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Former CIA officer on Iran: Brazil and Turkey are vital checks and balances

Shouldn’t the world welcome the actions of two significant, responsible, democratic, and rational states to intervene and help check the foolishnesses of decades of US policy on Iran?

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But do we really believe Clinton has in fact garnered Russian and Chinese support? Just as Tehran had every incentive to accept a proposal from “equals,” offered with respect instead of bluster and threats, so too Russia and China have every reason to welcome this initiative from Brazil and Turkey. Yes, the terms of the agreement do matter somewhat, but what is far more important for them is the slow but inexorable decay of US ability to deliver international diktats and to have its way. This is what Chinese and Russian foreign-policy strategy is all about. Neither of these countries will, in the end, permit the US hard-line approach to win out over the Brazilian-Turkish one in the Security Council, even if the Brazilian-Turkish deal requires a little tweaking. Russia and China champion the emergence of multiple sources of global power and influence that chip away at dying American unipolar power.

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China and Russia, of course, represent the alternative polarity in the emerging struggle to end American hegemony in international affairs. But of greater moment, they now witness the political center in international politics shifting away from Washington as well. These two countries that defied American wishes are not just some Third World rabble-rousers scoring cheap points off the US. They are two major countries that are supposedly close friends of the US This makes the affront even crueler.

These events are profound signs of the times. The problem with unipolar power is that without checks and balances it invariably becomes subject to error and foolishness. On occasion, Americans actually believe in checks and balances when it comes to our own Constitution. Microsoft may be a great corporation, but nobody wants it to have a monopoly on IT.

Similarly in the world, international checks and balances are valuable safety valves. When Washington moves into its fourth decade of paralysis and incompetence in handling Iran, still unable even to speak to it – just as it cannot bring itself to talk to Cuba after 50 years – it has exacerbated the problem, strengthened Iran and the forces of radicalism in the Middle East, polarized emotions and, worst, failed in all respects. Shouldn’t the world welcome the actions of two significant, responsible, democratic, and rational states to intervene and help check the foolishnesses of decades of US policy? That is what checks and balances are all about and why the center is shifting.

And, who knows? “Rogue states” – a term beloved in Washington in reference to recalcitrant countries that don’t toe the Washington line – may more readily come to accede to new approaches free of the old imperial techniques of interventionism and ultimatums. Meanwhile, the US is rapidly running the risk of becoming its own “failed state” in terms of being able to exercise competent and effective international leadership since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Graham E. Fuller is the former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA and author of numerous books on international politics, including the forthcoming “A World Without Islam” (August 2010).

© 2010 Global Viewpoint Network/ Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.