Opinion

Bernd Debusmann

What if Iran gets the bomb?

Bernd Debusmann
Jun 22, 2012 15:25 UTC

The West worries too much about the prospect of Iran going nuclear. If it did get the bomb, the Middle East would probably become a more stable region. So says Kenneth Waltz, a veteran scholar, in an essay in one of America’s most influential magazines.

“Why Iran Should get the Bomb,” says the headline in Foreign Affairs, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York think tank. “Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability.”

The author is a senior research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His contrarian essay coincides with yet another unsuccessful round of negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of countries who insist the government in Tehran must do more to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful, as it claims, rather than intended to build weapons.

The talks this week in Moscow brought Iranian negotiators together with officials from the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany. The negotiations produced no breakthrough and no sign of compromise. New U.S. and European sanctions, including a ban on Iranian oil imports, are coming into force next month. Whether they will be more likely to make Iran bow to Western demands than previous turns of the sanctions screw is open to doubt. What next?

“Most U.S., European, and Israeli commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the current standoff,” Waltz writes. “In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability in the Middle East.”

The world expected more from Obama

Bernd Debusmann
Jun 18, 2012 18:46 UTC

The 2012 global performance scorecard is in and the grade for Barack Obama is “failed to meet expectations.”

To varying degrees, that’s the view in each and every of 20 foreign countries — some close U.S. allies, some not – whose citizens were polled for the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a widely-respected survey that has tracked the standing of the United States, its president, and assorted foreign leaders every year for the past decade. The Washington-based Pew Research Center polled more than 26,000 people.

Though views of Obama are not as rosy as they were in 2009, when he took office after a campaign that promised “hope and change,” the U.S. president’s star is still shining so bright in 11 countries that sizeable majorities in seven and pluralities in another four would like to see him re-elected for a second term in November.

Will Syria’s Assad get away with murder?

Bernd Debusmann
Jun 8, 2012 15:24 UTC

Will Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad be allowed to get away with mass murder, like his father 30 years ago? Some of the ideas now under discussion could mean precisely that — a golden parachute into exile. No war crimes charges, no prosecution, no trial.

Unlike Egypt’s ousted dictator, Hosni Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison on June 2, and unlike Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi, who was killed at the hand of anti-government rebels, Assad would “transfer power and depart Syria.” That’s how U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it after a meeting of foreign ministers of Arab and Western nations in Istanbul.

That idea is known as the Yemeni Solution and was floated by U.S. President Barack Obama at a meeting of the Group of Eight in May. It refers to a deal under which Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was granted immunity from prosecution for the killing of protesters. In return, he handed power over to his deputy and announced he planned to go into exile in Ethiopia.

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