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I’ve come across numerous articles this semester that have described President Obama’s foreign policy approach as being marred by idealism. This accusation was especially prevalent in Dueck’s article “The Accommodator.”

Dueck seems to be incapable of imagining foreign policy outside of the context of traditional realism. He argues that Barack Obama simply “does not understand” that states act in their self- interest, and that a policy of “leading from behind” involving the accommodation of other states’ foreign policy goals will not eliminate this reality. Dueck believes that Obama’s focus on improving relations with the Middle East, particularly with Iran has weakened the United States’ position.

President Obama has indicated to Iran that he is open to improving relations with Iran, rather than being “strong” by further condemning Iran’s corruption and pursuit of nuclear weapons. In regards to Russia, Obama has “accommodated” to their desires to be influential in Eastern Europe by signing the New START treaty and suspending the construction of missile defense systems instead of pushing forward with construction and forcing Russia to acquiesce to U.S. interests in the region. The U.S. has also encouraged improved relations with China, and has not pushed toward condemning China’s human rights abuses.

However, Dueck’s argument is simply one that states basically “Obama has not done what a realist would do.” Furthermore, Obama’s foreign policy has been difficult to analyze because he has not followed the template traditionally used by presidents in the past. He has pushed for a policy in which relations have been on the forefront. To this extent Obama is an idealist, going away from traditional foreign policy which focuses on strengthening the United States’ lead as world-path-determiner.

Is there no room for idealism in foreign policy? Is there no room to take a risk on diplomacy over militarization? Should we always frame the argument in terms of the weak and the strong, the good and the evil, the west versus the east? It seems that the traditional arguments have left no room for other options. It seems to suggest that we should force our ideas down the throat of others in the hopes that they will not fight back. I suggest giving a bit of idealism a chance.

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http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/19/new_poll_egyptians_turning_toward_iran_want_nuclear_weapons

This article talks about a poll taken in Egypt which had some disconcerting results. Foremost of which was that there was an overwhelming desire to obtain a nuclear bomb from Iran. Israel was seen as a racist and evil place and the U.S. and Obama and administration was more for Israel than arabs in general. Mitt Romney‘s statements about Obama letting our relations with Israel deteriorate were seen as false. That was of course after many asked who Mitt Romney was. Hillary Clinton actually had fairly positive reviews for some reason. However, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad had garnered a large amount for support. It’s unclear to me as to what specifically caused Egyptians to develop these ideas but it is alarming that they feel this way.

Nuclear proliferation is something to be concerned about. While more than a few countries have the technology today, for the most part, they’re stable. In the future some political scientist will probably come up with some fancy title for Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and then maybe Egypt developing nuclear weapons. For now its unnamed but this trend is seeming very disconcerting. Egypt isn’t fully stable yet and it’s political actors are’t all in favor of peace with the west, much less peace with Israel. This would only seem to add concern over the Iranian nuclear program. They’ve already said they would help other states achieve nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Israel.

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Central Intelligence Agency Seal

Central Intelligence Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

After discussing the new movie Argo in class today, as well as discussing the true story behind it, it made me want to investigate more. I found an article that discusses just that. Now I have not seen the movie, but because it is a movie, I’m sure that it goes much smoother. But the focus of this article is what really happened in Iran 33 years ago in 1979. CIA reports from this crisis say that basically the Iranians stamping their fake passports at the International Airport could have cared less. The CIA Director of Operations decided that he wanted to sneak them out “in plain sight.” After some brainstorming from food economists to unemployed school teachers, they decided to settle on the film production cover and they got their documentation with help from the Canadians. Now for the film production part, the CIA went all out. The team opened Studio Six Productions and “set up shop” in various offices. They even thoroughly looked for a script that would be convincing, then they created some logos, made posters, created bought full paged adds and then came up with a name, that was actually based on a joke, Argo. Even though this brilliant plan seems to have no flaws, it actually did not play out completely as planned. One of the CIA’s forged Visa’s for the Americans was accidentally issued in the future which was discovered by the Canadians. Their relations with the Canadians was strained at points, the map the Americans had, showed the Canadian Embassy not where it actually was, causing two CIA agents to have to pretend to be tourist to try to find the actual location, and to top it all off, the morning of their escape plan, one of the main actors overslept his alarm at 2:15am and instead woke up at 3am. They continued to go all out with their escape, dressing in the ridiculous hollywood attire. They were so convincing that even though Studio Six Productions closed many weeks after the escape/rescue, they received 26 scripts for their movie Argo, and one was even from Steven Spielberg. Overall I found this real account very interesting and probably quite different from the actual movie that was created.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/18/the_true_spy_story_behind_argo

