Skip to comments.Bush's Deal With Europe (Bush's Instinctive Genius Shines Forth)
Posted on 03/16/2005 2:17:37 PM PST by Cornpone
Europeans are ecstatic that Bush is backing their Iran strategy. But in the end, it is the American approach to Iranian uranium enrichment that received the biggest boost. Negotiations are bound to fail, which would pave the way for UN sanctions -- and for a re-definition of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Where is all the optimism coming from? Last week, it finally became clear that United States President George Bush's newfound friendly tone and diplomatic charm, exhibited late last month during his visit to Europe, may actually be more than just show. In order to create a strong alliance with Europe, he even appears ready to come to a compromise on his own ideological beliefs and to clamp down on the hardliners within his government. Or at least he is willing to give the Europeans the first shot at solving the Iran crisis.
The mullah regime in Iran encapsulates the exact opposite of what Bush's liberated vision of the Middle East should look like: It is repressive, advocates the destruction of Israel and, in the eyes of the Americans, supports terrorists. The mere thought of the mullahs causes Bush to shudder. Nonetheless, he has decided to support the European plan to negotiate with Iran in the hope of preventing the country from getting its hands on nuclear weapons. It's a policy U-turn that has irritated and unnerved conservatives in the US. But Bush seems to be following a more nuanced path this time around, one that involves heavy doses of both idealism and realism.
The truth is that the European troika -- made up of Britain, France and Germany -- doesn't have much to offer the Iranians at the next negotiating session in Paris. Perhaps a few spare parts for the aging airliners that the Shah once bought in the United States and maybe the promise not to block Iran's attempts to get into the World Trade Organization. But few believe such a paltry tray of treats will be tempting enough to dissuade the mullahs from their nuclear dreams.
A common trans-Atlantic front
Symbolically, however, Bush's agreement to support the Europeans is enormous and the old continent is even beginning to believe that Bush is serious about improving trans-Atlantic relations. The hawks in the US government will now have to realize that this means investing heavily in diplomacy, at least as a first step. For their part, the clerics in Tehran now know that they can no longer rely on trans-Atlantic rancor to prevent severe sanctions from eventually being considered against their country.
Bush's concession to Europe was far from a forgone conclusion. His European tour may have demonstrated to him just how seriously Europe would take any sort of change in US political course. Indeed, Bush couldn't help but notice how disappointed the Europeans were that he didn't offer up a new Iran policy during his first stop in Brussels as a present to his hosts. When he met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder later in the trip, Bush let it be known that he would tolerate the European plan, but that no one should expect the US to join the Europeans at the negotiating table.
It was, of course, clear from the start that an unbending American "no" to negotiations would have been the end of any kind of coordinated trans-Atlantic strategy. Europe would have blamed their failure on the stubbornness of the US and a bitter quarrel would have been the result. Indeed, such a position would have made the life of British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- Bush's best friend in Europe -- especially difficult. Elections are approaching in the United Kingdom and Blair's cosy relationship with Washington has not generally been looked upon too favorably by British voters. It was clearly not in the American president's interest to give Blair opponents any further ammunition.
Waiting out diplomacy
Equally important to the search for compromise with Europe was the American realization that they couldn't go it alone against Iran. Given the unstable situation in Iraq, which is already stretching the American military thin, an attack on Iran would be unthinkable. And in contrast to the Israelis, who believe that the mullahs are just months away from completing their first nuclear weapon, the US is convinced that it still has time. American intelligence estimates that it will take years before Tehran has enough enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear bomb. Owing to its belief that the issue doesn't require overnight resolution, the White House decided that it could afford the symbolic gesture of waiting out the European diplomatic offensive. The Bush government has no faith in the negotiations, despite American participation and believes there is no way that Iran will ever give up its enrichment program. Once the talks fail, the sobered Europeans would help Bush bring the Iran case before the United Nations Security Council.
This, in fact, is the core of the US strategy; the European troika agreed to the tougher tone in exchange for Bush's new flexibility on Iran. Details as to when the negotiations can be considered a failure and what exactly should be demanded of Iran are still being worked out. The primary demand is clear, however: Iran must abandon its uranium enrichment program. Should the mullahs continue to insist on their right to enrich, Europe would no longer have much of an escape route to avoid a confrontation with the country.
The larger implications of Europe's agreement to this course are also clear. Bush is essentially pushing for a re-interpretation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Under the treaty, all signatories, including Iran, are allowed to enrich uranium for the production of electricity. Bush, however, is arguing that some countries cannot be trusted with such technology even though the treaty has no such clause.
"We must therefore close the loopholes that allow states to produce nuclear materials that can be used to build bombs under the cover of civilian nuclear programs," Bush said recently.
Iran insists it will not give in
In other words, by getting the Europeans to agree that Iran should halt all uranium enrichment, Bush has made himself a good deal.
America very definitely wants Europe on its side should the crisis ever go before the Security Council and tough economic sanctions could be the result. The trans-Atlantic strategy could now be called "Butter or the Bomb". It is up to Tehran to decide. Only China, with its billions of dollars worth of oil contracts with Iran, would remain a reliable partner for the mullahs. And it could, in the end, torpedo the strategy in the Security Council.
The first reactions from Iran to the trans-Atlantic demands have been shrill. Washington must be having "hallucinations" if it thinks such meager offerings will bring success, an Iranian government representative said. "Any government that accepts the complete discontinuation of the enrichment program would promptly fall," asserts Hassan Rohani, Tehran's chief negotiator with the EU.
Indeed, the nuclear program is considered the pride of the nation. And more provocative rhetoric can be expected out of Iran at least until elections are held in the country in June. No matter what they say, however, one thing is clear: The end game has begun.
The sooner that the Mullahs see Daisy Cutters falling from the sky, the better.
It's called giving the Europeans enough rope to hang themselves and cause them to beg us to cut it before it breaks their neck. I believe Mr Bush must have studied judo.
I didn't find a similar article in German. I think this was published only for the English site. It also looks like a lot of the US / Iran issue articles are English site only.
My opinion is that the President hasn't made many missteps in foreign policy. Even aspects that may have been deemed questionable, have proven their worth in time. With that history in mind I give the President the benefit of the doubt with his dealings with Iran. IMO, he's more than earned our trust on these types of issues.
***Should the mullahs continue to insist on their right to enrich, Europe would no longer have much of an escape route to avoid a confrontation with the country. ***
France will wave a white flag. That's their backup plan.
The truth is that the Euros have become resigned to a nuclear Iran and will scream if the United States acts unilaterally in the common interest. And Bush will end up dealing with the mullahs bilaterally because it is the only sort of dealing they will respect. Anyone who followed the North Korean arc will recognize this pattern and know what the outcome must be.
That Bush guy is being evil because he is going to let the Euros show just how impotent and unimportant they are. :-)
Most Europeans prefer diplomacy for some very obvious reasons. They are as follows. Their populations, unlike the mullahs who can coerce their people into war, do not have the will to fight or resources, and they disdain the warrior as a pathetic anachronism; they are swarming with an abundance of under-employed, dithering dilettante diplomats eager to dally with the mullahs while they are building nukes; and most of the European people have only disdain for the moral view that sees the mullahs as deserving of a violent overthrow for their viciously oppressive behavior. Anyone serious about the matter has to ask what's most effective. If your wife were being raped, who would you prefer to hear her screams, a God-fearing Marine or a European diplomat?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.