by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on November 13th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
The Guardian’s recent article, “How President Obama can achieve a nuclear deal with Iran,” speaks about why a nuclear deal with Iran is urgently needed, and what Iran must give up. This Guardian piece is a little weak on what the United States and the Western powers must offer as part of the deal. When read by itself, it repeats the “tough-minded” and largely blind to emotional nuance approach that has made the West’s dealings with Iran so fruitless. Here’s what author Tom Rogan writes:
In the cause of peace, the clock is ticking.
Western Intelligence services have delayed a nuclear Iran. Still, the evidence on the ground is unmistakable. Iranian nuclear activities increasingly point to a weaponization agenda. Of most concern: Iran’s soon-to-be plutonium production facility at Arak. As David Albright and Christina Walrond of the Institute for Science and International Security note (pdf), claims of an inherently peaceful nuclear program cannot easily co-exist with a heavy water reactor. Correspondingly, in last weekend’s P5+1 negotiations, the French Foreign Minister suggested that allowing Arak to remain in operation would represent a “sucker’s deal”.
This isn’t just about Iran’s nuclear claims-capability disconnect. Once Arak reaches nuclear criticality (as things stand, probably at some point next year), any military strike on its reactor would release highly radioactive materials into the atmosphere. In this vein, any deal that fails to address Arak would force the Israeli timetable – making a near-term Israeli military strike much likelier (it would be a grave mistake to take Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threats lightly).
The article is clear about what Iran must concede but weak on what the Western powers must do to make this deal palatable to the moderates in the Iranian government, including its new President. In talking about moderates, I do not want to hide that I’d prefer to see the people of Iran rise up against their government and non-violently overthrow it, because the mullahs in power continue to violate the human rights of the people over whom they rule, not only dissenters, but also denying the rights of women, the rights of free assembly and a free press, using torture against dissenters and fostering hatred and oppression of Ba’hai and other religious minorities.
The key question is not “are these people in power a tolerable bunch?” but rather “what policies should be pursued that could strengthen the possibility of the Iranian people rising up in nonviolent rebellion?” It is clear that decades of escalating sanctions have not had that impact, and if Israel, or Israel and the United States, were to engage in military assault on Iran, that would loose a surge of nationalist fervor that would force even the tens of millions of Iranians who hate the current regime to rally around it against the outside attackers!So a deal on nuclear weapons is urgent not only because an Iran with nuclear weapons would be a danger to the world, but also because a war against Iran would likely fail to achieve a goal of permanently preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons and meanwhile would strengthen the most reactionary voices in Iran.
The path of coercion and domination has not and will not work. So it’s time to try the path of generosity and respect for the Iranian people.
Here are the necessary steps:
1. The United States and the countries that originally colonized Iran (France, Britain, Russia) must apologize to the Iranian people for attempting to dominate it and extract its oil for profit and power of the Western oil companies and for Western (and sometimes Russian) military power (though Russia never succeeded in the way that the Western powers did). The United States in particular should apologize for its support of the Shah’s dictatorship that the Iranian revolution overthrew in the late 1970s, and U.S. intransigence against the Islamists once they came to power. President Obama should fly to Teheran to deliver this apology, and to publicly affirm the great contribution made to human civilization by the peoples of Persia (now Iran).
2. The United States should announce that within a year of the implementation of the nuclear treaty, and the proof that inspectors are being given freedom to do spot inspections to ensure compliance by Iran, that all levels of economic boycotts will be suspended and that the United States will be happy to enter into and economically support a common market for the Middle East that includes Iran and Israel. Moreover, the United States will launch the Global Marshall Plan, in coordination with the G-20, and including the terms specified in the version of the Global Marshall Plan being advanced by the Network of Spiritual Progressives (see www.tikkun.org/GMP).
3. The United States will announce a plan for the terms of a lasting peace accord between Israel and Palestine incorporating the elements specified in Tikkun’s plan (see the Winter 2014 issue of Tikkun which will be mailed in late January, but which are substantially the same terms as those presented in my book Embracing Israel/Palestine, which you can order at www.tikkun.org/eip).
4. President Obama should fly to Israel, announce these terms as the only ones satisfactory to the United States, and should announce a suspension of all military cooperation with Israel, until Iran’s compliance with the treaty establishing no militarization of Iran’s nuclear capacities and reliable means of enforcement have been agreed to and implemented and verified, and Israel, itself, implements the terms of the peace agreement stipulated by the United States and presented in Embracing Israel/Palestine. In case this is not sufficient to get Israel to accept those terms, the United States should announce that failure to implement this proposal will lead to economic as well as military boycott of Israel by the United States and other Western powers.
5.The United States should demand of Iran that it explicitly acknowledge the existence of Israel and renounce any intent to destroy the State of Israel or otherwise deny the Jewish people the right to national self-determination in the Middle East, and that it acknowledge the same rights for the Kurds, and affirm religious freedom for all minority groups including the Ba’hai.
This is the path to a safe and lasting agreement with Iran that will work and be sustainable, and will incidentally push Israel to do what is in any event, in its long-term survival interests to do anyway.
Please feel free to republish my commentary, send it to your friends, put it on your Facebook and other social media pages, and put it on your own website, if and only if you also at least summarize the Guardian article, which stipulates the terms and enforcements of a nuclear agreement with the Iranian government. And urge anyone who agrees with it to join our Network of Spiritual Progressives and thereby support us to do the important work of showing what a world based on generosity rather than domination could look like.