Iran on the path to an Exclusive Club : the legal aspects and "Realpolitik."

  • Due to the importance and the global character of the matter to be discussed, I have decided to post it in the category "Games Global" instead of "Nations Inside."

    My general interest to Iran, its system of governing and the society, was elevated to a new level after I took part in the Lior's blog about PM Netanyahu (Bibi). See here:

    I spent some time to learn more about the country, its polices, administrative governing, the role of religion - and all the way to the army and the terrain. The immediate trigger for writing this thread-starter were the statements of Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, made in Vienna. Where IAEA Headquarters are situated, if anyone doesn't know.

    What I had expected for a long time, has happened. For the first time Iran mentioned the possibility of withdrawal from the Non-Prolifiration Treaty. A quote: Soltanieh also said that in the event of a military action, Iran may install nuclear equipment "in more secure places" and withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    All existing sanctions against Iran (UN, EU, bilateral) are based on Iran non-compliance with the NPT and not sufficient cooperation with IAEA. And those sanctions are very strict. They include the embargo on buying the Iran produced oil and related products. They affected the living standards of the population heavily. Did they make Iran's people more pro-West and less pro-government? From my point of view: they had the opposite effect. In fact, the more pressure is applied by the international community to Iran, the faster we will reach the point when Iran declares his withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The precedent was established by North Korea. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal in 2003 and left the Treaty in 2005. In full compliance with the international law.

    I have come to the conclusion that there is no feasible options to stop Iran from becoming a member of the Club. The main reason: (1) Iran has the right to have nuclear weapon. It is legal; it is not against the international law. Other reasons: (2) there are three nations in the region possessing the nukes; (3) the Iranians will not give up, and no pressure or a possibility of a military confrontation can stop them; (4) the relations between Iran and the leading powers are so bad that there is almost nothing to lose.

    Under the circumstances, it makes sense to discuss when it happens and what consequences may follow. The most predictable at the moment: the Israel's air strike. The reality is: Israel can bomb out and launch out all its arsenal. The outcome will be the following: the minimum damage (as the Iranians are prepared for the strike). What's worse: as soon as Israel strikes, Iran will start the legal process of the withdrawal from the Treaty.

    The possibility of the direct involvement of the United States or NATO can be estimated as non-existent. Russia and China will express their protests. But they are too close to risk their future relations with Iran.

    Consequences. I know that many will criticize me. I don't consider Iran a threat to the world peace. We may not accept some of Iran's institutions. Iran openly supports Hezbollah. However, it appears to be excessive to call this country "a terrorist state" or "a sponsor of the international terrorism." It is simply not true. Many countries, which are allies of NATO, support extremist militant movements at much higher level.

    What really may be a matter of concern: the Sunni Arab countries (considering Iran an enemy) may start or intensify their own nuclear programs. But that's what "Realpolitik" is. Being real in a constantly changing world.

    370 x 277 - 77K
  • Not amusing. Not entertaining. But objective and realistic. The true Mettrnich's style. Thanks for the thread, Mett.

    I will take part in the discussion, for sure. But not today. Today is Saturday :-)

  • The comparison to N.Korea is valid. And what? They left the Treaty, they got a few nukes - and the whole world (including USA and S.Korea) helped them with food in the years of the famine. Realpolitik in action. Besides, the regime in Iran is more predictable than in Pakistan.

  • Quite an issue you chose, Mett. Though I re-read your posting in the Lior's blog. And then I figured you'd be ready up to something :-) I don't think that many readers will go to the blog to read. I think you would not mind if I copy and paste some parts of your posts **from the Lior's "Bibi" blog. Those related to the institutions and governing. Please let me know if you do mind.

    Please read the blog in full here:

    October 13. ...Israel, Pakistan and India never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea freely left the treaty. How should Iran feel obliged by the Shah's government signature put like 40 years ago?

    Nobody likes to discuss it openly. But I am sure that all governments have already assumed Iran would have it. The interesting part: it's up to a nation to stay under the treaty or to leave it. Leaving the treaty is not a legal cause for a war.

    There is a hard way or an easy way. And Israel should think twice before attacking Iran. Because there is a high probability that both countries will have to co-exist, together, with the nuclear weapons. How will this new factor affect the region and the world? I tend to agree with Nick: most probably the Iranians will become more careful in choosing words. Like their kind offer to move Israel to Austria and Germany.

    October 13. ...This is a very unorthodox political system, I should agree. They wrote quite a constitution in 1979. If we take it for real (and we have no reasons to be sceptical and to do otherwise), this is a republic. An Islamic republic. But the origin of all powers are people. The system is unusual for our eyes. I am still confused about Guardian Council and Assembly of Experts that elects the Supreme Leader and also can remove it from power at any time.

    This system fascinates me by its combination of direct elections and appointments by the elected representatives.

    October 13. The Guardian Council can not be considered democratic.

