep tensions boiling, and even to create tensions where none exist. This is certainly a generic dominant theme – one featuring the "other."

The Middle East is a good example of a region where Western countries especially have kept tensions high for years and years – for more than a full century in fact. It even seems to us that the manufacture of the state of Israel was designed in a sense, by the West, to create a permanently dysfunctional zone.

The Iranian situation is complicated by Israel's determination that Iran should not be able to generate nuclear weapons. It is not at all clear that Israel will sit idly by while Iran builds and deploys such weapons. If Israel should strike at Iran – either sooner or later – the result would be the most significant military confrontation since World War II. The stakes are very high.

After Thoughts

Nations are not people and do not speak with one voice. The nation state itself is truly a dominant social theme – a deeply ingrained meme – and often people cannot see beyond their conditioning. Unfortunately, it is often the people themselves, and not their leaders, that bear the brunt of suffering in the event of war. And in the case of Iran, the determination to treat the country as a monolithic and "evil" entity is leading to the continual destabilization of the Middle East. If there is war with Iran, the destabilization could spread well beyond the Middle East.

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