One of the most important, but least reported conflicts in the world today is the civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thankfully, Time is running a cover story about the tragedy this week. Hopefully this will be at least a step toward greater public awareness of a war that’s consumed 4 million lives. Via Andy.
Joschka Fisher, German Green Party leader, ex-foreign minister, and bane of Paul Berman’s existence, has an op-ed on Iran in today’s WaPo:
The Iran crisis is moving fast in an alarming direction. There can no longer be any reasonable doubt that Iran’s ambition is to obtain nuclear weapons capability. At the heart of the issue lies the Iranian regime’s aspiration to become a hegemonic Islamic and regional power and thereby position itself at eye level with the world’s most powerful nations. It is precisely this ambition that sets Iran apart from North Korea: Whereas North Korea seeks nuclear weapons capability to entrench its own isolation, Iran is aiming for regional dominance and more.
Iran is betting on revolutionary changes within the power structure of the Middle East to help it achieve its strategic goal. To this end, it makes use of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as Lebanon, Syria, its influence in the Persian Gulf region and, above all, Iraq. This combination of hegemonic aspirations, questioning of the regional status quo and a nuclear program is extremely dangerous.
So what shouldn’t we do?
Nor is the debate about the military option — destruction of Iran’s nuclear program through U.S. airstrikes — conducive to resolving the issue. Rather, it rings of a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no guarantee that attempts to destroy Iran’s nuclear potential and thus its capability for a nuclear breakout would succeed. Moreover, as a victim of foreign aggression, Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions would be fully legitimized. Finally, a military attack on Iran would mark the beginning of a regional, and possibly global, military and terrorist escalation — a nightmare for all concerned.
And what should we do?
There remains a serious chance for a diplomatic solution if the United States, in cooperation with the Europeans and with the support of the U.N. Security Council and the non-aligned states of the Group of 77, offers Iran a “grand bargain.” In exchange for long-term suspension of uranium enrichment, Iran and other states would gain access to research and technology within an internationally defined framework and under comprehensive supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Full normalization of political and economic relations would follow, including binding security guarantees upon agreement of a regional security design.
The high price for refusing such a proposal has to be made absolutely clear to the Iranian leadership: Should no agreement be reached, the West would do everything in its power to isolate Iran economically, financially, technologically and diplomatically, with the full support of the international community. Iran’s alternatives should be no less than recognition and security or total isolation.
Read the whole thing. This “Old European” won’t be listened to, but I have a feelinng that ten years from now the Vulcans will regret ignoring him.
A few years ago, I read a short piece in Newsweek that claimed Ken Pollack’s The Threatening Storm had a “Midas touch” that turned everyone who read it into a liberal hawk. For those precious few who still see value in staying in Iraq, or even in the initial invasion itself, this piece by Nir Rosen may do the same (via Kevin Drum). Here’s just the first paragraph:
Every morning the streets of Baghdad are littered with dozens of bodies, bruised, torn, mutilated, executed only because they are Sunni or because they are Shiite. Power drills are an especially popular torture device.
It gets worse. Much, much worse. In the run-up to the war, the only argument for invasion that I respected was the humanitarian one. I thought it arbitrary and a bad precedent to invade a country just because it was a dictatorship, but I could still understand the feeling. That argument now has the same credibility as the WMD and al-Qaeda connection arguments. Saddam’s Iraq was horrible, but it was not as bad as Somalia. Bush’s Iraq is.
Will Saletan has written a great column that’s both an excellent defense of vegetarianism and an interesting summary of meat-growing technologies, in which animal cells are painlessly gathered and then grown in cultures until they’re edible. Slightly gross? Sure. Much more moral than traditonal meat-eating? Of course.
It seems the Bush administration is reconsidering its position on talking with Iran:
The Bush administration is beginning to debate whether to set aside a longstanding policy taboo and open direct talks with Iran, to help avert a crisis over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, European officials and Americans close to the administration said Friday.
European officials who have been in contact with the administration in recent weeks said the discussion was heating up, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice worked with European foreign ministers to persuade Iran to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium.
European officials say Ms. Rice has begun discussing the issue with top aides at the State Department. Her belief, they say, is that ultimately the matter will have to be addressed by the administration’s national security officials, whether talks with Iran remain at an impasse or even if there is some progress.
But others who know her well say she is resisting on the ground that signaling a willingness to talk would show weakness and disrupt the delicate negotiations with Europe. Ms. Rice is also said to fear that the administration might end up making too many concessions to Iran.
Administration officials said President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have opposed direct talks, even through informal back channels. As a result, many European officials say they doubt that a decision to talk is likely soon.
This isn’t as good as it could be. The most encouraging news seems to be that Rice is on the fence, which isn’t a whole lot. But it’s at least something. Let’s just hope that Charles Krauthammer’s seething from the other day doesn’t bolster Cheney and Rumsfeld.