    The Iranian constitution calls for the council to be composed of six Islamic faqihs (expert in Islamic Law), "conscious of the present needs and the issues of the day" to be selected by the Supreme Leader of Iran, and six jurists, "specializing in different areas of law, to be elected by the Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial Power,"[2] (who, in turn, is also appointed by the supreme leader).[3]

    My interest is not to find "our" institution in this system. But to assess how stable, predictable and responsible it can be.

    October 14. None of us would take responsibility to state: it is safe or dangerous; is it worth of another confrontation or war? We are here to learn, to assess - but not to make an assessment.

    From what I gathered, I am of an opinion that the political structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran is pretty stable. The decision making doesn't depend on the Supreme Leader - it's always a collective decision. I will write more in the respective discussion about variations of religious regimes. The declarations of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad used to be colorful, let's put it this way. But his country is under the strictest sanctions - for many years. So we can assume that his confrontational manner is actually a defensive manner of speech. Besides, the rhetoric from both sides is the same.

    I am still in awe of the fact (thanks, Nick, for taking the historical aspect) that Persia that waged war with the Ancient Athens - it is the same state. You remember? The Marathon battle, Xerxes, Alexander the Great, his general Seleucus. It is all the immediate part of the Iranian history. 25 centuries. Will they put such a country at stake? I don't know.

  • It is viewed differently from Asia. But maybe the time has come to start building bridges? Here **the historical visit of Nixon to China in 1972 **is still well remembered.

    Nick, where is your report about our meeting in Bangkok? Sorry that I ask here.

  • Brilliant topic. I offer as only an opening query: for all the solid arguments presented within the sphere of real politik, does this not seem to perpetuate the prolifieration of the most dangerous weapon ever devised? Rather like playing Russian roulette and suggesting more bullets. Or propogating the game itself. MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, maintained a hair-trigger balance which threatened the existence of all life on this planet. As opposed to pushing for even more non-proliferation, since it would seem impossible that all these weapons, anywhere and everywhere, be destroyed, this would be a step in the wrong direction with implications which go beyond academics. My generation, and the one before, lived under the threat of annhilation - not Armageddon followed by 'The Rapture', not Old Testament warnings but real 'Four Horsemen'- and we still do. As a young man in the 70's I thought a nuclear confrontation probable given that thruout the course of history no weapon ever devised was never used. After WWII these were not. Yet. Does anyone really need more Catapults? Do we we really want to allow a state which during the 7-year war with Iraq frequently used poison gas? For any reason? The risks you mention above are valid. But what price non-action? Below a quote from the highly controversial 'Wolfowitz Doctrine': "Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source... The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the renationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies." ( )

    I ask first, what would be the consequences of non-action?

  • My understanding of the Metternich's position: nobody wants it - but nobody is in a position to change it.

    This is the same assumption on which the plan of the U.S. missile shield is based. If the plan of the shield was announced more than 10 years ago, we could easily figure out that the Pentagon had considered such development unavoidable a decade ago. In a situation like this, our wishes are irrelevant. What matters: to assess the real (not imaginative) danger, available means to stop it or to change it and to defend ourselves with the latest technology.

    I hate to say it. But I must agree that air strikes will hardly harm Iran. Even if the U.S. gives to Israel vacuum bombs or the bombs with depleted uranium. The ground war against Iran is virtually impossible. Metternich mentioned the terrain for a reason. I don't see Alexander The Great around. And even Alexander won Persia by taking Babylon. That was on the absolutely flat terrain. As much as 95% of Iraq.

  • Okay. If we take the Meritime's reference to the history. Henry Kissinger had started to prepare the Nixon's visit in 1971. It was still the time when the Mao's idea "Let a half of the Chinese die in the war, another half will be living in the communism" - was still valid. However, President Nixon did it. He knew that eventually to make China peaceful can be done through the only way: to let them have something to lose.

    Can this approach be applicable to this situation? Yeah, no Alexander around :-(

    Meritime, I am working on the theme of the Thailand's revolutionary move in the rice price policies. I will write you a private message. Hugs.

  • Americans will never give Israel vacuum bombs or "bunkers' destroyers" (depleted uranium). Because both are in the MDW category.

    I don't know, we may have them by ourselves. I will chew it over and write the post tomorrow.

    BTW. I suggested that we had negotiations with Assad a decade ago!

  • After some thinking and talking to my friends I tend to agree with Metternich. The world community should do everything to prevent it, everything to slower the process. But eventually Iran will possess the nuclear weapon. Because they want it, they feel they need it in the hostile environment and under the sanctions comparable to the Hussein's. They are the regional power and need it as much as Pakistan or India.

    What makes Bibi so crazy about it? Answer: the unsolved issues with the Palestinians. And a high possibility that the Sunni states (SA, first of all) may wish to get it.