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I know it’s obvious that Israel isn’t just a trouble maker in the region. It is in fact involved in numerous bilateral conflicts wherein other nations and groups attack them too. I post this in reaction to an idea I had. With Iran and it’s nuclear development program, we hear a lot of panic from Israel. However, we haven’t heard much about why specifically they fear Iran. I know there are good reasons but it seemed like a good time to post a reminder as to Israel’s justification for concern. (In case anyone forgot that Iran and Israel aren’t friends)

According to the article in the link, Hezbollah has been using drones provided by Iran to invade Israel’s airspace. What’s worse is that these drones have the capabilities to bombard targets. Israel does of course have an anti-drone air defense grid. It’s just that their grid doesn’t seem to be able to stop these drones. This is deeply disturbing for the Israel’s. In a logical next step, one of these drones could be loaded with a nuclear weapon, sneak into Israeli airspace, and launch a strike on an unsuspecting city. It seems as though this latest turn of events will do nothing but further the threat level in Israel over the Iranian nuclear program.

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http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20121009/OPINION02/121008018

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Please excuse my shameless attempt to attract attention with a cool video. My post is in response to a discussion my group had about option 7 from the article we read. Basically, there was disagreement as to whether or not the U.S. would follow Israel into a war with Iran. I’m hoping the whole situation is resolved peacefully. However, if it is not, the article above cites interviews with high ranking leaders in the U.S. military as well as the former head to the Mossad that believe a solo attack by Israel would not be able to sufficiently destroy Iran’s nuclear program. In fact it would simply ignite the region in a war that would involve the U.S. What’s more, it’s believed that it could spark a dramatic increase in terrorist activities all around the world. I accept that it’s possible that this article is a bit more alarmist than it needs to be and I acknowledge the possible war hawking that may have gone on in the interviews. However it is an article saying that if Israel goes to war, so will the U.S.
As we spoke about the 8 ways to deal with Iran article, I realized that none of the options presented seemed to be very desirable short of Iran capitulating, which it won’t do. Perhaps in a best case scenario, a clandestine preemptive strike on Iran would be effective. But the U.S. would have to do it as Israel doesn’t have the bombs capable of fully destroying Iran’s nuclear sites. Therefore internationally, even that, the best option, would have a negative affect on foreign relations. Perhaps the author just framed his article in a way that it seemed like the sky was falling. That’s what I noticed about it when I first read it. Even still, it seems like no matter what happens, it would be viewed as a failure for the Obama administration and U.S. foreign policy. But when North Korea got nuclear weapons, it wasn’t as big of an issue. Perhaps it’s a difference in the political makeup of the two regions. Maybe it has to do with the other issues at the time. Really, I have no idea.

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I bring up this topic in response to the Hadley article. Just to start off, his statements under the “the problems posed by the Iranian regime” section, to say it’s needlessly blunt is an understatement. I specifically refer to the section about Iran not interfering in the affairs of its neighbors as an example but the wording of the others is also without nuance or any kind of the political double talk that you can expect when dealing with other countries. I sight this example specifically because it is a gross attack against Iranian sovereignty. That’s an old concept but to tell one state they can’t meddle in the affairs of their neighbors? Aside from being a little hypocritical, the same could be said about our number one ally in the region, Israel. I realize that this piece in and of itself could be simply one big love letter from the author to Israel.  It’s all about no tolerance and political rhetoric. Not once does he note ways that historically nuclear proliferation problems sort themselves out. Moreover, the entire piece tries to indicate that if we don’t stop Iran’s nuclear program in every conceivable way, immediately, well he doesn’t really say what’ll happen, he just says that they must be stopped. He even brings up taking out the leadership. This isn’t the Cold War anymore Mr. Hadley, we don’t topple governments just because  they don’t agree with us. In fact, it’s that very practice that got us the current anti-American Iran. It isn’t even until option eight that he allows for the thought of allowing Iran to build its bomb and it is interestingly enough, the shortest and most under explained section. It’s as if he didn’t even think that option was worth speaking about. But it is because that is the option that will inevitably occur. The U.S. cannot and will not invade another country looking for weapons of mass destruction. No more land wars in Asia! And if Israel cannot find a way to accomplish peace with their neighbors and war is their only option, then maybe their government needs to reevaluate its priorities.

Simply put, the author needs to come down off his soapbox; things have changed, this isn’t the Bush administration anymore.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19753800Image

As a response to Melissa’s post on the Entebbe Option, Iran has made it clear that not only is it willing to retaliate to any Israeli military action, but it is also fully capable of doing so. Israel‘s prime minister told the UN that Iran might have the capability to make a nuclear bomb by the middle of next year and the only way to prevent Iran from continuing is to set a “red line”. In his eyes “red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war”. This directly relates to the flow diagram Professor Klunk drew on the board today in class because now the world knows that Iran will not capitulate, but rather fight back with force if attacked. This provides America with some definitive answers that will help foreign policy advisers figure out the available options and weigh the costs of each. Obama says he has not completely ruled out military action, but that “sanctions and multilateral negotiations with Iran must still be given time to work.”

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