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Iran and Diplomacy - WSJ

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 10:35 am    Post subject: Iran and Diplomacy - WSJ Reply with quote

Iran and Diplomacy
Wall Street Journal - Review & Outlook
Aug 22, 2005


For two years now, the Bush administration has willingly taken a back seat to European diplomacy to induce Iran to abandon its nuclear-weapons program. In the last few weeks, the world has been able to see what this non-cowboy strategy has achieved:

� Iran's new president has called for "a wave of Islamic revolution." Only a few years ago, this new world statesman was running gangs of street thugs who harassed anti-government demonstrators. His political rise was engineered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, who barred 1,000 reformist candidates from the recent parliamentary elections.

� Last week, Iranian police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of Iranian Kurds in the city of Mahabad, reportedly killing four of the protestors. Meanwhile, dissident journalist Akbar Ganji is on his 75th day of a prison hunger strike, and prosecutors are now threatening his family.

� On the nuclear issue, Tehran has resumed an early-stage uranium enrichment process at its nuclear site in Isfahan. And it has denounced as "unacceptable" a European offer to provide security and economic favors in exchange for Iran dropping parts of its nuclear program that have bomb-making uses.

Memri, which translates Middle East broadcasts from their native languages, recently captured Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hosein Musavian, on Iranian TV: "Thanks to the negotiations with Europe, we gained another year, in which we completed" Isfahan. Iran suspended enrichment "in Isfahan in October 2004, although we were required to do so in October 2003. ... Today we are in a position of power. We have a stockpile of products, and during this period we have managed to convert 36 tons of yellowcake into gas and store it."

� Then there is Iranian assistance for terrorists in Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has publicly accused Iran of "allowing" weapons to move across its Western border, and U.S. troops have captured explosives shaped for destructive terror use with Iranian pedigrees. Time magazine, no friend of the U.S. effort in Iraq, recently published a report, "Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq." This is all especially notable because advocates of courting the mullahs often warn that a harder line against Tehran could invite Iranian meddling in Iraq. But that meddling is a reality under current Iran policy, and it is killing American soldiers.

The Iranians themselves are now admitting that all of this is no happenstance but is a calculated effort to exploit what the mullahs perceive to be American weakness and Europe's lack of will. An internal Iranian government document recently obtained by an opposition group says that "The talks process ended the suffocating economic pressures that our country was being subjected to in the months prior to the October 2003 agreement. ... With the Americans deeply stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, the Europeans know that they will have to ultimately accommodate our just demands."

And why shouldn't the mullahs believe this, given Europe's reaction to President Bush's routine recent comments that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions? German Chancellor Gerhard Schr�der, facing an uphill election campaign, seized on the remark as an opportunity to repudiate even the possibility of using force. "We have seen it doesn't work," he declared, in a reference to Iraq. (Saddam Hussein might argue from his holding cell that it does.)

No one can plausibly claim that this Iranian hardline has been inspired by U.S. saber-rattling. Since including Iran in the original "axis of evil" in 2002, Mr. Bush has softened his rhetoric on Iran to a near-whisper. The administration agreed to European mediation efforts in October 2003, and agreed again in 2004 after Iran cheated on its initial commitments by secretly enriching uranium. Then the U.S. agreed again to another try earlier this year, this time offering World Trade Organization membership. Tehran's response has been evident the last few weeks.

Perhaps it's time to try a different strategy. We aren't referring here to economic sanctions via the U.N. Security Council. China and Russia aren't likely to agree to sanctions, and even if they did (after many months of haggling) Iran may think it can ride them out in a world of $60 oil.

Leaving aside -- but not ruling out -- the option of military intervention, the Iranian regime is vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from without and even more so to democratic pressure from below. Yet the Bush administration has given comparatively little support to Iranian pro-democracy groups, and it has made no effort to organize bans on Iranian participation in prestigious international forums or at sporting and cultural events. Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests, for starters, barring the Iranian national soccer team from the World Cup.

Perhaps even this is too militant for the likes of Chancellor Schr�der. But it would be the beginning of a serious Iran policy.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leaving aside -- but not ruling out -- the option of military intervention, the Iranian regime is vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from without and even more so to democratic pressure from below. Yet the Bush administration has given comparatively little support to Iranian pro-democracy groups........


Interview With the New York Post Editorial Board

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York City
September 15, 2005

QUESTION: Is this process underway in Iran at all?

QUESTION: In the Presidentís State of the Union message he basically said (inaudible) will be there to help you on it.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the problem in Iran is that the train is going the other way right now. The hardliners have managed, I think, to Ė for the time being Ė silence any organized opposition and you have the sense that itís difficult for the population, which is (inaudible) deeply dissatisfied with their government, but itís difficult for the population to find someplace to adhere, you know, you need a focal point and I think theyíre having -- thereís (inaudible) trouble in doing that.

But in Iran, we do have some democracy programs that weíre doing. Theyíre small and theyíre doing them through nongovernmental organizations because we donít want to give the government a reason to crack down on what little democratic activity there is in Iran.

The second point is that the Iranian people would Ė the United States Government is very popular with the Iranian people. Iíll just tell you two little anecdotes. One is that I have a student who traveled widely in Iran over a period of about three months. And he said that wherever he went, cab drivers would not let him pay the fare if they knew he was an American. And the people were trying to hide from him anti-American signs because they didnít want the American people to think that. So that says to me that one of the reasons that we have to be careful about how we address the Iranian Government is that we donít want Ė the reason weíre popular is that we stand for something against the government that is repressive, so we donít want to be in a position of looking as if weíre legitimizing that government.