    I don't expect any positive surprises or brave initiatives from this government. However, something new should be brought into Israel's foreign policy, as much as in the U.S. and NATO countries' foreign policies.

  • Mcales, you really think that USA should start war with Iran? As Metternich said - it's legal. You can't start another war without legal grounds and UN approval. If Iran leaves the NPT - there will be no legal grounds even for the sanctions - and even less than none for declaring the war.

    I am a bad Jew. I guess. I am supposed to push USA to the holy war with Iran, hand in hand with us. I am not.

  • No, certainly not. Enough wars! I thought the Iraq war was a mistake, our occupation of Afghanistan sheer lunacy. I cannot claim to have seen it as the farce it was. I did suspect that it might have been a move on the region, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, to further gain logistical control of OPEC etc, to establish a greater presence. As to this particular discussion I opened only with an exploratory query, not meant as a position. But I am certainly against the proliferation of any more nuclear weapons - anywhere, for anyone. I have posted above a link with some information and data for our analysis. I feel this goes beyond the realm of 'if you have it why can't we?' argument. Agreement does not enter into it. Iran should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. Period. Whatever the philosophical arguments. I regret their existence, never mind their proliferation. The arguments are moot. What benefit would come to humanity from another nation armed with nuclear weapons? For the sake of discussion I simply trying to explore the various aspects and provide whatever material I can find which might be helpful and/or interesting.

  • Real Politik? Real Outcome:

  • What makes us think that Iran is ready for self-destruction? What's use in this? Their rhetoric about Israel? Their Sharia legal system? And what's then the difference with Saudies or Qatari? They also hate Israel, have even more despotic governing and laws. The difference is that those countries are regarded as U.S. allies. And NATO friends, judging from the "Leopard" Golden contract with Germany.

    If we go along the history line beginning from 1979 until the present time we will not see anything that dramatic. Yes, they support Hezbollah. But the Gulf states support Hamas. Yes, there was the bloody war with Iraq. And both sides were brutal.

    Options were actually closed back then, in 1979. The hostages' saga. And since then the relations had been worse and worse. Which leave the choice between bad and as bad.

  • I will never stop wondering how people discuss what to do with Iran nuclear capabilities... They seriously think that in a situation of landslide changes in the Wider Middle East they are in a position to do something.

    Metternich, would you explain me again: is Iran legally able to leave NPT? What would be the status of sanctions if Iran leaves NPT? And what would the legal basis for hostile actions against a sovereign state in this case?

    These matters are discussed anywhere. Just want to hear your opinion again.

  • I am not an international law specialist. To the best of my knowledge:

    1. Iran can leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty; there is a detailed procedure and a period between the advance notice and the moment when a state is not a NPT member.

    2. The U.N. sanctions - even if they were based on non-compliance with NPT - can be dissolved by another decision(s) of the Security Council. They cannot cease to exist automatically on the Day X.

    3. The existing legal sanctions don't allow any hostile actions against Iran (airstrikes or ground war.) Such actions can be executed by state vs. state basis. Please note: in the Iraq war, the U.S. established an umbrella body for their allies - not legally related to NATO.

  • To pay attention to anything publish in WSJ is not worthy. The neocons want the U.S. and NATO allies to be involved in a never-ending war in four countries at the same time: in Afghanistn, in the collapsing Iraq, in Iran and in the disintegrating Syria.

    Warfare - not security - is their best profit tool.

    Shameful. Disgraceful.

  • What are they saying? The next thing after their "fiscal cliff?" So it is practically tomorrow. How do you call them, Mcalves, warmongers?

    I am wondering if there are opposite opinions in the U.S. mass media? I have a creepy feeling that we are approaching an abyss. Just hope that Obama will be wise enough.

  • I disagree. One pays attention to all that is being written and then accepts or disregards as seems warranted. I am certainly not partisan to the WSJ crowd, quite the opposite in fact, but facts are to be found everywhere. The WSJ, for whatever their editorial bent, are often a very good source of facts. It is perhaps the juxtaposition in how they are presented to emphaisize their predisposed point of view that should be ignored. And it may well be that warfare is the US largest business, one is sorry to admit, but that does not in any way reenforce the position that Iran, or any other tinpot theocracy, therefore has the 'right' to further endanger the human race.

    Again, I feel this is a formidible argument, well worthy of debate and highly interesting. But I restate my own position: the answer is 'No'! They cannot be allowed to have it. Realpolitick be damned. Not fair? So what? The real peril to all far outweighs any other consideration. Period.

    Carry on, please, gentlemen. The forum is open to debate....

  • Cedar: you may be right. We certainly have our share of warmongers. But two wrongs do not make a right, if you will kindly pardon the cliche. Iran-Iraq war. Seven years. Millions of lives lost. Enough. No more nukes. There exist enough now to destroy all life on this planet, forever, how many hundreds of times over? No.

