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September 24, 2007



I am more concerned by Bush's sanctions re Myanmar than any pressure building in Iran. But I agree with Dr Nacos that Bollinger passed up a golden opportunity to extend courtesy to an invited guest, with a completely different set of cultural expectations. Hollinger sounded the way Bush admin flacks sound.


Today, more than ever before, global communication/media inform all sides about friends and foes. Tehran knows that the U.S. military is stretched to its limits in Iraq and that another major commitment, say a conflict with Iran, is simply not in the cards now or soon--at least not as long as this reality guides Washington decision-makers. On that count, it is unlikely that Iran's leaders give an inch for fear of military attack from the U.S. This does not mean that they do not have any security concerns and that it is impossible to get them to participate in bi- and multilateral diplomacy.

Eric Chen

Professor Nacos,

I think so, too, but the perceived threat of American military force is essential to effective diplomacy.

The fundamentals still apply as time goes by - "Annan Says Iraq Will Never Be Fully Disarmed", Oct 1998 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/iraq/stories/annan101798.htm):

Annan diverged from the U.S. position that Iraq must accede unconditionally to Security Council orders and UNSCOM's inspection schedule, saying that getting Iraq to cooperate realistically might require UNSCOM to take a more flexible and conciliatory approach in the way it operates within Iraq. The problem, Annan said, "is that we have a very intrusive mandate [for UNSCOM] in a situation where the government is very nationalistic."

Asked whether a shift to less intrusive inspections amounted to permitting Iraq to change the conditions that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he replied: "You have to look at the reality of the situation on the ground. . . . It is not fair to simply say this is what was agreed to eight years ago."

He noted that the United States, which had forced Iraq to back down in previous confrontations with the United Nations by threatening the use of force, now is unwilling to resort to that option because it has no support from other countries.

"What do you do when the will [to use force] is not there, when the council is divided, when you don't have public support?" Annan asked. "Our objective is to disarm Iraq. If they won't cooperate, we have a problem. In the worst-case scenario, they might throw UNSCOM out altogether. That would pose a very grave challenge to the international community. . . . And the United Nations would be stuck with the mess."


I don't believe we'll go to war with Iran anytime in the foreseeable future. Part of why is that as long as we're committed to Iraq, we don't have the resources to commit to war with Iran. And President Bush will be committed to Iraq for the remainder of his presidency. On that score, much 'anti-war' sentiment is quite hawkish in that some war critics want military resources freed from Iraq in order to project them onto other perceived threats, like Iran.

It would be a heck of a bluff if the Bush admin can inspire respect for the military option in Iran while so many resources are committed to Iraq.


Eric, fair enough--I am convinced, though, Hitler, too, would have used this public stage for his propaganda without saying anything different and new.
In the case of Iran, though, I continue to argue for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy--military conflict is not in the interest of the United States or Iran.

Eric Chen

Hi Professor Nacos,

I think President Bollinger saw a golden opportunity to answer in real life the hypothetical question: What if I could have faced Adolf Hitler on a world-broadcast 'stage', circa 1934?

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