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Submitted by martin on Wed, 17/09/2008 - 10:07

As Sean notes above, Moshe Machover's stance on Iranian development of nuclear weapons is: "The only basis on which we can justly demand that Iran be forbidden to have [nuclear weapons] is to make the entire region free of nuclear weapons. This is the demand we must raise".

As I understand it, this is also the official policy of Hopi, and indeed was adopted as Hopi's policy on Moshe Machover's motion, in opposition to a proposal by the Permanent Revolution group that Hopi positively endorse Iran's right to develop nuclear weapons.

Presumably, Hopi people saw Moshe Machover's position as a comfortable "middle way" between the awkward extremes of positively backing the "mullahs' bomb" (as per PR) or straightforwardly opposing it (as AWL would argue).

In practical politics, the Hopi/Machover position is identical to PR's: both defend Iranian nuclear-weapons development so long as Israel still has nuclear bombs, which, in current political conditions, means for the foreseeable future.

In its implications, though, the Hopi/Machover position is worse than the PR position, because it adds an extra twist of demonisation of Israel.

After all, correct me if I'm wrong, but PR doesn't positively clamour for Iran to develop nukes. It doesn't denounce Ahmadinejad as a sell-out for reportedly stalling weapons development; it doesn't offer to organise international brigades to ferry the uranium or to volunteer for target practice for prototype bombs.

It just says that in a world where bigger powers have nukes, it is unfair to try to stop Iran having nukes too.

PR, I assume, is very much in favour of the whole world becoming a nuclear-free zone. It does not raise that as a demand for the very good reason that to direct such a demand at the existing governments via the UN, or the G8, or whatever could have no effect other than to foster illusions in such international institutions and deflect from demands for unilateral nuclear disarmament. (A similar criticism could be made of the demand for the Middle East to become a nuclear-free zone.)

How does the Machover/Hopi position differ from PR's? It would think it fair to oppose Iran having nukes just so long as other Middle Eastern countries had no nuclear weapons. Even if "humanity's worst enemy", the USA, still had nuclear weapons - let alone allegedly more benign governments, like Britain, France, Russia, China, North Korea - Hopi/Machover would still consider it ok to straightforwardly oppose Iran having nuclear weapons. The consideration that it was "unfair" to deny to Iran what the USA (and the others) already had would not be decisive.

But it is decisively "unjust" to deny to Iran what Israel already has.

"Humanity's worst enemy" having nuclear weapons does not license other states developing nuclear weapons. Only humanity's "worst worst enemy", the only state which is worse than the worst, eviler than the evilest, more devilish than the devil - only that state having nuclear weapons makes it "unjust" to complain about others developing nukes.

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