High Noon With Iran
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 31, 2007
If anyone still believes in the utility of talking to the Tehran
regime, they should read the revealing comments made to the press by
the Iranian and the U.S. ambassadors to Baghdad, just minutes after
concluding what were billed as “historic” talks between the two
governments on Monday.
While the talks had “proceeded positively,” U.S. Ambassador Ryan
Crocker told reporters that he had emphasized to the Iranians the need
for concrete action on the ground.
"I laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct, specific
concerns about their behavior in Iraq, their support for militias that
are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces,"
"The fact (is) that a lot of the explosives and ammunitions that are
used by these groups are coming in from Iran ... Such activities ...
need to cease and ... we would be looking for results," he added.
Across the city, Iran’s ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi just thumbed his
nose. “We don’t take the American accusations seriously,” he said. It
was the United States which bore “sole responsibility” for the violence
in Iraq, he opined, noting that Iraq’s infrastructure had been
“demolished by the American invaders.”
If the U.S. was really serious about helping Iraq, he suggested that we
take up Iran’s offer to train and equip Iraqi security forces. (That
way, the Iranians won’t have to steal Iraqi police uniforms any longer
when they want to kill us).
In Tehran, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, crossed the tees and dotted the eyes.
“We are hopeful that Washington’s realistic approach to the current
issues in Iraq – by confessing its failed policy in Iraq and the region
and by showing a determination in changing the policy – guarantees
success of the talks and possible future talks,” he said.
So there you have it. If the United States wishes to have further talks
with the Iranian regime, we must first admit 1) that our policies were
wrong, and 2) that they have failed. Once that’s over with, hey –
whatever you like!
I don’t know how deaf you have to be not to hear the message. Lee Hamilton, are you listening?
As the Democrat half of the Baker-Hamilton commission that promoted
talks with Tehran last fall, Lee Hamilton now finds himself in the
embarrassing situation of seeing the fruits of the policy he promoted
Just talk to Tehran, he said. All they want is a little respect. They
want a secure, integral Iraq, just as we do, he claimed. We have lots
of things in common. Lots!
I give Mr. Hamilton credit for drinking his own Kool-Aid. As director
of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a center-left think tank in Washington,
he thought the Iranians were so eager for talks that he agreed to send
the head of his center’s Iran programs to his native land, despite all
the flap over the Iraq Study Group report.
And so Haleh Esfandiareh, a former Communist (Tudeh) Party militant,
who has long advocated “dialogue” between the U.S. and Iran, went to
Tehran early this year, ostensibly to see her ailing mother.
When she tried to leave, regime thugs intercepted her taxi, “stole” her
passport, and forced her to request a replacement travel document from
the authorities. That led to her arrest, and recent “indictment” in
Iran on charges of espionage.
(For the record, I place the word “indictment” in quotation marks
because the so-called “rule of law” in Iran is an arbitrary system that
obeys the whims and orders of the ruling elite, not any objective legal
standard created with the consent of the governed).
Now, just to be clear about what’s going on. Haleh Esfandiareh has
absolutely zero to do with any purported U.S. government program to
promote a “velvet revolution” in Iran, as intelligence minister Hossein
Mohseni-Ejei has claimed. Would that it were so!
On the contrary. She and many other left-wing Iran “experts” in
Washington have been promoting closer ties between Tehran and
Washington, not confrontation.
So it’s more than ironic that the regime should arrest her. Seriously,
if there were justice in this world, they would have picked up me or
Michael Ledeen, or any number of Iranians who are working hard to
organize women’s groups and student groups and labor organizations
inside Iran, to stand up for their rights.
The Tehran regime continues to dangle “talk of talks” to buy more time
to finish their nuclear weapons development, and are taking U.S.
hostages to use as bargaining chips. Meanwhile, they have expanded
their terrorist networks inside Iraq, and are supplying Explosively
Formed Penetrators (EFPs), money and conventional weapons to both Sunni
and Shiite insurgent groups. (And finally, the U.S. military is being
allowed by the Pentagon to say this in public).
My sources in Iran tell me that the regime plans to dramatically scale
up the terrorist attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces this summer, and
is contemplating ordering Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army to launch
terrorist attacks in Kuwait, the first time that Sadr will have used
his fighters outside of Iraq.
So should we continue to talk to Tehran?
Well, okay – but only if our diplomats can do so without buying every over-priced carpet they are offered.
(Ambassador Ryan Crocker is someone who has got his priorities
straight. After all, he knows a few things about Iranian terrorism,
having received his baptism by fire on April 18, 1983 in Beirut, when
Hezbollah operative Imad Mugniyeh blew up the U.S. embassy.
That’s where I first met Crocker, who was still brushing dust off his
clothes and his hair from the explosion).
Iran’s goal is clear. They seek to defeat us in Iraq, and to prevent
Iraq from emerging as an strong, independent, federal state. Further
down the road, they seek to drive the United States from the Persian
Gulf, smash Israel, and ultimately destroy us.
To achieve these ends, they are furiously developing nuclear weapons.
Even the IAEA has recognized Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, although
IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei now says that we should give
up trying to prevent them from going nuclear.
He said that Iran’s recent progress in uranium enrichment should
convince us that Iran’s nuclear program has become a fait accompli, and
that efforts to make Iran pay a price for defying UN Security Council
resolutions aimed at stopping their nuclear program have been
“overtaken by events.”
That was too much even for the Washington Post, who chided ElBaradei
this past Sunday for his response to Iran’s “aggressive and illegal
“[W]e can only marvel at the nerve of Mr. ElBaradei, an unelected
international civil servant whose mission is to implement the decisions
of the Security Council -- and who proposes to destroy the council's
authority by having it simply drop binding resolutions,” the Post
editorial board wrote.
The Washington Post and many of the cooler heads in the foreign policy
establishment now believe “there is no better alternative than
returning to the United Nations Security Council” for further sanctions
While that may be necessary, a mere “ratcheting up” of sanctions will
not be sufficient to keep Tehran’s murderers from striking again. I
mentioned some of the stronger steps the UN could take, should the U.S.
press hard enough, in this space recently.
But there is a better alternative, and it’s staring us right in the
face. And that’s helping the growing pro-democracy movement inside Iran.
Even as the Europeans continue to meet with Iranian government emissary
Ali Larijani over their nuclear program later this week, it’s important
to remember that economic leverage, however severe, will not deter this
regime from building the bomb.
“While the United States and the West are right to focus on terrorism
and the regime’s nuclear programs, if they ignore the pro-democracy
movement and human rights, they won’t get the results they want,” says
Dr. Hossein Bagherzadeh, a spokesman for Solidarity Iran, a new Iranian
coordinating council that aims to connect opposition groups in exile
with activists working inside Iran.
The choice between appeasement and war is as bad as ever. But unlike
the Washington Post, which believes that sanctions alone provide the
alternative, I believe we have a better option.
Solidarity Iran will be holding its third conference in two weeks time
in Paris, when it plans to announce a plan of action that represents
the first serious step toward forming a united Iranian opposition
coalition in twenty-eight years.
Stay tuned next week for more.
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