Charles Krauthammer, stuck in the unipolar nineties, blames the Brazil-Turkey nuclear deal with Iran on…wait for it, you’ll really be surprised…the Obama Administration. He uses the occasion to vamp on Obama for what he sees as American weakness across the board and, implicitly, calls for a return to the Bush era when we unsuccessfully tried to bully the world, rather than rally it to our side against extreme players like Al Qaeda and the military dictatorship in Iran. His Ameri-centrism is so blinkered, and straitened, that it excludes all possibility of change and development in the world. It ignores the desire of rising powers like Brazil and Turkey to be part of the international diplomatic process–indeed, Krauthammer would try to boss them around and, inevitably, alienate them further. It sees Russia and China as permanent cold-war enemies…and ignores new economic developments, like the growing rivalry between Russia and Iran as competing energy producers. This sort of wishful thinking, and purposeful naivete, will result in a further diminution of U.S. power in a world of rising powers who will seek to find balance without us.
Les Gelb has a much more subtle and knowing opinion than Krauthammer, encouraging countries like Brazil and Turkey to take a more active role in international affairs and hoping–not very realistically, I fear–that some sort of inspection regime can be maintained in order to guarantee that the spread of nuclear power, which is inevitable, remains peaceful and not weaponized. Gelb does get to the heart of the matter, though: Our concerns about proliferation are selective and therefore hypocritical. We have nothing to say about Israel’s arsenal–and I agree with Gelb: we shouldn’t, given Israel’s legitimate need for an ultimate deterrent in a hostile neighborhood. But that makes it harder for us to lecture other countries, including Iran, about getting some deterrent security of their own.
For those who missed it yesterday, here’s my view of the problem.