Friday, May 16, 2008

Does Gate's Support The Obama-Chamberlain Foreign Policy Towards Iran?

After President Bush hit the nail on the head yesterday, commenting about how suicidal and naïve it is to talk with folks like Hitler, Obama popped up and said "Appeaser? Did somebody call me?" After refusing to engage on the issue and instead, a resort to disingenuous labeling of Bush’s argument, Obama’s team defended by claiming that Sec. of Defense Gates had repeatedly called for talks with Iran. I’ll bet Sec. Gates will be surprised to find what he has called for supports the insane policies articulated by Obama.

Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he would meet at the Presidential level with Iran. His tough sounding rhetoric and what he says he will offer is ridiculous. For example, on his website:

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation.

Obama is being either suicidally naïve on the level of Neville Chamberlain or cynical beyond measure. The U.S. has supported every attempt at negotiation made by the EU 3 and their offers of precisely these types of carrots – all of which Iran has been rejected out of hand over the past three years. The U.S. has stepped up economic pressure and political isolation. Indeed, some change agent. For all of his complaints about failed Bush policies, all Obama is promising is more of the same that we’ve had from Bush in terms of carrots – and he’s going to toss out the stick.

Obama has articulated nothing not already rejected by the theocracy even as they have become ever more aggressive in their financing and direction of terrorism. Given these facts, the theocracy’s incredibly bloody history, their expansionist goals, and their willingness to sow death, destruction and mayhem to accomplish those goals, what can Obama possibly expect to offer Iran’s theocracy as part of a grand bargain? Will he let them turn Iraq into Lebanon? Will he give them Israel? Iran wants to expand its revolution. Just like we bitter Americans cling to religion and guns and don’t put an economic price tag on it despite what Obama may think, Iran has clearly shown that it does the same with its revolution.

Anyone who has studied the history of Iran’s theocracy and its relations with the U.S. knows that there have been multiple attempts by U.S. administrations to normalize relations – often referred to in diplo-speak as the "grand bargain." It is something that has been repeatedly and flatly rejected by Iran’s Supreme Guides, first Khomeini, and now Khamenei. Ken Pollack, in his book "The Persian Puzzle," documents most of the attempts, including the failed attempt by Clinton regime. The culture of America presents certainly one of the greatest threats to the the medieval Islamic regime being imposed on Iran by its theocracy.

At one point, near a decade ago, it appeared that Iran might be liberalizing at long last as the country sat on the edge of a counter revolution – the so called Tehran Spring. But Iraq’s reformist president at the time, Imam Khatami, blinked and refused to support the movement. It was brutally repressed and, in 2004, Ahmedinejad was voted in as President. There is no moderate voice left in power in Iran, and that is reflected in Iran's ever more aggressive support of terrorism.

That said, in 2004, at the tail end of the Khatami presidency, Gates, then a civilian, co-chaired with Zbignew Brezezinski a project of the Council on Foreign Relations that produced a document, Iran: Time For A New Approach. Gates and company assessed that it would not be possible even then to strike a grand bargain with Iran, but that the U.S. should be willing to meet with Iran on regional issues. And in fact, since that document was published, the U.S. has held ambassador level talks with Iran over security in Iraq. You can find a history of those utterly fruitless discussions here. Iran has repeatedly offered full security guarantees even as it has ever increased its deadly proxy war inside Iraq. Irregardless, the only reason we are not meeting with them now is because Iran refuses to meet.

Fast forward to the other day, with Sec. Gates answering questions at the American Academy of Diplomacy. When you read the entirety of his remarks, he is not advocating Chamberlainesque talks at the Presidential level. Indeed, given the current situation, he is advocating what amounts to increased tourism in Iran:

. . . I think that the one area where the Iraq Study Group recommendations have not been followed up is in terms of reaching out the Iranians. And I would just tell you I've gone through kind of an evolution on this myself. I co-chaired with Zbig a Council on Foreign Relations study on U.S. policy toward Iran, in 2004. But we were looking at a different Iran in many respects. We were looking at an Iran where Khatami was the president. We were looking at an Iran where their behavior in Iraq actually was fairly ambivalent in 2004. They were doing some things that were not helpful, but they were also doing some things that were helpful.
And one of the questions that I think historians will have to take a look at is whether there was a missed opportunity at that time. But with the election of Ahmadinejad and the very unambiguous role that Iran is playing in a negative sense in Iraq today, you know, I sort of sign up with Tom Friedman's column today. [Friedman wrote: When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore.]

We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with respect to the Iranians and then sit down and talk with them. If there's going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander with them not feeling that they need anything from us.

I think that my own view, just my personal view, would be we ought to look for ways outside of government to open up the channels and get more of a flow of people back and forth. There are actually a fair number of Iranians that come to the United States to visit. We ought to increase the flow going the other way, not of Iranians but of Americans. And I think that may be one opening that creates some space, perhaps, over some period of time.

Read the entire article. To sum up, nothing that Sec. Gates has said is a validation of the Obama-Chamberlain policy that Team Obama seems to be claiming. As to his statement that we need to find leverage, that is kind of stating the obvious. Bush and the EU have been trying to do that for years.


Freedomnow said...

Nice post. You nailed Obama's false accusation to the wall.

By the way, as far as Obama's claim that McCain's remark that Hamas prefers Obama was “offensive” and “a smear”... not only is McCain correct because that is exactly what Ahmed Yousef (a political adviser for the militant organization Hamas) stated in an interview with New York’s WABC radio station, “Actually, we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will (win) the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle”.

...but the 2005 United Church of Christ Synod (Obama's church) voted for economic sanctions against Israeli businesses and demanded the removal of Israel’s security barrier (which has saved many Israeli lives from Palestinian terrorism).

When Obama spoke a couple of years later at the Synod, the newly declared best friend of Israel, didnt say a damn thing to condemn those measures!!!

The guy is an utter liar.

A great website that exposes the extremism of the UCC is called UCC Truths:

Joanne said...

And he is a bad liar at that - how dumb can the guy be.

GW said...

Thanks for the comments all. The thing that scares me, I guess, is that to get to what Gates actually meant, you have to sift through nuance. Admittedly, in this case, it is very little nuance. But still, any nuance in election season is not a good thing.