Pick Your Poison

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 9, 2006

Dear Editor,
    So you are Iran and you have signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. You did renounce the pursuit of nuclear weapons, but you gained international recognition of your right to nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment. Also, the broader intentions of the treaty seemed very favorable. The treaty was to hold the world to five countries with nuclear weapons which were to agree among themselves before starting any wars in order to avoid nuclear war and were to progressively disarm over time. Now you find that the world has nine countries with nuclear weapons, the U.S. wages war disregarding the objections of the other nuclear powers; there is no realistic hope of progressive disarmament and you are threatened with military action if you enrich uranium, as is your right. What went wrong? Well, basically the very idea that weak nations would accept permanent weakness and that the strong would do less than take full advantage of their differential power.
    This is a very natural and historically familiar decline from the rule of law to the rule of the strong; a slide from civilization into barbarism. Notice that it is not being demanded that you (Iran) comply with any law when you are told to stop uranium enrichment. Instead it is being demanded that you obey the strong.
    Your (Iran's) plight is historically very familiar. You can submit to the strong and thereby affirm your status as a second-class nation with fewer rights than the strong. Fewer rights even than are provided for under a law, the nonproliferation treaty, which already grants you fewer rights than the strong. Or, you can assert your rights under that law and risk the physical wrath of the strong. Pick your poison.
Brad Jacobson
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