World

 

Brazil

Mexico

Bolivia

Peru

Trinidad &
Tobago

Venezuela








Very usefull links



Petroleumworld
Bookstore



Institutional
links


OPEC



 


Petroleumworld
Business Partners

 



Blogspots
recomended

caracas chronicles

Gustavo Coronel

Iran-Watch.com

Venezuela Today

Le Blog des
Energies Nouvelles

 

 


Editorial / Commentary / Opinion

 

 

 

Roger Cohen: The inertia option

 

I hope Iran policy makers in Washington and Europe are reading histories of that world-changing year, 1989. I hope so because the time has come to do nothing in Iran.

As Timothy Garton Ash has written of the year Europe was freed, “For the decisive nine months, from the beginning of Poland’s roundtable talks in February to the fall of the Wall in November, the United States’ contribution lay mainly in what it did not do.”

That inaction reflected the first President Bush’s caution and calculations. Its effect was to deprive hardliners in Moscow of an American scapegoat for Eastern European agitation and allow revolutionary events to run their course.

The main difference between Moscow 1989 and Tehran 2009 is that the Islamic Republic is still ready to open fire. The main similarities are obvious: tired ideologies; regimes and societies marching in opposite directions; and spreading dissent both within the power apparatus and among the opposition.

Yes, the Islamic Republic has not arrived at a Gorbachevian renunciation of force. It is not yet open to compromise, despite calls for moderation from prominent clerics and now, it seems, from some senior army officers. It is still, in the words of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, sending its Revolutionary Guards and Basiji militia to chase “shadows in the street.”

I don’t know how long this situation can endure. Anyone who claims to be able to tell the Iranian future is lying. But it seems clear that the “political clock” has now outpaced the “nuclear clock.”

Iran has been messing around with a nuclear program for some four decades. Pakistan went from zero to a bomb in about a quarter that time. Setting aside the still debatable objective of this Iranian endeavor (nuclear ambiguity or an actual device?), it’s not in the midst of the current political turmoil that Tehran is going to break out of its back-and-forth tinkering. Inertia is always strong in Iran’s many-headed system. Right now it’s stronger than ever — hence the risible, blustery confusion over a possible deal to export Iran’s low-enriched uranium.

All this says — nay, screams — to me: Do nothing. It is President Barack Obama’s outreach that has unsettled a regime that found American axis-of-evil rhetoric easy to exploit. After struggling, Obama has also found his sweet spot in combining that détente with quiet support for universal rights. Note the feminine possessive pronoun in this line from his Nobel speech: “Somewhere today, in this world, a young protester awaits the brutality of her government but has the courage to march on.” I saw those bloodied women marching in Tehran in June and will never forget them.

Their cause would be best upheld by stopping the march toward “crippling” sanctions on Iran. The recent House passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which would sanction foreign companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran, is ominous. Rep. Howard Berman, who introduced the bill, is dead wrong when he says that it would empower the Obama administration’s Iran policy. It would in fact undermine that policy.

So would sanctions action from the so called “P5+1” — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. When I’m asked where the “stick” is in Iran, my response is the stick is Iranian society — the bubbling reformist pressure now rising up from Iran’s highly educated youth and brave women.

It would be a tragedy were Obama to weaken them. Sanctions now would do just that. Nobody would welcome them more than a regime able once more to refer to the “arrogant power” trying to bring proud Iran to its knees. The Revolutionary Guards, who control the sophisticated channels for circumventing existing sanctions, would benefit. China and Russia would pay little more than lip service.

As Elizabeth Shakman Hurd of Northwestern University has written, “the United States is empowering the dissenters with its silence.”

Sanctions represent tired binary thinking on Iran, the old West-versus-barbarism paradigm prevalent since political Islam triumphed in the revolution of 1979 as a religious backlash against Western-imposed modernity. The Iranian reality, as I’ve argued since the start of this year, is more complex. A leading cry today of the protesters in Iran is “God is great” — hardly a secular call to arms. These reformists are looking in their great majority for some elusive middle way combining faith and democracy.

The West must not respond with the sledgehammer of sanctions whose message is “our way or the highway.” Rather it must understand at last the subtle politics of Iran by borrowing an Iranian lesson: inertia.

When the Berlin Wall came down two decades ago, Francis Fukuyama famously predicted “the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” In Iran now, many of the forces of 1989 are present, but the reformists’ quest is not for something “Western.” It is more for an idea of 1979, an indigenous non-secular and non-theocratic pluralist polity.

Obama, himself of hybrid identity, must show his understanding of this historic urge by doing nothing. That will allow the Iranian political clock to tick faster still.

 

 

 

Roger Cohen is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, joined The New York Times in 1990. He was a foreign correspondent for more than a decade before becoming acting Foreign Editor on September 11, 2001, and Foreign Editor six months later. Mr. Cohen has written "Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo" (Random House, 1998), an account of the wars of Yugoslavia's destruction, and "Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). He has also cowritten a biography of General Norman Schwarzkopf, "In the Eye of the Storm," (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1991). Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by The New York Times on 12/18/2009. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld. All comments expressed are private comments and do not necessary reflect the view of this website. All comments are posted and published without liability to Petroleumworld.

Fair use Notice: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.

All works published by Petroleumworld are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.Petroleumworld has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Petroleumworld endorsed or sponsored by the originator.

Petroleumworld encourages persons to reproduce, reprint, or broadcast Petroleumworld articles provided that any such reproduction identify the original source, http://www.petroleumworld.com or else and it is done within the fair use as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated.

Petroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments, share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article, write to editor@petroleumworld.com

Petroleumworld News 12/ 18/09

Copyright© 1999-2009 Petroleumworld or respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.

We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ stories by anyone provided it mentions Petroleumworld.com as the source. Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors

Send this story to a friend Any question or suggestions, please write to:
editor@petroleumworld.com

Best Viewed with IE 5.01+
Windows NT 4.0, '95, '98 and ME +/ 800x600 pixels

 


TOP

Contact: editor@petroleumworld.com/phone:(58 212) 635 7252, (58 412) 996 3730 or
(58  412) 952 5301

Editor:Elio C. Ohep A/Producer - Publisher:Elio Ohep /
Contact Email: editor@petroleumworld.com
CopyRight © 1999-2006, Elio Ohep - All Rights Reserved. Legal Information
- CCS office Tele
phone/Teléfonos Oficina: (58 212) 635 7252
PW in Top 100 Energy Sites

Technorati Profile

Fair use notice of copyrighted material:
This site is a public free site and it contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of business, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have chosen to view the included information for research, information, and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission fromPetroleumworld or the copyright owner of the material.