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Archive for the ‘war and peace’ Category

Reason for War: Is Iran Violating the NPT?

In foreign policy, war and peace on May 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Has Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? That depends on who you ask.

Yesterday, at the opening session of the May 3-28 conference in New York meant to review the NPT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Iran has violated its international obligations.

“Iran has defied the UN Security Council … and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy,” Clinton said. “Potential violators must know that they will pay a high price if they break the rules.”

However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again denied his country has nuclear ambitions. Instead, he berated the U.S. for its possession and use of nuclear weapons.

“The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is disgusting and rather shameful.” Ahmadinejad said in a speech on the conference’s opening day.

Iran is often accused of violating section 3 of the NPT which reads in part:

“Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

The key phrase is “accept safeguards” as determined by the IAEA. Article XII of the IAEA Statute outlines these safeguards which include “To examine the design of specialized equipment and facilities” and “To call for and receive progress reports.”

The fact is, Iran has allowed AIEA inspectors in the country since the early 90s and continues to do so. However, it has sometimes not reported otherwise legal activity until after it has been discovered. Iran’s has failed to meet its “obligations” not by violating the NPT, but by failing to report. The IAEA has consistently reported Iran’s activity as peaceful. 

Rhetoric against Iran by the international community is gaining momentum. The accusations are not dissimilar to those that were used against Iraq and made to justify a U.S. invasion. While nations such as Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel posses nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the NPT, the international community is concerned with Iran: a basically compliant signatory who has yet to be proven in pursuit of nuclear energy for non-peaceful purposes. 

Additional Sources:

IAEA Says No New Concerns Regarding Iran Inspections, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty

NPT 101: Is Iran violating the nuclear treaty? The Christian Science Monitor

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, IAEA

Iran did NOT violate the NPT, Iran Affairs: Iranian foreign policy and international affairs

Fact Sheet: Violations of U.N. Sanctions and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, The Israel Project

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Liberals ‘Losing Hope’

In protest, war and peace on April 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

“Obamas message of hope and change, so exciting a year ago, now rings hollow for those of us hoping he would usher in an era of peace.” — Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, CODEPINK

I was beginning to lose faith in the anti-war left and those that pride themselves progressive. But just as conservatives and libertarians became abhorred with George W. Bush’s and the neo-cons’ unique brand of conservatism, so it seems many on the left are beginning to see through Obama’s liberal facade.

Liberals are losing hope — and gaining insight.

In fact, Losing-Hope.org is a website entirely dedicated to reviewing and criticizing the Obama administrations’ empty promise for “change” and pressuring the president to make good. It was created by the women of CODEPINK and boasts a list of liberal supporters.

The website’s homepage meets visitors with a letter addressed to the president titled Losing Hope, Taking Action. The letter asks Obama to “stand up to corporate interests” and bemoans the failed foreign policies of the previous administration being continued by the current:

“In 2008, I was one of millions united for hope and change. As 2010 dawns, change looks to me like more of the same.  Instead of peace, we got more war.  Instead of healthcare reform, we have an industry win that requires Americans to buy health insurance without any real cost controls.”

It’s encouraging to see those on the left waking up to the failed promise that is Barack Obama. Hopefully, they will not repeat the mistake of their conservative counterparts and forget the painful truth their own party has revealed to them.

Iran to host nuclear conference, US says ‘no thanks’

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on April 8, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be hosting a nuclear weapon disarmament conference in Tehran April 17–18 titled “Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For No One.”

Needless to say the United States will not be attending.

However, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, more than 60 countries will be at the conference. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said China will be present. However, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said Beijing has not yet decided.

It’s unlikely the scheduling of the conference so soon after the U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons agreement is a coincidence. Ahmadinejad is as politically savvy as he is controversial.

But the real story is not that “black sheep” Iran is hosting a conference on nuclear disarmament, or at least it shouldn’t be. The real story is that the United States is so bent on isolating Iran that it’s shunning a chance to discuss and possibly learn more about Iran’s nuclear program.

Perhaps Iran and Ahmadinejad are not to be trusted. But ignoring and demonizing a historically peaceful country and potential ally is simply bad foreign policy. Why not attend the conference? Is the United States as sure of Iran’s destructive determination and lust for “weapons of mass destruction” as it was with Iraq?

