Saturday, May 19, 2007

Does Europe Prefer Military Force?

There is an interesting opinion piece called Europe's Choice in the Jerusalem Post.

It concerns the response to Iran's nuclear program as it surpasses the final technological hurdles.

Strikingly, ElBaradei has declared that Iran has already passed the technological "point of no return" concerning enrichment. What Iran is really racing for, however, is a strategic "point of no return" - when the world concludes that a nuclear Iran is no longer preventable, but must be accommodated.

This point has not yet been reached, but is fast approaching. There is only a short time left to drastically tighten international sanctions, in a last-ditch effort to avoid having to choose between military action and a nuclear Iran.

The last paragraph highlights a scenario that repeats itself throughout modern history: kicking the can down the road will only make it worse later.

The US is enacting tougher and tighter laws concerning divestment from Iran.

So what is Europe doing?

A US Congressional report found that firms such as France's Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy's ENI and Inpex of Japan have invested more than $100b. in Iran's energy sector since 1999. Such investments must stop.

European foreign policy chief Javier Solana said recently, "Iran is steadily moving toward nuclear weapons capability, and the negotiations are not working... But this doesn't mean war.... You have to resist the urge to strike out militarily, which could even be worse than Iran gaining nuclear weaponry.

The choice is Europe's:
Actually, it is in Europe's hands whether Iran's challenge means war or not. Europe must choose between its commercial interests and its desire to avoid war. If the US and Israel are left with no option but military action, European shortsightedness will be to blame. Europe needs no further UN resolutions to act; it needs to decide to divest itself from Iran.
As the moment of truth approaches, there is an increased transparency about Europe's choices:
  • Naivety: Assume that Iran won't use their nuclear weaponry for blackmail or a Second Holocaust. Re-badged as Iranian Roulette.
  • Appeasement: Stall. Delay. Pretend diplomacy still has a chance. Learn to live with a nuclear Iran. Israel gets fed to the crocodile first.
  • Ruthlessness: Business with Iran is more important than Israel. "Sorry, Zionists, but we have to protect our economies and keep people employed."
  • Confrontation: Divest from Iran, stand with Israel and the US, take some heat but force Iran to back down on its nuclear program.
The first three choices will increase the chances of large-scale military action from the US or Israel or both, because they do not address Iran's nuclear program.

The last choice is the only one that actually attempts to prevent Iran from going nuclear, and thereby reduces the need for a pre-emptive strike.

If the pacifist non-confrontational instinct of Europe prevails, it will likely result in confrontation and conflict.

It's deja vu all over again.

Expect Europe to subsequently turn around and condemn the actions of the US and Israel in their actions to eliminate an existential threat to Israel.

Perhaps Europe does prefer military force - albeit not by its own military - if it consciously chooses naivety, appeasement or ruthlessness.

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