When talking can kill

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At the end of the week, Saeed Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, is scheduled to arrive in Geneva for yet another round of talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. It is unclear what the two have to discuss.

On July 4, the Iranians sent their written response to the West's latest offer to appease them. In and of itself, the offer, made by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany and communicated to Iran by Solana, constituted a major achievement for the Iranians. It promised civilian nuclear power plants, economic assistance, new airplanes, agricultural assistance, hi-tech transfers and a freeze on the expansion of economic sanctions against the nuclear-weapons-seeking mullocracy. In exchange for all of that, the Iranians weren't even required to end their uranium enrichment activities. To get the ball of concessions rolling, all the Iranians needed to do was promise not to expand their current enrichment activities.

If Iran were ever even remotely interested in reaching a deal with the international community, this was the deal it would have taken. For the unspoken subtext of the agreement was that the international community is willing to accept a nuclear armed Iran in exchange for the mere appearance of Iranian willingness to bow to international pressure. As David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, explained to Newsweek last week, at their current, known level of uranium enrichment the Iranians are producing 1.2 kg. of enriched uranium a day. And at this enrichment level, they will be able to produce a nuclear bomb by next year. So the international community's willingness to accept continued Iranian uranium enrichment at current levels is a clear signal of the international community's willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

And yet, that offer still wasn't good enough for the Iranians. Their written response didn't even discuss the issue of uranium enrichment. They just asked for more concessions in exchange for nothing. And now they believe that their "counterproposal" should form the basis of this week's round of discussions.

As Iran submitted its response to the offer, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dispatched his foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati to the media to discuss Iran's interest in accepting the West's offer. The Western media and some EU officials were so thrilled by the gesture that the immediate coverage of Iran's response lent the impression that Iran had in fact accepted the offer.

IT WAS only two days later, after those same officials sat down and read what the Iranians wrote that they realized that they had been tricked. And just to be sure that there was no residual optimism, senior Iranian leaders like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manoushehr Mottaki stated clearly that they would never accept any deal that places limitations on their uranium enrichment.

After verbally snuffing out all hopes for an agreement, Iran proceeded to show off its military prowess by testing ballistic missiles last week and augmenting those tests with verbal threats to destroy Israel and attack all US bases in the Middle East.

And still despite all of this, Solana looks forward to his meetings this Saturday with Jalili with hope for an accommodation. After Iran rejected a deal that effectively offered it acceptance as a nuclear-armed state, he still believes that the best way to deal with Iran's clear intention to acquire and use nuclear weapons is to offer it membership in the World Trade Organization.

Solana's unshakeable faith that Iran can be appeased is to be expected. After all, Solana was on the first flight to Teheran to begin negotiating with the mullahs the minute that Iran's nuclear program was exposed five years ago. And he's been running the talks ever since – first for France, Germany and Britain, and then starting last May, for the US as well.

Solana cannot acknowledge that the talks have failed. He is too personally invested in them to admit that Iran has been using him as the diplomatic fig leaf behind which it has pushed forward with its nuclear bomb program.

SOLANA IS a perfect example of why the oft repeated policy mantra "there's never any harm in talking" is incorrect. The basic idea behind that assertion is that negotiations can never cause damage, they can only do good – by resolving a conflict without resorting to force. But they can and often do cause tremendous harm – and to the wrong side.

If Europe's initial justification for negotiating with Iran was that it wished to convince Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, over time that justification gave way to a more basic justification – to deny that the talks had failed. That is, after it became clear that the talks would not succeed in engendering a change in Iran's behavior, the parties involved changed their focus from Iran to themselves. The talks were about them. And if the talks failed, it wasn't because Iran refused to listen to reason. It was because the West hadn't given it a good enough offer. So just by engaging Iran and its ilk, these Westerners were transformed from Western representatives to the Iranian regime to advocates of the Iranian regime in the West.

As a result it has become nearly impossible to have coherent discussion about the Iranian nuclear program. For when the "experts" are called to tell us how to proceed in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, they instead exhort us to engage at ever higher levels with the Iranians in order to show them our good intentions toward them.

And of course, it isn't only Iran that is benefitting from the West's false belief in the harmlessness of negotiations. Iran's proxies in Syria and Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority are also prospering thanks to the West's belief that negotiations can only do good.

THE LATEST display of this Western preference for the pomp of accommodation over the responsibility of confrontation was French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Mediterranean summit in Paris this week. The purpose of the parley, which Sarkozy has been trying to organize since entering office last May, was to project himself as a global leader in international affairs and to project France as an important country in Europe and throughout the world.

