Thursday, August 20, 2015

Iran, the French Revolution and Manchuria

In 1967 Noam Chomsky wrote a piece for Liberation entitled On the Backgrounds of the Pacific War.  This was what would become classic Chomsky. In my opinion is is excellent Sophistry, having a conclusion and fitting the facts to support the conclusion. Lawyers do it all the time and even some historians do so. Simply stated Chomsky rewrote his view of Japan' taking of China as driven by US Foreign Policy and then went on to link it to Viet Nam. It was my first time reading a powerful piece on the Viet Nam War. It too me almost 30 years to come back and understand it, and fifty years almost to counter it. I was then a strong supporter of Chomsky, even seeing his way as the only way. It took those 50 years of seeing the world up close to understand it.

Then there is the Kennan Telegram. Kennan saw Russia up close, as a diplomat. It would take me to the late 70s to see the Soviets up close in treaty negotiations and then from the mid 90s to mod 2000s to have them as business partners. The one thing I saw even in the 70s was that we and the Russians at core have the same values, our children. I recall talking with some Russians and we went to our children, we both wanted them to see a future, we both saw nuclear weapons as devastating. The RISOP scenarios I recalled lead to the elimination of not only humanity but nature. Kennan saw a middle way, that of delimiting Soviet reach, containment.

Now on the one hand we have the Chomsky view of seeing the US as the source of all international upheaval and the Kennan view of Soviet imperialism, a view which the US had to deal with, and was not the cause.

Now we have Iran, Persia to those of us who have long memories. Persia has for almost 3000 years tried to gain territory to the West, Xerxes, Darius, and the list goes on. Today they are not as strong, except through the power of a nuclear weapon. Do it leaders share the love of their children that we and the Russians do? That may be the only question worth asking. Nuclear weapons are not sending a plane into the World Trade Center. A nuclear event is devastating.

Now along comes some "expert" in The Syndicate to tells us what we should believe. He states:

Forget the French Revolution as a model: the so-called Thermidorian Reaction, when moderates ended Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, was an exception to the pattern of modern revolutions. The typical pattern during our living memory is that the hardliners come after the moderates. In the Soviet Union, for example, it was hardliners after World War II who strove to export Marxist-Leninist revolution, condemning the world to decades of cold war.

Somehow Revolutions are not all the same. Many have studied the French Revolution and the rise of a Robespierre is a complex issue. The generalization the author makes in my opinion is totally without merit.
The author continues:
Worse was to follow for those hoping for better US-Iran relations. First, there was Bush’s “axis of evil” speech in 2002. Then, in February 2005, just as the hardline Ahmadinejad was about to begin his first term as president, Bush formally rejected a nuclear deal that had been painstakingly negotiated by Rouhani (then Khamenei’s representative in Iran’s Supreme National Security Council) and signed in late 2004 by France, Germany, and Britain. As Iran scanned the strategic horizon, it seemed obvious that the US had invaded Iraq because Saddam did not have any weapons of mass destruction. This made Ahmadinejad’s insistence on Iran’s nuclear “rights” popular with the Iranian masses and the middle class alike.

Enough already with the Bush bashing. It is a poor Chomsky like way to blame others for Iran's actions. Even the Soviets did not chant "death to America". Should we take such chants seriously? If one would in my opinion follow Chomsky we must ask ourselves "what have WE done to make them do this?". If were were to follow Kennan we would seek "containment". 

The author concludes:

For Iran, what counts now is no longer ideology but national interest and realpolitik. That is why it finds itself currently backing the opponents of revolutionary Islam: Bashar al-Assad against the Islamists in Syria and the Houthis against al-Qaeda in Yemen. And it is why it finds itself not only signing a nuclear accord with the Great Satan but also tacitly cooperating with it against the Islamic State, their common enemy. Now that the revolution is over, cooperation in other areas is likely to become equally appealing.

 The conclusions in my opinion lacks any touch of reality. Iran backs the Syrian regime for religious reasons. It does so for the other mentioned enemies. There is no realpolitik. There is a collection of funds and sellers of arms, Russia and China. 

Thus how should the US react. Again I would go back to Kennan. We can bemoan whatever Chomskieque actions taken but that will not control the future. What will and only will is a strong policy of containment. There is an inevitability of them attaining nuclear weapons, a clear and present danger to humanity. Yet Pakistan and India are in the same club. The US strategic nuclear policy covers only China and Russia. We somehow neglect Pakistan and India. We must add all three to this containment strategy and pray that they like the Russians value their children.