Monday, September 7, 2009

The Ahmadinejad Problem- New thinking is needed

Is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a bad guy?

By all accounts the answer seems to be a clear yes, especially if we are to believe reports of the demonic way he treated his own people in the wake of Iran's recent, so-called elections.

It's one thing to be branded a villain in the context of international relations, but the litmus test of a leaders' status that seems to carry universal opprobrium is tyranny, brutalizing the helpless under your reign.

This morning's headlines see world leaders with their hands thrown up over
Ahmadinejad's obstinate refusal to cooperate with regard to his nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad: Iran won't halt nuclear work

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over "global challenges."

Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.

President Barack Obama and European allies have given Iran until the end of September to take up an offer of nuclear talks with six world powers and trade incentives should it suspend uranium enrichment activities. If not, Iran could face harsher punitive sanctions.

Who are these wonderful conversation partners (five plus one) waiting in the wings to discuss the problems of arms with the evil President Ahmadinejad?

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany offered Iran a modified package of economic incentives June last year in return for suspending its uranium enrichment activities or face harsher sanctions.

Why is Germany not on the security council of the UN? Because the UN was formed largely in response to Hitler's efforts to take over the world.

But now Germany's OK. Let's take look at these lovely five plus one defined so nobly by their stature at the the UN from a different angle?

Oh, by the way, Post-Mussolini's Italy wasn't too popular during the founding of the United Nations either.

Those old arms numbers were shattered by a spike of 33% growth of US arms sales in the last year as reported in yesterday's NYTimes.


Ahmadinejad may be bad, but (sadly) he's not stupid (a phrase that could apply to countless politicians).

Is a nuclear armed Iran bad? Should it be prevented?

Of course, and by all means.

Can it be stopped by a process void of a genuine moral center. Sadly not.

This and a great many current global problems must be met in a system grounded in the radical change that will be put forth in upcoming articles on this site.


Anonymous said...


That's sure a teaser. A moral center without political / financial gravitas isn't going to accomplish much in the face of tyrannical or radical governments bent on securing WMDs. I don't think we can sit around and wait for the Capitalist west to achieve enlightenment. I guess we will have to wait until your next posting to find the answer!


Anonymous said...

Domestic legitimacy, not democracy, is the litmus test of government. A good king and a republic can both be viewed a legitimate or not. It is not the structure of government that counts most, but whether the people living under it feel it allows them to pursue happiness. While some structures are better deterrents to tyranny than others, no perfect example exists today.

The most legitimate weapons are defensive. If the U.S. and other members of the security council respond to those countries that build up offensive weapons of mass destruction with other weapons of equal threat, there is a standoff traditionally dubbed as MAD (mutually assured destruction). This is a form of defense that threatens the other and leads to further escalation.

I agree that the attempt by the most militarized countries to shut Iran's nuclear weapons program down by force is viewed as illegitimate. However, it is very clear that nuclear weapons are not a very good defense. You can not use them without killing people. In this sense conventional nuclear weapons of mass destruction are almost be definition immoral.

The Strategic Defense Initiative begun by Reagan takes the moral high ground, because it is not a system that kills people but is aimed at making aggression impotent. In all the years since it was proposed I did not hear any arguments against it that I would consider legitimate.

The first argument by the Russians and Iranians that it is a threat or a form of militarization is incorrect since it cannot hurt anyone. However, it does pose a threat if the U.S. implemented the strategic defense initiative AND retained its own offensive nuclear weapons. To be legitimate SDI has to be coupled with a phase out of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

The second argument has been from liberals in the U.S. that care more about using defense dollars for welfare than protecting people. This is simply irresponsible as the primary role of a government is protection. If a government can't protect its people and provide an environment for them to pursue happiness, it is delegitimized already.

Read my book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0 which spells out much need principles of reform of the U.S. before it fulfill its role properly.

Anonymous said...

This thread sounds like guns make wars, just as some would say guns make crime; thus, get rid of guns and you would get rid of crime. That makes us moral somehow. Makes no sense. True, the US sells our allies weapons for good reason. Yet no system is perfect because people aren't perfect. I'm sure you have heard. Selling guns is in a sense no different from selling knives: it depends on how one uses them. Some people eat dinner with knives and others stick them in your back. But because one is the biggest knife seller means what, you increase crime? If all weapons were gone tomorrow, would there be wars? Someone would still kill you if they wanted to. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, along with some others in Iran, believe in using nuclear weapons to annihilate the Jews and he says so (though not much in public), with the West and US next in line. Vive la différence!

David said...

Dr. Kaufmann,

It's hard to imagine, given his beligerence and heavy-handedness, that Ahmadinejad will be a fair and good-faith negotiator in any diplomatic approach. Regrettably this leaves the use of military force on the table and I dare say he's playing a game of chicken with the rest of the world.

Charles Krauthammer (no friend of President Obama) has a very intertesting take on this as well. Krauthammer/2009/07/10/plumage_-_but_at_a_price

The stakes are especially high for Israel.

D. Eaton

Peter D said...

I liked David's analysis. I consider Ahmedinejad among the best examples of leadership in the world has today. If you listen to his speeches, they have a religious and peaceful tone. But they are not about rolling over and playing dead while the West attempts to secularize the world and turn it into an atheistic trash heap.

Iran is under seige by the Western powers. This is not only the old type of siege, where physical walls are breached. Much has to do with the media and public perception. It is apparent that the US and its intelligence apparachiks want to cast Ahmadinejad in a poor light as part of that seige, and they also want to exacerbate internal tensions as much as possible. I would not trust the Western media to report on the true situation in Iran, as it is pretty much infiltrated by intelligence operatives from the major powers. Unfortunately, we don't have an independent mainstream press any more.

Anonymous said...

Who gave US gov the authority to condemn IRAN, when its own state is in shambles, Two wars, financial mess, etc
I understand majority of its people being patriotic, and going along with what the media is saying unfortunately true patriotic citizens do have responsibilities and we have failed that task MANY MANY YEARS AGOOOO.. - CROOKS OWNS POLITICIANS & MEDIA

2008 presidents budget -
"Provides $481.4 billion for the Department of Defense’s base budget—a 62-percent increase over 2001—to ensure a high level of military readiness as the Department develops capabilities to meet future threats, defends the homeland"

I dont approve of my TAX DOLLAR in these FALSE THREADS, Media did great job of spoofing everyone of the world being unsafe, anthrax poison etc numerous tactics to keep everyone in limbo

Paul said...


Thank you for your article. Three small comments:

1. Discerning your key point(s) was a little difficult for me.

2. With respect to the "moral center," I often find myself contemplating what might be an offshoot of Pontius Pilate's famous
question, "What is truth?" When I was young, the question seemed silly. Now it seems profound. By the same token, what is moral? Is there an accepted universal value, given cultural diversity around the world? How does such a value correlate with self-interest pursuits? Is the UNSC a credible moral authority?

3. Is there a role for nonviolent strategies in foreign policy?

When will you publish the next installment?



The Guv said...

Wao,My God, Might (they say)is always right. America is plugging the world in to another war, now it is Iran's turn.We are yet to have peace after the failure to retrieve Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq by America. And what is big deal in Iran going Nuclear when its arc enemy Israel has.and who dictates the monopoly of having Nuclear flukes in the world. We should not be foooled again--God bless our soul Bashir Lawal