05 January 2015

Iranian nukes or Roger Cohen does it again... oops, Jeffrey Simpson steps into it manfully

How the time flies! It seems like only yesterday when I have reclassified Roger Cohen of NYT from a man who rarely misses an opportunity to miss a point to a much more benign status of mostly inoffensive. I mean, how can you keep carping about a man who is able apologize to you in (approximately)two thousand words? Come on, really.

Oops, sorry. All this will have to be rewritten. It is not Roger Cohen at all, my apologies and I hope this mistake will not cause him indigestion. The time to the presses is too short to replace the text above, but at least I have managed to modify the headline... it is another bird altogether. His name is, as you can see, Jeffrey Simpson, and he comes at us not from NYT at all, but from a much colder place of employment, Globe and Mail.

I shall get to repairing the post later, but for now let's digest the message of that article:

Iran bashers display a dangerous lack of worldliness

Even before delving into the text, you can see another level of sophistication here. I have even hesitated a bit before starting to read it. Who can say whether I am worldly enough to read and understand the piece, when I write the word "unsavoury" in the American manner? Er... I mean "unsavory", if you are not clear on it yet.

Frankly, after reading the article (twice), I am still not sure about the wisdom of my decision to read it. My self-esteem meter, low enough as it is, after the reading shows the current temperature in Toronto. Because the article, starting boldly enough with "The potentially most consequential negotiations in the world this year will centre on Iran’s nuclear program." left me out there in the cold, without any idea how the author intends to go about these negotiations.

To start with, Mr Simpson sticks it, in no uncertain terms, to the parties guilty in lack of success so far:
Critics of the negotiations – led by Israel, of course, and the Harper government that follows Israel’s lead on all Middle East issues – insist Iran should be stripped of centrifuges and essentially of its entire capability ever to make a weapon. For the critics, it’s all or nothing, which is not how any successful negotiation ever ends.
My (admittedly faulty, due to lack of worldliness) reading of this part probably means that Israel fails to meet the other party half way, as any successful negotiation must. Whether it means that we should agree to, say, five nukes instead of ten, is left unexplained by the author. Because he is busy sticking it and giving it a few turns for further effect:
The critics’ bottom line would mean, of course, no possible deal, which is presumably what Israel, the Israel lobby in Washington, the U.S. Republican Party and irrelevancies such as the Harper government want.
If you are not suitably impressed by now, a warning follows:
No deal with Iran, coupled with phobias about the country elsewhere, would tempt Israelis and some Americans into a military option that could, at best, merely cripple the Iranian nuclear program but not prevent it from eventually unfolding. Such an attack would destroy the moderates (by Iranian standards) who won the 2013 presidential election and embolden the hardliners. It would also enjoin Iran to further support Hezbollah, Hamas and even the Syrian regime.
Sounds very ominous, doesn't it?

OK, consider me impressed. I am holding the dogs of war at bay. So where is that magic recipe that will satisfy, if not all parties involved, at least Jeffrey Simpson (which goal, on the face of it, doesn't seem to be that easy)? Oh well, to my chagrin, I didn't find that recipe in the rest of the piece. Instead, there is a long and a bit long winded explanation of the loneliness experienced by the Shia Iran - yes. A bit of history about Iranian unfriendly relationships with its neighbors and other entities - sure. Then a curious drop of sociology:
Iran is a very complicated place. It has a governmental system with elections but where ultimate power over internal and external security lies with the Supreme Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Guards, who own large chunks of the Iranian economy.
At least I know now why I was confused re Roger Cohen. Mr Simpson doesn't repeat that "flawed but vibrant democracy" bit, but the Jolly Roger's spirit is there, you must agree.
The middle-class and more educated Iranians – the kind of people who elected Hassan Rouhani as President – want to break free from the rigidities imposed by the regime and the sanctions imposed by the West.

To see Iran as a monolithic society with a monochromatic political system reflects a dangerous lack of sophistication and a failure to imagine possibilities.
By all means, we should be impressed by this here analysis. I am, for one. And I think that my previous idea about agreeing to five nukes was small-minded. With a complicated but promising state like Iran, where people are ready and willing to break free, we should go up to at least ten. Possibly even... nah, let's stop at ten, why wouldn't we?

Cause we are not all monolithic and/or monochromatic, you know. Some of us want to be sophisticated and worldly too, and if all it takes is a few measly nukes...

Lead us, please lead us to enlightenment, Mr Co Simpson!

Hat tip: Lynne T.


peterthehungarian said...

Exactly half-way like here:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep. This is the long and the short of it.