• 6 July 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Washington Times: Talk To Iran

Talk to Iran

By: Cyrus Bina and Sam Gardiner

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Washington Times

Markets have been watching every move of President Bush and the Israeli government to decipher whether war with Iran is in the making. Few expected, however, that the equivalent of a green light for war would come from our Democratic-controlled Congress. That is what Congress is preparing to do through a resolution calling for a de facto naval blockade in the Persian Gulf to prohibit Iran from importing refined petroleum products.


The last time the United States imposed a blockade on another country was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy labeled the move “quarantine” because he understood a blockade to be universally regarded as an act of war. Yet, a blockade is exactly what many politicians are considering in Washington and elsewhere.


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly suggested the idea to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a recent meeting, and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain alluded to the same during his speech at the America Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington. With hardly a word of opposition, Congress is poised to pass a resolution calling on the president to enact such a blockade, possibly as early as next week. This is a de facto capitulation of the legislative body to the Bush administration.


If they choose to pass this resolution, Congress will make a bad situation worse not only for the American economy, but also for stability in Middle East.


Among factors contributing to short-term oil prices are supply and demand, market speculation and the value of the dollar. Risk of a natural or political catastrophe jeopardizes the production and flow of oil which also plays a major role in the price Americans will have to pay at the pump.


Take, for example, the market´s reaction to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz´s statement last month that an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites may be “unavoidable.” That statement has been blamed for the largest single-day rise in the price of oil in history – $11 a barrel.


For each instance of tough talk, money is grabbed directly out of the pockets of American taxpayers and sent to oil-producing states – including, of course, Iran.


A declaration from Congress calling on the president to take such drastic action before direct diplomacy even begins would likely fuel even greater uncertainty in the oil sector. And, why shouldn’t it? The Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf is the strategic chokepoint for nearly 40 percent of the world’s oil exports. By recommending a naval blockade in the Persian Gulf, Congress could likely be responsible for oil prices approaching $200 a barrel, which translates to nearly $7.50 a gallon of gas.


Even more significant is the impact such a move would have on the region´s stability. The mere mention of another war in the Middle East sets nerves on edge, and blockading Iran would create a tinderbox where even a small incident could erupt into a conflagration. To say nothing of the fact that a blockade is a prima facie act of war under international law.


Proponents of the naval blockade resolution argue that sanctions and diplomacy have failed, and that the naval blockade is the next step short of war.


They are wrong on both counts: Proper diplomacy – direct talks between the U.S. and Iran – has neither failed nor succeeded, because it has yet to be tried. And the blockade is not a step short of war; it is war. It virtually guarantees military confrontation causing unnecessary casualties on both sides.


The solution to the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program will be found not by creating a situation that ensures military confrontation, but through direct diplomacy.


Negotiations are the only way for the international community to guarantee that Iran maintains its nuclear program for civilian use while also preventing another disastrous war that will undoubtedly further destabilize the Middle East.


Time is not neutral in this equation. Nor is it on the side of America or Iran. Time is on the side of war. This scenario, as disastrous as it sounds, assumes that bullying Iran will cause Tehran to stop enrichment altogether. The likely scenario, however – and according to keen observers – is that it is a preamble to war.


For each day that passes without dialogue, the world is brought closer to another war in the Middle East – paid first by Americans at the gas pumps, and eventually, American lives and treasure.


Cyrus Bina, distinguished research professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, is the author of “The Economics of the Oil Crisis.” Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    3 Responses to “Washington Times: Talk To Iran”

  1. Julia Murray says:

    Cyrus Bina and Sam Gardiner perfectly explain in “Talk to Iran” why a U.S. blockade (and thus war) on Iran is an unfavorable idea. The United States should use diplomatic, not military, means to deal with Iran.

    In addition to the humanitarian consequences, we must realize that military action is not in the United States’ best interests, economically or strategically. The current economic downturn has affected American consumers nationwide, and the authors point out that a blockade will further drive up gas prices. A war with Iran that disadvantages the public and the U.S. economy is the last thing America needs.

    Mr. Bina and Mr. Gardiner are not alone in their calls for diplomacy. Many prominent figures lend weight to their pleas. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and Adm. William Fallon are among the many experts who have propagated direct diplomacy with Iran. It also should be noted that military action goes against the American people’s wishes.

    It is time for the government to pay attention to these views. All diplomatic options should be exhausted before military action is even considered.

    (Published in Letter to the Editor, Washington Times, Monday, July 7, 2008)

  2. Stefan says:

    Read this I wrote about the various claims made about Iran. They’re all lies and I show, with sources, how.


  3. […] stupid Florida antics and continued talk of a naval blockade (vote scheduled July 9) doesn’t help, either. « TechCrunch: Google lets you […]

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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