Sunday, May 22, 2005

Washington "Painted Itself into a Corner" over Iran?

Arnaud de Borchgrave claims that Washington "has gradually painted itself into a corner in its diplomatic campaign to get Iran to cough up its nuclear ambitions" ("TKO by Axis of Evil," World Peace Herald 20 May 2005). Is it true?

If Washington is smart, it can pursue a two-track campaign with regard to Iran (indeed, it may be doing so already): (A) public pressures against Iran on nuclear weapons, including threats to use military force (such as bombings and special forces) and support for pro-Washington Iranians (there must be some) in Iran (ostensibly universal "democracy support," semi-open funding for political forces to its liking, and covert actions to win over key elements of the Iranian military and police); and (B) behind-the-scene negotiations with Teheran to get it to use its influence on Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other Shiite leaders for Washington's benefits. The idea is to use public pressures to motivate Teheran to help Washington in Iraq. Such a two-track campaign won't necessarily succeed, as Teheran has its own interests that aren't the same as Washington's and Iranian assistance probably won't make much difference in the outcome of the US occupation of Iraq, but a two-track campaign is in keeping with Washington's modus operandi, as Contras-supporter de Borchgrave should know. Nevertheless, the Bush administration may be indeed far clumsier than the Reagan administration, as de Borchgrave suggests.

It would be in Washington's medium-term interest to make a little firmer alliance with Beijing, Moscow, Teheran, and New Delhi, so that it can go more aggressive toward Maoists in Nepal, Islamists in Pakistan, and Bolivarians in Venezuela if necessary as well as make its job easier in Iraq, but it doesn't seem to want to do so, as it wants to simultaneously appeal to domestic interest groups (enthusiasts for "regime changes" in the region that encompasses the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, weapons manufacturers, protectionists, and so on) on issues ranging from Chechnya, F-16 fighter jets, to the Yuan. As a result, Washington's foreign policy is often incoherent and unfocused.

Then again, it is also true that a seemingly contradictory policy can be very profitable. For instance, selling a couple of dozens of F-16s to Pakistan can encourage India to buy hundreds of them:
On the same day last month that the United States announced that it would sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, President Bush personally called the prime minister of India, Pakistan's archrival, with advice intended to soften the blow. The United States, Mr. Bush confided, had decided to allow fighter jet sales to India as well.

Newspapers around the world put the Pakistani deal in headlines. But it was the 15-minute phone call that was heard loud and clear by American military contractors.

The jet sales to Pakistan have high symbolic value, but little in the way of business promise. Two dozen new F-16's will be made available to Pakistan as a reward for that country's aid in the war on terror and will strengthen a fleet of about 40 F-16's acquired before Congress halted sales in 1990 to protest Pakistan's nuclear ambitions.

But the decision to open up the Indian market means that contractors now have the chance to sell up to 126 fighter jets -- with price tags starting at $35 million each -- to a country with an aging military fleet of 800 jets, none of them made in America.

"The real prize is India," said Richard Aboulafia, a military analyst at the Teal Group, an aerospace consulting firm in Fairfax, Va. (Leslie Wayne, "Connecting to India Through Pakistan," New York Times, 16 Apr. 2005, p. C1)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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