  • Good evening everyone! I am not ready to write a consistent text about the issues. However, I can easily copy/paste the Nicholai's comment from a WaPo discussion. In essence, I agree with Nick. I am just not happy that your, Nikki, writings are there - not here :-(

    "Package Deal" is desirable but hardly possible. We are facing landslide changes in the region of the Wider Middle East. The changes of this scale hardly can be managed by usual means. Like "we close a deal here" and "draw another line there."

    I don't think that the Alawites' participation in a transition government can make any difference. What really matters is "the day after." All powers involved are interested in keeping Syria as an entity. But that's exactly the problem. You may recruit any number of Alawites today. It will not resolve the Sunni-Shia conflict tomorrow. There is a third power in Syria: the Kurds. Who are thinking about the establishing the free Kurdistan based on the northern Iraq provinces and the Syrian north-east lands. These are just some factors of instability in Syria. Is there any plan feasible? I don't see one, as of today.

    The problem of Iran as an applicant for an Exclusive Club of the Chosen Nations is even less manageable. Iran is being pushed to the corner by U.N. sanctions based on the non-compliance with NPT. How is it possible to prevent the Iranian co-optation to the Club while placing one set of sanctions after another? We discussed it here: The opinion of the most people: there is no way to stop Iran. Because all Iranians believe they need the nukes. Just because four nations around them have it. Options to prevent/delay: to negotiate with all sanctions removed or to start a full-scale ground war, which will be a failure. Under the circumstances, the Obama's policy appears to be right. To step in without any clear plan would be a disaster.

  • A very clear post. My understanding: Nicholai makes posts in WAPO with links to OUTPOST to get more members. How can it work if he double-posts there and here? Note that he says "The opinion of the most people" meaning that the views here are different.

  • I have read the Hoagland's article and went through all the posts. There are actually two Nicholai's posts there. And both are very reasonable. Mostly, it is his opinion, with some infusion of the forums' ideas. Which is fine, I think.

    This is a very strong argument: about engaging into four wars at the same time. I have a feeling that many Americans (not all!) believe (and MSM make them to believe so) that the war with Iran will be something like the Iraqi war. To think this way would be the most terrible strategic mistake since the Vietnam war. Just try Google to see the difference of the terrain in Iraq and Iran. The Iraqi people were not united in their attitude towards Saddam. The Iranians are united. I keep insisting: nobody conquered Persia (in present borders) - and nobody will.

    About four wars. If the U.S. and the NATO allies go to wage war, I believe the number 4 will turn 14 very fast. Why? Because today it is the Sunni-Shia conflict. Then - it will be the West against East war. All Saudis and Qatari will stop talking - as all the Middle East and beyond will be involved. All the way to Indonesia. And the Muslims (regardless of their today's conflicts) will become an anti-West billion in 30 countries and in communities throughout the world. It would a clear path to the WW3.

    I very much hope that cooler heads will prevail. There is a very good idea in the Nick's comment (another one, not copied by Berg.) It's not accented - but very true: while waging a war of such an immense scale - the West itself will change. And the changes will be profound and negative for the Western (pretty fragile) institutions. I will better stop here.

  • Wisdom. A truly perilous scenario from which no good can come. There can be no victors in this conflict.

  • (Note: given the nature and scope of this issue a great deal of research, from all and almost any sources, should be reviewed. For all your perusal, at, of course, your discretion and given interest):,+countermeasures,+and+the+Iranian+nuclear+issue.-a0215409560

  • There are scenarios how to deal with it. I think all think tanks are working on them. We are a think tank, aren't we? We will work it out, Mcalves. But not today or tomorrow. In 2013.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

  • Nicholai, Thank you for posting link on Wapo; it led me here. I'm happy as all get out to find such reasonable conversation. I will explore some more subjects. Meanwhile:

    I broadly agree with Metternich in his analysis and conclusions. I hope he is wrong about American opinion with respect to a war with Iran, but then I was astonished at the success of the Bush administration in garnering 70% public support for our ill-fated insane invasion of Iraq. I would like to think we learned something from that quite beyond just the difference in terrain between Iraq and Iran. The problem in Iraq was not the war, but the occupation following. I don't think the American public could be again persuaded that we would be greeted in Tehran as "Liberators", as we expected to be in Baghdad. It was a sorry time for our form of government as the Senate, which is supposed to be wiser and more deliberate, chose to listen to George Bush instead of General Scowcroft (Sr Bush National Security Adviser) who publically laid out with such great clarity all of the things that would and did go wrong.