Who is Hamid Karzai?

In foreign policy, war and peace on April 5, 2010 at 12:17 am

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, has a closet overflowing with skeletons. Karzai has been portrayed by western media as a democratically-elected leader bent on waging a war against the evil Taliban. In reality, he is a corrupt former mujahideen who has a history of Taliban association.

Most Americans, if they have heard of him, have no knowledge of who Hamid Karzai really is. Karzai’s approval of a controversial bill specifying a wife’s sexual duties and restricting when a woman can leave home in 2009 hinted at the president’s true self.

Retired US Army officer Matthew Hoh who resigned in protest of the Afghan war called the Karzai government “corrupt and illegitimate” in an interview with Russia Today.

“American soldiers, European soldiers, soldiers from NATO should not be dying to support or prop up the Karzai government,” he said. “We’ll look at ourselves 5, 10, 15 years from now and wonder why did we allow our young men to die in support of that government.”

But the Afghani president is more than just corrupt — he is dangerous.

Karzi, like Osama bin Laden, was among the original mujahideen or “freedom fighters” employed by the CIA to overthrow Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 80s. The president’s official website states:

“Hamid Karzai traveled to Pakistan and joined the Mujahideen resisting the Soviet occupation of his homeland. When the Mujahideen Government was established in Kabul in 1992, he was appointed as its Deputy Foreign Minister.”

But the website makes no mention of Karzai’s initial support of the Taliban. Instead, it briefly describes the “civil war between various Mujahideen groups” and highlights Karzai’s fight against the Taliban. Referring to Kazai’s father, the release says:

“In August 1999, Abdul Ahad Karzai, who was organizing resistance to the Taliban from his base in Quetta, Pakistan, was assassinated by the Taliban and their foreign supporters. This tragedy did not shake the Karzai family’s commitment to ridding Afghanistan of this foreign menace, and the son continued his father’s struggle against the Taliban. Hamid Karzai returned to Uruzgan province in October 2001, and worked to coordinate local efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and their supporters.”

But according to a PBS Online News Hour Report, Karzai initially viewed the Taliban as a force for good:

“When the Taliban first began to emerge in the early 1990s, Karzai supported them. A native of the region around Kandahar, he saw the Taliban as a force that could finally end the violence.”

The report goes on to say Karzai withdrew his support after suspecting the Taliban to be under foreign influence.

Writer for The Washington Post, Ann Marlowe, describes the notion that Karzai is Afghanistan’s defense against the Taliban as an “illusion.” In her article, Two Myths About Afghanistan, Marlowe points to Karzai’s praise of the Taliban:

“On Aug. 20, 1998, the day the United States sent cruise missiles to kill Osama bin Laden, Karzai told The Post that ‘there were many wonderful people in the Taliban.’ Yes, Karzai fought the Taliban — for a month in 2001, when we insisted.”

One thing is for certain, Afghanistan does not pose a simple good-vs.-evil dilemma. The country has a long history of foreign (especially US) intervention, corruption and oppression. Karzai appears to be one of many interested in self promotion at the Afghan peoples’ expense. The United States should not be taking part in what officer Hoh describes as a “35 year-old civil war.”

What ever happened to the anti-war left?

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 31, 2010 at 1:45 am
 
 
When President George W. Bush spoke of spreading democracy to other nations during his second inaugural speech, liberals cringed. In 2005, many on the left realized what most on the right did not — that such rhetoric was nothing more than a thinly veiled declaration of an aggressive foreign policy. But that was 2005.
 
How I long for the liberals of those days: anti-war, noninterventionists, skeptical of their government.
 
Sadly, as libertarian author and editor Lawrence Samuels points out, most former anti-war liberals have abandoned their posts.
 
It was not long ago when almost every progressive leader and newspaper voiced harsh words for Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Samuels said. Now that Obama is in charge, that anti-war sentiment is changing. It appears that it is okay for a Democrat administration to engage in war, but not a Republican one.
 
Are libertarians the only consistent voice of anti-war opposition? What ever happened to the angry protesters, celebrities, and progressive media railing against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? Perhaps their moral convictions changed with the new administration.
 