Although the summit – like the Barcelona and Madrid summits before it – was officially focused on building economic cooperation among the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Europe, its actual purpose was to propel France to the position of peacemaker between Israel and its neighbors, and specifically between Israel and Syria. And to do this, the success or failure of the entire conference was contingent upon Syrian President Bashar Assad's willingness to participate and sit in the same room as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

To bring Syria on board, Sarkozy was compelled to accept the Assad regime as legitimate. And to do this, he needed to ignore the nature of the new Lebanese government, Syria's role in establishing it, Syria's support for terrorism, its feudal relationship with Iran and its role in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and a host of anti-Syrian Lebanese parliamentarians and journalists over the past three years.

Last Friday, just ahead of the Paris summit, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora announced that he had formed his new, Hizbullah-controlled government. Saniora was compelled to abdicate control over Lebanon to Iran's foreign legion as a result of Hizbullah's violent takeover of the country in May. And Hizbullah justified its coup by noting that Saniora's pro-democracy March 14 movement in the Lebanese parliament had failed to elect a new president to replace Emil Lahoud, who completed his term last November. Of course, Saniora only failed to elect a new president because Syria and
Hizbullah had murdered so many March 14 movement members of parliament that he no longer had enough votes to elect a candidate without Hizbullah's approval.

After Saniora announced his new Iranian-controlled government, Assad was quick to announce that he would be opening a Syrian embassy in Beirut for the first time ever. Assad's announcement was greeted with glee in the Elysee Palace and throughout the West. It was perceived as Syria's first acknowledgement of Lebanese sovereignty. But this is a false perception.

Syria's announcement was not a sign of moderation by Damascus but a sign of radicalization. Syria has not accepted Lebanon's sovereignty. It has accepted Iranian dominion over Lebanon. And in accepting Iran's control of Lebanon, Assad effectively acknowledged that today Syria is nothing more than Iran's Arab vassal state.

Rather than stand up for Lebanon in its hour of need, Sarkozy joined forces with the Bush administration and the Olmert-Livni-Barak government and pretended that Saniora and his pro-democracy forces are still in charge of the country. He pressured Israel to give Mt. Dov to Iranian-controlled Lebanon in spite of the fact that the territory is both vital to Israel's security and is part of the Golan Heights. And rather than boycott Syria for its role in destroying Lebanon, Sarkozy chose to embrace Assad as a peacemaker.

By doing all of this, Sarkozy argued he would place himself in a position of acting as an honest broker in talks between Israel and Syria. But of course like Solana in his constant struggle to find the right mix of concessions to convince Iran to only enrich small quantities of uranium, so Sarkozy's concessions to Syria served only to embolden Assad still further.

Assad agreed to come to Paris. But he refused to have anything to do with Olmert. And then, once he arrived in Paris, he gave an interview to Al-Jazeera explaining that he wouldn't sign a peace treaty with Israel even if it gives him the entire Golan Heights. As far as he is concerned, Israel has no right to expect him to normalize relations. And of course Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah al-Islam and all the rest of the terror groups living in Damascus are simply "resistance" groups and perfectly legitimate. And by the way, Iran, he assured us, is not developing nuclear bombs to the best of his knowledge.

So in exchange for recognizing the new Iranian-controlled regime in Lebanon and embracing Syria to the bosom of civilized nations, Sarkozy provided Assad with an international bullhorn to oppose everything that Sarkozy claims to be interested in achieving. But now that he's embraced engagement as his chosen strategy for dealing with Syria and Lebanon, he can do nothing but proceed with what he started. And so he committed himself to paying a state visit to Damascus by September.

Neither Sarkozy nor Solana are at all unique. Their associates in Europe, Olmert and his ministers, the State Department and most US political leaders support negotiating with rogue regimes that refuse to agree to anything except the West's need to make more concessions to them. And all of these leaders, at a certain point, have claimed that those negotiations mustn't be endangered by more confrontational policies that might actually have a chance of advancing their national interests.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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5 Comments

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 07/15/2008 at 2:31

    The West is scared to death that Iran will actually “nuke” its cities. So, it will do anything possible to appease Iran, and make ridiculous concessions. The current Israeli government wants peace at any cost, and will surrender more territory to keep things quiet. Reluctantly, Israel will be forced to act alone to stop Iran. Both the US and the EU forgot that you don’t talk to tyrants, but defeat them. Perhaps millions will die in a regional Mid-East war because timid leaders had no courage to confront Iran.

