Déjà vu all over again

The Guardian

Ian Williams

November 3, 2007 2:00 PM

When it comes to Iran's nuclear capabilities, whose word would you rather take: that of a Nobel prize-winning head of an international agency specializing in nuclear issues who was proved triumphantly right about Iraq, or that of a bunch of belligerent neocons who make no secret of their desire to whack Iran at the earliest opportunity and who made such a pigs ear of Iraq?

That is the stark choice facing the sane people of the world, given the smearing of IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei for not joining the hysterical lynch mob building up against Iran. Criticised by Condoleezza Rice and others in the Bush administration, it is uncannily reminiscent of the slurs against him and UN weapons inspector Hans Blix in the run up to the invasion of Iraq - and we should remember that the US vindictively tried to unseat him afterwards for not joining in the lying game.

ElBaradei is hardly acting as cheerleader for the Iranians. He says that his inspectors have not seen "any concrete evidence that there is a parallel military program," though he could not yet swear to its absence. But he does believe that our issues with Iran can be resolved through negotiations - in which it would help if the US were not implicitly threatening war. But it looks as though we have reached a similar stage to when Saddam let in the inspectors. When they found no WMDs Washington cried foul, ordered the UN inspectors out and sent the troops in. The US and its allies will not accept anything short of regime change in Teheran - no matter what ordinary Iranians might want and what the IAEA says.

The only difference from last time is that France has defected, and France's opposition to the war in Iraq was as much because of Saddam's oil contracts with Total and Elf-Aquitaine as any deep attachment to international law. Teheran should sign a contract immediately!

There are, of course, several separate issues here. One is whether Iran has the right to enrich uranium. The second is whether it is abusing the putative right to build nuclear weapons. A third is whether the nuclear issue is not just some sort of White House feint, since we all know that if the shooting starts, it will really be about fighting terrorism, liberating gays and women, restoring democracy and taking down a major rival in the region to both Saudi Arabia and Israel - or any permutation of the above.

On the first question, stupid though it is, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty does not ban countries from reprocessing and purifying uranium. It should have done, and it should have allowed more intrusive inspections, but it doesn't, and one reason for that is that the US, under the influence of the people who now want to cite non-proliferation against Iran, fought against attempts to strengthen the treaty. These are the same people, in fact, who have successfully fought against the senate ratifying the comprehensive test ban treaty.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's maladroit diplomacy led to Iran being outmanoeuvred. His comments on Israel and the Holocaust, no matter whether interpreted correctly or not, have made it difficult for many countries to support him. The US got a resolution against Iran through the IAEA council calling on Iran to stop its uranium reprocessing, largely by promising council member India a free pass for developing nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and with the enthusiastic support of Israel, the only definite nuclear state in the Middle East.

The US then took that IAEA council resolution to the UN security council, whose word, whether Iran likes it or not, is law under the UN charter, even though it is manifestly a political rather than a judicial body. (The law is not always just, and that goes for international law as well). It does not help Iran as much as it should that Washington, a major scofflaw in the international field, is once again talking piously about the need to enforce UN resolutions, with its own interpretation and its own timetable - just as was the case with Iraq.

Iran is playing a dangerous game. Most countries have deep reservations about what the US, France and, to a lesser extent, the UK are up to, but few of them are prepared to go to the wall, diplomatically, let alone militarily, for the ayatollahs.

Iran should accept the additional and more intrusive inspections that it did before, and throw open its program to the IAEA inspectors, but the war talk in Washington and Jerusalem gives it a plausible excuse not to, since it would be tantamount to offering them a list of targets.

Of course it is difficult to support someone like Ahmadinejad, even when he does for once have a point in the nuclear stand-off. But we can support ElBaradei and the IAEA, as the only sane voices around. With enemies such as ElBaradei has marshalling against him, he must be right.


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe

  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 – present, website developer and writer. 2015 – present, insurance broker.

    Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration.

    Volunteerism: 2007 – present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.

    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.