Are Khamenei and Ahmadinejad Determined to Make Iran a Pariah?

My column is out in Salon.com, on the way in which Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are turning Iran into a pariah state. I warn that if they keep going down this path, they are going to end up like North Korea.

Excerpt:

‘Iran’s hard-liners are pushing their country into a dangerous and perhaps crippling isolation that could, if Tehran continues on this path, eventually make it another North Korea. Having damaged their legitimacy at home with a stolen election, which is still being actively protested in the streets months later, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are thumbing their noses at the international community. The regime is adamant that it will make no concessions in regard to its nuclear research program, even in the face of a threat of increased United Nations sanctions. And Ahmadinejad, on the cusp of his trip to New York this week to speak to the U.N. General Assembly, has veered even deeper into a David Duke-like rhetoric about the Holocaust and the role of Jews in history.’

Read the whole thing.

End/ (Not Continued)

19 Responses

  1. The question is, why should Iran make concessions on the Nuclear issue if it has a right to peaceful use of Nuclear technology as per article 4 of the NPT?

  2. 1/ Stolen ?

    2/ Concessions… Why ?

    Bottom line the issue frankly is really Israel…

  3. Funny isn't it that the Israeli President talks openly about limiting Israeli Arab birth rates, They build on occupied land, regularly engage in, and threaten war on neighboring countries, engage in ethnic cleansing, imprison elect Palestinian legislators, blockade the Gaza strip, have unaccountable nuclear weapons, etc..
    But it is Iran that becomes the pariah for expressing opinions. Ugly opinions, but opinions. Words.
    I don't get your argument.

    In America public figures regularly express the most sickening opinions about ethnic minorities, and gays. But they are not pariahs, some of them have become even more popular and feted by the press, and cherished by large sections of American society. But Iranians leaders talk nonsense about Israel and the whole country risks becoming North Korea? This is ridiculous on so many levels. I guess it's one rule for the "white man" and another for the "black man" eh. If the Iranians want to become more "white" they have to learn whom they're allowed to mouth off against.

  4. Having damaged their legitimacy at home with a stolen election

    According to this opinion poll conducted recently, it would seem that most Iranians believe their government is legitimate and as events next door in Afghanistan have demonstrated, the evidence for a "stolen election" in Iran is beginning to look more and more
    tenuous.

    …Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are thumbing their noses at the international community.

    Iran is a sovereign nation so why shouldn't they. After all it's not as if the US has never thumbed its nose at the international community.

    The regime is adamant that it will make no concessions in regard to its nuclear research program, even in the face of a threat of increased United Nations sanctions.

    Rubbish. All they have said is that their perfectly legitimate enrichment program is not negotiable! And the threat of increased UN sanctions means nothing without Russia and China's support, it is just bluster from a handful of pathetic pseudo-neocons in Washington. The Iranians know perfectly well that each concession they make to Washington will not be met by a reduction in sanctions but instead will be followed by further demands as Washington's ultimate aim with Iran is to enforce regime change and put in place a compliant government which kisses America's arse as much as that in Cairo.

  5. From BrassCheck TV:

    "Two years ago, six nuclear armed weapons were attached to the wings of a B-52 bomber and flown from North Dakota to Barksdale, the USAF staging base for Middle East operations.

    This took place in contradiction to all laws and all military procedures.

    Military experts could not recall a single incident of this kind ever taking place.

    Two years later, the event has still not been credibly unexplained. And of the six that were put on the plane in North Dakota, only five have been fully accounted for.

    Some folks have short memories."
    [Source]

    My basic response: Oh… Oh, they "Explained" it… The USAF claimed, after an 'investigation' that ALL checks and balances on the movement of USAF-controlled nuclear weapons broke down… all at the same time.

    Even if one DOES believe that… We should most likely be even MORE afraid of a military that does a worse job of controlling it's nuclear arsenal than Pakistan.

    We need to worry about OUR OWN nuclear nutcases… Iran can take care of theirs.

  6. I think you've gone a bit overboard here.

    As an American, you have every right to feel upset because Iran's leaders, and a large majority of its people, despise and distrust both your country and Israel.

    After all both of you have been threatening for years, and now, to attack Iran for its insistence on persisting with a peaceful nuclear development programme, that it has every right to do.

    Under the NPT, the US and Israel, as nuclear bomb owners, have the obligation to assist a peaceful nuclear development programme, not to to threaten dire consequences to someone they don't happen to like.

    'Pariah state' means nothing except that the US, Israel, and their docile EU followers, (the 'international community') don't like them and are sulking.

    Please, Juan, regain your balance and your position as the number one must-read daily blog.

  7. I agree with those who have said that, uncharacteristically, you've slipped off the track on this "Iran as a Pariah" kick, Mr. Cole.

    To the best of my knowledge, the Iran leaders have not yet threatened to bomb Israel. But Israeli figures regularly threaten to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, if they can't push the U.S. into doing it for them.

    What do you think would hurt worse, Mr. Cole? Being bombed, and in a nuclear place, or having to hear invective that is nothing that the Israelis haven't heard before, from the Iranian President and others. I think most people would much prefer being hit by harsh words, if they have to be hit by anything at all

    And anyway, what is it about the Iranians that they are forbidden to waste good time, effort, money, and brainwork on developing nuclear weapons, should they so desire, when their record for bellicosity is much better historically than any of the nations that have nukes, especially the U.S. and Israel? No one ever seems able to give a good answer to that question.

  8. I agree with Richard Parker, IC seems to be moving swiftly to reach some mythical "middle ground" status. Becoming "respectable". Soon the Comments section might even disappear altogether.

