By Tomás Rosa Bueno (For mycatbirdseat.com)
But where are the tough sanctions of yester-week? Where’s Hillary, the iron-brained lady, for whose sake Barack, I ween, Lost his principles and went all shady?(Apud François Villon’s “Ballade des femmes des temps jadis”)
Richard Falk’s article Rebalancing the World gives a fair and balanced view of the far-reaching consequences of the May 17 Tehran Declaration. However, when addressing the possible reasons for the U.S. negative response to the deal brokered by Brazil between Turkey and Iran he’s right in essence, but off the mark on one crucial detail: it’s not true, or at least not entirely true, that “American leaders tried to talk Brasilia and Ankara out of making any independent steps to resolve the crisis”. They did so only from May 12, when apparently they got strong signs that Iran would accept a deal. This is when Clinton called both Lula and Erdogan to tell them that the U.S. had strong signs of the opposite, that Iran would not play ball. Erdogan took Clinton’s words at face value and cancelled his scheduled trip to Tehran at the last minute. Lula decided to go ahead with what after all was to be to climax of six months of intense talks and consultations involving Turkey, Iran, the U.S., France, and Russia.
A deal was struck, and Erdogan had to cancel his cancellation and rush to Tehran to be present when it was signed.
Brazil was directly involved in this issue when Obama, during the G20 Summit in Cleveland last year, publicly asked Lula to use Brazil’s influence and good relations with Iran to bring the Iranians back to the negotiation table. It’s not know whose idea it was, but this is when the “Turkey scheme” was born. The talks between the three countries continued throughout this period, and Brazil’s FM Celso Amorim spent this time practically living in a plane flying between Brazil and Turkey. The U.S. was fully informed of these intense negotiations and made suggestions all along, including in the form of the now famous letter Obama sent to Lula on April 20th, which was the basis for Brazil’s – and Turkey’s – final proposal to Iran.
In retrospect, this chain of events makes it obvious that the Obama Administration fully expected Lula and Erdogan to make fools of themselves by coming out of Iran empty-handed and cured of their aspirations to play a role in the issue, but prodded them on anyway, “urging” them to “impress upon Iran the opportunities” of a deal, hoping to use their failure as a tool to bolster its case for stronger sanctions. When, against all odds, a deal with Iran was struck in exactly the same terms outlined by Obama in his letter to Lula, the U.S. was forced to renege on its own proposals in terms that verged on being insulting, at the very likely risk of alienating two crucial regional allies in South America and in the Middle East, because negotiating with Iran was never their intention. Their game plan contemplated only the sanctions drive.
Since it has been demonstrated that sanctions do not work and must be used only as a last resort, when all other paths to negotiation have been closed, it makes sense to ask what are the U.S. real goals in pushing for them at such a high cost when Iran has shown its willingness to engage in meaningful talks about its nuclear program.
If they weren’t who and what they are, we could almost pity them. They had it all set up for a grand finale: Turkey and Brazil humiliated back into the sanctions fold, a unanimous vote for new harsher sanctions against Iran by the UN Security Council and a final declaration by the NPT Review Conference plenum including a condemnation of Iran’s “continued violations” of the NPT.
Instead, they had to vote for an NPT declaration that had their pet-State Israel as the bad guy, the sanctions won’t even be voted by the UNSC and they will end up looking like fools. As Armstrong could have said, it will be a small humiliation for one country, but a great victory for mankind…
Sic transit stultitia mundi.
Tomás Rosa Bueno is Brazilian-born freelance translator, has lived and worked in more than 20 countries in four continents, including Russia, North Africa, Mexico, Turkey, most of South America, most of Western Europe. Has written first-hand reports for a variety of independent media outlets on events such as the 1973 military putsch in Chile, Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in 1975, the landless movements in Brazil during the 80s, and the 2001/2002 popular assemblies movement in Argentina. Currently living in Bariloche, Argentina.