Saturday, January 02, 2010

More Geopolitics

I left the venue, Liberty Hall, to join Michael and Matt for birthday celebrations. Michael has turned 52.

Our conversation turned to Iran. I brought up Freeman Dyson's suggestion that now would be a good time to focus on new agreements with the Russians, about reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. North Korea and Iran are small potatoes when it comes to reducing the nuclear threat. Lets build on the progress of earlier presidents.

That's not what's in the news today though (maybe tomorrow?).

Instead we're getting all these anonymous national advisers citing unnamed defectors and classified reports to the effect that the NIE report is no longer to be believed. Per today's New York Times:
Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only is roundly rejected by Western officials and, in internal reports, by international nuclear inspectors. Yet Washington’s assessments of how much progress Iran has made toward a weapon have varied greatly over the past two years, partly a reflection of how little is known about the inner workings of the country’s nuclear programs.

Mr. Obama’s top advisers say they no longer believe the key finding of a much disputed National Intelligence Estimate about Iran, published a year before President George W. Bush left office, which said that Iranian scientists ended all work on designing a nuclear warhead in late 2003.
Public memory may be short, but weren't "disbelieving top advisers" a primary source of misinformation leading to the invasion of Iraq?

The president ended up on TV making a fool of himself, searching high and low for those non-existent WMDs. Never before in world history has a USA president been forced to humiliate himself in this way.

Do we want a repeat of that bitter defeat, so soon? Is the plan to force the new president's hand? We're told he's giving sanctions one more chance, but that they've never worked in the past. So here's that stench of inevitability again, concocted behind the scenes, a deliberately self-fulfilling prophecy, a phony fait accompli.

Colin Powell at least had the guts to put his name and reputation on the line, and to express regrets later. Let's at least cut the crap and stop with the slimy "anonymous" BS, whaddya say? Let's not let the warmongers hide in the woodwork again, building consensus through leaks. Watch those pundits carefully now, and you'll see their sleights of hand.

The NYT has soiled itself before, become the shallow tool of jingoists. Journalism with backbone doesn't spark wars through innuendo, doesn't kowtow.

If that NIE has been superseded, then lets be super clear by whom, when and why. Because of Qum? The White House web site will make this crystal clear, and no fair simply cutting and pasting from British government sources.

Global engineers have built more nuclear power plants in need of fissile materials, as they've done many times around the world. Here's a significant civilian investment and we could definitely benefit from the power.

Iran's grid connects to Iraq's in at least nine places according to the Army Corps of Engineers, and Iraq desperately needs that power in order to rebuild. So if there's any way to safely provide the missing ingredient (a non-weapons-grade fuel), then that would be the rational / worthy goal in this case.

So has the USA already offered to supply said missing ingredient, should the Iranian centrifuges prove not up to the job? That would seem the humane gesture, as Iraq has been unnecessarily devastated by disbelieving officials, needs to repair itself pronto as the troops pack their gear, mission accomplished, purpose served.

If the USA is at all serious about helping Iraq, then it should at the very least not obstruct Russian plans to provide processing capability, long on the table. Russia is geographically closer to these plants and has the wherewithal, already performs the same service for plants in India. Getting those civilian power plants up and running is a top priority.

The UK's Jack Straw is already on record saying Iran has a right, in principle, to develop civilian nuclear power. To argue otherwise is to come off like some uber-coward hypocrite.

Also, speaking of hypocrits, why is the UN so silent on the continued occupation of Iraq by a foreign power? Its own UNSCOM was overridden, the IAEA disbelieved. If Iran is defying the will of the UN, by continuing to enrich uranium, then isn't the USA doing the same, by continuing to occupy a sovereign nation?

The UN can't afford to be a perceived as a hapless puppet if it wants any credibility in this world. A little more even handedness would go a long ways at this juncture.

I learned from Bill Lightfoot about my uncle John Talmadge. He's choosing to forgo further treatment. Our family is pulling together in support.