President Bush’s recent speech to the Knesset highlighted a debate that has been boiling throughout this country for years: Should America talk to Iran to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear weapons power?
Bush has not only declined to meet with the Iranian leaders. His Knesset speech explained why — such talks give stature to an enemy that should be isolated and likely lead to fruitless concessions to the enemy without securing any real elimination of the nuclear program.
Needless to say, the politics of recent years has distilled this issue down to a linear one-directional notion. The Democrats generally claim that nothing can be lost from talks and that talks are the only way to elicit what Iran really desires such that a creative solution can be found to grant those desires while securing our needs.
Sen. Barack Obama’s sensational “messianic” campaign has positioned the candidate as precisely that “new” voice with the skills and wisdom to derive the appropriate solution for both sides, and his followers grasp that hopeful vision so tightly that alternative viewpoints are deemed politics of “old.”
The Republican position has been condensed into a one-liner that elevating our enemies is counter to the rational approach of isolating them until conditions become so unbearable that they will cave and grant our demands.
The position also correctly points to a long history, both with Iran as well as with those other terror-based, or Shariah-based, Muslim forces of negotiations in which the policy of appeasement has led to a continuous sink hole of concessions with no acceptable gains on the side of the appeasers.
The truth is both more complex and simultaneously simpler than all of this.
America Talks . . . Iran Listens
America has “talked” to Iran for at least years.
Bush, contrary to massive disinformation in the media, has made the overall task of dealing with the Iran nuclear program a multilateral one, having designated the Europeans as the talkers. This is precisely what the left had been screaming for and has no answer to when, as has happened, such talks have been an abject failure.
America has also conducted various lower-level talks with Iran, again to no avail.
Furthermore, Obama’s dishonest response to Bush’s speech included the following: “Its time to present Iran with a clear choice. If it abandons its nuclear program, its support for terrorists and its threats to Israel, then it can rejoin the community of nations. If not, Iran will face deeper isolation and steeper sanctions.”
Either Obama is far more naïve than even his critics have pointed out to date, or he is a deceitful manipulator of his audience’s own ignorance as this demand was laid down years ago only to meet with complete rejection from the Iranians.
This is not politics of the “new” or anything resembling “change.”
This is, as Bush pointed out, the ridiculous and dangerous thinking of old that has led to disaster in the past and has left us in a position today where many are ready to accept Iran as a nuclear weapons power — a proposition wholly unacceptable years ago.
That very “change” is appeasement in action.
America’s problem has not been that it hasn’t talked to Iran. America’s problem is that it has talked too much and through the wrong voices to Iran.
While Bush is castigated for “tough cowboy talk,” such talk is neutered when the rest of America is giving the enemy the opposite message. America had a somewhat singular voice following 9/11. This is agreed upon by those Democrats who argue how Bush squandered that goodwill.
Even the liberation of Iraq was a somewhat comfortably agreed-upon position given the votes Congress undertook.
With forces trampling through Iraq, America had talked clearly and simply to Iran and Iran got the message. Many in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards took their assets out of Iran and other left the country expecting America to make a right turn into their country.
This was the time, albeit small, that the regime sought to show its goodwill by offering some assistance to America’s battle against al-Qaida. America had significant leverage at the time due, in large part, to Bush’s saying what he means and doing what he says.
That leverage was quickly destroyed once the liberation of Iraq turned into an occupation.
To some degree this is the full responsibility of Bush as he is the ultimate executive. Yet, as numerous writers have pointed out, Bush was systematically sabotaged at every step by Democrats and their cohorts in the State Department, CIA, and the media. The original plan for a quick exit from Iraq was transformed by State policy into a steadily deteriorating situation, resulting in grave public assaults on the president.
All that followed has amounted to talking to Iran. The media began to trumpet anti-Bush, anti-American stories resulting in the severe division that we have today.
