Sunday, December 17, 2006

Secretary Rice takes the bait

Rice raises concerns over GCC Nuclear Plans: Washington: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday she wanted to know more about Gulf states' plans to study nuclear power and questioned why Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, might need atomic energy.

Was it just a few days ago that I opined: The worst outcome for those in the west who wish for continued domination of the Middle East is a unified whole. If the GCC takes Iran's view on nukes, and begins to actively question Israel's nuclear arsenal, the game gets a whole lot more complicated.

Well the GCC has taken Iran's view- they too wish to harness the power of nuclear energy, which Iranian President Ahmadinejad is only to eager to share, and Secretary Rice has, sadly, taken the bait- a choice which recalls the words of Mark Twain: it is better to remain silent and have people suspect you are a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

If this GCC desire for nuclear technology flows from earlier Iranian overtures it was a political masterstroke. So long as Iran was the outlier in the region the US had room to maneuver. But if the whole region is tarred with the same brush, the room to maneuver shrinks.

Why, the GCC states might be wondering, should India or Israel have access to nuclear technology but not us? Now, if a military attack is launched against Iran's nuclear installations, will the GCC states not wonder if they are next. I think we will regret not talking to Iran when we had the chance prior to the invasion of Iraq, when they were willing to negotiate a grand bargain.

Perhaps this is why a critique of this policy choice- this road not taken, is, according to this article, considered a matter of national security.

This hard headed, bull in a china shop approach to diplomacy is just not making us many friends these days.


STS said...

The Administration is doing an excellent job of highlighting the importance of Flynt Leverett's article. What article of that nature would normally attract even 1% of the attention it will achieve through botched attempts to suppress it?

Likewise the "you're a traitor" reactions to you pointing out the way Russia (and others) may be outplaying us. Pride goeth before a fall and the American strain of willful petulance so ably personified by GWB is not devoid of moral significance: yes it *is* morally imperative that we assert ourselves in the world -- precisely so that we can take the fastest route to semi-irrelevance. What better way to take us down a peg than to install someone capable of squandering generations of prestige within a single Presidency? A competent president would only prolong the process of rebalancing the global power structure.

Remember: at times up really *is* down ;)