February 10, 2006
The Coming War in the Security CouncilBy Ed Lasky
After two years of feckless faux negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program, America and the EU have used their influence to compel the International Atomic Energy Agency to bring the Iran nuclear weapons issue before the UN Security Council. Some optimists have viewed this as a triumph for multilateralism and a repudiation of what they have considered an untoward unilateralism in the past by the Bush Administration.
Even such persistent critics of George Bush as the New York Times have offered grudging praise to the Bush administration for working with our allies to bring this perilous issue before the united Nations — even if they cannot bring themselves to mention the President's name when they do so.
Others view it more pessimistically (or realistically) as a defeat — considering it inevitable that Russia or China will wield their veto power to shield Iran as a way to protect their own commercial ties, oil supplies, and their geopolitical positioning against America. However, it is equally probable that China and Russia will not even need to exercise their veto to shield Iran. There are rules and procedures at the United Nations that have already been (or soon will be) manipulated to frustrate and derail any American efforts to compel Iran to abide by its commitments under the Nuclear Non—Proliferation Treaty.
Seemingly, diplomacy has become a 'continuation of warfare by another means' (hat tip: Carl von Clausewitz).
America was forced by the EU to agree to postpone bringing the issue before the Security Council until March. This is the first problem — a problem with chronology. The Presidency of the Security Council is on a monthly rotation. Currently, this month America's Ambassador John Bolton has the post.
Clearly, Bolton would have pushed the issue. He has been prescient and forceful in trying to alert the world to the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. He has noted that an "unmistakable indicator" of Iran's weapons program is
He was also the father of the Proliferation Security Imitative, one of the few international efforts that has actually proved effective in interdicting shipments of WMD components, material, and the missiles needed to carry them. This helped to shut down Libya's efforts, since a ship was stopped as it was in the process of delivering such contraband to Libya. This initiative was also instrumental not only in compelling Libya to in abandon its efforts to develop WMD but also helped to unravel the nuclear arms business of A.Q. Khan, the man who basically stole an atomic bomb program for his native nation of Pakistan.
Ambassador Bolton has also been a strong defender of Israel. He is almost single—handedly responsible for the UN overturning its noxious "Zionism is Racism" Resolution. He is thus certainly no friend of Iran or its allies in the world (Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela). He has also been very forceful in insisting that members of the Security Council actually show up at times scheduled for meetings (they have not been) and that business before the Security Council be dealt with in an efficient manner. He is, in other words, Iran's nightmare.
The calendar is important for this reason: the President of the Security Council can control the flow of actions taking place in the Council. Anyone familiar with the way our Congress works can understand this dynamic. Committee chairmen can figure out a variety of ways to bollix up legislation: tabling discussion, intervening to gum up the works by placing other items on the "to—do" list. A slew of tools and tactics can be used to further the machinations of those who wish to frustrate any actions by the Security Council.
John Bolton is an exceedingly hard—charging and hard—working diplomat. Especially by United Nations standards. As President of the Security Council he would have helped to ensure that the Iran issue was dealt with in an expedient and effective manner. Once John Bolton leaves the post, the new President of the Security Council will be the Ambassador from Argentina.
This key South American nation has fallen on hard times over the years. It has a large population of Middle Eastern descent, has been one of the South American nations that has shifted into an anti—American stance, and has developed strong links with Hugo Chavez, the tyrant of Venezuela. Chavez has bought billions of dollars of Argentina's sovereign debt and has offered the Argentines cheap oil and other financial inducements to further his influence there. The problem lies not only with the influence Chavez may have over Argentina but also with the friends Chavez keeps and the bidding that he may, in turn, do for them.
Chavez is indisputably an ally of Iran. He has traveled to Tehran and has assured Iran that it can depend on Venezuelan refineries should Western nations restrict the exports of refined products to Iran (Iran has been unable to build and operate enough refineries to satisfy its needs and relies on imports of gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel). Chavez has engaged in anti—Semitism to curry favor with the mullahs of Iran — even going so far as to send his police to terrorize a Jewish children's school a few days before Chavez was to meet with Iran's anti—Semitic and Holocaust—denying rulers.
Surely, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to assume that Argentina will do the mullahs' bidding when it's Ambassador assumes the Presidency of the Security Council, if, for no other reason than to please Hugo Chavez.
There are other tactics that Iran can use to impede the Security Council. After all, they have had years of practice doing the rope—a—dope with the European Union and the IAEA. One method that has already been employed is to bring extraneous issues before the Security Council. For instance, Muslim nations and Iranian allies at the IAEA have managed to expand the scope of the Security Council purview regarding nuclear programs to the entire region, including Israel. This needlessly complicates the issue and tends to take the focus off of the true threat, Iran.
Another tactic for the Iranians would be to create other international crises to sap the energy and attention of the Security Council. As the number one terror—sponsoring state in the world with its tentacles spread worldwide, the Iranians have many levers to pull to create problems. This potential was noted in Thursday's New York Post column by the Iranian author and dissident Amir Taheri. That column noted that the genesis of the cartoon crisis seems to have been engineered to divert attention from Iran's nuclear weapons program. He perceptively writes
This cartoon outrage is ephemeral in nature and may have already outlived its value. More ominous actions are most likely in the offing. One area that has often generated Security Council action is Israel and its neighbors. Hezbollah occupies the Southern part of Lebanon abutting northern Israel and has upwards of 10,000 rockets capable of inflicting grievous damage on major Israel population centers. Hezbollah might step up attacks on border outposts or — and this may be a stretch — launch rockets into Israel.
Similarly, the Palestinians may begin to step up attacks against Israel despite efforts by Hamas to present a somewhat moderate image (by their standards) to Europe for purposes of continuing the flow of aid money. Hamas has already boasted of being able to tap Middle Eastern nations for aid to replace American and European money. It might just reason that international aid will continue to flow to Palestinians regardless of actions they take against Israel. Hamas might also believe that the riots sparked in Europe over the cartoon issue (and the two boys of North African ancestry who were electrocuted when hiding from police in Paris) will lead to extortion money continuing to flow in the form of 'humanitarian aid' to the Palestinians.
Hamas could conceivably practice a form of 'plausible deniability by using "cut—out" such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad to launch the attacks. Israeli sources have already reported that Fatah members are gearing up for attacks. A heightened level of violence in the region is often a pretext for actions at the UN against Israel. This, too, would gum up any progress towards dealing with Iran.
Next after China, coincidentally enough, is Denmark. Of all the nations now concerned about their reputation in the Muslim world in the wake of the ginned up cartoon crisis tiny Denmark has to be the foremost. Denmark is the home of the newspaper that published the Muhammad caricatures that have inflamed the Muslim world. Denmark now finds its businesses being boycotted and its citizen's lives being endangered. Will Denmark be able to withstand pressure to limit its efforts as its Ambassador occupies the Presidency of the Security Council?
Ed Lasky is News Editor of the American Thinker.