Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joschka Fischer on war with Iran

I give a lot of weight to Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's views on foreign policy. He writes about Iran's nuclear program in Die iranische Zeitbombe (The Iranian Time Bomb) Financial Times Deutschland 29.11.2011. Fischer has been saying for years that he thought the Iranians were working on a project for a nuclear weapon, and he continues to think that.

In his view, the amount of expense and effort that Iran is putting into their atomic development program makes no sense unless they are trying to get nuclear weapons, or at least get to the point where they could proceed to build them quickly when and if the Iranian leadership gave the green light for it.

That's certainly believable to me, because Iran has from their standpoint
strong incentive to build nuclear weapons. The united states is far less likely to go to all-out war against an enemy with nuclear weapons - although Pakistan's recent experience may raise questions about how effective a nuclear deterrent is against the United States if they don't have delivery system that can strike North America. Israel also has nuclear weapons and repeatedly threatens them with war. The US intervention in Libya announced that even cooperating with US disarmament demands and getting patted on the head by the American President for their statesmanship in doing so doesn't guarantee the leaders making a deal that they won't have an American intervention.

But Fischer also points out that despite the diplomatic complications that it would create for the US, Israel and Turkey for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, an air war against Iran is unlikely to completely destroy their nuclear program. And the other results?

Der arabische Frühling wäre wohl zu Ende und würde durch eine massiv antiwestliche Solidaritätswelle mit dem Iran abgelöst werden. Die Region würde in Gewalt und Terror zurückgestoßen, statt sich weiter von unten her zu transformieren.

Die Opposition im Iran selbst wäre wohl das erste Opfer einer solchen Aktion ...

[The Arab Spring would really be ended and would be replaced by a massive, anti-Western solidarity with Iran. The region would the shoved back into violence and terror instead of being further transformed from below.

The opposition in Iran itself would surely be the first victim of such an action ...]
Fischer generally has some optimistic possibility to offer; here it's not much more than a hope for a diplomatic solution. His column is more a warning:

Schaut man in die Geschichtsbücher, so war der Weg in die Katastrophe in der Regel mit guten Absichten und gravierenden Fehleinschätzungen gepflastert. Im vor uns liegenden Jahr droht eine Wiederholung dieses Stücks.

[If one looks in the history books, one sees that the road to catastrophe is normally paved with good intentions and grave misevaluations. In the year that lies before us, we are threatened with a repetition of this play.]
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