[Posted by Karl]
Roger Cohen’s latest apologia for the Iranian theocracy in the New York Times begins with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei blaming former Pres. Bush for the IAEA’s manifest failure to detect, let alone control, Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program. Cohen predictably argues that Pres. Obama must strike a “grand bargain” with the Iranian mullahs, which will necessarily means that “Obama will have to get tougher with Israel than any U.S. president in recent years.”
Unfortunately for Cohen, Michael Rubin has a column in today’s Wall Street Journal, reciting the failure of European engagement with Iran and quoting Iranian officials publicly admitting that their diplomatic efforts are an insincere ruse, designed to dissuade the rest of the world from putting a halt to Iran’s nuclear ambitions:
On June 14, 2008, for example, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, Mr. Khatami’s spokesman, debated advisers to current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the University of Gila in northern Iran. Mr. Ramezanzadeh criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad for his defiant rhetoric, and counseled him to accept the Khatami approach: “We should prove to the entire world that we want power plants for electricity. Afterwards, we can proceed with other activities,” Mr. Ramezanzadeh said. The purpose of dialogue, he argued further, was not to compromise, but to build confidence and avoid sanctions. “We had an overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities,” he said.
Indeed, if Rubin had more space he could have undoubtedly written much more about Iran’s history of dishonest diplomacy.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s most recent report on Iran’s nuclear program suggests that Cohen’s dream of a “grand bargain” is just that — a dream. The report argues that diplomacy could be successful, but only if China and Russia can be brought aboard quickly to coerce Iranian compliance with any deal.
That approach still seems like a long shot, given that the Obama Administration cannot get China or Russia on board for anything more than a weakly-worded note from the UN in the case of North Korea. However, it is a more realistic approach than the brand of unrealpolitik advocated by Cohen, which seems less interested in our national security than in building The Narrative to blame Bush if Iran tests a nuclear weapon on Obama’s watch. Unfortunately, it would require more work than making a YouTube clip for the mullahs’ amusement, so I am not holding my breath.