The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


As a prelude to the long-continuing EU-led negotiations with with Iran on its continuing attempt to develop nuclear weapons, Reuters reports:
Iran will not back down in a nuclear dispute with the West and is not interested in talks with the United States, its president said on Tuesday ahead of a previously unannounced visit by Russia's foreign minister.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking hours before he was due to meet Russia's Sergei Lavrov in Tehran, dismissed U.S. offers of broader negotiations between the two foes if Tehran first halts atomic work which Washington fears is aimed at building bombs.

"This nation will not negotiate with anyone over its obvious and legal rights," Ahmadinejad told student members of the Basij religious militia, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"We are not even interested in negotiating with you (the United States) and the Iranian nation does not need America."

Many who believe in the power of diplomatic negotiation counsel “patience” when dealing with a country like Iran. It may take time, they argue, but over the long run, our overall diplomatic goals can be accomplished.

On the face of it, this is reasonable advice—but only if we are able to freeze the status quo. If Iran did nothing further to build its nuclear capability and instead embarked on long-term negotiations—3 years, 5 years, 20 years (no matter)—patience makes a lot of sense. But unfortunately, Iran has not stopped its nuclear development efforts and moves toward a nuclear weapons capability that by even the most conservative estimates is placed at no more than 5 years off.

So, the question is (there is no optimal answer): Are there limits to our patience?

“Peace activists” would argue that we must be infinitely patient, that nothing ever justifies a violent confrontation in an effort to preempt an even more violent confrontation further down the road.

“Hawks” would argue that we’ve already been far too patient and the time for preemption is upon us.

“Optimists” would argue that if we’re patient enough, the result will be the internal overthrow of the Islamofascists who run the Iranian regime by “moderates” like Hashemi Rafsanjani. By the way, that’s the same Rafsanjani who said on October 5th: “What Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews of Europe at that time was partly due to these circumstances with the Jews. They wanted to expel the Zionists from Europe because they were always a pain in the neck for governments there ... Their first goal was to save Europe from the evil of Zionism, and in this they have been relatively successful.”

Pragmatists would argue that patience is a virtue, but that it cannot be unlimited and it cannot turn a blind eye to a serious, gathering threat.

Writing in the Asia Times, By Spengler notes:
Deals with the devil simply do not work, even in the ethically challenged world of foreign policy. The devil will act according to his nature, whatever bargain one attempts to make with him.

My proposed mantra for President George W Bush, is, "There are no good options." To be precise, there are options that are considerably worse for others than for the United States. The use of force against Iran without doubt will make the Iraqi mess completely unmanageable. It will have spillover effects in Turkey, where the electoral majority that supported the Islamists in this year's elections will rise in outrage against the United States and Israel. It may reignite the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Nor should we have any illusions about Iran's terrorist capacities. Western civilians well may pay a heavy price for the excision of Iran's nuclear program in the form of terror attacks. The price may be steep, but it's worth it.

Is it, in fact, worth it? Isn’t “patience” a better strategy? Hoping against hope that the peace activists or optimists are right. Hoping that we can postpone confrontation indefinitely, allowing other events to somehow intervene to our advantage. Hoping that by not acting, we can manipulate events in a way that avoids violence. Hoping that the fascists that control Iran will somehow be deposed by the Iranian people and that Iranian “moderates” will have a different point of view. Hoping that a new U.S. President [Hillary?] will somehow conjure the silver bullet that will solve this problem.

Patience and hope. Wonderful human qualities, but like all others, they can and sometimes do lead us astray.