Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Test Our Smart Diplomacy

We'll send up a sanctions resolution to the UN Security Council to see if we can pressure Iran into halting nuclear programs that could result in a nuclear warhead:

Both Russia and China resisted sanctions before they were persuaded to support the stepped up pressure on Iran in recent weeks. Proposed sanctions relating to Iran's oil and gas industry were removed due to opposition from the two countries, which have vast investments and interests in Iran's energy sector.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the final draft is acceptable because it is "focused adequately on nonproliferation matters" and doesn't cause "humanitarian damage" or create problems for normal economic activities in Iran and the country's economic relations with other countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee that she spent Tuesday on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "finalizing the resolution."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov "expressed anxiety" in his talk with Clinton about reports that the United States and European Union might undertake unilateral sanctions against Iran beyond measures agreed to by the Security Council.

At least three of the 10 non-permanent Security Council members — Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon — have expressed opposition to new sanctions.

One, the sanctions had to be seriously weakened to get Russia and China to go along with the plan. So we should have five votes along with ourselves, Britain, and France.

Iran has Brazil, Turkey, and Lebanon.

So we need four more votes among the remaining Security Council members this session: Austria, Japan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Mexico, Gabon, and Nigeria.

So who might vote with us? Japan, to be sure. Probably Mexico. Perhaps Austria. Bosnia and Hezegovina might put us over, if our Balkans interventions are still remembered fondly. That would get us to nine votes.

But Uganda, Gabon, and Nigeria are poor enough that we could be outbid. I wonder what contracts Hugo Chavez has made lately with those countries?

Further, I suspect that Russia and China are agreeing with us only because they know that others will vote no and defeat the resolution. So maybe Islamic solidarity and a bribe gets Bosnia and Herzegovina to vote against the resolution. And maybe Austria doesn't want to put a big fat target on their country for jihadis to aim at by being the ninth vote in favor.

And if all else fails from the Chinese and Russian point of view, and the resolution passes? Well, it will be too weak to be decisive, and Iran will have perhaps bought enough time to go nuclear.

We will not have peace in our time, even with a UNSC resolution to wave on the tarmac.

Have a lovely, freaking day.

UPDATE: Joe Klein--God love him, he does try--believes this exercise in sanction talks is a diplomatic triumph for the Obama administration, notwithstanding that the Turkey-Iran nuclear swap agreement is, as he admits, "a lousy one."

But this is Joe Klein, after all. Hopefully Obamacare will pay for having his lips surgically separated from the presidential buttocks.

UPDATE: More vote counting:

But the UN Security Council has ten rotating members beyond the Perm Five—and right now Brazil and Turkey are two of those ten. Of the others, Lebanon is a sure bet to vote against, while Austria has indicated skepticism for the resolution and Japan has praised the uranium swap deal. Passage is therefore far from certain.

Japan won't vote for our resolution? I find that hard to believe given their issues with North Korean nukes.