 

Ron Paul: The anti-war left has just left (5:37).

Murder by sanctions

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.” — American Enterprise Institute scholar Fred Kagan.

Tomorrow, foreign ministers of G8 countries will convene in Gatineau, Quebec to discuss “the major issues affecting international peace and security.” High on their agenda is the issue of Iran and the possibility of imposing harsher sanctions against the nation.

According to Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Iran’s nuclear program is of “critical concern.” The Associated Press reported the minister saying he believes it’s necessary to pursue UN-imposed sanctions.

“Unfortunately I believe we are left with little choice but to pursue additional sanctions against Iran ideally through the United Nations Security Council,” Cannon said.

But Cannon, like our own Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to have little concern for the impact such sanctions would have on the Iranian people. Too often, sanctions are viewed as a “peaceful” alternative to war. In reality, sanctions are a means of economic warfare.

Perhaps Cannon is ignorant of the effects of sanctions. Ms. Clinton has no such excuse.

In the 90s, her husband imposed harsh economic sanction against the nation of Iraq — reportedly killing more than a million Iraqis.

Pro-sanction scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Fred Kagan, is aware of the repercussions of such policy. 

“Look, we need to be honest about this,” Kagan said at an April 2009 AEI conference on Iran. “Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

According to AEI, the United States currently blocks “all investment and trade activity with Iran, with exceptions for the import of food, Persian rugs, informational materials, and gifts valued under $100.”

AEI admits that Iran, although host to the world’s third-largest proven petroleum reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, is vulnerable to sanctions because of its lack of refineries. Iran’s “real plan,” according to the institute, “is to become energy independent.”

Tomorrow, enlightened world leaders try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The (destructive) power of patriotism

In foreign policy, protest, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Patriotism destroyed the No. 1 best-selling female band of all time. On March 23, 2003, Natalie Maines, lead singer of former country music darlings the Dixie Chicks, made the now infamous comments regarding President George W. Bush and the Iraq war:

Just so you know, were on the good side with yall. We do not want this war, this violence, and were ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.

Today, those words seem hardly offensive. But spring of 2003, less than two years since tragic events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, those words were traitorous.

Its hard to remember the patriotic fever that swept the nation. Americans, including myself, were overwhelmed with an extreme sense of pride and loyalty. Emotions ran so high, in fact, that we were willing to follow our commander-in-chief into not one, but two unlawful wars.

The world did not change on Sept. 11, 2001 but much has changed since that day. We now have a new president. Conflicts continue to increase — now in Yemen, Pakistan and possibly Iran.

Let us not forget the blinding emotion that got us here.

Let the man speak: Iran’s president vs. media distortion

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on March 9, 2010 at 2:40 am

“Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Why does the American government so fear speech in opposition to its own?

Point in case: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now I’ll be the first to admit Ahmadinejad is no benevolent leader whose heart’s desire is world peace. But let’s be honest — the guy has not been given a fair shake.

First there was the media-misconstrued “wipe Israel off the map” rumor. If you were listening to the mainstream machine, you probably believed Ahmadinejad unveiled his evil desire to annihilate Israel while giving a speech at a conference in Iran. In actuality, the president of Iran was quoting leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and said:

“The Iman said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.”

Hmmm. Doesn’t exactly sound like a declaration of war.

And then there was the designed to be ill-fated visit to Columbia University where the president famously denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran. But more offensive than Ahmadinejad’s ridiculous claim was the introduction given to him by University President Lee Bollinger.

“Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” were the words Bollinger chose to open with. He continued insulting Iran’s president for more than six minutes; even having the audacity to ask President Ahmadinejad if he plans “on wiping us off the map too?”

He concluded with this disrespectful gem:

“Frankly, and in all candor Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer theses questions. But your avoiding them will, in itself, be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do.”

Talk about an introduction. If only U.S. politicians were so lucky to be prefaced in such a way.

Not only did Ahmadinejad try to reach out to the American people during his visit to the U.S., he also challenged President George W. Bush to a live TV debate that “should be uncensored, above all for the American public.”

