May 25, 2013
Dancing with wolves IV
By Michael Soltys
Buenos Aires Herald Senior Editor
With no public schooling almost anywhere, it seems impossible to justify an agreement with Iran as Argentina’s most urgent priority yet this is the sole purpose of extraordinary sessions of Congress. Even more incredibly, there are solid chances of Lower House approval today. In a more rational world at least some government backbenchers might be expected to see this deal on the wrong side of history as the perfect time to break with an administration showing clear signs of being on the downward slope after almost a decade of Kirchnerite presidency (and reversing almost all the successful premises of the early years) but for every Peronist wobbler, various deputies from provincial and other forces seem to have been co-opted.
The continuing failure to explain the urgency or the national interest of this deal with Iran opens the door to all kinds of conspiracy theory — the hand of Venezuela or even Brazil (although overtures to Tehran were always Lula experiments rather than Dilma Rousseff policy) or perhaps President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner seeking to head the Latin American far left in the wake of her late husband’s post-presidential career as Unasur secretary-general, given the failing health of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and her own dwindling third term chances — but such grand theories only flatter a total foreign policy vacuum. Until the motives are revealed, the onus is on the government to show that they have not simply been duped into a massive blunder.
Objections are not limited to picking holes in nebulous clauses, a non-binding “truth commission” of unknown membership or the scant chances of any legal co-operation from the Holocaust denial regime — this infamous deal is not only on the wrong side of history but also the world. If yesterday’s editorial referred to Japan’s sudden conversion to quantitative easing as a huge global development largely unnoticed here, the decision of the United States and the European Union to seek a free trade agreement is even more momentous and likewise ignored here. The Iran agreement only widens the distance with this potential US-EU bloc representing almost half the world economy. In contrast, the new Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) far more open to the outside world concentrates over half Latin American trade with only a third of regional production (and on the wrong side of the Americas for a direct EU oceanic link). Far more than any details, such a drastic shift in Argentina’s global alignment as this agreement with Iran should be seriously pondered.