    As for the "Wolfowitz Doctrine". There is putrid kind of arrogance to it that infects what we call "neoconservatism". I've never quite understood exactly what that word is supposed to mean, but the doctrine expressed by Wolfowitz is quite contrary to long held American traditions, as is the more well known "Bush Doctrine", where we are entitled to attack "pre-emptively" as a matter of "self-defense" even so much as the "capacity" to do us harm, someday.

    mcalves....I understand your position. I even have some empathy for it. The trouble is, it is like our deficits, which is to say, unsustainable. You're right, we can't possibly tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. We couldn't tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea either. But we do. And we will tolerate a nuclear armed Iran, even though we can't. The real truth is that nuclear armed Pakistan is actually more dangerous than nuclear armed Iran will be. The real threat from nuclear weapons comes with internal instability in the nation having them, loose nukes in any context. That makes Pakistan the greatest present threat around. JMO

  • Tomas, happy New Year and welcome to the forum! Thanks for joining. Every intellectual input is valuable.

    Metternich did a very good work in making a first serious approach in learning the system of governance in Iran. In assessing how predictable the very first contemporary Islamic Republic might be. Until I went through the same sources, I was sure that Iran was a bunch of mullahs, half-sane and obsessed on importing their values at any costs. Something like Trotsky and the World Revolution a century ago. And as it used to be the reality proved to be more complex - and much more interesting.

    Mett had a good post somewhere in the blogs. Let me see. Here it is: A very unusual system. This not our purpose to like or dislike it. Our priority is the security. And the stability.

  • Quite so, tomas, Pakistan, the highly volatile God's Little Acre it is, has no doubt been the cause of far more grey hairs than we even know. When the world, or at the very least region, need worry whether a nuclear strike may be caused by the outcome of a Cricket match it is time to put a stop on further proliferation elsewhere. (now a war caused by a football match would be entirely understandable - La Guerra del Futbol, El Salvador vs. Honduras, 1969 - but at least the beligerants did not have nukes).

  • Before the midnight, today, I must tell you. Honestly. Of course, we all here in Israel wish to have the U.S. troops in Syria. And in Lebanon. And in Egypt, if possible. Everywhere around Israel. If not U.S. troos - I think we would agree on the Germans.

    But we have a long memory. And we know: what appears to be so comforting, always has its downsides. What taught us well: the U.N. troops on the border between Israel and Lebanon. They used to be there for decades. Did it make the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an inch closer? No. It didn't. Yes, I am a liberal. And I don't represent a majority of my people. But I am confident that the solution is not in the number of soldiers and not in waging wars with Arabs, no matter, Sunni or Shia. The real solution is for Israel is inside us. And that's why I will cast my voice against Bibi. Even though I perfectly know he will win the election.

  • Nicholai..... I found this, just below, by you, while exploring this territory new to me. You are so correct; a constitutional amendment IS required. But you are also entirely wrong; such a profound reform does NOT require deep changes in the whole political system. My question to you, as an inexperienced newbie, is where might be the appropriate place to take up, with some unabashed delight I must admit, the direct challenge you have so presciently posed?

    The today's gridlock in Washington, D.C. doesn't appear to be a result of President Obama's actions. It may be a defect of the aged the political system.

    If so, how can it be possibly fixed? At this point, there is no way it can be fixed. Such a change requires a constitutional amendment.

    Due to the role of the U.S. House of Representatives, such a profound reform would require deep changes in the whole political system, including all branches of power, changes in the U.S. federalism and the constitutional order itself.

    mcalves.....for sure, those good old kinds of wars, Ecuador vs. Peru! Ecuador, Paiz Amazonico, siempre es y siempre sera!! I grew up with that to begin each school day. :o)

  • tomas, good morning! It's a perfect question - a good sign that we have an interesting year ahead !

    We have been learning and exploring the U.S. institutions. These are serious themes. So we take our time. So far we have tried two of them: the legislative branch and the judicial branch.

    The legislative branch here:

    The judicial branch here:

    If interested, you just write in the respective discussion – and it will go up in the list. Other members will join/re-join the discussion.

    And Mcalves is right: you can start a new discussion or blog at any time.

  • Hello everybody! We have a new member (welcome to the club, tomas!) And here is his good and realistic assessment: "...we can't possibly tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. We couldn't tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea either. But we do. And we will tolerate a nuclear armed Iran, even though we can't."

    North Korea has ground borders with two nations (if not South Korea counted): China and Russia. Obviously, none of the real action was an option - as both China and Russia accepted the reality of PDRK in the N-Club. What could NOT be ignored by anyone (and Iran - first of all): as soon as NK got the nuke - all nations took their troubles with the famine so close to their hearts! Sorry for my "black" humour.

    Considering Iran, we should remember that Russia is on the other side of the Kaspian Sea, and China is pretty close. This geo-political reality makes "drawing the lines" even more confusing. Israel officially doesn't possess the nukes. U.K. and France are far away. And the U.S. is practically in Alpha Centauri.

