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|Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:16 am Post subject: Prince Reza Pahlavi on Growing Showdown With Iran
|Prince Reza Pahlavi on Growing Showdown With Iran
September 25, 2006
The Wall Street Journal - Fox News
THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT
High Drama at the U.N.
Chavez blasts Bush. Plus is the GOP now on the upswing?
Monday, September 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Paul Gigot: This week on "The Journal Editorial Report," world leaders gather at the United Nations but make no moves toward sanctions against Iran. And Hugo Chavez calls the president "the devil" and gives low-cost oil to the people of New York. Plus, the president's approval numbers hit their highest point in a year. Will this Bush bounce boost the Republicans in November? Those topics, plus our weekly "Hits and Misses." But first, these headlines.
Gigot: Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot. As world leaders gathered this week at the United Nations, the United States had hoped to move decisively towards political and economic sanctions against Iran after that country missed an Aug. 31 deadline to halt uranium enrichment. Instead, diplomats discussed a new deadline and have authorized the European Union's foreign-policy chief to meet with Iran's nuclear negotiator any place at any time. Joining me now from Washington is the son of the late shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi.
Mr. Pahlavi, thanks so much for being with us.
Pahlavi: Good morning, Paul.
Gigot: You heard, I'm sure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech. He has also been giving some interviews. What do you think he's trying to accomplish this week with these appearances?
Pahlavi: Well, unfortunately, I think that the grandstanding of Mr. Ahmadinejad is a carefully planned move to gain more popularity on certain Arab streets, as a champion of the cause of extremists who simply don't look at the world the same way we do.
The truth is that he is losing more and more popularity at home, based on complete dysfunctionality of our economic situation. People are tired, are miserable. They have a lot of economic hardship. And frankly, in order to compensate for that loss of popularity, he is trying to, once again--as the Islamic Republic leaders have always done the same--deflecting attention from homegrown issues to some international arguments.
Gigot: OK, now, you know the U.N. Security Council is considering economic and political sanctions. What impact do you think--in response to the missed deadline on Iran's nuclear program--what impact do you think those sanctions would have on the regime and the nuclear program? Do you think they would cause them to slow down? Have any impact at all?
Pahlavi: Well, first of all, I think that if there is a sanction package considered, it has to be part of a much more profound strategy and policy. I have proposed before--and if I may repeat it again today--a three-pronged approach, which consists of confrontation, pressure and support.
By confrontation, I mean that everywhere this regime is up to mischief, it has to be dealt with, whether it's in Afghanistan or Lebanon or Saudi Arabia or in Iraq.
No. 2 is pressure. This is where sanctions come in. I believe that very carefully targeted and calculated sanctions, aimed at the political, economic and personal interests of the regime's leadership and structure, as opposed to the entire Iranian nation, could certainly hurt the regime without necessarily hurting the people.
And of course, support at the end of the day is about helping the Iranian people bring change. fundamental change in Iran, by putting an end to this regime. I think it is in that context that economic sanctions could in fact work, not just to curtail the regime, but put an end to the entire problem by eliminating the regime once and for all.
Gigot: Interesting. There is more and more discussion in the United States that President Bush needs to sit down and have direct face-to-face talks with President Ahmadinejad. And people say, Look, Ronald Reagan talked to the Soviet leaders during the Cold War. Why can't President Bush talk to the Iranians now? Do you think that would be a good strategy for the U.S. to pursue?
Pahlavi: Well, I think this is one of these very rare cases that the world is dealing with an unconventional state, in the sense that at the end of the day, this regime doesn't care about Iran or Iranians. It is using Iran as a launching pad, if you will, to export a very radical, twisted version of Islam to the entire world. They couldn't care less if millions of Iranians could die in the process or if our country could even be attacked. For them, it's a matter of fighting the infidels to the death.
In the Soviet Union, even at the height of the Cold War, whether we agreed or not with Khrushchev and others, it was still an issue of protecting their national interests. I don't think that this regime is capable of understanding the concept of what is the true meaning of national interest, because their behavior in the past 27 years has proved that. So what is there to negotiate, really? What carrot is there to offer them?
Gigot: So you're saying that there's nothing that the United States can offer them that they are willing to accept, because their goals are different and their goals are to spread revolution? Are you saying that?
Pahlavi: Clearly. I mean, look at the position of the supreme leader, Mr. Khamenei, and what is the core interests of this regime. The minute they stand back from their aggressive position on the nuclear issue and what have you, they will instantly lose credibility and support within their own militia, which is really the basic foundation and power base of this regime.
