No "Grand Bargain" forIran

ByKenneth R.Timmerman
|September 21, 2006

The Council on ForeignRelations is at it again.

In yet another effort to second-guess Bush administration foreignpolicy, the Brahmins of Stability have invited Iranian presidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad to a pow-wow in New York this week, aimed atpromoting a "grand bargain" between the U.S. and Iran.

The CFR invite to the man who has said publicly he wants to wipeIsrael off the map and destroy America drew
a quickresponse from SenatorRick Santorum, R-PA.

"President Ahmadinejad does not afford his own people the freedom ofspeech," Santorum wrote on Monday to CFR president Richard Haas, aformer State Department official and protégé of BrentScowcroft. "By allowing him the opportunity to address a public forumin the United States, you would be sending the wrong message to thepeople of Iran."

The CFR has consistently promoted a "grand bargain" with the regimein Tehran, a policy it laid out in detail in a 2004 white paperwritten by CFR staffer Ray Takeyh and his wife, Susan Maloney. As anofficial at the State Department office of Policy Planning, Ms.Maloney-Takeyh has been instrumental in blocking U.S. governmentfunding to pro-democracy groups in Iran, which she has called "tooconfrontational."

The 2004 CFR report, which I describe in more detail in my book,Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran,was issued under the imprimatur of CFR heavy-hitters ZbigniewBrzezinski and Brent Scowcroft.

Funny how all this fits together.

The interests of the Council on Foreign Relations and of many largeAmerican corporations in forging commercial and diplomatic relationswith the Islamic Republic of Iran run directly counter to the U.S.national interest, the interests of the Iranian people, and to thepresident’s freedom agenda.

The CFR and certain large U.S. corporations (CONOCO and Boeing amongothers) can’t see any good reason why they should abandon apotentially good market in Iran to competitors in France, Germany, orJapan.

What’s refreshing about this argument is the fact that we haven’theard it made with such forcefulness and such wantonness since theClinton years. And that is also what is disturbing about it. It’sback.

In the final months of his presidency, Clinton appointed a "specialambassador" to negotiate a "grand bargain" with Iran, and came veryclose to making a deal that would have put an end to the aspirationsto freedom of the Iranian people for a generation. Until now,however, the Bush administration has rejected such an approach.

Last week,
ata conference in Washington, D.C.,¬Ýanumber of CFR "experts" and protoges tried to paint a pretty face onnegotiations with Iran, including left-wing financier GeorgeSoros.

They described a recent "private" dinner in Boston with mullahMohammad Khatami, Iran’s former president, who said that Iranwanted talks with the United States, but was not willing to give upuranium enrichment as the price.

That’s okay, said CFR expert Charles Kupchan. "The key is toget to a point where the United States and Iran can build arelationship built on trust," he said. "We need to buy time for Iranto come around and make a deal."

But as Ahmadinejad told the United Nations on Tuesday, the only dealIran wants is one that allows it to develop nuclear capabilities thatwill give it the technology and know-how to build nuclear weapons ata time of its choosing.

Apparently seduced by the CFR siren song, Secretary of StateCondoleeza Rice and her top advisor, Undersecretary of State NicholasBurns, have revived the failed policy of seeking to negotiate withTehran’s leaders.

There can be no doubt as to the outcome. Why? Because the Europeanshave been "negotiating" with Iran over a variety of issues since theearly 1990s, and have absolutely zero to show for it.

In the 1990s, the Euro-appeasers called it "constructive engagement."The idea was to talk to Iran about specific human rights violations –such as Iranian intelligence agents traveling to Berlin andassassinating Iranian Kurdish dissidents, as they did in 1992 –and hope they wouldn’t repeat the offense, so Europe wouldactually have to do something about it.

After a laborious, four-year legal proceeding, a German court issuedarrest warrants for then President Hashemi-Rafsanjani (touted by theCFR as a "moderate"), Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, intelligenceminister Ali Fallahian, and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati.Wringing their hands, the Europeans temporarily withdrew theirambassadors from Tehran&and continued commercial relationswithout skipping a beat.

Since 2003, the Europeans have been "negotiating" with Tehran’smullahs over their previously undeclared (and thus, illegal) nuclearprogram. Here we are, more than three years later, and Iran continuesto enrich uranium, in utter defiance of the Europeans, the IAEA, andnow the UN Security Council. And Condi and the CFR actually believewe are going to achieve something through yet more negotiations?

Bang! Bang! The Witch is Dead – or at least, she should be.

To the credit of the CFR’s Charles Kupchan, he rightlyconcluded at last week’s conference at the New AmericaFoundation that the current U.S. policy is leading directly to one oftwo thoroughly unacceptable results: U.S. acceptance of anuclear-armed Iran, or war.

But the CFR prescription of a "grand bargain" also leads to war,because it empowers the current clerical leadership in Iran, and thatleadership is hell-bent on war. Even worse: over the past two years,seeing the U.S. falter in Iraq, they have come to the conclusion thatthey even can beat us.

If I were a cynical Washington Beltway rat, I would conclude that theState Department and the CIA (which favors this failed policy,because they are incapable of recruiting spies in Iran), knows thatnegotiating with Iran will fail, and will only allow the Iranianregime to buy time to perfect its nuclear technology.

They will say – indeed, they say so today – that no onehas proposed a better alternative.

But that is patently false. Congress has passed any number of bills,which have been signed into law, that call on the administration tofund bonafide Iranian opposition groups and opposition radioand television radio broadcasts. Instead, the State Department(perhaps, instructed by the CIA) has chosen to fund charlatans andfakes.

For example:
    ‚Ä¢     $2million has gone to a pseudo think tank at Yale University todocument human rights abuses that others have been documenting foryears with little or no U.S. government support;
    ‚Ä¢    $50 million has been pledged to expand Voiceof America television broadcasts that give equal time to Hezbollahrepresentatives (that’s the VOA’s old "fairness" doctrineat work), while VOA’s more effective (but less expensive)short-wave radio broadcasts have been given the axe; and
    ‚Ä¢    Close to
$1million has gone to "reformers"who have recently left Iran and have been making U.S.government-sponsored tours around America, to drum up support for aninternal "reformation" of the Islamic regime in Tehran.

In the meantime, folks like ex-CFR staffer Susan Maloney at the StateDepartment have vetoed funding of Iranian opposition radio and TVbroadcasts, and training for opposition groups inside Iran, on thegrounds that it might offend the Tehran regime.

There can be no doubt: The State Department and the CIA want theUnited States to fail in stopping Iran from going nuclear, becausethey fear confronting the mullahs running the show.

But the temerity of the CIA and the State Department today is goingto cost the lives of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen tomorrow. Andwhen the going gets rough, those advocates of "caution" and"negotiation" will happily whistle past the graveyard as the bombsand missiles fly, and whisper to the press that it is "Rumsfeld’swar."

Because war is what we’re going to get if we continue thepresent course.
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