Sunday, June 27, 2004

A Nice Bit of Cynicism

Seeing as he's doing such an ineffective job of keeping Iranian nuclear ambitions in check, it's really rather touching to see Mohammed ElBaradei ask Israel to go nuclear-free. Like the proverbial drunk who looks for his car-keys under the spotlight because that's the easiest place to search for them, ElBaradei would rather pester a country that acknowledges civilized norms of conduct. When's the last time anyone heard Israeli rabbis chanting "Death to Iran"? When has anyone even seen a rabbi actually head a government?

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, says Israel should start discussions on ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons.
He said such dialogue would help reduce frustration in the region about "what is seen to be a widespread imbalance".
Mr ElBaradei is scheduled to travel to Israel next month to discuss making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.
He said everyone knew that Israel had a nuclear capability - even if Israel has always refused to admit it.
"We need... to rid the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction," he told reporters on a visit to Russia.
"Israel agrees with that, but they say it has to be... after peace agreements.
"My proposal is may be we need to start to have a parallel dialogue on security at the same time when we're working on the peace process."

[............]

Israel has a policy of "strategic ambiguity" - neither admitting nor denying it has nuclear weapons - but analysts believe it has more than 100 nuclear weapons.
Its Arab neighbours have frequently accused the international community of double standards for requiring them to be free of nuclear weapons while doing little, in their eyes, about Israel.
Mr ElBaradei said it was "not sustainable in any region or even globally to have some [people] rely on nuclear weapons and others being told they should not have nuclear weapons".
What a load of codswollop. There are two very simple reasons why it's perfectly alright for Israel to have nuclear weapons while the Arabs don't:
  1. Israel has no aggressive intentions towards any other state, not even its Arab neighbors: were it otherwise, the Israelis would already have acted on them, as they've long had the military muscle to make good on any such ambitions, while one result of America's ongoing "Peace Vector" programme is that Israel's conventional military superiority with respect to Egypt only erodes with the passage of time.
  2. Israel, for all its bluster in the face of external criticism, is a state where political accountability isn't just an empty phrase, and Israeli governments know that their citizens are sensitive to such criticisms, however much they may feign indifference. One will never see footage of Israelis on TV happily slitting the throats of foreigners in the manner that seems to be the flavor of the year with Arab "militants", for the simple reason that Israelis view themselves as civilized, moral human beings, and also want to be seen as such in the eyes of the rest of the world. This is an attitude that a very large slice of the Islamic world quite obviously does not share.
I suspect that there's more to Mr. ElBaradei's sudden proposal than a disinterested desire to propitiate Arab states in the face of what they perceive to be "double standards." It's commonly the case that critics of current American policies like to point at the ethnic backgrounds of individuals like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle only to ask "Qui Bono", with the implicit assumption being that the individuals in question are working to advance the interests of a certain Middle Eastern nation to which they feel a greater loyalty; might not such a question be posed in Mr. ElBaradei's case as well, and with much stronger grounds for suspicion?

The man is an Arab, after all, and a Muslim to boot. What is more, he's also an Egyptian, with a long history of service in that nation's diplomatic corps dating back as far as 1964, meaning that for most of his career with the Egyptian Diplomatic Service he was accustomed to viewing Israel as the arch-enemy. Why anyone should expect objectivity from someone with a background like Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei's is beyond me, and I suspect that in the deep recesses of his heart nothing would please him more than a unilateral disarmament by Israel that would leave it all the more defenseless in the face of renewed Islamist aggression: if there's one thing for certain, it's that Iran will not cease to try to obtain nuclear weapons whatever Israel may or may not do.