Can the regime afford to do that? Certainly not. So there is no carrot in that sense that will keep them more interested to cut a deal with the outside world at the cost of losing the principal support, whether it's in Iran through Revolutionary Guards and these foundations or in the region with all the militant extremist and terrorist groups that have been, if you will, their tentacles operating on their behalf and as proxies in the region and beyond.
Gigot: Briefly, one of the things you also know the president did was he says that he signed off on the invitation to former president Khatami, who spoke at Harvard, because he wants to hear alternative voices. Do you think that was a mistake for the president to allow Khatami to come to the United States?
Pahlavi: Well, first of all, Khatami had the chance when he was president for eight years and he didn't do anything when he was in power. What could he possibly do now that he is out of it, No. 1?
No. 2, let's not forget one thing. I think ample opportunities have been given to the Islamic regime to come clean and to behave the way it is expected of them to behave in terms of expectation in the civilized world. They have failed to do that. Setting further deadlines can only prolong a policy of buying time for the regime until it gets what it wants. I think the solution today is for the world to say, Look, you had your chance, you blew it. We're not going to stand for this rhetoric any longer. We're not going to stand for this terrorism any longer. We have to put an end to this madness.
And the best way we can do that, by the way, is by helping the cause of democracy and investing on the people of Iran themselves. That's what the president should focus on, if I was in his shoes.
Gigot: All right. Thank you, Mr. Pahlavi. Thanks for being here.
When we come back, Hugo Chavez joins his friend, the president of Iran, in providing high drama at the United Nations this week. Plus, the president's approval rating is at its highest in a year. We'll tell you what's behind the move and whether it will last through the election. All that and our "Hits and Misses" of the week, when the "Journal Editorial Report" continues.
Gigot: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez joined Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in blasting the Bush administration during the meeting of the U.N.'s General Assembly this week.
Hugo Chavez: Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: We were ready for a dialogue. However, some countries believe that they can speak for the entire world community. Let us recall that in a declaration that was very transparent, 180 member-states of the noncoalition movement recognized Iran's right to nuclear technology. I am at a loss in understanding what else we need to do to provide guarantees.
Gigot: Joining us on the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and editorial page deputy editor Dan Henninger, foreign-affairs columnist Bret Stephens and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. Peggy, you heard Ahmadinejad. What do you think he was trying to accomplish this week?
Noonan: I think he was trying to come before the world stage and soften his own hard angles. He's got a reputation as a guy who's hard-liner, tough, uncompromising, arguably nuts.
But he comes forward in the United States and he says--he is all sweet reason, you know. He's all, I'm just trying to talk to you. Couldn't we have a conversation? So I think that's what he was up to. Chavez, I think, was trying to clarify who he is. He was trying to come forward in the world and say, I am the new Fidel. It is 1960 again. I do anti-American rock 'n' roll like nobody.
Gigot: Yeah, and well, he succeeded. Chavez certainly succeeded in that. Do you think Ahmadinejad's softer edges, bringing peace?
Stephens: Well, maybe as a matter of public relations. But in fact, the regime has been sending very hard signals, particularly in the last month. A few weeks ago, they inaugurated a heavy-water reactor, the purpose of which is nuclear bombs. They flouted the U.N. deadline of Aug. 31 to stop uranium enrichment. They've upped the anti-Semitic or Holocaust-denying rhetoric. So those are some very different signals. I think he was trying to appeal to a particular segment of American opinion that reads Noam Chomsky, as, of course, was Mr. Chavez.
Henninger: I don't think he was very successful. I mean, I think for those of us who want a more aggressive stance towards Iran, it was a very successful week. Ahmadinejad had this famous appearance before the Council of Foreign Relations this past week--you know, the seat of the foreign policy establishment in the United States. And he goes in there and denies the Holocaust at some length in front of these people, most of whom walked out saying this is very unsettling to see who we're dealing with. You have to remember that this is the president of a nation that is seeking nuclear capability and has the wherewithal to do it. And he's in charge of it.
Gigot: But at the U.N., he seems to be getting his way. The Aug. 31 deadline has passed. It's now been a couple of weeks. He has said we're not going to suspend enrichment. And yet, there is no progress, that I can tell, towards sanctions.
