[Marxism] WSJ: Heat Rises Under Iran

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 21 04:16:08 MDT 2008

As this demonstrates, Washington these days is following a two-track,
carrot-and-stick policy toward Iran, trying at every step to promote
divisions within Iranian society. Those already exist, of course
because Iran's a class-divided capitalist country, but Washington's
strategy is to exacerbate these to the maximum extend possible. Using
many of the very same tools Washington uses against Cuba - financial
isolation being essential, so far they don't appear to have evoked
big cracks within the Iranian leadership. And the situation between
Washington and Iran can't be understood in international isolation.

Neither Russia nor China are in any kind of hurry for Washington to
impose a further blockade on Iran. They demonstrated this by their
opposition to Washington's efforts to blockade Zimbabwe in the United
Nations security council. The Russian talk about putting bombers in
Cuba - just talk for now - is all part of the international jockeying
for for position, influence and power which is taking place in the
world stage today. A similar strategy is being followed toward the

Only Cuba continues to be receiving a predominantly one-track policy
by Washington, which is to say a policy of blockade only. The Obama
candidacy offers the prospect of a return to a double-track approach
by the United States in its endless war against the Cuban Revolution.

For example, there is no travel ban against visiting Iran today, as
there is against Cuba, but the rest of the economic mechanisms in
place against Cuba are also in place against Iran today.

That is what Armando Hart was alluding to in Granma not long ago:

"Barak Obama, the Democratic Party candidate in the next United
States election, has declared that if he wins, he will rescind the
standing provisions, dictated by the Bush administration in that
country, which impede economic operations for travel to our soil. 
If he fulfills his promise, a new stage in the ideological struggle
between the Cuban Revolution and imperialism will be born. In it
[this new stage], in order to achieve the ideological invulnerability
to which we aspire, it will be necessary to design a new theoretical
and propagandistic conception about our ideas and their origin."


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

July 21, 2008

Heat Rises Under Iran
U.S., Europe Vow
Additional Penalties
If Nuclear Talks Fail
July 21, 2008

The U.S. is fine-tuning new financial penalties against Iran that
would target everything from gasoline imports to the insurance
sector, and the prospect of such sanctions grew after talks over its
nuclear-fuel program this weekend made no progress.

U.S. and European officials said they will intensify efforts to
impose these penalties should their diplomatic drive fail to induce
Iran to freeze its nuclear program. The sanctions effort could
include measures to impede Iran's shipping operations in the Persian
Gulf and its banking activities in Asia and the Middle East, the
officials said.

On Saturday, talks with Iran in Geneva failed to produce any
progress, despite U.S. participation at the highest level since the
1979 Iranian revolution. Represented by European Union foreign-policy
coordinator Javier Solana, the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France
and Germany gave Iran two weeks to respond to Mr. Solana's proposals
to launch real negotiations or face further sanctions.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council,
plus Germany, are offering Iran economic and energy assistance,
security assurances and enhanced diplomatic ties in exchange for
concessions on its nuclear program.

"We have not gotten all the answers to the questions," Mr. Solana
told reporters after Saturday's meeting. He said the two-week
timeframe was meant to give Iran the space to come up with "the
answers that will allow us to continue."

In Washington, a U.S. official was more blunt. "We hope the Iranian
people understand that their leaders need to make a choice between
cooperation, which would bring benefits to all, and confrontation,
which can only led to further isolation," said State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack.

The Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its uranium
enrichment program, which can produce civilian- or weapons-grade
nuclear fuel. Iran has said repeatedly it won't do that, but there
had been hopes Saturday's meeting could launch a period of
preliminary talks that could start if Iran agreed temporarily to
freeze its enrichment at current levels in exchange for a freeze on
further sanctions.

In a sign of these hopes for progress, the U.S. sent Undersecretary
of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Washington's No. 3
diplomat, an unprecedented move in the nuclear talks with Iran, which
have been going since 2003. American officials said Mr. Burns's
attendance would also make it easier for the U.S. to compel its
negotiating partners to impose tougher measures should this
"freeze-for-freeze" approach fail.

A number of Western diplomats and strategists acknowledge there is
significant risk in President George W. Bush's decision to directly
engage Iran on the nuclear issue. For one, they say, the Iranians
could use the negotiating process as a means to divide the Europeans
and Americans over sanctions while continuing to enrich uranium.

These officials also said the negotiating track could allow Tehran
simply to wait out the Bush administration, while seeing if a new
U.S. president takes a more conciliatory line towards Iran. Some
analysts estimate that Iran could have produced enough fuel for a
nuclear bomb by late next year.

"They might accept a 60-day suspension to examine the seriousness of
the proposal," said David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to
Vice President Dick Cheney. "They'll do that for 60 days and move
ahead with their program."

The talks are part of a complex diplomatic game being played 
out in the region, the outcome of which is impossible to predict. 
In addition to the talks on nuclear proliferation, the Israelis are
talking indirectly to the Syrians about a possible peace deal and
have entered into agreements with Islamic militant groups Hamas and
Hezbollah. Some senior U.S. analysts worry these overtures could be a
prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Still, the Bush administration has signaled it is prepared to
accelerate the diplomatic embrace of Tehran if the current talks
prove successful. In addition to the economic incentives outlined in
Mr. Solana's proposal, U.S. officials have said they are considering
opening a small diplomatic mission in Tehran in the coming months if
the Iranians are receptive. And Washington has been seeking to
accelerate other interpersonal exchanges between groups such as
Olympic athletes, doctors and students.

If Iran balks, a principal focus of any new penalties would be the
country's imports of refined petroleum products, particular gasoline,
said U.S. and European officials.

The Treasury Department's point man on Iran, Undersecretary for
Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey, has been meeting
government and private-sector officials in Italy, Spain and France to
lobby American allies about the risks of doing business with Tehran.

Because of a lack of refining capabilities, Iran is forced to import
roughly 40% of its gasoline from European, Indian and Venezuelan
companies. In 2006, Iran paid roughly $5 billion for gasoline, making
it the second-largest importer, after the U.S. The Iranian government
was forced to ration gasoline last year due to financial and supply
pressures, setting off unrest in some areas of the country.

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly pushed EU ministers last
month to consider targeting Iran's oil and natural-gas industry,
should talks stall.


     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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