Dangerous Weapons for Dangerous People

Confirmed by Chamberlain: negotiations bear risks. 


We begin with a quote. Without intending to do so, it reveals more than its source might care to divulge. “Iran’s government blasted Dr. Shaheed’s report as not being objective”. (He is the UN’s Human Right Rapporteur in Iran.) An Iranian official said that Shaheed "has not paid sufficient notice to Iran's legal system and Islamic culture and he considers whatever he sees in the West as an international standard for the entire world."

Noteworthy subliminal warnings hide in this statement. The key components are “Iran’s legal system,” her “Islamic culture” and “the West as a standard for the world”. The phrasing reveals the perspective of Iran’s government and its quality as a treaty partner. This reflects on the nuclear weapons area where trust is, more than formal pacts, crucial. The assumed intent is in the nuclear realm more important than the treaty right to blame cheaters. Once a swindle is unmasked, the defrauded party has options. One is to sue before an international tribunal. The other is to deliver a preventive nuclear strike. The first reaction is useless. The second one is as effective as it is unpleasant. 

Anyone that develops nuclear arms not as a last resort, but to apply pressure, provokes several reactions. One of these is alarm.

The concern is not the attempted creation of a weapon. The nuclear arms of some countries have hardly caused their neighbors to break out in nervous sweat. Who has lost sleep because of British or French nukes? Would a Swiss, Swedish or Belgian bomb bother you? Or let us take a more sensitive example. For a generation, Israel has been a nuclear power. Can the erratic policies of her region be ascribed to Jerusalem’s discreetly carried “big stick”? In fact, feeling safe, the “Arab nation’s” hostility expressed by fired rockets, counts on Israel’s inhibitions and so it ignores the “Zionist Entity’s” physical means to erase it. 

Why these reactions? Even in want of a “Watson”, the case is “elementary”. Those on this side of the asylum know a fundamental. Not nukes are the threat but the mind set of those that crave them. To know this much, one does not need to be a cultural slave of polluted western thinking. The case is a matter of color-blind and culturally uninfected logic. After all, there is no black math, Chinese physics or European chemistry. Therefore, accepting an Iranian bomb is not a sign of an enlightenment that welcomes a third world success. The toleration of such a project is more than naive, it is suicidal.

The complaint includes a mention of Iran’s Islamic legal system and of the attempt to impose Western legal concepts upon non-Western societies. 

By the innuendo, global security could be guaranteed by Iran’s Islamist legal system. The rulers in Tehran might believe this or they could use the claim as a propaganda weapon. If the former applies, that is if they believe what they pretend, then consequences emerge. Given the recurring attempts to mislead in nuclear matters, doubts emerge regarding that legal system’s suitability to guarantee world security. The manner by which that system treats sinners and the criteria of what is reviled casts further doubts over it. Extend this to include the morally non- binding nature of promises made by Believers to the faithless. The performance and the world-view of Iran’s rulers does not justify that we accept the word of its rulers as solid guarantees given by gentlemen. If the Mullahs do not see this, then we must conclude that they are detached from reality. Note: politicians that are moved by the irrational are likely to miscalculate. In the case of such actors, dissuasion or guarantees do not have the impact they have on reasonable persons. Dangerous weapons in the hand of dangerous persons are a peril because the resort to physical means is not guided by rational criteria.

Lastly, let us take that part of the charge through which Tehran combats attempts to impose Western standards upon the world. Indeed, what is referred to as “western standards” have mainly evolved in the West. The by now general acceptance of these norms has to do with their practical utility. For that reason, even mighty non-western states rely on these standards. One is afraid to raise the question, whether the Mullahs are prepared to do without polio vaccine because Salk was Jewish?  While Iran might feel morally justified not to adhere to “Western standards” its stance casts doubt on her reliability as a treaty partner. Iran’s leaders might realize in a rare moment of sobriety the advantage gained from those standards. If it would not be for its restraints, then by now Iran would be a wasteland. 

As we leave the subject, we return to the settling of disputes and security through diplomacy and the treaties it produces. Iran’s protest against an imposed system of western values amounts to a wrapped-in-PC declaration of war against the international order. The critique has implications. It is that, as soon as she can afford it, Tehran will ignore all treaties, obligations and accepted norms. In doing so, it will allege to act as a champion of God against neocolonialist dominance. 

To the extent that Islamist Iran takes this course, she will not act without the reference of a moral system. Persia might not want international anarchy –which is, in practical terms the alternative of the present’s system. There will be norms to be imposed and these will be Iran’s. This standard will be expressed in a globalized Sharia. Ironically, but also threateningly, the supposedly evil Western culture’s system will be replaced with one of the Mullahs. Those upon whom this will be imposed will find this to be as alien to their tradition as anything that a creative imagination could conjure up. 

Conclusion:  we are warned that Iran has a system that recognizes no law of moral obligation that is not of its own making. If the states of the international community follow this example, we will not even enjoy the lax order of the present but will suffer under institutionalized international anarchy.