Rejecting consultation with allies who have their own ideas, Washington emphasizes acceptance of its hardline stance on Iran nukes.
On March 17 Washington issued
what must sound to Turkey like a thinly veiled threat that it will be spanked if it does not behave. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon warned that:
Many would be disappointed if Turkey is an exception to an international consensus on dealing with Iran
According to Gordon, Turkey’s road to “responsibility” is to join the pack:
Turkey wants to be an important, responsible actor on the international scene. And I think joining the majority of the Security Council in doing this would reinforce that image.
For a Turkey being carefully led by Erdogan’s moderate Islamic party out of the darkness of military dictatorship, abuse of its Kurdish minority, and subservience to American Cold War goals toward leadership of the emerging moderate camp advocating a compromise solution to Mideast conflict, these words must be both humiliating and disappointing. Beyond that, they confirm an unwillingness in Washington to countenance any “lip” from its allies.
The world, Mr. Erdogan, is hierarchical, and Washington is on top until toppled. Your skill, your intelligence, your creativity are not wanted. It is your misfortune that you do not understand Washington culture. This has nothing in particular to do with you or Turkey or Islam. It is simply the way Washington works – the bureaucracy, the politicians, the whole system. If Washington has to choose between failure on its own terms and accepting advice from subordinates, it will choose failure.
If you want to resolve Mideast conflict, go for it…over Washington’s dead body. The core issue is not peace but where the decisions are made. The bottom line is that decisions are made in Washington (especially the decision to be indecisive and let the Israeli right push it around).
If Iran accepts the substance of the Western demand for an exchange of uranium but simply wants it done in Iran so as to avoid Iran being cheated, that completely misses the point, which is not the silly uranium but control of the decision-making process. The core issue is to demonstrate that Washington makes the decision; whether or not X pounds of uranium for electricity is exchanged for Y pounds of uranium for medical research is a technical detail of little concern to global strategists. Whether the initiative stays firmly in the hands of the superpower or becomes shared with a mere “emerging regional power,” on the other hand, is critical to global strategy.
Similarly, Mr. Erdogan, your guidance on ways to moderate the U.S.-Iran conflict are at best mere technical issues, at worst irritating interference that blurs the superpower message of top-down control. Gordon put it very clearly: if you want to be accepted as “responsible,” you must be what to Washington insiders is called a “team-player.” Do not be confused by this pseudo-sports analogy. In Washington-speak, it absolutely does not mean “hit a home run” or “score a touchdown.” Quite the contrary. It means, “Kneel down.” Suppose you solved the U.S.-Iranian conflict with some sort of a win-win solution that left Ahmadinejad without nuclear weapons but with his status intact, with Iran accepted as an influential Mideast player, with the Israeli princess forced to share the stage with a new and alluring beauty, the whole superpower regional game plan would be overturned! The downstream implications for global governance would be incalculable. Remember carefully that Washington was long close to Saddam Hussein…until he started talking back.