Stephens: Well, he's working, I think, two kinds of audiences. On the one hand, he is working the Chinese, the Russians and the French, or the Europeans in particular, who are keen on maintaining their commercial relations with Iran, which are significant and growing. And he is working what used to be or, I guess, is still called, the Nonaligned Movement, the old '70s show of the Idi Amins of the world, or the Robert Mugabes, or the Kim Jong Ils, Kim Il Sungs. They're all still around, and these were the guys who were applauding Hugo Chavez when he called Bush the devil.
Noonan: But he is also the leader of Iran, playing to America, which has understood him for about six, 12 months now to be a crazy hard-liner. He's looking at them and saying, Oh, no, I'm just sweet. I'm just nice. He is confusing the picture. Confusion works for him.
Gigot: Is there a cost to the United States and to the Bush administration strategy? When you set a deadline and a U.N. Security Council resolution, that deadline passes, and its terms are not met and nothing happens. Isn't there a price for American diplomacy when that happens?
Henninger: You bet there's a price. I've got it right here. This is the timeline of the relations with Iraq and Saddam, going from 1991 to 2002. It is nine finely spaced pages of them stiffing the United Nations, the Europeans and the United States. We know where that ended up, right? Are we going to wait 10 years to go through the same process with Iran, which is clearly playing from Saddam's playbook with the United Nations? I don't think we can afford to do that again.
Gigot: Bret, briefly, France playing the same game?
Stephens: I think so. Chirac said he thinks sanctions will never work. This was exactly what they did just before--in the resolutions preceding the war with Iraq. First, suggesting to the United States that they would be willing to go along with strong action if the U.S. went the U.N. route, and then stiffing the United States.
Gigot: All right, Bret, thank you. We'll be back after this short break. The president's poll numbers are on the rise. Our panel debates why Bush is on an upswing and whether it's enough to carry the Republicans through November. That and our "Hits and Misses" of the week when "The Journal Editorial Report" continues.
Gigot: Welcome back. There are just 45 days left until Americans take to the polls, and the most recent USA Today-Gallup survey reveals that the president and his party may both be getting a boost. After a continued fall in gas prices and the White House's tough drive on the war on terror, President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44%, his highest rating in a year. The same poll also showed likely voters evenly split between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48% to 48%. Dan, an L.A. Times survey, Bloomberg survey, says the same thing, 44% for the president. How do you explain it?
Henninger: Well, I think a couple of things are going on here. One, I'm convinced, was the London plot. I think that just galvanized people, the idea that they were going to attempt to blow up 10 airliners simultaneously over the Atlantic Ocean, and by all the evidence, it was a real plot. I think that really frightened people. Second, the president going out and giving a week of speeches about a week or so ago, laying out--the people he had captured, the 14 who are now in Guantanamo and what they had done, one of whom was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of September 11.
Gigot: So framing this election as a choice on national security, what he did in 2002 and what he did 2004, and that's good politics.
Henninger: Yeah, It's not only good politics, it's reality.
Noonan: I would add, I think Mr. Bush is lucky in his foes. He has consistently been lucky in those who oppose him. Nationally, in the United States, the Democrats have not been able to gain purchase on him, I think, still. Even though the stars were so well aligned for them, they haven't been able to really get at the president's team in a way that I think is working. Second, in the world, everything Dan mentions plus Chavez. You know, You are the devil. I still smell the sulfur. The president's foes get so over the top about him that their criticisms never seem real.
Gigot: But you wrote, last week, Peggy, something I want to ask you about. You said, "I think that Americans have pretty much stopped listening to him"--you meaning, referring to the president.
Gigot: What do you mean by that? And that doesn't sound good for a president who's trying to frame the debate.
Noonan: I know. I know. But I think that is true. They've stopped listening. But I also think it's true that they don't have to listen now because they got it. They know what he's going to say. They know what he stands for. They know where he stands, I said. He has kind of emblazoned his brand on the American hide. So while he's not still exciting, moving, propelling them, they get it. And they look at him and say, I got it. And then they look at the other team and say, I don't got it. That's what I see.
Stephens: Well, I hate to be the guy who takes away the punchbowl, but the president--the Republicans are still doing poorly.
We've got six or seven weeks to the election. And I think Republicans have plenty to be worried about. But there is an expectations game. Everyone was saying, up until a few weeks ago, the Democrats stand a good chance of taking the House, even the Senate. Now, that looks a little clearer. So people are saying, Oh, this is a great win for the president. The president's approval ratings are up a bit. But his disapproval ratings are still much, much greater than that. And races that ought to be shoe-ins for Republicans, like the race in Tennessee, are looking like toss-ups at best.