  • I'm afraid I have long been an outlier on the subject of Iran. It goes back to my childhood fascination with the Greeks and their wars with the Persians, Alexander the Great, the rise and fall of Rome, the grand sweep of the great Khan's across China and then west to the Danube. The view of the "Mullahs" as some kind of crazy nutcases has always seemed to me just absurd. It was really our tribal reaction to the hostage crisis of 1980, one of those excesses that can occur in revolutions, especially when they prove useful to intelligent and determined men. Sociopathic, certainly; crazy, not in the least. If you talk with these people you find that they know their history, far better than most of us know their history. Indeed, and this is most unfortunate, far better than most of us know our history.

    I read the Waltz piece, skimming some parts it is true. I am unimpressed. It is like playing a tactical war game on an arbitrary field of speculation. I admit to a certain contempt for this kind of "elitism", where bright people entertain themselves with demonstrations of their brilliance.

    What I like in this forum is the attention and consideration given to Iran's Constitution, which is, as has been noted by Nicholai, quite sophisticated. It is not, as so many presume, a theocracy; it is an Islamic Republic with democratic elements, with a sophisticated balancing of powers in its structure. This is not the product of crazy people. As for consent, it has a stronger foundation than our own. It was approved in a public referendum by a direct vote of the people. This is something we have never done, and still do not do. We assign that task to our legislatures, avoiding a direct decision, a direct commitment (or not) by each citizen. Iran can quite rightly claim a more democratic foundation than we.

    It serves no purpose to demonize Iran, or any nation for that matter. Far better, far wiser, far more effective, is to see them and try to understand them in their own terms as clearly as one can muster. It is not just a question of "knowing your enemy" either, it is just as important to know your friend.

  • My first questions here would be: which parts did you skip and what is the difference between 'sociopathic' and 'crazy'? No, this is not the product of crazy people but calculated strategems of a regime (highly directed by the dictums of their faith as they interpret it) to position themselves as power brokers in the region and their further stated, and even more importantly unstated, aims. If one is to take them at their public word it would also mean to pose a direct threat to Isreal and any other nation in the region they deem as opposing their own. Yes, this is the global game as it is played by all and any who can. Call it 'Collective Madness'. Whatever else it is or is not, one thing is certain: it is dangerous. Very. The comparisons between systems, their knowledge of history may well be accurate but how does that factor into their possession of nuclear weapons? We are not the standard by which all systems are to be judged and especially in this instance, so what? Not a 'theocracy' but an 'Islamic Republic?' That is almost like saying that England is not monarchy, or perhaps should self-defined as an 'Anglican Monarchy'. So then, in Iran, nee Persia, religious imperatives do not play a part in their actions, their internal governance, their posturing to the 'outside' world? Salman Rushdie would beg to differ. In the US 'In God We Trust', yes, but all others pay cash (except the government and big banks). To my knowledge most nations, however rooted historically and culturally in their respective religions, do not have a religious council of elders which dictates conformity to their citizens, nor shapes their policy toward the world at large. Perforce. Thankfully, the Vatican no longers ratifies treaties nor confirms, in the manner of a celestial Notary Public, agent of God himself, any 'divine right of kings'.

    Playing tactictical war games on an arbitrary field of speculation is what the CIA, and all other intelligence agencies, do. The terms 'friend' and 'enemy' are ever-changing, as evidenced most dramatically so very often by the blowback we have created and suffered from, especially so in recent years. Iran, in fact, is the classic example of it. I have no doubt they know their history, and they seem quite taken with medievil history, and that is one of the reasons, among many others, they should not be allowed to develop long (or short) range nuclear weapons. Whatever their constitution. Even if they were to adopt a more realistic attitude toward 'the Crusaders' (ie. 'Infidels') and the modern world and their involvement with it, the proliferation of nuclear weapons cannot continue. As the French say, 'It can only end in tears'. This is not matter of demonizing, rather, simple pragmatism, and ultimately, concern over the continued existence of the human race.

  • How about this one? "In Kahl's view, new nuclear states do not necessarily behave as status quo powers and can instead be highly revisionist. Seeking a precedent, he highlights the fact that the Soviet Union encouraged North Korea to launch a potentially risky invasion of South Korea in 1950, shortly after the Soviets had tested their first nuclear bomb. But Kahl neglects to explain the context of that decision. Some time before, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson had publicly identified the United States' security commitments in Asia; defending South Korea was not among them. The United States had also signaled its lack of interest in protecting the South Koreans by declining to arm them with enough weapons to repel a Soviet-backed invasion by the North. The Soviet Union therefore had good reason to assume that the United States would not respond if the North Koreans attacked. In light of these facts, it is difficult to see Stalin's encouragement of the invasion as an example of bold, revisionist behavior. Contrary to Kahl's claims, the beginning of the Korean War hardly supplies evidence of Soviet nuclear adventurism, and therefore it should not be understood as a cautionary tale when considering the potential impact that possessing a nuclear arsenal would have on Iranian behavior."

    There is nothing so informative as an argument between two "experts" about what a fellow named Stalin was actually thinking back in the 1950's based on nothing but what the guy might have known, could have known, should have known at the time. And therefore the Iranians might do.......?

