August 4, 2008

English summary

The main topic of this issue of Diplomaatia is Iran. The political analyst Robert Kagan says in his interview with Diplomaatia that a regime change is needed in Iran: “Iran has very firmly decided to get a nuclear bomb. (—) But at the end of the day, weapons are not as important as the nature of the regime,” he argues. ”We are not worried about the nuclear weapons of France or of Israel”¦ Ukraine gave its weapons away when it left the Soviet Union.”

The main topic of this issue of Diplomaatia is Iran. The political analyst Robert Kagan says in his interview with Diplomaatia that a regime change is needed in Iran: “Iran has very firmly decided to get a nuclear bomb. (—) But at the end of the day, weapons are not as important as the nature of the regime,” he argues. ”We are not worried about the nuclear weapons of France or of Israel”¦ Ukraine gave its weapons away when it left the Soviet Union.”

English summary

The main topic of this issue of Diplomaatia is Iran. The political analyst Robert Kagan says in his interview with Diplomaatia that a regime change is needed in Iran:
“Iran has very firmly decided to get a nuclear bomb. (—) But at the end of the day, weapons are not as important as the nature of the regime,” he argues. ”We are not worried about the nuclear weapons of France or of Israel”¦ Ukraine gave its weapons away when it left the Soviet Union.”
According to Kagan, there are no military solutions short of invasion that could prevent Iran from getting a bomb, even less to bring about a regime change. So he suggests that the West continue negotiating with Iran, but at the same time encourage changes inside the country: “We have become fixated on preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But while this is definitely a right, justified fixation, this has prevented us from doing the kinds of things we did against the Soviet Union at the time of the Cold War. For some reason people seem to think now that we cannot negotiate with Iran about its nuclear program and at the same time support the dissidents, radio stations, trade unions, whatever”¦ But at the times of the Cold War we did both: we had the arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union, while supporting the dissidents and all forms of liberalization. I see no reason why we shouldn’t behave the same way with Iran.”
Kagan also argues that the West should put stronger pressure on Russia, where President Putin uses what he calls “salami-tactics” – cutting liberties little by little. “There has not been a Tiananmen Square in Russia – a single huge crime that would expose the nature of the regime, but there has been a gradual movement towards lesser freedom. And we seem to think that as there is no big crime, it’s not a big deal. I think it’s a wrong approach.”
Also, according to Kagan, Russia benefits from the sorry state of the world: “Russia has been very lucky: it is a problem, but in the world where there is Al Qaeda, Iran, Iraq, China, Russia is a problem of the eighth category.” Also, the West feels it needs Russia’s help with Iran and therefore does not dare to criticize Russia too heavily: “I think that such considerations represent a deal with the devil. And I do not expect Putin in the end to be very helpful about Iran, and actually, in the long term, I would be more concerned about what becomes of Russia itself, rather than about whether Putin helps us with Iran or not.”
Regarding the transatlantic relationship, Kagan admits that it is significantly better than three or four years ago, when he wrote his bestselling book “Of Paradise and Power”, where he argued that the Americans and Europeans do not occupy the same world; regarding the questions of power, Americans are from Mars and the Europeans are from Venus. But Kagan maintains that the basic argument still holds true; despite the improved relationship the attitudes towards problems like those represented by Iran are still drastically different in Europe and America. While America is looking for a solution, admitting that there is no good one available, Europeans would prefer to keep negotiating, without asking if that is ever likely to lead to a solution. “It seems to me that the Europeans just do not want to see the real world,” Kagan concludes.
A Russian Middle East expert Vladimir Sazhin explains the psychological roots of Iran’s nuclear program. According to him, Iran has decided to become a regional superpower and found that now was the best time to come public with this aspiration; earlier would have been too early, the economic foundations were not there. Later could have been too late – at least if the regional realities had changed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict moving closer to its solution.
Kaarel Kaas sheds some light on the background of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his contemporaries – who all represent the second generation of the Islamic revolution.
Tiit Pruuli describes his meetings and impressions from Iran – which mostly originate in the time when the water pipe was not yet banned from Iran’s teahouses.
What to do with Iran, asks the title of Sven Mikser’s article. Mikser explains the background of the Iranian nuclear ambitions and reaches the conclusion that there is no good solution to the problem posed by Iran. “There is an option that we would not like to consider, but that nevertheless might one day become reality, that we need to learn to live together with a nuclear-armed Iran in the world where the nuclear nonproliferation treaty is effectively dead. “It would be a dangerous world, where the survival of entire nations would at best depend on the ability of politicians and diplomats to walk a thin line, but at worst depend on the wishes of some populist extremist or a fanatic,” he concludes.

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