Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Confronting Iran the Follow Up

Last week the Democrats had a spat over the proper way to approach countries like Iran. Each candidate felt that Bush's approach of isolation is wrong. First, each of the candidates unfortunately is wrong in their characterization of Bush's approach. If only the administration really did isolate Iran, then maybe we would get somewhere however we have held multiple high level meetings between envoys. Each have accomplish absolutely nothing.

There has however been a lot written about the subject. In my opinion the foremost expert on the subject is Dennis Ross

Not only do we not want to limit the means available for transforming
unacceptable or dangerous behaviors internationally, but when we say as a matter
of principle that we will not talk to certain states--or we set conditions that
exclude the possibility of such talks--we often make it harder to persuade
others in the international community that our posture is reasonable. We often
make ourselves the issue rather than the behavior of those regimes that deserve
Isolation is an important sanction in international relations. It
should be used when states engage in intolerable behaviors such as violating
basic international norms, providing support for terrorists, trying to subvert
their neighbors or engaging in genocidal behaviors...

Ross's point is a good one. Of course, we should be prepared to engage dangerous regimes but on our terms not for the sake of engagement. This was what Hillary Clinton tried to say though in my mind even she didn't go that far. Sending in envoys to feel out sociopaths is naive. Sociopaths manipulate plain and simple and any meeting will benefit them a lot more than us. Obama completely mischaracterized Reagan's position. He didn't meet with the Soviets until he was ready, until it was clear they couldn't keep up with the arm's race. Reagan didn't meet with the Soviets just for the sake of it.

This is how we should confront Iran, and lately more and more people are recognizing it. For instance, here is what Senator Kyl said...

"Through a careful strategy of divestment, smart sanctions and asset
freezing, international trade limits, and better targeting of Iran's leaders, we
can follow up on the existing discontent on the street," he said.
While no
one can predict the ultimate results, Kyl believed that tough sanctions and
divestment, coupled with a better targeted public diplomacy campaign aimed at
supporting the pro-democracy movement inside Iran, could have dramatic effects.
"The eventual result could be regime change," he said. "Nearer term,
pressure could cause policy shifts with the existing regime...

Kyl is right. This regime is teetering on the edge. They have one product, oil, that keeps them afloat, and we as a nation can and must pressure all companies that invest there. He is absolutely right. Had we all managed a similar strategy with Germany in the 1930's there may not have been a World War II.

Divesting from Iran is even hitting the college campus...

For example, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), taking aim at pension systems, said:
“It is unconscionable . . . to permit investment . . . in companies that provide
revenues, advanced equipment and technology to countries that threaten our vital
security interests.” And presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called
private sector and state officials to divest from Iran and to “cut off
the resources [it] uses to fuel terror.” Peter Huessy, president of GeoStrategic
Analysis, a defense and national-security consulting business, puts a finer
point on it: “Tolerating investment in fanatic states like Iran intent on
killing us is nothing less than a policy of suicide.”

Once again, I encourage everyone to visit divestterror.org, to find out exactly which companies do business with Iran. I encourage everyone to write the state department to encourage more isolation of the regime, to pressure the UN for further sanctions even the sort of limp and weak sanctions that they are accustomed to, and I encourage everyone to find a way to remove embassies from Iran. By this three pronged approach we can bring this government down peacefully with no bombs...

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