Talk’s Mightier Than Nukes, Colltalers
Only in these irrational, defense-dominated, paranoid-inducing times a peaceful agreement, which all but guarantees a commitment by a major Middle East player of not enriching weapons-grade uranium, would still be at risk of not being endorsed by the U.S. Congress.
For it’s been an arduous battle to get Iran to even discuss giving up its nuclear ambitions, while strife-prone Pakistan and India next door are allowed to keep their own programs alive, not to mention Israel, which remains adamantly against any such accord, period.
But so it’s the nature of foreign relations in our time, as they tend to belittle diplomatic efforts and overstate the efficacy of warfare. While the latter has been failing over and over, and costing lives and billions, the former is greeted with derision and given limited credence.
Despite such poor record controlling the ever growing, and unrestrained, aggression plaguing the region, the military defense complex and global weapons industry seem to always have undue influence over what ultimately prevails in that part of the world.
With their most staunch allies residing in the Republican Party-controlled American congress, there’s been already a call to arms for mobilization of the best lobbyists money can buy to undermine this latest attempt at finding lasting stability in the Middle East.
No one questions that a race to proliferate weapons of mass destruction would be catastrophic to the 200 million-plus living on that already gigantic powder keg. And that any prospect to prevent it from happening would necessarily pass through an Iranian accord.
So, apart for the well-founded but mainly emotional fears expressed by Israel, the only other major factor playing against a diplomatic solution in the region comes from the industry whose own raison d’être is threatened by just such a phase out of armed conflicts.
President Obama, who’s received praise for having kept at it when skeptics had given up on the cause, is already engaged in ‘selling’ the just-signed agreement to the world, as flawed but still our best bet to assure relative security for all nations involved. Despite widespread support from the American people, his biggest foes are in Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. We can only wish him good luck.
And so engaged are Iranian officials too, as President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have the herculean task of convincing Iran’s Ayatollahs and assorted hard-liners that this arrangement is to their country’s benefit. Good luck to them too.
For the Iranian urban and well educated population also seems to be on the same page; that it’s better tone down any grandiose plan of regional domination in exchange for a lifting of the onerous sanctions that have been burden the country for so long.
Still, there seems to be some contention about the U.N.-imposed, U.S.-supported embargo, which has ultimately penalized its thriving demographics, causing failure of entire segments of the Iranian economy, with little effect on its military and defense industries. That and other details need to be iron down, and it’s what makes any congressional attempt to derail the accord’s general terms so foolish.
The moment is to consolidate not just the specifics of the agreement but also the openness of the dialogue between Iran, the U.N., and the so-called P5+1 group – the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, and China – while the irons are hot, so to speak.
One curious note about the Obama administration is that it can be said that this is its second, and likely, last chance to strike a permanent agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. That is, considering the 2010 proposal brokered by Brazil and Turkey, which was all but disavowed by then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. That’s meaningful because she’s now a major contender for the U.S. presidency.
Even though that proposal lacked the substance the latest one seems to have, its major goals were the same: to suspend uranium enrichment, move what was already enriched to medical purposes, and allow complete transparency of its program, all in exchange for the lifting of the sanctions. Supposedly, the U.S.’s main excuse to refute the accord then was the volatile Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Well, he’s out of the picture now. And so is Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, while Turkey’s Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s conspicuously sitting on the sidelines (he’s perhaps expected to get his feet wetter in Iraq at the moment, rather than Iran). With President Obama a year and an half from leaving the White House, time may be riper than ever to get a grip on Iran’s nuclear program for good.
Speaking of getting feet wet, while Iran’s already up to its neck with ISIL and arguably Syria, Israel’s so far dangerously refused to dance. So it may be up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to step in, and of course, China’s Xi Jinping, who hasn’t shown yet the same level of engagement of his predecessor Hu Jintao. Russia and China both have veto power in any resolution of the U.N. security council.
The point is that there’s a particularly singular set of circumstances favoring a diplomatic solution for such a complex issue. And that it may involve the world’s biggest powers, working in tandem to grant the agreement its much needed weight and relevance.
With the already mentioned conflicts in Iran and Syria raging, and a hopefully punctual spike in terrorist activity through selected pockets in the Middle East, Europe, and specially Africa, the world could certainly use some good news about nuke control.
Coming to think of it, it’s been a while since we heard anything reassuring about nuclear programs and conflict resolution via the power of the pen, and not of the sword. We’ve been so battle-scared by the shortcomings of using fire to try to atone divisions dating from several centuries ago, that we easily forget the power words and compromise have to solve global differences. Because that’s not all.
We need to move the needle even higher and try to apply the same drive to tackle other, arguably more important, issues, related to the survival not just of a country, a region, or an ideal, but of the entire world populations, no hyperbole employed. For if nukes can destroy us all, so can climate change, ocean pollution, extreme hunger, and the exhaustion of natural resources on a global scale.
But going back to the opening graph, we do live in bizarre times, and often only the burden of proof is no longer enough to mobilize enough people towards clarity and peaceful resolution. The Iran agreement can’t be singled out as some litmus test of our current ability to move on; on the other hand, we simply can’t be satisfied with accepting that brute force is the only M.O. possible.
We can’t bomb ourselves out of ever present conflicts, no matter how hawks and war mongers and profiteers and belligerent fanatics seem to demand. Rather, we must sit and talk and keep talking, as needed. And find another use for drones too, since we’re at it.
We may be far from an ideal nuke-free world. But given its potential to global annihilation, no effort towards it should be spared. It may sound sanctimonious, or preachy, but we’ve done already damage to keep us busy reversing it, if at all possible, for decades to come.
Used for defense purposes, nuclear power poses insurmountable challenges hard to fathom, as we all remember Hiroshima. But even without geopolitical implications, we shouldn’t forget what it’s capable of. And yet, last week, most of us did just that, when the 36th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island came and went almost unnoticed. Later this month, it’ll be Chernobyl’s 29th.
One final thing this latest nuclear agreement may allow us to consider is that it reduces the chances of another accident such as those, or worse, a terror attack, at least in Iran. And there’s no need for only Iranians to feel relieved by such prospect. Have a great one. WC