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Violent "solutions" create new problems
By Jim Mullins
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
August 12, 2005
As anti-Americanism has become a vital issue, various committees, delegations and retired diplomatic, military and intelligence officials have charged that our lack of an evenhanded approach to foreign relations and the worldwide perception of unfair policies are the main contributors to the problem.
A prime example: our policy denying Iran the right to build nuclear plants to produce electricity allowable under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed, and with supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The charge that Iran may have deceived the IAEA in the past makes little sense in the context that President Bush has just signed an agreement to supply India with nuclear reactors -- although India hasn't signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, hasn't submitted to IAEA inspection and has secretly produced nuclear weapons. And even less sense in our coddling of Pakistan's military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, whose country was the worst violator in the worldwide spread of nuclear-weapons technology.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has charged Dr. A.Q. Khan and his Pakistani nuclear supermarket with selling nuclear-weapons technology to over 20 countries. When the United States was funding the mujahedeen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, with Pakistan's support, we looked the other way while it developed nuclear weaponry.
The United States is now favoring India and antagonizing Pakistan in order to punish Iran. Not to worry, the administration -- sensing an economic opportunity -- lifted its South Asian arms embargo and sold Pakistan a fleet of missile-firing F-16's and India an antimissile system to defend against them. Good for business, bad for peace.
Iran is faced with many energy problems. Its oil infrastructure was largely destroyed during Iraq's invasion and war in the 1980s, and oil production has never reached its former capacity. Sanctions have denied it the capital to rebuild. It has no refineries and must trade oil revenues for gasoline and its domestic oil consumption by 68 million people uses up much of the rest.
However, it has large reserves of natural gas and a ready market to its east, with burgeoning demand from India and China. A pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India, costing only $4 billion and supplying both with badly needed energy, would help to reduce the animosity between the two and seemed to be a win-win situation.
A free market solution that would enhance peace among Iran, Pakistan and India has been thrust aside to punish Iran by giving India the nuclear reactors, blocking the pipeline and increasing the chances of war between India and Pakistan.
During the months before 9-11, the Bush administration took its eye off Osama bin Laden's threats and attempted unsuccessfully to get the Taliban to allow a pipeline from Central Asia's Caspian Sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. The alternative through Iran was shorter, far less costly and with less forbidding terrain. It made sense, but required negotiation with Iran -- our eternal enemy, although the CIA's overthrow of its democratically elected government and the shah's corrupt and repressive reign led to the excesses of Iran's revolution.
In the meantime, Bush administration actions do nothing to dispel the thought that it intends to fulfill the neocon dream of Middle East domination. Israel has been armed with F-15 long-range fighter bombers, thousands of bunker-buster bombs and the software to direct them, and Dick Cheney has hinted that Israel may use them to attack Iran.
According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the American military has plans to activate Salvadoran-type "death squads," with Iran their first target. Included in this group would be the Mujahedin-e Khalq, listed on the U.S. Navy Web site as terrorists accused of killing U.S. military and civilians in Iran and participating in the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover.
Regional states affected by belligerent U.S. threats are pushing back. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- has fired its first salvo, with Uzbekistan evicting the U.S. from its military bases. Syrian President Bashar Assad has announced an agreement of cooperation with Iran designed to encompass Iraq as the third party.
It is time for the United States to re-evaluate its position, become a good neighbor and work with the rest of the world to solve both short-term and future energy problems that will not go away. We are losing our ability to solve problems through peaceful cooperation rather than military solutions -- which have destroyed every empire in history.
Jim Mullins is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., and a resident of Delray Beach.