Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Kerry's Modest Proposal on Iran

John Edwards was quoted in Monday's Washington Post describing how a Kerry Administration would seek to deal with Iran's nuclear program:

A John F. Kerry administration would propose to Iran that the Islamic state be allowed to keep its nuclear power plants in exchange for giving up the right to retain the nuclear fuel that could be used for bomb-making, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said in an interview yesterday.


Kerry first outlined the idea of providing nuclear fuel to Iran in a speech in June -- a proposal favored by many Europeans -- but Edwards, who twice described the concept as a "bargain," was more explicit in suggesting the Kerry administration would actively try to reach an agreement with the Iranians. "At the end of the day, we have to have some serious negotiating leverage in this discussion with the Iranians," he said, noting that Kerry would press the Europeans to do much more than "taking rewards away" if the Iranians fail to act.

Iran has insisted that it be allowed to produce nuclear fuel, which would give it access to weapons-grade material. Under Kerry's proposal, the Iranian fuel supply would be supervised and provided by other countries.

Lovely, but what if the mullahs say no, or agree and then cheat on the deal?

Edwards said that if Iran failed to take what he called a "great bargain," it would essentially confirm that it is building nuclear weapons under the cover of a supposedly peaceful nuclear power initiative. He said that, if elected, Kerry would ensure that European allies were prepared to join the United States in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal. "If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain and if in fact this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Edwards said.

Oooh, "heavy sanctions". That'll frighten the mullahs. BTW, if Kerry and Edwards really believe that they can "ensure" that the Europeans will agree to impose "heavy sanctions" on Iran, I have some prime French oil concessions I'd like to sell them. As the New York Times reported on June 23 of this year:

French exports to Iran have nearly doubled in five years, totaling 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in 2003, according to the economic mission of the French embassy in Tehran. And the number of French-connected companies registered with the embassy - some of which are joint ventures and some representative offices - has risen from a handful several years ago to more than 40.

If John Kerry really thinks his charm and sophistication will persuade the French to walk away from that kind of money, then frankly he's even more deluded than I feared. Unfortunately, offering the mullahs nuclear fuel is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the Kerry plan to "confront" the mullahcracy goes. To quote the Post article:

Edwards's notion of proposing such a bargain with Iran, combined with Kerry's statement in December that he was prepared to explore "areas of mutual interest" with Iran, suggests that Kerry would take a sharply different approach with Iran than has President Bush. The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since its 1979 revolution, and Iran was part of Bush's "axis of evil" that included North Korea and the former government of Iraq. Earlier this month, Bush declared that Iran "must abandon her nuclear ambitions."

In short, Kerry and Edwards intend to "engage" the mullahs, as many "experts" like to phrase it. In other words, a Kerry Administration's approach to dealing with an Islamist theocracy that is pursuing nuclear weapons, sponsors terrorism, openly proclaims its hatred for America and Israel, and seeks to undermine our efforts in Iraq, will be to offer the mullahs a deal. What Kerry and Edwards are proposing is a return to pre-9/11 business as usual, the likely result will be appeasement.

As is so often the case with John Kerry's policy proposals, I am left with plenty of questions. What if the mullahs reject Kerry's grand bargain? Or accept it, and then cheat by buying or producing their own nuclear fuel on the sly? After all, why would the mullahs interpret Kerry's desire to negotiate in response to their increasingly confrontational behavior as anything other than weakness? What will a Kerry Administration do when our European "allies" refuse to go along with "heavy sanctions"? What about Israel? Are they meekly going to wait for the Iranian theocracy to bring its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to fruition, so that the mullahcracy can finish what the Nazis started? No, nor should they. Finally, will John Kerry, after all his hypocritical demogogy about Bush "misleading" us into Iraq, really be prepared to threaten the mullahs with military action on the basis of incomplete intelligence and over the objections of "Old Europe"? Or will Kerry take the easy way out, settling for any deal as long as he has a scrap of paper to wave in the air, Neville Chamberlain style, and can pretend that sweeping the Iranian nuclear issue under the rug will make it all go away?

One additional question needs to be asked. Does John Kerry really believe that cutting a deal with a regime that has ruthlessly crushed the desire of the Iranian people to be free to be in our best interests? Will selling out the most pro-American population in the Middle East in the name of realpolitik really make America "stronger" and "more respected in the world"? I don't think so. For all his faults, I know that George W. Bush will do whatever is necessary to deal with the mullahcracy. John Kerry inspires no such confidence.


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