  9. I disagree about the stolen election as well, would never use the language Dr. Cole uses, etc.

    But I think his assessment of possible consequencs is a timely warning, and essentially correct.

    A lot of Americans think US soldiers are very good, that terrorists are cowardly, and that a lot of the forces in Iraq that are opposed to US troops are terrorists.

    That being said, even those people often believe that Bush saying "our message is BRING EM ON!" and daring them to step up the killing and wounding of American forces was irresponsible.

    Ahmadenijad has to represent Iranians to a degree, and he's doing a bad job in most categories, other than the tell America and Israel to go f__k themselves category.

  10. I was expecting something more from this article, Juan. Such as the nature and direction of Ahmadinejad.

    Is Ahmadinejad a figure comparable to Jozef Beck, mistaken in vastly overestimating his Polish nation's self-conceived status as a great power? Or, on the other hand, is Ahmadinejad a Shia Islamic incarnation of the Winston Churchill bulldog character?

    Time will tell. In the case of Winston Churchill, pure luck may have saved him at Dunkirk. Perhaps Ahmadinejad is counting on the same, only this time derived from the divine intervention of all mighty Allah himself.

  11. Professor Cole, you are being selective in your criticism. Occasional Iranian rhetoric may offensive, false, and inflammatory, but many news and entertainment media in the US frequently feature those same qualities. A pariah is created by words and actions, and in actions Iran cannot compare to either Israel or the US. As far as a nation thumbing its nose, at the top of the list is Israel's silence on its nuclear weapons program. As far as I know, Iran has continued to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, though certainly not without frictions. You can't say that about Israel. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a militarily aggressive nation was the big enough reason needed for Bush to herd Americans into the Iraq war. Israel is a militarily aggressive nation possessing unacknowledged weapons of mass destruction. You are giving words the weight of actions. Your priorities are askew.

  12. Ahmadinejad's best offense has been his anti Zionist stands and helping defenceless countries with their struggle. But in just a few days he destroyed what took him years to build. From this he can run, but he cannot hide. One can simply not be against Zionism and imperialism and act like one, one cannot defend helpless and stand for justice, but oppress another and take his/her rights. Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad's messages of peace and love for all humanity are flushed down by him and his comments will bounce back and will have very little effect, if any.

  13. "NO Gaza, No Lobanaon, I die only for Iran"

    link to iranian.com

    The Iranian anti-regime protesters ripped down a Hezbollah sign yesterday as the crowd cheered them on:
    link to youtube.com

    I know you're not going to publish this but at least view it for yourself to add to your knowledge.

  14. In relation to what Richard and Carl said:

    Israel hiding nukes in Golan, Syria claims

    It's EXTREMELY unlikely that the wonks @ the US State department or ANY US academic institution that studies these matters will even give a minute to researching this claim, because IF they thoroughly pursued it, they'd surely find U.S. and French nuclear technology as it's underpinnings… NOT AQ Khan's purloined tech notes.

    …and NO academic weapons proliferation researcher would receive a grant, funding, an academic's literal lifeblood, to do the research… for reasons that should be quite obvious.

    Either ban ALL nuclear weapons, or allow them to proliferate freely.

    Any other method of dealing with the issue STINKS of hypocrisy.

    Samuel Colt made everyone in the "wild West" 'equal'. Kalashnikov did it for the rest of the world, and, if we pick that path, nuclear weapons will eventually make all the nation-states equal in a nuclear stalemate that could be broken at any time in any of these ways.

  15. Looks more like a replay of Khomeini's Salman Rushdie tactic. The motive is not to make Iran a pariah in the west, but rather to unite otherwise disunited muslims in the mideast behind a common enemy.

  16. Ahmadinejad may himself be a pariah or crackpot, running a conservative theocracy, but then, that describes our own government under Bush. Given the difference in wealth between the US and Iran, and our persistent antagonism of Iran starting many decades ago by supporting the Shah, we are simply in no place to criticize Iran's leadership.

    On the other hand, on the nuclear issue we are even more hypocritical. Iran has been literally surrounded by two terrifying and dangerously mismanaged US wars, while simultaneously being openly threatened by Bush/Cheney/Rice, AND given the very clear example that similar nuclear states are never, ever threatened like that.

    Israel only demonstrates covert nuclear programs are condoned and are fair play, despite lofty US anti-escalation rhetoric . They have the example that Iran MUST have nukes to be taken seriously. N. Korea has the bomb and can never be threatened with invasion. Similarly India. The US actually GAVE Pakistan the technology- a strong unspoken signal- who then transferred it to N. Korea and to Iran itself previously! It goes without saying that Pakistan has never been threatened with hawkish talk, though I fail to see how they are different than other countries we have threatened or invaded. The lesson is- what US policy states and what it does (or allows) on the ground, are two very different, almost opposite things.

    And the message to Iran is clear- they must either develop nukes or dismantle their state and submit to neo-liberal policies. It seems very clear to me that Iran has been forced to accept those choices. Looking objectively at Iran's past and present, how could anyone be surprised at their actions?

  17. I have to wonder, exactly what "international community" is Dr. Cole speaking about?

    In short: after the recent elections, 21 nations publicly criticized Iran, 26 nations publicly congratulated Ahmadinejad, and the remaining 144 members of the United Nations (besides Iran) made no public comments on the elections.

    All 118 members of the Non-Aligned Movement have signed a statement declaring support for Iran's nuclear program. At least 7 non-members have also publicly expressed support (Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Turkey), bringing the total to at least 125.

    So perhaps Iran is at risk of alienating an international minority, but certainly not the majority. See my blog for sources and further details.

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