Nuclear Deterrence, Nuclear Rabbis, and Nuclear Mullahs

When it comes to nuclear deterrence, there is no difference between how it is perceived among the nuclear rabbis of Israel and the nuclear mullahs of Iran.  The nuclear rabbis are the Likudniks and other right wing politicians of Israel’s official community who are committed to saving the Jewish state through the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear mullahs are their Muslim counterparts of the Islamic republic who hold similar views about the use of nuclear weapons. The chief difference is that the perception of the nuclear rabbis is deemed sacred, valid, and legitimate in Washington and in other Western capitals, while that of the nuclear mullahs is regarded as phony.  As such, the nuclear deterrence of the mullahs is not regarded as a serious rationale for the survival of the Iranian government.  However, as a concept, nuclear deterrence is supposed to be valid, since it becomes the chief rationale forwarded by Israel and Iran to establish legitimacy of their respective nuclear weapons, while declaring that legitimacy as invalid for the other state.  The ayatollahs are fully aware of that reality.

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China and the U.S.: Between “Low” and “High” Politics

Watching the developing spat between the PRC and the U.S. over the latter’s decision to sell $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, one is reminded of the reality that security affairs have remained part and parcel of “low politics,” if that type of politics can be redefined as politics where suspicion, the dark shadows of zero-sum-related competitiveness, and one-upmanship are still lurking and ready to poison the ties between these two important actors. Contrast that version of low politics with its counterpart, “high politics,” if that phrase can be redefined as a description of the new realities where China is catching up with the United States, and the latter is beginning to look like an old curmudgeon, getting grumpy about its declining economic power and the related effects.

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The Making of a New Global Strategy



The administration of President Barack H. Obama has started the highly intricate process of developing its own strategy with a bang in different regions of the world.  Here are the ingredients of that strategy: multilateralism, looking for a fresh start–which promises to be substantially different from the preceding administration–search for common ground involving Russia, invitation of negotiations with America’s traditional adversaries like Iran and North Korea, and at least the initial hope that approaches toward Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are likely to be radically different than the one the Bush administration pursued unsuccessfully.  This is a huge agenda.  But Obama’s administration has the enormous characteristic of freshness, metaphorically as well as substantively, in the sense that it is not carrying any baggage that had so infamously bogged down George W. Bush in an ostensibly endless inertia.


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The Shia-Sunni Power Play in the Middle East

The continuing public spat between Hezbollah and Arab states is a mixture of old and new styles of power play.  The “old” part implicitly involves Iran–the chief supporter of Hezbollah–while the new aspect of this power play is between the antiquated monarchies and the nexus between Iran and Hezbollah.  Iran is the “rising power” of the Middle East, while the Sunni Arab states belong to the category of “declining” powers.  Hezbollah’s status will be determined most significantly after the impending elections in Lebanon.  As an example of how the U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East is more of an expression of continuity than change (despite President Barack H. Obama’s rhetoric of “change’) Vice President Biden was dispatched to Lebanon to influence the outcome of the Lebanese elections, an action that is likely to backfire and, in the process, only enhance the political clout of Hezbollah. 


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Iran to Obama: Rapprochement Means Going Beyond Diplomatic Symbolism


The ongoing positive diplomatic overtures of President Barack H. Obama toward Iran definitely point to a new beginning, but the time has come to go beyond diplomatic symbolism.  Iran is listening, and is sending clear signals that it wants to see concrete policy changes as evidence of America’s earnestness.  Speaking of policy changes, the Obama administration, as well as the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has to narrow a very wide gulf of ill-will, animosity, and hostility that has been in the making for the past thirty years. 


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America’s Fresh Start

There comes a time in the history of nations–even for the lone superpower–when it needs a fresh start.  Today is just that day.  America is going to have a fresh start.  As President Barack H. Obama stated, America is ready to lead the world once again.  This is not an appropriate time to dwell on the past, but a cursory look is vital, if nothing else, for the sake of some sense of perspective about where the United States is heading as a nation.


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Different Meanings of Nuclear Deterrence

The United States is number one in the realms of nuclear and conventional weapons.  Its conventional superiority is so awesome that no nation-state would dare challenge it.  Yet it has no intention of reducing the size of its huge nuclear arsenal. 

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Last Call: Denuclearizing Iran and North Korea

The Bush administration has thus far failed to resolve the nuclear conflict with two so-called “rogue states”–Iran and North Korea.  In the final three months of his tenure, George W. Bush is making last-ditch deals with Russia and China to put pressure on Tehran and Pyongyang, respectively.  The focus of those deals is to persuade North Korea, through China, to unravel its nuclear weapons program and dismantle its nuclear weapons.  Though the Six-Party Talks–involving the U.S., China, South and North Korea, Russia and Japan–have been helpful, they have not succeeded in extracting a political solution to the conflict.  In the case of Iran, Washington is persuading Russia to cooperate in passing tough U.N. sanctions unless Iran agrees to abandon its nuclear program.  Even though Iran has been insisting that it has no aspirations to develop nuclear weapons, the Bush administration continues to pooh-pooh that explanation and states that Iran’s real intentions are to do just that. 


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The Birth Pangs of A Multipolar World Order

The confluence of the waning months of the Bush presidency–when the lameduck factor is looming large– the continued insistence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the U.S. set a timetable of withdrawing from Iraq, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and the forced resignation of General Pervez Musharraf–President Bush’s favorite strongman in Pakistan–are creating a new buzz globally.  That buzz can be highlighted along the lines that “Washington is forced to watch other powers shape events,” that a superpower is reborn (in reference to Russian military action against on Georgia), that a new world order is emerging, and that America’s decline will not easily be reversed.


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