Israel, Iran, and, The Melian Dialogue
“…Every president I worked for, at some point in his presidency, would get so pissed off at the Israelis that he couldn’t speak. It didn’t matter whether it was Jimmy Carter or Gerry Ford or Ronald Reagan or George Bush. Something would happen and they would just absolutely go screw themselves right into the ceiling they were so angry and they’d sort of rant and rave around the Oval Office. I think it was their frustration about knowing that there was so little they could do about it because of domestic politics and everything else that was so frustrating to them.” — former SecDef Robert Gates in 2000 (PDF! 105 pgs)
Ironically, Gates had uttered those words prior to his tenure as SecDef under Shrub and Oily Bomber…!
In a recent Asia Times article, written by a former British member of the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, presents a compelling argument…
One of the most depressing aspects of all the talk about Israel or the United States destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities (and much else besides, no doubt) is the near absence of any reference to international law. Even so distinguished an expert as Anthony Cordesman seems to take it for granted that there will be no legal impediment to the US attacking Iran if a credible threat of an attack fails to intimidate Iran into making the concessions required to pacify Israel.
In my country, Britain, on February 20, 2012, members of the House of Commons spent five hours debating whether the use of force against Iran would be “productive” without dwelling more than cursorily on the legal aspects of the question.
How is one to account for this blind spot? Are ignorance and oversight to blame, or has respect for international law gone out of fashion?
It’s hard to believe that anyone who has policy-making responsibilities that involve other states, or who takes a professional interest in such policy-making, can be unaware of what the bed-rock of the post-1945 international system has to say about war-making…
…So much of the contemporary foreign policy debate seems to take place in a moral vacuum, with little or no reference to justice and the rule of law in international affairs. I am almost embarrassed to be using such words.
Yet it seems to me rational to suggest that the post-1945 international system is the best yet devised, that it has brought great benefits to the West, that its preservation requires commitment from the leading power of the age, and that the leading power has to marry justice to strength to retain the loyalty of other participants. If I’m right, treating Iran unlawfully is a bad option.
Let’s look at the Melos analogy, which many Historians credit as the first tangible example of Realpolitik in action. Wikipedia provides a great little synopsis of the Melian Dialogue…
The dialogue is between unnamed Athenian envoys sent by generals Cleomedes son of Lycomedes and Tisias son of Tisimachus to negotiate with unnamed Melians
Athenian: “For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must” (Strassler 352/5.89).
Melians: “You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be equal. But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians, who are bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their kindred. Our confidence, therefore, after all is not so utterly irrational.”
Athenian: “Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do” (Strassler 354/5.105.2).
Now, ain’t it funny how fast Athens was knocked off it’s almighty pedestal by Sparta, a mere 12 years after Melos…? Ain’t Karma a B*tch…?
In some interesting diplomatic maneuvers, Iran, has further isolated the US/Israeli machinations…
Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN has written to the UN Secretary General to condemn the threats against Iran made by Israeli officials, stressing that such statements are “a threat to humanity.”
And then delivered the coup de grâce to the specious claims of Israel and the AIPAC funded US ‘think tanks’…
Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iran will allow officials from the Non-Aligned Movement to visit nuclear facilities during a summit in Tehran which opens on Sunday and runs until Friday, MNA reported.
The move is intended to show that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful.
Iran will also schedule trips to industrial and scientific sites, the ministry said.
The visits will be arranged according to the interests of “our guests,” the ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters…
Fancy that eh…?
Btw, as Jason Ditz noted today…
The Obama Administration is always quick to issue a condemnation of Iran after any new IAEA report is made public. Today they broke a record, however, by issuing that condemnation before the report has even been released.
The reaction comments are seen as an attempt to preempt Israeli attempts to spin the upcoming report as an excuse for war, because while they include the usual condemnations they also insist there is “time and space” for diplomacy to continue.
Anonymous administration officials even took a page out of war opponents’ books, noting that Iran’s production of 20 percent uranium, far below weapons-grade, could not be changed to weapons-grade up without the IAEA’s notice since they continue to be a presence at the facility…
From the Grey Lady…
…The Obama administration insisted Friday that “there is time and space” for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, despite new evidence, to be released next week by international nuclear inspectors, that Iran is bolstering its ability to produce a type of uranium that can be converted relatively quickly to bomb fuel.
In a statement that was notable chiefly for the fact that it was issued before the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report is scheduled to be made public, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said Iran “is continuing to violate its international obligations” despite the imposition of sanctions that severely restrict the country’s oil revenue.
Exactly what violations are the Iranians violating under their NPT obligations, Mr. Vietor…?
Who is threatening whom, besides the illegal sanctions, assassinations, and cyber warfare…?
US sends aircraft carrier back to Gulf to face Iran – Panetta tells sailors they are needed in Mideast. I really do feel sorry for those swabbies that had their expected ‘shore leave’ cut mighty short…!
Now to be sure that the IAEA has been fully co-opted, at least since El Baradei’s resignation…
Diplomats tell The Associated Press that the U.N. nuclear agency is forming a special Iran team, drawing together sleuths in weapons technology, intelligence analysis, radiation and other fields of expertise.
They say the goal is to add muscle to a probe of suspicions that Tehran worked secretly on atomic arms.
Creating a unit focused on only one country is an unusual move for the International Atomic Energy Agency, reflecting the priority it attaches to Iran amid fears it is moving closer to the ability to make nuclear weapons.
Iran denies it is interested in possessing nuclear weapons and says it has never worked on developing them.
The four diplomats demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the confidential IAEA plans.
One more worth-while read… Iran and the Brunt of Nuclear Crucifixion…
God help us all…!