Monday, October 5, 2009

Engaging Iran: You’re Doing a Great Job….At Losing the Battle

By Barry Rubin

Have these people no shame? One meeting with Iran at which the Iranian regime mentions a possible commitment to give up its nuclear fuel, then denies having said any such thing, and they are ready to surrender.

On the basis of what even he calls a “wind of medium optimism,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says, "We no longer want to talk of sanctions." Remember that even before the meeting he said that sanctions were “dangerous”

In fact, the more one studies what happened in the Geneva meeting and afterward, the more it looks as if the Iranian regime gave nothing.

Even the New York Times is starting to get it and points out that the trick is even more obvious because--guess what, though no newspaper has previously mentioned this in connection with the Geneva meeting--the Iranians have done precisely the same thing before!:

"This is not the first time that Western officials have left discussions with their Iranian counterparts thinking they had a deal, only to see it melt away. In 2007, European diplomats said they thought they had wrung a concession from Iran on the same issue, enriching uranium outside the country for use in Iranian reactors, only to have Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reject the idea as an infringement of Iran’s sovereignty."

Yet with this small and old trick, the Iranian regime has thrown its supposed foes into utter confusion. The plan to raise sanctions at the G-20 meeting is now gone and past. The allied forces, about whose unity Obama brags, have been divided.

And what is most ridiculous, Obama's National Security Advisor Jim Jones--who is disappointing even people in the Administration--is actually put into the position of defending the Iranian regime! He told Face the Nation program October 4, 2009:

“We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table”

Well, hey, they can't be all bad can they? Does he understand that Iran has been coming to the table now for about six years, lying and stalling all that time?

As for Kouchner, look, monsieur dude, if you’re going to surrender at least make them work at it a bit!

Right way: Germany invades France. Fight a few weeks, then surrender, collaborate, and turn over all your Jews to be exterminated.

Wrong way: Announce ahead of time Iran is doing you a favor by accepting your surrender. Then give in when they just hint at doing something.

Ok, I admit writing that wasn’t fair to France. But one of the reasons it is so unfair is one of the many bizarre elements in this story. France is simultaneously the toughest and the weakest of the European states on Iran depending on who's talking. Is it that Kouchner and President Sarkozy are at odds? One would think that the statements on the question come from two totally different governments.

But the basic point remains accurate. At least some of the Western powers—unfortunately, I fear this includes the United States—just can’t wait to make a deal with Iran and they aren’t even all that concerned to make it look good.

Those of you who read this blog may recall my dispatches about my son’s soccer (football) experiences. In their last game, they lost 10-0 after which the coach told them that they really played well.

I’m concerned that U.S. foreign policy is the equivalent of that team and the media-academic complex has become a mirror image of that coach.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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