The final point is a longer term point but right now, the strategic circumstances of Iran are changing pretty dramatically. On the one side, they have an Afghanistan that is pro-American, democratizing, an ally in the war on terror Ė on one side of them. And an Iraq that I think will be the same way. And an Iraq that is in many ways a much more threatening figure because youíre talking about a non-theocratic Shia majority Iraq that would be at least neutral but I think better toward the United States.

And so when people tell me things are going so well for the Iranians, I think itís a very short-term perspective. When the Iranians agreed to do out-of-country voting for the Afghans and for the Iraqis, Iranians were asking, ďWhy if Afghans who were living in Iran could vote for a president of Afghanistan freely; and the Iraqis who were living in Iran could vote for a president of Iraq freely; why are we engaged in this, you know, in this farce?Ē

So I think thereís a lot Ė

QUESTION: What did we say on Iran? Itís a very young country. They are (inaudible) traditionally our allies. That the theocracy or whatever the Ayatollahs who are robbing the country blind are very unpopular. But the complication is -- if one issue unites them because they would take pride in being a nuclear power.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Youíve got a point.

QUESTION: And all our emphasis is on nuclear Ė

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Thatís a very good point and itís a dilemma for us.


SECRETARY RICE: Because on the one hand, you do have to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Now, that is an international Ė it would be an international disaster and it would especially be a disaster for the region.

QUESTION: Yea, but are the Chinese supplying them pretty generously.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, not so much -- not so much on this issue anymore. I think everybody has kind of gotten Ė

QUESTION: They sold them a lot of Ė

SECRETARY RICE: Well, yes, in the past, but I think that everybody has taken a hard look at this and nobody is particularly interested in this government and Iran having a nuclear weapon. It doesnít look good. But youíre right that what we donít want to do is give the impression that we donít think that Iran should be a technologically sophisticated state. Thatís why youíve actually heard less from us about civil nuclear power in Iran. There was a time when U.S. Government had the position that Iran should never have civil nuclear power either. I think the President put it very succinctly the other day when he was with Talabani. What he said was, we donít see why they wouldnít need it, given how much theyíve got in terms of hydrocarbons.

But, you know, thereís a right to have this. Itís a question of whether you exercise that right, given certain behavior in the past. And so weíre trying to work our way -- veer right toward an argument that doesnít posit that Iran should never have, you know, technological sophistication. What we donít want is for them to have technological sophistication that leads to a bomb. Thatís the issue.

QUESTION: Or the capability.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. And the real kind of cornerstone of this is enrichment and reprocessing. Thatís really the point.

QUESTION: But why donít more Americans appreciate all the gains that we made in terms of the democracy movement? But are we too focused on violence and how do you overcome that? Is there more than the Administration was doing to overcome the focus on the negatives, the violence, the suicide bombings and focus more on the accomplishments that you can talk about?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, youíre the communications experts. Itís beginning to seem to me that first of all, you know, drama is the cornerstone of what gets communicated. And when we did have the drama of the Lebanese in the streets, Iraqis voting, Palestinians voting, people took note. That was that period of time, February-March, you might remember where everybody noticed what was happening and it was palpable around the world. Itís been supplanted Ė itís almost as if itís shelf life expired and now people are again focusing on the violence and the fact that itís really hard. And the problem that we have is that when youíre in the middle of big historic transformations, theyíre messy and they are violent and they are tough. And you donít make progress everyday. And the Iraqis missed their deadlines on their constitution and somebody threatens not to support the constitution and then everybody says, ďOh, itís all going, you know, blow up and itís not working.Ē

And so how you communicate the extreme complexity of what is going on as this region is changing dramatically, I mean, itís like a cauldron right now of change out there and itís affecting every corner of it. But itís not tidy and itís not a story that you can write a good headline every day about whatís going on. And I think thatís essentially the problem we have.

Iíve spent my summer reading biographies of the Founding Fathers. And Iíve been saying to all the press Ė by all rights, the United States of America should never have come into existence. Not only were they fighting the greatest empire at the time, military empire at the time; but, you know, the Founding Fathers were quite a group and their internal dynamics and what issues were getting dealt with and what issues werenít and they had to make slaves three-fifth of a man in order to get a compromise Ė and this was not pretty. You wouldnít have, if you had been inside it, predicted that this was going to come out all right.

So I think those are some of the problems that we have and what we got to do is we got to keep fighting back with, first of all, why we have to do it. But itís not enough to respond to what happened to us on September 11th by just taking down al-Qaida. You have to deal with the conditions that created al-Qaida or we will all be fighting terrorism for the next century.

Secondly, weíre unfortunately at the beginning of this, not at the end of it. But itís not as if we Ė I had somebody ask me, ďAre we winning today? I mean, is the terrorism problem better today?Ē Itís the wrong question. Was it better when they were undisturbed for ten years? No, you stirred it up and so things look tougher.

On the third point you have to make is that while it is a long struggle, there are mile posts and thatís why the elections will be important. Every time you have one of those mile posts, you have to make it to this longer view.


Dear Rasker,

One one hand Ms. Rice has a point when she says that American support may give cause to the regime for crackdowns, but the reality is they don't need an excuse, and they are actively supressing any and all dissent in Iran regardless of the level of American support to the point where in a few years there won't be an opposition in Iran because they'll all be in mass graves or in some hell-hole of a prison.

"bout time I wrote her a nice letter to this effect, and since I have much regard for your level-headedness in general, what would your suggestion be as to a concrete , and viable approach?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Oppy,

I'll give some thought to an outline for you which I will PM.
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