CONGRATULATIONS, WITH RESERVATIONS
By Micah Halpern
Monday October 10, 2005
Congratulations to Mohamed El Baradei and to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
I have never been a big El Baradei fan, but recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the greatest honors bestowed worldwide today, are to be congratulated and applauded. I say that today just as I said it in 1994, when Yasser Arafat became one of three recipients lauded.
Congratulations on your award, I said of Yasser Arafat, not on your behavior. Congratulation on your award, Mohamed El Baradei, but personally, I still fundamentally disagree with your thinking.
It is no secret that the IAEA and El Baradei have been at odds with United States foreign policy, especially in matters concerning Iran and the delicate balance required in order to level criticism at this potentially, extremely, dangerous and explosive country in a way that does not push this stalwart of anti-Western thinking into overt hostility with the West.
And yet, El Baradei and the IAEA have served an important role in challenging Iran and in trying to keep them from further developing their nuclear program. According to some intelligence agencies the Iranians were as close as two to three years away from being completely "on line" with their nuclear program. Principally, it was the pressure exerted by the Nobel recipients that slowed the process and set Iran's nuclear program back at least one additional year. For that alone the Peace Prize was well awarded.
Now that El Baradei and the IAEA have been internationally recognized and thanked for their work it is possible that pressure on Iran will increase, forcing a further slow down of their nuclear program.
Mohamed El Baradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency have also been vocally and particularly critical of Israel and Israeli nuclear policy. Rather than standing strong and neutral, they have capitulated to an accepted attitude within the Arab and Muslim world that Israel's nuclear resources are a serious threat to the region and even to the entire world. That stance is blatantly wrong.
Hyping the dangers of Israel's nuclear capability has added to a total misunderstanding of Israel's nuclear status.
It has further demonized Israel in the region. It has created a situation whereby Israel becomes a larger than life enemy. Worse still, hype of this type is totally self-defeating. It allows for Arab and Muslims countries to argue that if Israel has nuclear potential then they, the Arab and Muslim nations, require nuclear parity. Even more, if Israel has nuclear capability they - collectively and individually - need nuclear arms for sheer self-defense. Iran is the first Muslim nation to have come out with the claim, citing Israel as the reason to get their program up and running. It is a catalyst for catastrophe. It furthers the "big lie" within the Arab and Muslim world that the chief aggressor in the region is Israel. Nothing could be farther from a true assessment of the situation. El Baradei and the IAEA should know that.
El Baradei and the IAEA should know better. All countries are not equal.
One cannot compare a democratic country, a country that runs on checks and balances and accountability with countries ruled by totalitarian regimes. With the sole exception of Turkey, the Arab and Moslem countries of the Middle East are dictatorships. They are monarchies. They are secular Arab dictatorships. They have no accountability. Their one and only raison d'etre is self-perpetuation.
"At a time when the threat of nuclear arms is again increasing, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to underline that this threat must be met through the broadest possible international cooperation..."
Those are the words the Nobel Committee chose to use in announcing this year's recipients.
International. Co-operation. I hope they are not just buzz words.