Thursday, January 24, 2013

Post #399 - Quiz, continued

[This began with Post #396.]

5. During the past forty years, which country/countries faced an existential threat?

A. Israel and the United States
B. Kuwait and Iran
C. Kurdistan and Palestine
D. Egypt and Syria
E. All of the above

Answer: B -- Israel & the United States have talked the most about being threatened. The Kurds & the Palestinians have been threatened plenty, but since they don't yet "exist" in any official sense, they can't be threatened with non-existence. Both Egypt and Syria may end this decade looking far different, but they will still be Egypt and Syria.

Kuwait could easily have become just a province of Iraq; Iran could have fallen to Iraq in the bloody Iran-Iraq War during the early '80s. Virtually no one was supporting Iran against the aggression of Saddam. Iraq had the support of the West. Moreover, we have 5 times the population of Iran and the GDP of the United States is 68 times that of Iran -- not surprising? But our expenditures on the military are 110 times those of Iran. Little countries often expend huge amounts of their national wealth on armaments -- for a while, some African countries were throwing about up to 50% of their treasure into fighting internal or cross-border wars or preparing for them. Iran is not in that category.

Official U.S. Government official documents (this is from a 1995 Pentagon policy statement) do not leave much doubt about what is driving our actions:

"The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President's National Security Strategy and the Chairman's National Military Strategy form the foundation of the US Central Command's theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM's theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States' vital interest in the region - uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil." (Keep in mind, also, that we do not just spend an enormous amount of money on military preparedness -- our military itself uses about 350,000 barrels of oil per day.)

6. From what country did Iran first source nuclear technologies?

A. Pakistan
B. Russian Federation
C. United States
D. North Korea
E. None of the above

That would be C. President Eisenhower first encouraged Iran to begin a nuclear energy program, and supplied the technologies to get it started.

The Washington Post reported that in 1976 the Ford administration “endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium - the two pathways to a nuclear bomb.” Noam Chomsky has pointed out that “the top planners of the Bush administration, who [in 2007 were] denouncing these programs, were then in key national security posts: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.” Chomsky quotes Henry Kissinger as saying recently that Iran's seeking of nuclear energy capability would be "a wasteful use of resources." But, in the time of the Shah, when Kissinger was secretary of state, he said it would "provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals." Kissinger's explanation for the discrepancy?-- that before the revolution "they were an allied country."

A study of nuclear in the energy economies of thirty countries done by IAEA showed European countries heavily reliant on nuclear fission as source of energy: 78% of France's electricity, 72% in Lithuania, 54% for Belgium. Other countries have oil or gas, but still choose to have nuclear as part of the mix: Russia and Canada at 16%, the United States and the UK at near 20%.

Iran has crude petroleum to sell, but lacks refining capabilities to fill more than a fraction of its future energy needs through fossil fuels internally. Nuclear energy represents a diversification of its energy portfolio as a hedge against rapidly evolving technologies, changing energy markets and the vagaries of international politics.

If the premier economic powerhouse of the world, the US, can't solve the energy conundrum without splitting atoms, why is Iran expected to accomplish it, with an economy smaller than that of the State of Missouri? Given that some 60% of Iranians are under the age of 30, a population boom can be expected during the coming years, like the one America saw after the Second World War.

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