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Emphasis Added: The Foreign Policy Week in Pieces (5/24)

May 24, 2013 ·

From mission creep to missileers asleep at the wheel.

An ICBM launch capsuleThe International Atomic Energy Agency and Mission Creep

Nonetheless, the [International Atomic Energy Agency’ has been insisting on access to the Parchin military base to address concerns about “possible military dimensions.” … The agency’s standard safeguards treaty makes clear that its mandate is to account for fissile materials “for the exclusive purpose of verifying that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

This may seem a subtle, technical distinction, but it has important implications for the role the IAEA has been given to play by its member states – including Iran. The IAEA is not a “nuclear watchdog” or nuclear policeman. It is, essentially, a fissile material accounting agency, with deliberately limited powers of investigation into states’ peaceful nuclear programs – which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty refers to as every state’s “inalienable right.”

‘Reset’ on Iran now, Yousaf Butt, Reuters

More on Parchin: How It Parallels Benghazi

Reading … reports, it struck me how the whole Parchin issue appears to be being used by the IAEA so similarly to how the Benghazi consulate attack issue is being used by the US House of Representatives. In both cases, I think we are seeing perfect examples of the use of investigation powers by a legal institution as a political weapon. In both cases, the investigating authorities ask a neverending stream of questions, trying to get at “the truth,” which is really of course merely an attempt to confirm their own unsupported allegations against the target of the investigation. But the fact that no evidence is ever produced through these endless interrogatories that there is in fact anything ”there” there, does not deter the investigators. That’s because the purpose of the investigation isn’t really, in the final analysis, a quest for truth. It’s a procedural weapon that is being employed to harm the public perception of the adversary target, by maintaining an investigation ad infinitum, in the hopes that the absence of any actual incriminating evidence will be lost on a largely ignorant public audience, and that the fact alone of an ongoing investigation will be enough for media outlets like the Washington Post to parrot the unfounded accusations, keeping the perception of something “there” in the public consciousness.  

Wherefore Parchin? Dan Joyner, Arms Control Law

There’s a Limit to Deterrence’s Charms

All told, these reports represent more than 1,000 pages of text that all boils down, more or less, to the idea that the Department of Defense, and especially the Air Force, are losing competence in the nuclear enterprise because no one takes deterrence seriously anymore. You could read any of the reports, but they typically contain sober warnings about the "loss of attention and focus, downgrading, dilution, and dispersal of officers and personnel" involved in the nuclear mission that reflects "a failure to appreciate the larger role of deterrence."

"Failure to appreciate" is one way of looking at it. One might, on the other hand, argue that the lack of appreciation stems from the fact that there isn't anything to appreciate. Many of these weapons no longer have plausible military missions. The people handling them know that, and act accordingly. The problem isn't that they don't "get it." The problem is that they do.

Death Wears Bunny Slippers, Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy

Battle for the Soul of Guatemala

Ríos Montt maintained his innocence, saying he had no control over what soldiers did in the field. He disputed that there was a policy of extermination; “We had a concept of Guatemalanness,” he said, “not to take away the Maya identity but to consolidate them with us.” As anthropologist Patrick Ball testified, the army wiped out 5.5 percent of the Ixil in 17 months.

The Jig Is Up in Guatemala, Patricia Davis, Foreign Policy in Focus

Iran Never Got Over U.S. Intelligence Infiltration of U.N. Inspection Teams in Iraq

"There is a consensus within Iran that more access [granted to and] more cooperation [with the International Atomic Energy Agency means] more assassinations, more sabotage," says [Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team]. "Which means there is a great, great mistrust from the Iranian point of view to the real intention of the IAEA. They are really concerned that the IAEA has been used as an instrument for espionage, sabotage, covert action and preparing the ground for a military strike."

Iran nuclear talks: Why the trust gap is so great, Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor

The MSM Doesn’t Know a Dramatic Story When It Sees It

In the face of this situation — as much as it pains me to say this — you are failing. Your so-called "objectivity," your bloodless impartiality, are nothing but a convenient excuse for what amounts to an inexcusable failure to tell the most urgent truth we've ever faced.

Let me be clear: the problem isn't simply a matter of "false balance" — for most of you, that debate is largely over, and you no longer balance the overwhelming scientific consensus with the views of fossil-fuel lobby hacks. No, what I'm talking about is your failure to cover the climate crisis as a crisis — one in which countless millions, even billions, of lives are at stake.

A Convenient Excuse, Wen Stephenson, the Boston Phoenix