Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Small minds, big measures

Bush's invasion of Iraq (which he knew would be a push-over, at least in the short-term) wasn't about oil, but a demonstration to Iran that the US will use unilateral force to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Of course, Bush knew very well that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destructon but so did the rest of the world. France and Russia vigorously opposed the United States in the Security Council in the fall of 2002 not because Bush wanted to knock off a "tin-pot dictator" but that he wished to set a precedent for the use of force by the UN in the enforcement of nuclear non-proliferation. In the United Nations the US lost the argument, which it pursued by deliberately flimsy evidence and transparently false demonstrations--as if to say to the UN, "You don't count" in the strategic calculations of Washington.

During this Easter weekend, Bush and his entourage of apprentice sorcerers are sequestered in Camp David near Washington and likely to be furthering plans for military action against Iran. Corine Lesnes of Le Monde discusses the crisis and portrays a US Congress (far more belligerent than anything seen in the White House) seething with anger against Russia for its refusal to sign on to the containment of Iran through sanctions.

Congress are hawks on non-proliferation, and Bush's recent nuclear deal sanitizing the former proliferation outlaw, India, has enraged the body even further. The in-your-face smootch with India directed at Iran was a spectacular demonstration of the double standard and cynical "geostrategerizing" (as Bush might stumblingly utter) on the part of the President, who obviously did not consult with the Legislative Branch before striking out for New Delhi.

The shadow of Iraq weighs on American strategy
LE MONDE | 14.04.06 | Link to original story in French.

President George Bush, who has departed the White House to spend Easter Weekend at Camp David, left behind speculation on his intentions concerning Iran. Has the President decided? This week, Bush qualified as pure speculation information in the press on preparations for air strikes on Iran’s nuclear installations. But analysts close to the government and the diplomatic community are convinced that plans to use force are possibly more advanced than Washington is willing to admit.

Officially, the roadmap is unchanged. The US is working to impose UN sanctions on Tehran if it does not renounce the enrichment of uranium. Moscow is the key to such sanctions and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is attempting to convince the Russians that maintaining the unity of the international community is the best insurance against military intervention. But US diplomats are not optimistic. The same approach was used in the tug-of-war that occurred in the fall of 2002 over Iraq. Neither Russia nor France was swayed by this argument. The Policy Director for the US Department of State, Nicholas Burns, will travel to Russia on April 18th. Mrs. Rice is under tremendous pressure from Congress, where certain politicians believe that Washington has obtained very little in exchange for concessions to Mr. Putin. An expansive review of US relations with Russia in the aftermath of September 11th is underway.


The US no longer hopes to get a Security Council presidential statement as in March but a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for action by the UN to enforce its decisions. But there is not much optimism on this score. In case of failure, the US hopes to create a voluntary coalition to apply sanctions. This week, a blow was delivered to scenario of gradual escalation by the presentation of tubes of uranium hexafluoride collected in Natanz. The Iranians “are progressing at a more sustained rate” than thought, says a source close to the Department of State. Experts believe that the Iranians will not be able to produce bomb for years, but are concerned about their level of technology. Within the next few months, their technological advances will enable them to compensate for the destruction of their installations and to start anew elsewhere. The same source says the progressive approach of sanctions “cannot keep up with the pace of events".

The military option remains. As was the case for Iraq, the Administration is divided between partisans of diplomacy and those in favor of preemptive strikes. In this election year, hawks can be found in both political parties, such as Hillary Clinton among the Democrats. As to the American public, a survey by Los Angeles Times shows that they are not opposed to armed intervention (48% in favor, 40% against and 12% undecided). But 54% of Americans say that they do not trust George Bush to make the right decision. The shadow of Iraq dogs Bush.


Blogger furtherleft said...

Not much new here except that perhaps the is at least one person in France more perceptive than most Americans. That last sentence "The shadow of Iraq dogs Bush." might better read "The shadow of Bush dogs the world". When astride a bucking horse which just won't quit, It is better to drop the reins as means of control, hold to horn firmly with both hands, and hope in knowledge nothing lasts forever.

5:12 AM  

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