Of course, the administration declined; dismissing Ahmadinejad’s invite as a “diversion.”

But Ahmadinejad did not only attempt to communicate with President Bush on live TV. He also addressed to him a lengthy letter in which he challenged Bush’s claim of Christianity.

“Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make “War and Terror” his slogan?” he asked in the letter.

Perhaps realizing his efforts to communicate with the president would be ignored, Ahmadinejad attempted to communicate directly with the American people. In his open letter, Ahmadinejad expressed sadness over the Iraq war and sympathy toward both the Iraqis and American soldiers.

“American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq,” he said.

Ahmadinejad went on to condemned all terrorism because “its victims are innocent” and posed this question to the American people:

“Is there not a better approach to governance? Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?”

Surely such humanitarian ramblings can not be that of the “insane dictator” otherwise known as Mamoud Ahmadinejad? Doesn’t he want to build a nuclear arsenal with the intention of launching World War III? On the contrary, Iran’s president has vehemently denied such accusations.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran has no nuclear weapon ambitions. He called such weapons “outdated” and said Iran is ideologically opposed to them.

“We’ve said many times before, we don’t need the weapon,” he said. “It’s not enshrined in our defense doctrine, nuclear defense, and ideologically we don’t believe in it either. We have actually rejected it on an ideological basis. And politically we know that it’s useless. It’s useless.”

However, the president did defend Iran’s right to develop it’s own nuclear energy without dependence on foreign powers.

“You should not have the ability to developed the nuclear fuel cycle yourself,” he said.

Ahmadinejad also pointed out the often-ignored fact of Iranian non-aggression. The president is correct in claiming that Iran historically has not invaded other nations. However, as he points out, his county has been the target of foreign attacks — including those financed by the United States. And let’s not forget the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically-elected Iranian government in 1953.

To be sure, Ahmadinejad is not to be trusted. But then again what politician is? What is clear is that the United States’ government, using media as a weapon of distortion, has twisted and largely silenced the message of Iran’s president. Ahmadinejad deserves a fair shake. More importantly, the American people deserve to hear what he has to say, uncensored, no matter how unpleasant it may be.

National sovereignty and the “right” to go nuclear

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 8, 2010 at 3:33 am

Why is it that the United States so fears a nuclear Iran? Does a nuclear Iran pose a greater threat than that of a nuclear Russia or China?

Referring to the non-proliferation treaty, Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, once said, “basically they did whatever they wanted to do before the introduction of NPT and then devised it to prevent others from doing what they had themselves been doing before.”

Nasser’s comment is insightful; especially his accusation that the nuclear weapon states designed the NPT to control other states from obtaining that which they already had.

Often, opponents of a nuclear Iran claim the nation to be “unstable” and “radical.” How can the international community trust a rogue nation with such powerful weapons? The answer is the same way in which it trusts the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel.

To be sure, an nuclear Iran is worrisome. Any increase in the destructive potential of nuclear weapons is worrisome. But Iran poses no more of a threat than of its nuclear neighbors. It definitely does not pose a threat equal to that of the dominant world powers of China, Russia and the U.S.

At the heart of the debate over who should be allowed to have nuclear weapons is the issue of national sovereignty. Powerful nations such as the U.S. and Russia should not have authority over smaller nations simply because of their status. 

Iran, like the U.S., is a sovereign nation. It has a “right” to make internal decisions as it sees fit — including the regretful decision to develop nuclear weapons.

A policy of torture

In foreign policy, liberty and rights, war and peace on March 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

Evidence of U.S. torture is continuing to mount. What at first seemed as an isolated incident at Abu Ghraib is now appearing to be policy. Obama, like Bush before him, is concealing evidence, protecting torturers and ignoring the continued use of torture.

On Feb. 10, a British court ordered its government to release evidence about a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who says he was tortured while in U.S. custody.

Binyam Mohamed, 31, says he was beaten, subject to sleep deprivation, shackled and had his genitals sliced with a scalpel.

The Obama administration has continually tried to suppress the proof of Mohamed’s torture — even threatening to withhold future intelligence information from British government at the expense of public safety if evidence of Mohamed’s were to be released.

How long will the American people sit back and let torture be committed in their name?