Gigot: But Bret, I take that point. But there is a phenomenon going on, which is Republicans are coming home. Now about 85% of Republicans are now approving of the president's performance. And they weren't after Katrina. They weren't--and a lot more--what the president, I think, is trying to do is remind Republicans, as Peggy said, that he's in the game. He's not giving up. And he's committed to winning in Iraq. Because about 8% or 9% percent of the president's disapproval rating, according to one Republican strategist, is related not to opposition to the war, but frustration that he's not fighting the war to win, and I think he's trying to remind them that he is doing that.
Henninger: Yeah, and I think he's doing it pretty successfully. As well, you know, there are going to be technical factors at play here. We were talking to a high Republican strategist this past week, who noted that their fund-raising has been extremely successful. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Bush 41 have all been out there raising money for these candidates, many of whom have at least $200,000 to spend between now and the election. That's the sort of thing that can make an election--a difference in local elections.
Gigot: Democratic strategy, two words: Bush and Iraq. That seems to be their message in advertising everywhere. Is that enough?
Noonan: "Bush is bad." It's three words. "Bush is bad."
"Trust us. Bush bad, we good."
Henninger: But the one thing they have not done is gotten ownership of the war on terror. Their stance has by and large been opposition. People want someone on their side, and the Democrats haven't figured out a way to do that.
Stephens: But as you pointed out, the Republicans and Bush have been lucky in their events of the last few months with the terror plot and the September 11--fifth anniversary of September 11 and so on. Things also could happen in Baghdad or elsewhere that would help the Democrats. And we shouldn't forget that.
Noonan: True. I am surprised that the Democrats have not focused down to this phrase: "new management for the war." They can get Bush on the management of the war.
Gigot: All right. Well, we'll see if they take your advice.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.
Gigot: Winners and losers, picks and pans, "Hits and Misses." It's our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week.
Item one, Hugo Chavez's favorite author. Dan?
Henninger: Yeah, that's right. Well, the first words out of Hugo Chavez's mouth at the U.N. were not "the devil" but "Noam Chomsky."
Who's he? Noam Chomsky is the American linguistic philosopher who is actually the source of all of Hugo Chavez's political thinking, such as the assertion that the United States is a sponsor of state terrorism. In fact, Chavez held up Chomsky's book, which is "Hegemony or Survival." Now, the American intellectual left has been trying to argue for years that the United States is the source of all the world's troubles. And it's kind of a reductio ad absurdum that they have found their appropriate outlet in the mouth of Hugo Chavez, a demagogic clown. Quite an accomplishment.
Gigot: All right, Dan. Next, Richard Branson puts his money where his mouth is. Bret?
Stephens: Yeah, well, the British billionaire, entrepreneur, aviator, explorer was at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York this week, where he pledged all profits from his railroads and airlines over the next 10 years would go to finding fuels and energy sources that don't emit carbon, don't contribute to global warming. Now, I'm a skeptic on the subject of global warming, but I have to say this. I think that if a solution is going to come here, it's going to come from the private sector, not the government. And it's going to come from innovators, not regulators. And I think Richard Branson is leading the way here and he deserves support and applause.
Gigot: I suspect he thinks there's also some business opportunities there in the new technology.
Stephens: I'm sure there's that too. But he's an entrepreneur.
Gigot: OK, all right, thanks, Bret. Finally, a miss for the Islamic world's reaction to the pope. Peggy?
Noonan: I think so. I think, first of all, that Benedict, in the past 10 days--you know, there were some people who said he'd never break out of John Paul's shadow. I think he has. I mean, he made a vivid impression on the world by trying to start a high, high-minded, thoughtful dialogue. I think the miss here is that the world of Islam was not--seems not to have been up to the challenge of answering and speaking in an extremely high-minded way.
I think the demonstrations on the streets have made Americans and the West look at what's going on in Islam in a new way. It hit them in a new way that something is wrong there. And I also think American Catholics have reacted within themselves in ways they had not expected, with stronger support for the pope and greater indignation about "the pope must die" and all these demonstrations. That's interesting. It's interesting when people find out what they really think.
Gigot: All right, Peggy, thank you. That's it for this week's edition of "The Journal Editorial Report." Thanks to Dan Henninger, Bret Stephens and Peggy Noonan. I'm Paul Gigot. Thanks to all of you for watching. And we hope to see you right here next week.
Watch selected clips from "The Journal Editorial Report" at FoxNews.com.
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