News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: US/Israel Hypocrisy on Iran's Nukes

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

US/Israel Hypocrisy on Iran's Nukes

While Israel and the US rattle sabers Iran's way, many in the mideast see a double-standard at work. While the US appears overworked at the possibility of Iran having nuclear power and weapons, mideasterners ask themselves and others in the west why Israel is allowed to have these weapons but Moslem countries cannot.

According to Maylaysia's Star Online, the Egyptian Presdient made this plain to US VP Cheney when he visited yesterday, January 17, 2006:

"The last thing we need in the Middle East is a nuclear weapon arms race," presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said.

"But we cannot ignore Egyptian and Arab world public opinion (that refuses) to ... make all this fuss about the Iranian nuclear programme while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Israeli nuclear programme and arsenal."

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but has never confirmed or denied their existence and is not a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
If the US expects credibility on this issue, it must begin to hold Israel, its closest ally in the region, to publicly account for its own weapons of mass destruction arsenal and program.

The mideast public can only see the US position vis-a-vis Israel's nuclear stockpile as a double-standard. It can also only see Israel's possession of these weapons as a sign of its ability to flout international laws while it uses the US to enforce an Israeli agenda in the region.

Israel has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It is widely acknowledged by experts in the area of nuclear arms control that Israel helped South Africa to design and develop a nuclear capability.

With this history in mind, the mideast public, not to mention those in Iran itself, must ask themselves why this movement to deny Iran the right to defend itself with these weapons, especially since Israel uses this rationale for its own nuclear program.

What is the most effective solution to overcome this hypocrisy? As Shirin Ebadi (the Iranian human rights advocate who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize) and Muhammad Sahimi argue in the LA Times:
[T]he U.S. and Iran should enter direct negotiations. It is simply absurd for the U.S. and the most important nation in the Middle East not to communicate directly. The Bush administration should not be seduced by exile groups with no support in Iran. Developing democracy is an internal affair.

Democracy, in the end, will provide the ultimate safeguard against nuclear disaster, because a truly democratic Iran, backed by a majority of Iranians, would feel secure enough not to pursue dangerous military adventures.
This policy would coincide with the one promoted by the US International Strategic Studies Group at the US Army College. (Also see their report.) Whether or not this policy is adopted and followed, however, rests in part on the ability of the Bush administration to distance itself from the hard-line tactics of Israel and its supporters in the US, including Jewish and evangelical Christian interest groups.

As I have also noted in the past, the Bush administration may indeed find itself opposed to Israel. At least with regard to the Bush admin's rhetoric about promoting democracy in the mideast, some leaders in Israel see Arab democracy itself as a threat to its continued existence.

Update 1/21/06:The Defense Tech guys post a good link to what, in reality, Iran's potential nuclear capability is. Israel says Iran is an immediate threat, so it wants to bomb the country. Iran is several--some say 10--years away from actually getting the bomb together. Then you have this problem of actually delivering the nukes, something Pakistan is still dealing with decades after its defense posture went nuclear. 10 years seems plenty of time for diplomacy and back-channel efforts to work. Just as simply, Iran's moderate middle-classes must have a chance to consolidate their influence in the culture.

Update 1/21/06:As I have noted before, the Iranian situation is much more complext than it is portrayed in the US press. There's a power struggle going on in the Iranian hierarchy, and the President is not as powerful as the media sources give the impressio as. For example, the Iranian commentator Hossein Derakhshan writes:
I wrote a few weeks that the single biggest reason Ahmadinejad is ranting unexpectedly against Israel and the uproar he's made in the past few weeks, has internal purposes.

Khamenei has effectively prevented Ahmadinejad from having any say in foreign policy. So Ahmadinejad's strategy has been causing problems in major foreign policy issues in order to get into the gaming.

He managed to achieve some success in this regard and he definitely has gained some grounds. But it's very hard to keep it that way, since he's set the bar so high he can't push it further. Israel is the single biggest foreign policy issue in Iran these days and Ahmadinejad has pushed that envelope as far as it could go.
Again, the US policy-makers should take this into account and not react in an overly militaristic way to what is simply an internal squabble between Iranian insiders.

Update 1/21/06: Now we have Hillary Clinton telling a Princeton audience that Israel is at the core of American foreign policy in the Mid-East. Got that... the core. Okay, don't believe me? Here are her exact, reported by The Princetonian:
"The security and freedom of Israel must be decisive and remain at the core of any American approach to the Middle East..."
Related article: Hillary Clinton Says White House Has Mishandled Iran
Sen. Clinton Urges U.N. Sanctions Against Iran

Update 1/21/06: A former Defense analyst was sentenced to 12 years for passing US intelligence information about Iran to the powerful, pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC and a "foreign national." The type of information passed on is not known, though it's suspected that it included information about Iran's nuclear power program. See Pentagon Analyst Given 121/2 Years In Secrets Case

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The Matrix said...

Why is Israel allowed to have nukes and Iran not? Because Israel has had nukes for over 40 years now, and has a proven track-record of sanity and stability in the face of incredible provocations. Has never used nukes or threatened to use them. Has never called for the extermination of another country and has never supported terror orginizations, all of which cannot be said about Iran. Israel's Nuclear program goes back to Albert Einstein who was almost Israel's first President before declining the position. Iran's program goes back to the Kahan network out of Pakistan who was busy tranfering nuke technology to Libiya, North Korea and other unstable and dangerous regimes. I could go on for pages and pages, but I suspect that any person who is capable of even asking the question why Israel and not Iran nuke, is probably not in a position to even garsp comprehend the danger. Fortunatly, wiser and more resposnible heads will prevail in this.

the cynic librarian said...

Mr. Gelma, Of course, your works in reverse, doesn't it? People who think that there position is the only rational one are open to the accusation of fanaticism and an appeal to a concept of reason that is corrupt. BTW, you make the logical fallacy of begging the question; that is, you assert without proof that Israel has acted responsibly in its nuclear program. You will note that I cite the US Army War college study that shows that a nuclear Iran does not pose the end-of-the-world scenario your comments seem to reflect.