Monday, March 13, 2006


Earlier today, Jack Straw pointed out that Iran's current regime is doing its people no favours. From the BBC:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has appealed to the Iranian people - saying he wants to help them have a freer and more prosperous future.

In a speech in London Mr Straw said the Iranian people "deserved better" than their current government.

International agencies should publish more reports in Farsi on the internet to help reach the Iranians, he said.
Glad you've caught up with the rest of us on that one, Jack.
The UN Security Council is to discuss Iran's nuclear programme but Mr Straw says military action is inconceivable.

He refused to comment directly when asked by the BBC's Frank Gardner about contingency plans being drawn up by US military chiefs about possible strikes on Iranian targets.

In his speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, he said: "Sadly, Iran is now going in the wrong direction and the chances that were there before Iran are being squandered.

"Since President Ahmadinejad's election last year, he and the small group which surrounds him have adopted policies both at home and abroad which risk real damage to Iran's reputation and its relations with the rest of the world.

"Iran and the Iranian people deserve better."

Mr Straw said foreign investors were already looking elsewhere and bright young Iranians were leaving the country.
It's rare that I find myself agreeing with Jack Straw. Perhaps he's been reading more Hitchens of late?
The most touching remark I heard during my time in Iran last year was from a woman in the wonderfully beautiful city of Isfahan. (It is just outside this cultural treasure house that the mullahs have chosen to place one of their mountain-dugout nuclear sites.) In the family home where I was staying, contempt and hatred for theocracy was a given, but this was a family friend, moreover draped in a deep black chador, who stayed on the edge of the conversation. Finally she broke in to ask shyly, in faultless English, "Would it be possible for the Americans to invade just for a few days, get rid of the mullahs and the weapons, and then leave?"

My heart went out to her. And I would guess, from traveling around several Iranian cities, that there are very many Iranians who are wishful along just those lines. They dream of some magic trick that would just make the bearded ones go away, restore Iran to the international community, and yet not compromise its cherished national pride and independence. My guess would also be that, of the millions who want the mullahs gone, very few would support an outside military intervention if it actually occurred. In other words, the most precious asset that the United States has in the current crisis—a large pro-American public opinion in Iran—is apparently not of much use to it in deciding what to do about the weapons program.

All the war games and simulations that I have seen have concluded that it isn't possible to disarm Iran by airstrikes. Learning perhaps from what happened to Saddam's nuclear plant at Osirak, the authorities have dispersed the program widely and put a lot of it underground. Nor can the Israelis be expected to do much by proxy: They would have to fly over Iraq this time, and it would be even more obvious than usual that they were acting as an American surrogate. Professor Edward Luttwak claims, in the Wall Street Journal, that selective strikes could still retard or degrade the program, but this, if true, would only restate the problem in a different form.

This means that our options are down to three: reliance on the United Nations/European Union bargaining table, a "decapitating" military strike, or Nixon goes to China. The first being demonstrably useless and somewhat humiliating, and the second being possibly futile as well as hazardous, it might be worth giving some thought to the third of these.
I've recently acquired a copy of "We Are Iran", a collection of thoughts garnered from the many thousands of Farsi blogs.

From what I've read, most would agree with Hitchens and Straw on this one.


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