Beware, Iran! A monosuperpower seldom does dialogue

It’s easy to draw parallels between economic theory and political science, at least in some of the better understood aspects. For example, the “power curve” relative to peace in international politics is not much different from the “demand curve” relative to price in economics. A coefficient of elasticity applies quite nicely in both cases.

If we get sick, and getting a prescription drug or a medical procedure becomes a matter of life and death, price becomes irrelevant – solely under the control of drug makers or doctors. Similarly, the closer we get to a world with a monosuperpower; peace does take on irrelevancy – solely under the control of the superpowers. When we get to a truly monosuperpower, peace is strictly in the hands of a single nation. Power has become “perfectly” inelastic, as close as you can get to zero.

Has the United States become that monosuperpower? No, not quite yet; but at times, its leaders act as if it already had… acting as the playground bully that must always have its way, at times surrounding itself with a few nation-groupies. American leaders would prefer, for home consumption, to consider the nation as the World’s peace force, a righteous enforcer of democracy and human rights; or, as John Wayne once put it, as the Sheriff of the world – the only nation that should be allowed to enforce the law.

Although there has been little desire by anyone in the planet to confront the US since the Soviet Union decided to call it a day, continuing fumbling efforts by a remarkably untalented government in Washington could have reactive, ominous consequences. Although Russia and China have separate and distinct interests, they could be pushed into a makeshift alliance to counteract the US. And such Sino-Russian show of teeth would be as formidable and scary to Americans as the former Soviet Union, except that any second round of a cold war would probably put America at a disadvantage; particularly if the EU decides, because of economic interests, to give up its groupie-role and begins to call its own shots. It’s difficult to foresee the breakup, or disintegration, of NATO, but history can take many unanticipated turns.

It was a long preamble to the situation between the US and Iran. But that’s the reality now confronting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as he tries a juggling act with his diplomatic and one-sided efforts to let the world know that he is open to dialogue with anyone and everyone, including the United States. His letter to Bush might be considered confrontational by many, but Ahmadinejad had nothing to lose in telling it like it is, for the letter was preemptively regarded as junk mail by the White House no matter what it said. So it was just a letter with an important courtesy copy to the world.

The Iranian leader may say, and mean, that he’s open to dialogue. But the US is not, regardless what the president and Condoleezza Rice predicate about diplomacy. Extrapolating from Bush’s past and this administration’s commitment to craziness, it would seem logical to assume that Bush, Cheney and the Pentagon have already predetermined what’s to happen in Iran, and fairly soon. Any logic stemming from the fact that American troops are already overtaxed, or the possible repercussions to the world’s economy because of the squeeze in oil production – and flow (through the Strait of Hormuz), is of little consequence to Bush, the Decider, who has decided long ago.

“A limited strike,” Bush is going to say, as if such provocation could be neatly contained. Once again, the conflict in the Middle East will escalate manifold, stirring up the flames of insurrection in Iraq, accelerating the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and accentuating the need for a greater military presence in that part of the world, possibly forcing the nation to military conscription.

What’s really incomprehensible, and something that emboldens the hawkish White House, is that poll after poll taken indicates a great majority of Americans favor war against Iran, particularly when presented as a one-time strike. The safety of Israel appears as the critical issue, with the media overplaying, at some unknown behest, Iran’s imminent danger.

It may serve Ahmadinejad well to remember that a monosuperpower, whether real or self-proclaimed, is only open to dialogue if it feels that it is in its own best interests. Right now, if Bush has made up his mind, as was the case with Iraq, only a joint and direct effort by both China and Russia might prevent US unilateral action against Iran. The prospect of long-term tensions with those two powerful nations may alter any plans and diffuse the situation. Other than that, war appears almost as inevitable.

It may also serve Ahmadinejad well to tone down his rhetoric about Israel. It’s not very prudent for him, whether his audience is a large group of students in Jakarta, or a throng of political followers in Tehran, to say that Iran wants to use this new technology (nuclear) to meet energy needs… and in the same breath call Israel “a tyrannical regime that one day will be destroyed.”

A civil engineer, Dr. Ahmadinejad needs to help design a bridge that takes us from distrust and hate to social cohesion… a long bridge over troubled waters.