10 years ago
Iran is taking a hard line position on the U.S. According to a commentary in the Washington Post (hat tip to Blogs of War):
Two weeks ago, the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, dismissing the United States as a paper tiger, said: “Something very important is happening. . . . The Americans are no longer saying that Iran must be deprived of its nuclear rights forever. Iran has accomplished a great thing.”
But we should remember that this commentary is by Richard Perle, and like everything else he writes or says, it is moralizing, preening, self-serving and condescending. When Richard Perle speaks, it is the “gospel according to Richard.” This, in my opinion, leads Perle to believe that the Bush administration has “blinked.” This might just be a fatal error for Perle’s analysis (and for Iran, if they agree).
In fact, there is much behind this decision to go political with Iran. According to a Washington Post article:
The troubled Iraq war also hangs over Iran diplomacy. Administration officials have little confidence in the intelligence on Iran’s programs, while allies overseas view U.S. actions through the prism of Iraq. That concern has forced the administration to emphasize diplomacy to avoid the breach with its allies that characterizes the Iraq war.
In hard negotiations, the Bush administration constructed, together with the international community, a package of rewards for dropping the enrichment and reprocessing programs. Cheney raised an objection to where this might take the U.S.:
Officials said there was essentially no dissent among Bush’s top advisers on joining the talks. The Pentagon raised no objections, and the only cautionary tone came from Cheney, who said that the shift should not lead the administration down a “slippery slope,” in which they end up retreating from their core red line: an end to enrichment and reprocessing — the two paths toward fissile material. The group agreed to hold their red line.
It would appear to me that the Iranian thinking on this is wrongheaded. There is apparently no desire to rush to war with Iran, especially when these issues are seen through the prism of Iraq. However, the needed steps have been taken. The international community has been briefed. They have been courted. They have even participated in the development of the package of incentives to lure Iran away from a nuclear program.
When the difficult time comes, that is, when Iran refuses to end the program, and the decision must be made either to end the program ourselves or let Iran go nuclear, the U.S. will say, “we did our best.” Besides, you were involved just like we were.
Additionally, it gives the U.S. intelligence community the time to QA (quality assure) the information it is giving the administration.
Iran sees this as a win for them. The U.S. sees this as a win-win.
And so Richard Perle is still on the outside looking in. Just the way it should be.