The only serious diplomatic effort to resolve "the Iran nuclear issue" resumed over the weekend and there hasn't been a word in the American media. But that doesn't surprise me because it seemed clear before it began that the G5+1 session in Almaty, Kazakhstan, would be little more than an opportunity to "kick the can further down the road," as The Guardian put it -- keep the process alive until after the Iranian presidential election.
The shame is that a Yank has to read the Guardian -- and other non-American news sources -- for a responsible report on the G5+1. Ask a typical flag-waving, Limbaugh-loving American what the G5+1 is and he'll probably guess some kind of new, small computer. (G5+1 is journo-speak for the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, the group that is trying to broker an accord of some kind.)
The American media can't stand the sight of no blood; a calm, snail's pace negotiating session simply won't get their attention. A computer-generated drawing purporting to show a new test chamber for superbombs, or a miscopied junior high school physics formula said to have "proved" Iran was trying to build nuclear weapons -- that's their cup of tea. Anything to stir up war talk.
Even the New York Times, winner of another four Pulitzer Prizes today, can't seem to get it right consistently on Iran. It's falling for for the fishy-smelling kind of yellow-cake, aluminum tube stuff that led it to cheerlead the Iraq invasion. The collective sins of our media already have built some things that don't exist into terrifying bogeymen. "Iran's nuclear program" is the same kind of "threat" to U.S. national security that Iraq's "WMDs" were. There are still far-right Americans who believe in the latter; "we just haven't found 'em yet." The media drumbeat has endowed the former with a similar potential for horror that it doesn't possess.
For example, Robert Jervis, a professor of foreign policy at Columbia and a member of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, recently called "for the United States to resign itself to Iran's development of nuclear weapons and to focus on deterring the Islamic Republic from ever using them." The entire section that follows in his essay is based upon the absolutely unproved assumption that Iran is, or is trying to, develop nuclear weapons.
Later in the piece, Jervis gives us this: "In practice, (we have) only two tools for dealing with Iran's advancing nuclear program: threats and promises, the melding of which the political scientist Alexander George labeled 'coercive diplomacy.' To succeed in halting Iran's progress toward a bomb, the United States will have to combine the two, not simply alternate between them."
Advancing nuclear program? Progress toward a bomb? Under the desks, kids!
Iran's "nuclear program" is not a lot different now from what it was after the U.S. gave the country nuclear capability and technology when our Good Buddy the Shah was running things, not always for the peace and comfort of the Irani masses. Its facilities -- including the bogeyman in the bunker at Fordow -- produce 20% enriched uranium This grade is fine for nuclear power generating plants like the one at Bushehr. But as for making a weapon, forget it. In fact, the U.S. "Atoms for Peace" jump start led to Iran's developing some of the finest medical research and treatment facilities in the Middle East. Iran could only continue those things, after the U.S. embargo grew tighter and tighter, by using its own material, or what it could get past the embargo from places like Niger. Hence the two new uranium mines in Iran, which the U.S. duly "decried" during G5+1. Hence President Ahmadinejad's shopping trip to Niger after G5+1.
A Nigerian official said, "We are a sovereign state and will deal with who we want. Our uranium, our oil, we are going to sell them to who we want."
Meanwhile, there was diplomacy going on over the weekend, despite the silence of the New York Times, the talking heads and the rest of the U.S. media. The EU powers offered unspecified relaxation of some portions of the embargo that is crippling Iran's economy, if the Islamic republic would stop 20% production, ship the existing stockpile out of the country and close down Fordow. That is, give away everything for a mess of pottage.
But it sounds like a negotiation. At least it's not Shock and Awe. Until it is, the U.S. media will continue to ignore it or misrepresent it.