[lit-ideas] The Iran Charade
- From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: Lit-Ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 02:08:56 -0500
The Iran Charade, Part II
By Charles Krauthammer
Wednesday, January 18, 2006; Page A17
"It was what made this E.U. Three approach so
successful. They [Britain, France and Germany]
stood together and they had one uniform position."
-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jan. 13
Makes you want to weep. One day earlier, Britain,
France and Germany admitted that their two years
of talks to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program
had collapsed. The Iranians had broken the seals
on their nuclear facilities and were resuming
activity in defiance of their pledges to the "E.U.
Three." This negotiating exercise, designed as an
alternative to the U.S. approach of imposing
sanctions on Iran for its violations of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty, had proved entirely
futile. If anything, the two-year hiatus gave Iran
time to harden its nuclear facilities against
bombardment, acquire new antiaircraft capacities
and clandestinely advance its program.
With all this, the chancellor of Germany declared
the exercise a success because the allies stuck
together! The last such success was Dunkirk. Lots
of solidarity there, too.
Most dismaying was that this assessment came from
a genuinely good friend, the new German
chancellor, who, unlike her predecessor, Gerhard
Schroeder (now a wholly owned Putin flunky working
for Russia's state-run oil monopoly), actually
wants to do something about terrorism and nuclear
Ah, success. Instead of being years away from the
point of no return for an Iranian bomb, as we were
before we allowed Europe to divert
anti-proliferation efforts into transparently
useless talks, Iran is probably just months away.
And now, of course, Iran is run by an even more
radical government, led by a president who
fervently believes in the imminence of the apocalypse.
Ah, success. Having delayed two years, we now have
to deal with a set of fanatical Islamists who we
know will not be deterred from pursuing nuclear
weapons by any sanctions. Even if we could get
real sanctions. Which we will not. The remaining
months before Iran goes nuclear are about to be
frittered away in pursuit of this newest placebo.
First, because Russia and China will threaten to
veto any serious sanctions. The Chinese in
particular have secured in Iran a source of oil
and gas outside the American sphere to feed their
growing economy and are quite happy geopolitically
to support a rogue power that -- like North Korea
-- threatens, distracts and diminishes the power
of China's chief global rival, the United States.
Second, because the Europeans have no appetite for
real sanctions either. A travel ban on Iranian
leaders would be a joke; they don't travel anyway.
A cutoff of investment and high-tech trade from
Europe would be a minor irritant to a country of
70 million people with the second-largest oil
reserves in the world and with oil at $60 a
barrel. North Korea tolerated 2 million dead from
starvation to get its nuclear weapons. Iran will
tolerate a shortage of flat-screen TVs.
The only sanctions that might conceivably have any
effect would be a boycott of Iranian oil. No one
is even talking about that, because no one can
bear the thought of the oil shock that would
follow, taking 4.2 million barrels a day off the
market, from a total output of about 84 million
The threat works in reverse. It is the Iranians
who have the world over a barrel. On Jan. 15,
Iran's economy minister warned that Iran would
retaliate for any sanctions by cutting its exports
to "raise oil prices beyond levels the West
expects." A full cutoff could bring $100 oil and
plunge the world into economic crisis.
Which is one of the reasons the Europeans are so
mortified by the very thought of a military strike
against Iran's nuclear facilities. The problem is
not just that they are spread out and hardened,
making them difficult to find and to damage
sufficiently to seriously set back Iran's program.
The problem that mortifies the Europeans is what
Iran might do after such an attack -- not just cut
off its oil exports but shut down the Strait of
Hormuz by firing missiles at tankers or scuttling
its vessels to make the strait impassable. It
would require an international armada led by the
United States to break such a blockade.
Such consequences -- serious economic disruption
and possible naval action -- are something a
cocooned, aging, post-historic Europe cannot even
contemplate. Which is why the Europeans have had
their heads in the sand for two years. And why
they will spend the little time remaining --
before a group of apocalyptic madmen go nuclear --
putting their heads back in the sand. And
congratulating themselves on allied solidarity as
they do so in unison.
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