    Reply
  • Marcel Cousineau 07/15/2008 at 2:35

    We have Disneyland, Paris ,now we have Sarkozyland where dreams turn into nightmares.
    It’s almost a repeat of the late 30’s in Europe.
    “UN Resolution 1701 is another failed agreement Israel has signed onto and P.M. Olmert wastes not time runnning after more worthless delusions and agreements that are never enforced as long as the Islamist are the one’s breaking them.
    Did he bring up the failure of UN1701 with the peace hustlers who never deliver on what they promise ?
    I wonder if P.M.Omert is capable of any firm resolve for real action about anything or does he only know the art of capitulation ?
    While the enemy zealously prepares with precise military training,logistics and tactics to accomplish one goal , the defeat of Israel,the party of defeat look for more opportunities to show weakness and surrender what is left.
    The parties of losers and defeatists chase after never ending halllucinations as if it’s top leaders were all brain damaged from years of drug abuse.
    The Hizbullah continues to get stronger and Israel’s Government more inept ,incompetent ,weaker and dumber.
    He has not met a bad deal for Israel that he was not ready to sign.
    It’s no wonder Amadinejad and Nasrallah’s grin’s have grown from ear to ear.
    an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa, which reported Monday that Hizbullah has acquired chemicals needed to make weapons such as nerve gas or mustard gas from North Korean suppliers. The Lebanese terrorist organization is allegedly preparing to arm its Katyusha rockets with such chemical warheads. Echoing Barak’s claims, the Kuwaiti paper also stated that the assistance of Syria and Iran has been crucial in Hizbullah’s efforts to acquire chemical weapons capabilities. The Al-Siyasa report was based on intelligence provided to the Kuwaiti paper by Syrian opposition figures in the United States.
    Did P.M. Olmert discuss this at the peace party in Paris or were fantasy and Neville Chamberlain style moves the only acceptable order of the day in Sarkozyland where a second holocaust is not out of the question ?

    Reply
  • Guran Walker 07/15/2008 at 14:06

    Very true insight Caroline, as usual. I didn’t exactly follow some nuances of your remarks about Iranian and Syrian involvement in Lebanon, although I quite agree there is a dangerous relationship. My take though, on the overall situation, is as I have stated before (you also): the model for what is happening now is the ‘late 30s’ Nazi challenge. Constant appeasement led only to carnage. I have pointed out repeatedly and people cannot get their heads round the numbers, this time 5.5 Billion will die. Nothing will now prevent those deaths.

    Reply
  • R Garrett 07/16/2008 at 4:21

    Caroline, you again shine the light of truth & reason on the Western response to islam. What the West indeed fails to see is that Iran is simply the lead fox for a hate filled way of life that enslaves women & seeks to destroy all who stand in the way of Israel being removed from the face of the earth. All Jews must wake up & support the security of Israel. Israelis must stand up to their gov’t leaders & say no more talk, prepare for the war that is coming. It is not a matter of if but when & I fear that the West can not be counted on. They worship at the alter of comfort & are willing to indulge any who offer a reason for their actions no matter how vile. Just look at the USA as good is now evil & evil is not only to be allowed but is now considered right. Israel must look to GOD for her help as the nations will not stand with her. So Caroline please keep providing the truth for all to see who will just look.

    Reply
  • Timothy Kriete For Israel Forever AMEN 07/16/2008 at 9:40

    AMEN My Precious Sister Caroline Glick And My
    Brother Marcel Cousineau, The TRUTH SHALL SURELY
    SET YOU FREE. Keep Sounding The Shofar For
    Zion’s Sake 1 Day Soon Israel Shall Be Forced
    To Act Against Iran But That Is NOTHING NEW,
    IRAQ & SYRIA TRIED THE SAME THING AND FAILED!
    I Believe The WORD Of God, Thus Regardless I
    Believe The LORD God Of Abraham, Issac, And
    Jacob (Israel) Shall Surely Survive Any
    Attempts ANY ENEMIES To Cause The Fig Tree
    Harm, Israel Is God’s Fig Tree AMEN. I
    Eternally Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem The
    Eternally Un-Divided Capital Of Israel The Apple
    Of The LORD God’s Eyes, I Could Care Less What
    Any “Bozo The Clowns” Says Folks Israel Shall
    Prevail Against Her Enemies. This Is Because
    JEHOVAH EL SHADDAI SAYS SO, MANKIND HAS ALWAYS
    HAD FLAWED AGENDAS AND THIS HAS NOT CHANGED.
    “I LOVE YOU ALL AND YOU CAN’T DO NOTHING ABOUT
    IT” Stay Strong Caroline And Marcel, Thy Servant
    And Brother For Zion’s Sake Timothy Kriete.
    PS…Guran Walker Those 5.5 Billion Shall Most
    Likely Be ISLAMIC Brothers And Sisters AMEN.

    Reply

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