Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that further sanctions against with Iran about its nuclear program would be “counterproductive.” Good for Sergey. I can’t tell where Hillary thinks she’s going with her approach to Iran. From the sound of her rhetoric, you’d think she’s a neocon.
The demonizing of the Iranians has gone on for far too long. They do not have a nuclear weapons program; they may never have had one. Their conventional forces are defensive in nature. They have never attacked another country. They did not arm militants in Iraq.
They refuse to cease their uranium refining activities because that right is guaranteed to them in the U.N. Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Their president says regrettable things on occasion.
We should have been in direct talks with Iran years ago. Hillary wants to keep “specific forms of pressure” on the table.
Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, says “Iran is seen by Russia as much more rational and reliable than it is seen by the United States or Israel.” It might be fair to say Iran is more rational and reliable than the United States or Israel are Nobody seriously thinks Iran will ever bomb anybody, which is a lot more than you can say for Israel and us.
President Obama’s decision to cancel the Bush administration’s plan to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic was a sound one. That system wouldn’t have worked against the sorts of decoys we expect to see deployed on ballistic missiles. More importantly, though, the Bush plan wasn’t really about protecting central Europe from Iran, it was about getting under the Russians’ skin.
Controversy lingers over Iran’s recent election; but it’s nothing compared to the contention regarding Afghanistan’s election. Gen. Stanley McChrystal says “rampant government corruption” in the Hamid Karzai regime has given the Taliban and al-Qaeda an edge in the war.
The assertion by the Bush administration that “we face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran” was a remarkable slice of bosh. The only threat Iran presents is its latent ability to close down the Strait of Hormuz and shut off the oil supply from the Persian Gulf, but if they ever do that we’d clean their clocks (and the rest of the world would cheer us on).
For that same reason, is not in Iran’s strategic interests to develop nuclear weapons. They would merely invite a massive preemptive strike from us and/or the Israelis that Iran would never recover from.
And yet the notion that Iran wants nukes persists. George C. Wilson recently wrote, “Iran seems hell bent on getting the Bomb,” but like everyone else who makes these assertions, Wilson offered no facts to back up his claims. “Even if Iran makes good on its promise to let International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors study its newly disclosed plant at Qom on Oct. 25 to convince world leaders it is pursuing nuclear energy, not the Bomb, hawks in this country, Israel and elsewhere will not believe it,” Wilson wrote. Great. So there’s nothing on earth Iran can do to convince people they don’t want the Bomb, so we may as well just do what, George? Let Israel fly over Iraq and do a smithereens number on Iran?
We hear “show of weakness” talk from the war crowd whenever someone like Obama (i.e., a Democrat) opts to take a soft approach to international relations. “Appeasement” gets thrown around like a broken sack of flour, but one appeases folks more powerful than they are. We are history’s mightiest nation. We no longer have a peer competitor and we likely never will again. Iran is puny.
The sanction talk sounds foolish. We have, at long last, suspended the ludicrous “zero option” precondition to direct talks with Iran (we won’t talk to you until you suspend your right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes). One suspects that Clinton is looking for a bargaining chip to force Iran into accepting total and permanent transparency of its nuclear program. Nice idea, I suppose, but she, as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who’s in charge of our foreign policy, anyway?) have been screaming sanctions from the rooftops since Obama came into office, China and Russia have consistently refused to play ball, and we can’t get UN sanctions imposed without their support in the Security Council.
Everyone would do well to get mum about Iran. We can probably get what we want from them by offering a carrot or two, and we can also probably open up a new market for American businesses. Our human intelligence on Iran is atrocious. That will never improve significantly until we normalize relationships and have an embassy in Tehran.
We’ll have to give the Iranians some sort of security guarantees. If they spread their legs for us, they’ll want us to assure them we won’t let Israel come along and give them a swift kick.
We can work something out. I just hope Hillary doesn’t get too hands on in the negotiations.