And we have a charming piece disagreeing with direct talks in the inestimable Charles Krauthammer.
It is not rare to see a regime such as Iran's -- despotic, internally weak, feeling the world closing in -- attempt so transparent a ploy to relieve pressure on itself. What is rare is to see the craven alacrity with which such a ploy is taken up by others.He begins here with a shot at us who think talks would be a good way of achieving our goals with the assumption that the Iran government is "internally weak," thereby floating the idea that if we keep up the pressure, the regime will fall by itself. Is Iran really weak enough that they might not maintain control of their population? I think not. Plus, there's nothing like the threat of military action against your country to cause a rally around the flag reaction.
Needless to say, Charles is against direct talks with Iran, and darn it, for the life of him he can't figure out how we could even suggest direct talks would be a good thing. Or, excuse me for overstating it. He can think of a reason we support direct talks: because we have no principles.
Just yesterday the world was excoriating the Bush administration for its unilateralism -- on Kyoto, the ABM Treaty and, most especially, Iraq -- and demanding that Washington act in concert with the "international community." Just yesterday the Democratic nominee for president attacked President Bush's foreign policy precisely for refusing to consult with, listen to and work with "the allies."Nice play with the false analogies, Charles. The unifying principle on my side of the aisle is to do what's best for the country, putting as much pressure to bear on our problems as is possible. The unifying principle of the Administration seems to be to avoid at every step actions which significantly decrease the justifications for military action. Take the Zarqawi asssination opportunities we had before the Iraq war that were not exercised because we feared it would "anger our allies and thereby decrease the support for the war." Likewise with direct talks with Iran.
Another day, another principle. Bush is now being pressured to abandon multilateralism and go it alone with Iran.
Bilateral talks cost America nothing if they are enacted wit' a quickness. While the Security Council track is proceeding and the threat of eventual sanctions becomes more and more real for the Iranian regime, we can talk behind closed doors and come to an understanding of what the Iranians require in order to stop compiling their nuclear know-how. I suspect that a non-aggression guarantee will be required, but we can keep that quiet. Publicly, Russia will handle the enrichment side of their fuel cycle, and the Iranians will ratify the Additional Protocols so that every step the fuel takes will be monitored. At that point, America's publicly stated goals are acheived - an Iran without the possibility of syphoning off nuclear material for clandestine uses, and without the high-enrichment expertise that is so difficult to come by.