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Sleeping Beauty?

It is a fairytale right out of Grimms’. A kingdom-wide event. Everyone is invited to the ball-- save one wicked fairy who shows up uninvited to cast a spell. He growls at the court, “I am the fairy that you neglected. Pray where are your King’s manners, how have you forgotten me among the friends?” 

Thus spake Ahmadinejad in New York at the very moment that the G-20 in Pittsburgh was wrapping up the September meeting of finance ministers and central bankers.

King Obama was hosting this ball in celebration of the first signs of economic recovery. The seats of honor were occupied by the kings of the most prosperous countries. They were celebrating the success of the policies adopted in Londontown in April and cementing the bond of friendships and fealty to move forward together on the path to sustainable growth. The economic storm generated in the West had receded but another of the Eastern origin was following in its wake.

In a rambling speech at the U.N., irritated Ahmadinejad threatened the backlash and complained once again that the political process at the international level is undemocratic, that the self-chosen minority of countries governs the world and imposes its decisions on other nations. He scorned the ruling countries for their efforts to “shatter the sanctity of families, destroy cultures, humiliate lofty values and neglect commitments.” He argued that the change in the global division of power is “unavoidable” and the present conditions are “impossible.” Disdained, he charged the powerful countries with unfairness, inability and lassitude to promote change in the status quo. The Iranian President warned that “the logic of coercion and intimidation will produce dire consequences, exacerbating the present global problems.” He defied, “It is no longer possible to humiliate nations and impose a double-standard policy on the world community.”

Troubled with today’s world order, Ahmadinejad declared that “the age of polarizing the world on the premise of domination of a few governments” is over. He urged those whom he called the oppressed to “reform the current economic structures and set up a new international economic order based on human and moral values and obligations.” “Let us,” he hailed to the oppressed, ”hand in hand, expand the thought of resistance against evil and the minority of those who are ill-wishers.”

Ahmadinejad, this time, had reason to complain. Iran is the 17th largest economy in the world as measured by the classic economic metric of purchasing power parity. Its labor force comprises almost 25 million people and its production capability has expanded every year for the past decade. How come the Australians who rank the 18th get included? Why do the Saudis that don’t even make it to the list of the best-performing economies get invited anyways?

If Iran were a member of the G-20, Obama, Brown and Sarkozy might not have needed to issue a stern warning in Pittsburgh. Iran wouldn’t be frustrated. Ahmadinejad’s anger would have never taken the form of sullen words, ridiculous claims and anecdotal evidence, and Iran’s membership would have instigated new thinking, new vision that makes it clear at the international level that no matter who is in power, no matter how corrupt and violent the regime, Iranians should go to work to make a difference. Iranian membership in the G-20 would have served to recognize [m1] the aspirations [m1] of the Iranian people to build a prosperous economy for future generations. Membership would say to the individual Iranian citizen that his existence and contribution is valued, appreciated and felt by the world. Membership could have been more effective than the present strategy of isolation. It might have quenched Iran’s destructive nuclear ambitions. Obama, Brown and Sarkozy could have been collectively engaged in diplomacy without preconditions, diplomacy that would invite the Iranians to the table to solve the world economic problems and obliterate altogether their evil plan to destroy the world.

Instead, President Obama had to close the Pittsburgh Summit with a tough warning. He admonished Iran “to come clean” after the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.s nuclear watchdog, on the subject of developing nuclear capability beyond peaceful purposes. The discovery of a nuclear site near the city of Qom is reason to doubt the sincerity of Iranian promises, promises it has been giving the world for five years, promises to freeze its program of building centrifuges to enrich uranium. If the site in Qom contains capabilities enabling Iran to produce nuclear bombs, then it exposes the Iranian commitments and reassurances made repeatedly by the Iranian government to the world as blatant hypocrisy.

Instead, the West surveyed its diplomacy arsenal of ‘carrots and sticks’ and seems to have had no choice but to select some broken sticks with which to threaten Iran, the broken sticks that are too short to reach the target, but long enough to potentially clobber some innocent bystanders. So, again we will be sticking with sanctions, which penalize the people not the government. Most probably these sanctions if applied, as always won’t work. Sanctions will affect the lives of the most vulnerable and cut their ropes and bridges of hope that connect them to the state through the fragile security of jobs. The government will continue funding the uranium enrichment program and pushing for its development in some other facility while the IAEA inspects the one in Qom.

Ahmadinejad was in New York, listening to Obama on TV, Obama in Pittsburgh urging Iran “to take a responsible path.” Despite the evidence, President Ahmadinejad tried to assure the world in Iran’s compliance with the international requirements calling the accusations made by the United States, France and Great Britain “baseless.” The President of Iran sounded defensive, seemed saddened that the bomb was not yet developed and looked miserable because of being reproached by the Rich Court gathering in Pittsburgh. Obviously, Ahmadinejad was hoping for the fluke while building a nuke. He was hoping that the custodians would stay away from the covert facility in Qom and would not intervene in his nefarious plan.

In the end, what will the evil fairy and the Kings decide to do? Will the world, or just a few majestic cities disappear in a mushroom cloud? Will Obama as Prince Charming give Ahmadinejad a kiss that will waken us from a 100-year sleep to find a greener world-- free of alchemist-villains working in covert facilities to unleash Armageddon, whose inhabitants have human rights -- a story for the children, a story with a beautiful fairy tale ending.

The End