    By sociopathic I mean that the mullah's, Khomeini in particular, had no empathy whatsoever for the poor slobs held hostage and living in sheer terror at the time. This has no implications with respect to his ability to reason, indeed, if anything, it improves it, as empathy is an emotion more likely to be destructive of good logic. Think, for example, of Dick Cheney thinking of water boarding Khalid Sheik, what was it, 182 times? Realpolitik is more than just a word. These people are not nuts, they thoroughly comprehend right and wrong and what these mean to different people, which is often quite different. My essential point is that sheer speculation of what they might be thinking now or might have been thinking then, is just not a very good basis for making executive decisions now.

    As for their constitution. Thank goodness I don't have to live under that! Truth be known, my view of religion is somewhere to the right of Christopher Hitchens. I cannot remember a time in my life when the whole idea didn't strike me as an utterly absurd fantasy. You might just imagine how I felt about the possibility Rick Santorum might become President. By the same token, I am fully cognizant of the essential and beneficial role that religion plays in tempering the social nature of mankind, both here and throughout the world.

    I take the first two paragraphs of our Declaration of Independence to heart. A People are paramount. They are the sole singular authority for Government, which they are uniquely entitled to fashion as they themselves choose and which derives its legitimacy from their consent. We did that our way; they are entitled to do that their way. I am no more willing to judge them by our standards than I am willing to let them judge me by theirs. I am not naive, but it is a position I am very reluctant to depart from without a very very good reason.

    I have some hope for Iran, I have some patience for it. It has, within itself, its own internal dynamics which show themselves from time to time as they did three years ago. This is for them to work out, just as it is in so many other places in the mid-east. We should help where we can, but it is just not ours to control or even materially shape. Among other things, we haven't the capacity. In that respect, we have our own fish to fry.

    I wish I had an answer for you for nuclear proliferation, but I just don't. .

  • I would say the Waltz's view on the issue seems to be more realistic. Mr. Khal never-ending argument "Iran's government currently sponsors terrorist groups and supports militants throughout the Middle East, in part to demonstrate a capability to retaliate against the United States, Israel, and other states" is not supported by any facts.

    Living in Beirut, I have no idea what Khal is talking about? Nobody hides the relations between Iran and Hezbollah. But it is not Iran - but SA and other Gulf states support terrorist groups. Maybe Mr. Khal still doesn't make a difference between Sunni and Shia? Obviously not.

    The problem I see is the following. If Iran gets the nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will get it too. I can't even set the date or a year when Saudi Arabia began to position itself as a rival (and now they use the word "enemy" with ease) of Iran? Saudi Arabia is not a family with flag as in the Sadat's time. With the population of 26 millions and allies in UAE, Qatar and Oman they are changing fast. And in the dangerous directions.

  • It is very good point, Cedar! Though there is no proof of the Saudi nuclear capabilities, there some signs that SA may have an advanced programme - and will do its best to reach this goal. It may be presented as a common program of the Gulf states.

    It will be not easy for the U.S. and NATO to swallow it. However, the Saudis get very tough when needed.

    In any case, this is a part of the scenario. An immediate part.

  • For any nation that seeks this hideous power, be careful what you wish for. Cedar: I see your point. As well as SA no longer a 'family with flags'. I am going to see what can be found on their program. But also, and I am not coming from a position of chauvinism, much is being made between the differences between Iraq and Iran. That may be an understimation of NATO capabilties. It is simply a game which must not be played. And again, my position has nothing to do with anti-Islamic sentiment. If it were another regime I would focus on reasons why they should not have the Bomb. What possible good can come of it?? Boys, boys, boys...don't play with matches.

  • ( I realize that I am not discussing the legal aspects as posed and am not trying to derail that focus, however, I obviously have strong feelings about this one. For any number of reasons, humanitarian - yes, the second-last refuge of the rogue, perhaps - as well as personal. During the early morning hours of 9/11, downtown, a few blocks away from the chaos, I saw on a TV screen that we had gone to DEFCON 3 and were elevating to 2. Those of us there had not a clue yet what was happening. That was when I became afraid. I was afraid of what we would do)

    Overreaction to Iran's development and what it will cause? Yes, maybe. Maybe those voices saying we will simply swallow it like we have with others may be right. But I would not bet on it. Bad bet. You may be right but, gentleman, even with an administration which is more reasonable than most, in today's world, I truly doubt it. Pakistan is bad enough; Korea volatile but (arguable but somewhat by comparison) containable. Iran? The region? Isreal within a stone's throw? Well...

    'No first use (NFU) refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons.

    'NATO has repeatedly rejected calls for adopting NFU policy, arguing that preemptive nuclear strike is a key option.'

    'In 1993, Russia dropped a pledge given by the former Soviet Union not to use nuclear weapons first.In 2000, a Russian military doctrine stated that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a large-scale conventional aggression'

    "The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners."

