In the Hindu on May 8, we catch Hillary Clinton putting too fine a distinction on the Israel-Iran rivalry.
Drawing a distinction between Iran, which has violated provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and Israel, which hasn’t signed it, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here on Monday that the latter has “made numerous overtures to try to have a peaceful resolution” to the situation in the Middle-East.
Of course, logic dictates that an overriding distinction be drawn between a state with an unacknowledged nuclear-weapons program that never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and one with not only no nukes, but no development program and that has signed the NPT, with no evidence of substantive violations. Secretary of State Clinton, however, attempts to suggest that Israel’s other virtues more than compensate for an illegal nuclear arms program (not that we believe, according to international law, that any nuclear program is exactly legal). First, she claims that Israel “‘has made numerous overtures to try to have a peaceful resolution’ to the situation in the Middle-East.”
It’s unclear about what Ms. Clinton is speaking: Iran or the Palestinian people? Conflating the two is shoddy thinking, especially for a top official. In any event, are Israel’s overtures more numerous — or genuine — than Iran’s or Palestine’s? We’ll leave it to Middle-East experts to divvy them up. But that’s not Ms. Clinton’s only defense for favoring Israel over Iran on the issue of nuclear weapons.
Responding to a question on the U.S. pressing for sanctions on Iran on account of its nuclear programme, while taking no action against Israel, which is in violation of several United Nations resolutions, apart from not being a signatory to the NPT, Ms. Clinton quipped: “Well, I don’t think we have convinced India to sign the NPT either.”
At the risk of being childish, we feel compelled to point out that two wrongs don’t make a right. Then, along with siding with more than one country in the nuclear wrong, she adds to her list of countries that, like Iran, she believe are deserving of blame.
“It isn’t the only country causing worry. We worry regarding nuclear weapons proliferating in some other countries,” Ms. Clinton said, adding that the biggest fear was that nuclear weapons may fall into the wrong hands.
Then Ms. Clinton pulls out the “state sponsor of terrorism” card.
At this moment in time, the “principal threat is a nuclear-armed Iran,” she said, alleging that the country was a “state sponsor of terrorism.” She cited the recent attack on Israeli diplomats in Delhi, and a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. — both allegedly planned by the Iranian government — as examples.
In the end, Ms. Clinton seems to be resorting to the unspoken rationality index that Washington uses to rate states. By that calculation, Iran not only scores low because it is a “state sponsor of terrorism,” but because its motivations may be apocalyptic. But this is the height of disingenuousness on the part of Washington, which knows very well that Iran’s policies are as realist, or more so, than other states.
Meanwhile, it’s as if, by refraining from using its illegal nuclear weapons, Israel has demonstrated its rationality to Washington … thus providing yet another reason for a state that aspires to nuclear weapons to act on its aspiration.
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.