Iran, Sun Tzu and the Dominatrix

Let's face it: Hillary Clinton is one hell of a dominatrix.

At first the United States Secretary of State said the Brazil-Turkey mediation to get Iran to accept a nuclear fuel swap was destined to fail. Then the US State Department said it was the "last chance" for an agreement without sanctions. And finally, less than 24 hours after a successful agreement in Tehran, Hillary whips the UN Security Council into submission and triumphantly proclaims to the world a draft resolution for a fourth UN round of sanctions against Iran has been reached.

She framed the drive towards sanctions as "an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days". Wait a minute. Immediately after a genuine - and fruitful - mediation on a very sensitive dossier by two emerging powers - and honest brokers - in the multipolar world, Brazil and Turkey, Washington and its two European Union allies at the Security Council, France and Britain, torpedo it. Is this what passes for global "diplomacy"?

No wonder key US allies Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the Security Council, and both key regional powers, were fuming after such a public slapping. Brazil at first said it would not even discuss sanctions at the UN. Then Brazil and Turkey sent a formal letter to the UN, asking to be part of the negotiations of the "Iran Six" about the sanctions "to prevent the adoption of measures going against a peaceful solution".

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - who had personally told Clinton earlier this year that it was "not prudent to push Iran against a wall" - could not help but blast the outdated Security Council, stressing it was not predisposed to negotiations after all. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned the new sanctions package would "spoil the atmosphere".

And Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the move seriously damaged the credibility of the Security Council - not failing to wryly remind everyone of the absurd notion of five nuclear-armed permanent Security Council members seeking to dismantle the legal civilian nuclear program of a developing country.

As for "US credibility", it's biting the dust once again not only as far as Lula and Erdogan are concerned, but across the developing world - the real, flesh and blood "international community" following this interminable charade.

Whipping enrichment to a frenzy
Over the past few months, dominatrix Clinton relentlessly accused Iran of rejecting a similar fuel swap agreement proposed by the US last October. That's part of the usual Washington script - to behave with textbook deviousness, insisting sanctions "have nothing to do" with enrichment when only a few weeks ago it was the lack of an enrichment deal that was the key reason for more sanctions.

And it gets worse. As Gareth Porter has revealed (Washington burns its bridges with Iran Asia Times Online, May21, 2010) Washington only proposed a fuel swap last October because it wanted from the start to force Iran to agree to suspend all its uranium enrichment (to which it has a right as per the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But this was never announced publicly.

Iran anyway will continue to produce 20%-enriched uranium (it has a right to it, according to the NPT), and will start the construction of a new enrichment plant about the same size as Natanz's. This is part of a plan to build 10 new plants, announced last year by the Mahmud Ahmadinejad government. Moreover, the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant is under final testing and will be inaugurated this summer. These are irreversible facts on the ground.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, the de facto top Iranian nuclear negotiator, may soon meet with the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Turkey. Ashton, the "international community's" designated negotiator, is as representative of global public opinion as a BP press release on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Specially because the EU is bound to issue its own unilateral sanctions against Iran. Same for the US Congress, as Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut
, has confirmed this week. So apart from the Security Council, Iran will also have to face extra sanctions from the US-led coalition of the willing right-wing, mired-in-decay European poodles.

China and Russia pull a Sun Tzu
Ancient Chinese military general, strategist, philosopher and author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu said, "Allow your enemy to make his own mistakes, and don't correct them." China and Russia, both master strategists, are applying this maxim with panache regarding the US.

The current 10-page UN draft sanctions resolution was already diluted to death by permanent members Russia and China - and whatever bellicose language remains will be further shot down at the Security Council by non-permanent members Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon (without unanimity at the Security Council new sanctions are for all practical purposes dead). There's no way Washington can coerce the rest of the Security Council to sign up for a new sanctions round when Iran is actually engaged in cooperation.

As it stands, the current sanctions package punishes Iran's import of conventional arms; curbs imports related to ballistic missiles; freezes assets of key members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps; and sets up cargo inspections in seaports and on international waters. Most of these sanctions are voluntary - or non-binding - and will have zero interference on Iran's global trade of oil and gas.

Beijing and Moscow are not exactly licking Clinton's whip. Immediately after her bombastic announcement, the Chinese ambassador at the UN, Li Badong, said the draft resolution "did not close the doors on diplomacy", once again emphasizing "dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations".

And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made sure to talk to Clinton over the phone arguing for a deeper analysis of the fuel swap deal mediated by Brazil-Turkey. Lavrov also stressed Russia didn't like one bit the extra US and EU unilateral sanctions. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the unilateral sanctions would include measures "of an extraterritorial nature, beyond the agreed decisions of the international community and contradicting the principle of the rule of the international law, enshrined in the UN charter".

So we have come to a situation whereby a real, Iran-approved nuclear fuel swap is on the table at the International Atomic Energy Agency while an offensive towards sanctions on Iran is ongoing at the UN. Who is the real "international community" going to trust? Erdogan could not have put it better; "This is the time to discuss whether we believe in the supremacy of law or the law of the supremes and superiors ..."

Most of all, what the developing world sees is the past - US, France, Britain, Germany - fighting against the advance of the future - China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia. The global security architecture - policed by a bunch of fearful, self-appointed Western guardians - is in a coma. The "Atlanticist" West is sinking Titanic-style.

We want war and we want it now
Only the powerful pro-infinite war lobby in the US is capable of framing a first step towards a full nuclear agreement with Iran as a disaster. That includes the largely discredited pro-Iraq war New York Times (the Brazil-Turkey mediation is "complicating sanctions talk") and Washington Post (Iran "creates illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations").

For the pro-war lobby the Brazil-Turkey-mediated fuel swap is a "threat" because it is on a direct collision course with an attack on Iran (initiated by Israel, then dragging the US) and "regime change" - the never-reneged Washington desire.

At a recent Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal, luminary Dr Zbigniew "let's conquer Eurasia" Brzezinski warned that a "global political awakening", along with infighting among the global elite, was something to be deeply feared. The former US national security adviser remarked that "for the first time in all of human history mankind is politically awakened - that's a total new reality - it has not been so for most of human history".

Who do these politically awakened upstarts such as Brazil and Turkey think they are - daring to disturb "our" rule of the world? And then uninformed Americans keep asking themselves "Why do they hate us?" Because, among other reasons, unilateral to the core, Washington does not hesitate to lift its middle finger even to its closest friends.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

This post originally appeared at Asia Times Online.