The New York Times, cable “news” faces, and other forums began to tell Iran endlessly of how much America despised its own show of force, of how guilty it felt for any detour from the highest moral conduct in war such as Abu Ghraib, and fronted false stories of abusive treatment of detainees in Guantanamo never to correct the record properly when exposed.
The media and anti-Bush politicians told Iran how ashamed America is for all the horrors Iraqis experience because of our occupation while failing to give equal time to any of the positives. Worse, it leaked to Iran many of our secret activities, from monitoring conversations to banking procedures and so forth, many of which benefited Iran immensely.
The media went out of its way to humiliate the president in every manner possible. Simply put, this told Iran that no matter how tough Bush talked, America would not allow him to attack the regime or its nuclear sites.
The State Department and the CIA helped the media as well.
Beyond those leaks, the latest National Intelligence Estimate summary, written by former State officials with an anti-Bush agenda, admittedly created the false impression that Iran is far away from being any threat to America. When amplified by the media, Bush’s efforts at using any credible threat of force against Iran instantly evaporated.
The media also tells Iran it will not cast it in any way as a severe threat to America. Protecting its false appearance of balance, the media will occasionally run a story about Iranian human rights violations. Those are not limited to Iran anyway. Yet when Iranian diplomats are caught photographing terror targets in New York or when an aircraft leaving Tehran is detected by NATO forces with radiation leakage flying over Europe, those stories are either buried or avoided altogether.
Not only does the media talk to Iran, it follows through on its promises.
It is perhaps the pinnacle of Obama foolery to suggest that in this globalized world we do not talk to Iran every day. The Obamas talk, as do the Kerrys, Murthas, Pelosis (she even sits down with Syrian President Assad who has a direct line to Tehran) the Cindy Sheehans, Soroses, Moores, and Clintons, each and every day to Iran.
They convince Iran that neither Bush nor the Europeans have any power behind their words and that they can get away with ignoring all calls for their voluntary elimination of their nuclear program.
Tough talk aside, Bush cannot be effective in any talks if his bottom line threats are rendered void of any credibility. As Obama’s “community organizer” guru Saul Alinsky once wrote, “You can’t do much bluffing in this game; if you are ever caught bluffing, forget about ever using threats in the future. On that point you are dead.”
America has told Iran over and over Bush is bluffing.
Perhaps the best indication of the significance of this talk lies in the power of the converse.
Iranian regime apologists who line the media as well as many left-wing think tanks and lobby firms repeatedly argue that attacking Iran militarily will convert the pro-American Iranian population into an army of jihadists ready to destroy America in any way possible.
This general proposition is then used to dissuade any American inclined to use force. This is precisely how Iran has been talking to us and it has been republished over and over through American media such that it has become accepts as a truism.
Further, it is often cited that the Iranian public takes great pride in its nuclear program. That may be true. Yet, when a poll asks whether Iranians support an attack on the nuclear sites, almost 60 percent respond affirmatively so long as the regime is eliminated as well. This is never covered by the media.
The simple element is that all action is communication and America and Iran are constantly communicating.
The problem is that Iran’s tyranny allows its regime to act relatively consistently through those that give political voice. It can effectively stall, bluff, lie, attack and so on as circumstances dictate. (It must be noted that those same regime apologists will step in to rehabilitate Iran if President Ahmadinejad says something a little too wild for the American audience by asserting that he really has no power.)
Divided We Fall
In America, however, the divisiveness that exists (not caused by Bush as Obama dishonestly asserts) has made true diplomacy difficult. The true “change” that America needs is to find a way to retain its constitutional freedoms while enabling its leaders to effectively utilize all the tools necessary to combat today’s threats.
Pretending that the threats are not real or wishing that the charm and style of a new President Obama is enough to persuade the enemy to come around to our way of thinking is precisely the danger that Bush articulated for the Knesset and represents true “business as usual” rather than any “change” whatsoever.
For all of the talk America has done, we would be wise to at least occasionally listen to what our president says.
Bill Siegel lives in New York.
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