Obama, Ahmadinejad And Realpolitik

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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“Nuclear Energy for Everyone, Nuclear Arms for No One”

The purpose of the nuclear summit in Iran on April 17th and 18th.
As Reported on Al Jazeera, According to The Washington Post

Securing fissile materials by 2014 from non-state actors is indeed an important first step in preventing detrimental nuclear proliferation and the Obama administration must be commended for setting this course. In the nuclear summit that ended on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, the United States has made substantial commitments to reduce its stockpile of fissile materials, weapons grade or otherwise (from civilian use). However, the White House faces substantial challenges, domestically, to put the United States on the same footing as other countries for implementing the convention, especially the U.N related provisions. Meaning, if the same political environment is faced by other national leaders who were at the summit in their domestic politics, this convention would be just as effective or ineffective as the annual G7 and G20 rituals and other countless U.N Resolutions and Treaties on the matter.

The New York Times, profiling president Obama’s foreign policy the day after the summit, reports the President’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as characterizing his boss being driven by the realpolitik of great powers in which human rights and democracy play a second tier role. The article places him in the same group of foreign policy thinkers as Henry Kissinger and Bush 41. Emanuel, a political operative, is perhaps over-enthused by citing the Nobel Committee’s commendation of Obama for his sense of realpolitik, because the Committee thought that the justification for his Peace prize was that realpolitik matters more than idealism, a false dichotomy.

The purpose of pragmatism in politics is idealism. The purpose of realpolitik is to achieve a systematic progress toward the ideal. Therefore, the core purpose of politics is human rights and democracy. If Emanuel’s characterization is indeed descriptive of the President, he is unfortunately, for the country, unlike most presidents this country has had, for many of the 44 beginning with George Washington in 1789, have believed in this American purpose and saw it as the reason for the state.

Still, the summit almost feels like a preparation for another world war, as if the Norwegian Nobel Committee has endorsed, in its inappropriate enthusiasm for realpolitik (realpolitiche, a German word since Bismark, to mean balance of power in the warring Europe after the imperial European wars and the beginning of the rise of the German nation-state to keep each other at bay through aggressive mutual deterrence), war as an instrument for peace. The 47 countries list excludes the country that matters most and which, in many ways, has triggered the nuclear anxiety leading up to this summit: Iran.

The purpose of the nuclear summit in Washington that had ended yesterday was, between the lines, to safeguard against nuclear terrorism (from Iran). Iran responded by calling for an end to nuclear weapons, putting the 47 countries at the table in Washington to shame, because ending nuclear weapons includes securing fissile materials. The United States, with its nuclear posture review, had lost the moral high ground, succumbing to the realpolitik of nuclear deterrence, an obsolete strategy of international engagement after 1989.

It would be a great step forward for the 47 countries that participated in the Washington summit to extend the ban on chemical and biological weapons to nuclear weapons, endorsing Iran.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa

This entry was posted in Foreign Policy, National Security and Defense, Politics, Transformations LLC and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Obama, Ahmadinejad And Realpolitik

  1. 4m Mediaite ‏@mediaite
    Benjamin Netanyahu To NBC: Those Who Believe Iran Should Have Nukes ‘Set A New Standard For Human Stupidity’ (Video) http://mediaite.com/a/vcssr
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    1m 1776 @1_776
    @mediaite @netanyahu @ambassadororen @theelders Obama, Ahmadinejad And Realpolitik, http://ctamirisa.com/2010/04/14/obama-ahmadihejad-and-realpolitik/
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    4:31 PM – 16 Sep 12 · Details

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