In the last post, Niki pointed out that it was both disingenuous and dangerous to radically de-couple "the people" from "the government" in the current climate of threats being made against Iran: "We may be able to tell the difference," between government and people, she said, but "bombs cannot."
I would like to add a point to this argument: Even "we," the observers of the current standoff on the Iranian nuclear program, no matter where we stand politically on this issue, need to be very careful about being able to make the distinction between government and people correctly. This is important, I believe, because at least on the surface of things, these two entities seem to view the nuclear issue somewhat differently, and it is important to carefully consider this difference.
The Iranian government has always adamantly insisted that its nuclear program is strictly for energy purposes, that it cannot rely on oil alone to satisfy its growing energy needs (Iran actually imports billions of liters of gasoline each year), and that mastering the technology for nuclear energy production is a key objective in ensuring national "self-sufficiency." To allay concerns that the energy program might be a front for a nuclear weapons program, the Iranian government recently signed on to the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which has been signed by less than half of NPT member-states so far, and which allows for snap inspections of nuclear facilities by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The U.S. and Israel claim that none of this is satisfactory, and that they still believe Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapons capability. Of course, there is really no way to determine the truth of this accusation. Recent experience tells us however, that the U.S. is usually not to be trusted when making statements about the WMD programs of other countries. And Israel is not qualified the least bit to make such accusations, as it has consistently refused to even sign on to the "basic" NPT treaty, much less renounce its large and ambitious nuclear weapons program and its massive stockpile of nuclear warheads.
But even if no one may be able to objectively determine the "true" nuclear intentions of the Iranian government, the nuclear intentions of the "people" seem to be relatively clear and consistent: Most Iranians support not only a nuclear energy program, but indeed, a full-fledged nuclear weapons program (also see here and here). In this sense, the people may be more radical than the government. The question that just begs to be asked here is this: when Bush condemns Iran for its nuclear program but says "America" stands by the "Iranian people," is he willing to acknowledge that one of the very few issues that can perhaps unite "the people" against America is support for the "government's" nuclear program, and perhaps even a program more radical than what the government itself is pursuing?February 4, 2005 08:18 PM | TrackBack