Of course, when the government of Iran points out that the UN sanctions resolutions are illegal, this is just further proof to the world that it is a rogue state that refuses to be a responsible member of the community of nations. Tehran just doesn’t understand that international law is irrelevant when it conflicts with the US policy, since orders from Washington trump whatever international law has to say about the matter. This world order is what is meant by “community of nations”. Anyone who doesn’t accept this order is by definition outside of this “community”. The war of aggression against Iraq, for example, wasn’t just a war waged by the US. It had the backing of the “community of nations”, the so-called “coalition of the willing” who were complicit in waging what was defined at the Nuremberg Tribunal as “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
The law is whatever Washington says. That is the existing world order. Iran disobeying Washington’s commandments is unacceptable. The US cannot have countries going around acting independently of its will, because it damages what is termed Washington’s “credibility”. It is like a disease that will spread, so that if an example isn’t made of Iran of the consequences for disobedience, other countries might go and get similar ideas and start disregarding Washington, too. Other countries might go and get it in their heads to challenge US dollar hegemony, for example, by trading oil in other currencies and rejecting the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
The world order would collapse under this domino effect. The US economy would collapse. Washington obviously can’t allow that to happen, and so Iran’s economy must be crushed and the Iranian people punished and made an example of.
I should add that try as it might, the US will not succeed in sustaining this world order. It is already cracking at the foundations and will inevitably come tumbling down. The role of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency is already under threat, and not only by “rogue states” like Iran and Venezuela. Germany joined Venezuela, for example, in deciding to repatriate its holdings of gold from foreign central banks—the US Federal Reserve, in Germany’s case.
The US monetary system itself is unsustainable, and is currently propped up only through massive monetary inflation of the Fed, which was the same policy responsible for creating the housing bubble that precipitated the financial crisis in the first place. The only difference is that it has since continued on an even more massive scale. Just as the economic growth during the bubble years was an illusory, merely the appearance of growth, but in reality unsustainable, so, too, now, is the talk of “recovery” from what is called the “Great Recession” based on this notion that wealth can come from a printing press. But the US cannot print its way to prosperity with its monetary policy any more than it can continue to bully its way to prosperity through threats and violence with its foreign policy.
Q: In his recent press conference, President Rouhani talked of Iran’s preparedness for engaging in serious and substantive talks with the world powers over its nuclear program. He said that some of Iran’s basic rights like the right of uranium enrichment are not negotiable, but his government is ready to alleviate the western concerns through taking confidence-building measures and offering more transparency. How should the West embrace this new opportunity for constructive talks with Iran? What do you think about President Rouhani’s approach to the nuclear talks?
A: What the West should do is end its criminal sanctions regime against the Iranian people, recognize and respect Iran’s rights, and engage in trade with the country. What it will do is another story. The present US policy, which is very much anti-free market, will regrettably continue.
As for Rouhani’s approach, I also see little difference in it from his predecessor’s. President Ahmadinejad also repeatedly expressed Iran’s interest in engaging in talks with the West on the basis of mutual respect. But Washington refused to do that and instead maintained its ultimatum as a precondition for talks that Iran must surrender its rights under the NPT and end its uranium enrichment. When Iran refused to enter into a dialogue with the West on those terms, it was just further proof that Iran was a rogue state refusing to join the civilized community of nations.
Q: President Rouhani has just been inaugurated and the Parliament has just approved his proposed ministers. However, the interesting thing is that on July 31, the US House of Representatives controversially passed a bill that imposes a new round of sanctions on Iran’s oil, mine and automobile sector. How is it possible to justify this new round of sanctions when the new foreign minister took office three days ago? Won’t such imprudent and reckless decisions by the Congress extinguish the chances of reconciliation between Iran and the United States and bring to a failure a possible negotiated solution to the Iran-West nuclear standoff?
A: Well, as I said, Rouhani’s approach to talks is really not substantially different from Ahmadinejad’s. The problem for Washington is that he is still insisting that the West respect Iran’s rights. He hasn’t shown any willingness at all to surrender Iran’s right to uranium enrichment. Hence, the US policy of punishing the Iranian people must not only continue, but be escalated. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The reason it does is because, as I said before, there is a near universal failure among analysts, journalists, and other commentators to understand that Iran’s nuclear program isn’t really the issue. Thus, when there is elected a leader in Iran who expresses his desire to talk with the West to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program, and the US reacts by just doubling down on its sanctions regime, there is this mystification and puzzlement over it, because it seems contrary to Washington’s own rhetoric about engaging in diplomacy with Iran and seeking a negotiating partner. But if you understand the real problem, it isn’t an enigmatic contradiction at all. It is absolutely consistent with longstanding US policy.
It’s interesting, because Rouhani, as I understand it, was actually instrumental in Iran’s decision to temporarily halt enrichment on a voluntary basis in 2004 or 2005. The quid pro quo for that decision was that the EU was supposed to offer Iran security guarantees, which was understood to mean that it would work to get the US and Israel to drop their threats to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, which is to say that the EU was supposed to use its influence to establish a basis for real diplomacy and meaningful negotiations, without ultimatums and threats of violence—which are in fact a violation of international law, as the UN Charter prohibits member states from not only the use of force, but the threat of the use of force in international relations. The EU failed to live up to its end of the bargain, and Iran consequently renewed its legal enrichment program.
The IAEA then also betrayed Iran by treating that suspension as though it had been legally obligated to do so, when it was made explicit from the start that the suspension was strictly on a voluntary basis. This goes back to what I said before about how the UN has no authority for its sanctions resolutions.
Q: In his latest statements, President Rouhani alluded to an unseen rift between the White House and the Congress in making decisions on Iran and other major foreign policy issues. He said that the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has sent a congratulatory message to him following his inauguration, but the Congress has hastily imposed a new round of sanctions against Iran a few days later. What does this duality indicate? Who is prodding the Congress to put pressure on Iran? Can we conclude that a powerful and influential Israeli lobby is persuading the Congress to pressure Iran?
A: No, the Israeli lobby has nothing to do with it. Certainly, the Israeli lobby is supportive of the existing US policy, but it just as certainly isn’t the reason for it. I’ve already explained the motivating factors behind the policy. The US has its own “interests”, as narrowly defined by policymakers, and they just so happen to coincide with Israeli interests, likewise defined, in this case.Even if a new Israeli government came to power that wished to normalize relations with Iran, the US policy would continue as is.
I understand that AIPAC was largely behind the latest legislation pushing further sanctions. It does play a role and have influence in the Congress in that respect. But are we to presume that the Congress wouldn’t try to further the existing policy if AIPAC didn’t exist? I’m extremely dubious of this assumption. Members of Congress need no influence from AIPAC to engage in their warmongering. It is quite within their own nature to do so. It is evident that the Congress would pursue this policy with or without the existence of AIPAC, for the reasons I’ve already explained.
Furthermore, where the lobby does have any kind of influence in this regard is limited to the Congress. It has none in the White House. It cannot explain the foreign policy implemented by the Executive branch of the US government.