    'Although Israel does not officially confirm or deny having nuclear weapons, the country is widely believed to be in possession of them. Its continued ambiguity stance puts it in a difficult position, since to issue a statement pledging 'no first use' would confirm their possession of nuclear weapons. Israel has said that it "would not be the first country in the Middle East to formally introduce nuclear weapons into the region.' If Israel's very existence is threatened, some speculate that she would use a "Samson Option," a "last resort" deterrence strategy of massive retaliation with nuclear weapons, may be initiated should the state of Israel be substantially damaged and/or near destruction.'


    'A defense readiness condition (DEFCON) is an alert posture used by the United States Armed Forces. The DEFCON system was developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and unified and specified combatant commands. It prescribes five graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military, and increase in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations'

    History of (recorded!) DEFCON Levels:

    The highest confirmed DEFCON ever was Level 2. During the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 22, 1962, the U.S. armed forces were ordered to DEFCON 3. On October 26, Strategic Air Command (SAC) was ordered to DEFCON 2, while the rest of the U.S. armed forces remained at DEFCON 3. SAC remained at DEFCON 2 until November 15.

    For much of the Cold War, U.S. ICBM sites were at DEFCON 4, rather than 5.

    Yom Kippur WarThe U.S. armed forces were unofficially at DEFCON 3 status during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

    The third time the United States reached DEFCON 3 was during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the increased DEFCON level and to standby for an increase to DEFCON 2, which never came

    My only point: no good can possibly come of this.

    Right, then. I have had my say. I look forward to the discussion as stated: the legal aspects and possible reactions. I step down from the soapbox...

  • "My only point: no good can possibly come of this."

    This is a point with which few, if any, could disagree....most certainly not I.

    I was a grunt in the 101st Division back when Cuba was hosting Russian missiles and we were at one point airborne, flying around in circles for a whiles. So I share your memories of DEFCON and what it meant. I still remember how extraordinarily quiet it was, just the drone and whine of the turboprops as each of us sat silently and quiescently in true terror, each in his own unique way coping with the brutal hopeless futility of knowing what lay ahead, much less changing it. Nothing; three and a half hours later we landed back where we started.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the experience has had a huge effect on the evolution of my worldview; but I also know it has had a different effect on the evolution of other's. Viva la diferencia!

  • Well, people. If this guy suggests a careful approach - it means alot. I decided to copy my comment in WaPo here in the forum. The B-opinion can be found here:

    Mr. Brzezinski's DNA embedded hatred to Russia is almost amusing. The centuries are changing - Brzezinski remains the same.

    However, it should be noted: if Brzezinski suggests a careful and balanced approach to the issue "Iran In The Club," it means a lot. We discuss it in our forum. The most members from different countries agreed that the direct confrontation with Iran would be a huge mistake:

    We also believe that the system of governance of the Islamic Republic is stable enough. It should be added that Iran is a sovereign state. As such it has the right to stay or to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The way North Korea did it.

    Please note: if Iran declares its intention to leave NPT - all U.N. sanctions will become hanging up in the air. As all of them are based on non-compliance with the procedures of NPT.

    Sanctions. There is an apparent contradiction between the policy of pushing Iran further onto the corner - and hypothetical co-option Iran into The Club.

  • Brzezinski's writing today - expect one from Henry Kissinger. By the way, Kissinger is surprisingly realistic in his views. These days. I would like to find out what he is thinking. All Kissinger's articles we considered here were really good. In summer, his statement that the Syrian opposition should not be considered as a united movement sounded almost like opportunism.

  • Kissinger, an old fox, is writing in such a elusive manner. I would still expect that we'll get another, updated version of his point of view. As we assume that Kissinger is preoccupied with the U.S. nd the Israel's security, it would be reasonable to expect a bigger piece, linking the things taking place in various countries and the region as a whole.

  • I see. I went through the comments of the today's WP articles about new sanctions. Nicholai, does it make any sense to fight there? Two clear positions are there (as much as in any Syria-related materials):

    1. New war(s)' activists (they never happen to be at any war; there no opinions from veterans - noticed?); standard pro-Israel lobby, or rather a part of it, who believe that any U.S. involvement would be blessing for Israel (quite understandable position.)

    2. The second category is more diverse. It includes very few people who give "A-" grade to Obama/Clinton like you do (we know this position from the content of this and other ME discussions); a lot of people who deny the idea of any new war(s) (they don't need to know much on the subject, which is also understandable).

    Between these two categories there're many people who appear to get some understanding - or just spell out whatever they wish without any knowledge.

    O.K. I never take part in newspapers' battles. Too much trouble. You can't change that many people through "the Washington Post," Nicholai. You'd better spare your efforts and time to write here.

    There was a very funny moment in this today's discussion. You gave the link to this thread started by me. And someone began to address "Mett." Weird - but that's alright.