So, The UNSC is scheduled to vote on Iran sanctions has gone as we thought, There is a lot of debate on the importance of sanctions and what it all means etc. But instead of concentrating so much on the latest news, we have to step back and observe the overall-pattern which is emerging to see what’s really going on.
First of all, the reality is that the sanctions will not convince Iran to give up enrichment. Enrichment is a sovereign right and is massively popular amongst Iranians who have a long history of resenting foreign interference in their affairs by super powers who tried to prevent them from developing — the Russians threatened IRan for building railroads, the British threatened Iran for nationalizing oil, etc.. so sanctions, ultimatums, threats of military force are all old news to Iranians and a regularly occuring even in Iranian history. The so-called “Green Movement” also supports Iran’s nuclear program, and even Rafsanjani himself said that giving up enrichment would be live giving up Iranian soil. Any government who gives up enrichment has dug its own grave and would be seen as having sold out Iran’s national interests and rights in an effort to keep itself in power.
BUT the sanctions proponents don’t really care if the sanctions are effective or not anyway. For them, sanctions are just a stepping-stone on the way to their ultimate goal, which is a US-Iran military confrontation which the pro-Israel lobby has been pushing to obtain. As long as the US is sanctioning Iran, the US is not negotiating with Iran, which suits the sanctions-proponents just fine. With each step that the Obama administration takes down the road of sanctions and coercion, it becomes politically harder for himtodo an about-face and actually engage Iran. As sanctions build upon sanctions, eventually there will be calls to enforce the sanctions with greater vigor, for example through a naval blockade, and that will spark shooting…and that’s how the war starts. In fact, if you remember, this was the same process as the build-up to the Iraq war. Using ambiguous sanctions language passed by the UNSC, the US and allies took control over Iraq’s airspace, and deliberately tried on several occasions to provoke the Iraqis into shooting at their airplanes.
Though some influential people in Washington have already started openly calling for a war on Iran, the sanctions proponents don’t want to just come out and say that because it is politically not expedient right now (what with two wars already raging in Iraq and Afghanistan) — so they are using the word “diplomacy” as a euphemism for their agenda for now. This “diplomacy” is simply pretextual and meant to set the stage for a war, as Dennis Ross has explained. Ultimately, they want to be able to say, “we tried diplomacy, it didn’t work, now we have no other choice by military confrontation.” Framing the issue in this way as a choice between sanctions and war is a deliberate false choice, and diplomacy has not really been tried — quite the reverse, the US has deliberately undermined, spurned and ignored true diplomatic solutions to this standoff. The US has consistently ignored prefectly reasonable Iranian compromise offers which would have addressed any legitimate concern about nuclear weapons proliferation. For example, Iran’s offer to open its nuclear program entirely to multinational participation, and offer endorsed by many experts but simply ignored by the US. IAEA head El Baradei even noted:
I have seen the Iranians ready to accept putting a cap on their enrichment [program] in terms of tens of centrifuges, and then in terms of hundreds of centrifuges. But nobody even tried to engage them on these offers.
Why did no one even try to engage them on these offers? Because the entire nuclear issue is pretextual, just as “WMDs in Iraq” is pretextual, and the US needs to keep this pretext alive rather than to resolve it.
And if you doubt any of this, the latest fiasco over the uranium swap offer should be sufficient proof. After blocking Iran’s efforts to purchase nuclear fuel for a medical reactor that is totally safeguarded by the IAEA and presents no weapons proliferation threat, the Obama administration offered a deal to Iran whereby Iran would swap some of its low-enriched uranium fuel for finished reactor fuel rods. I said from the begining that the offer was insincere, and not meant to be accepted. And within hours of Iran’s acceptance of the offer, the US changed its position, moved the goalposts, and claimed that the offer that it had supportedjust a week before as evidenced by Obama’s letter to Lula, was suddenly inadequate. As Gary Sick and Roger Cohen noted, the goalposts were moved (and as I had noted, this was not the first time) in order to prevent the peaceful resolution of the standoff.
The pattern is now obvious, the strategy exposed. We can no longer pretend otherwise.