Day By Day

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"A Bad and Worrying Time"

John Keegan, our finest military historian, lays it out for us in the Telegraph. He writes:

How can Teheran be stopped?

The current policy of the United States, and the EU3 group, Britain, France and Germany, is to report Iran to the Security Council, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN agency responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet neither the IAEA nor the Security Council has the power to enforce the NPT. That depends on the will and capability of UN member states. It demonstrates the weakness of the Security Council that the failure so far to report Iran is due to an international reluctance to offend Russia, which is Iran's most important international supporter. It is necessary to abandon such hesitation very promptly. Diplomatic sensitivity is a minor consideration when the aggressive tendencies of Iran's ayatollahs are driving its nuclear policies.

The pressing question is, indeed, what is to be done when a report to the Security Council fails to bring Iran to desist from nuclear enrichment? Economic and other sanctions are widely cited as a means to restrain Iran; and it is certainly true that the interruption of trade and the supply of technical equipment would cause its government serious inconvenience.

It is much more doubtful whether sanctions would make Iran change its policy. The ayatollahs do not suppose they are popular abroad, nor do they much care. Sanctions would interfere with the Western lifestyle of Iran's educated young people. The ayatollahs, however, have little interest in supporting that lifestyle, indeed, rather the opposite, while Iran's educated youth have given heavy proofs that their national pride weighs heavier than their access to Western luxuries.

America and the EU3 must therefore consider other, harsher methods to restrain Iran.


the West cannot simply let things drift. Military action by whatever agency cannot be written out, but will be a last resort. In the meantime, all means short of military action, including economic and political ostracism and economic sanctions, must be tried, together with the building of alternative oil pipelines to bypass the current routes of oil supply down the Gulf. And, of course, the intensification of anti-terrorist measures.

For if the West is considering military action, so are the ayatollahs. They are the sponsors of much of the insurgency in Iraq and suppliers of the insurgents' weapons. They also have intimate links with most of the world's worst terrorist organisations, including al-Qa'eda and Hezbollah.

He concludes:
This is a bad and worrying time in world affairs.
I agree!

Read the whole thing here.

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