There’s been a lot of silly talk coming out of Tehran the last few days. First, last week, the supreme ghoul, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had a message for us unlearned rubes here in America. “You should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible,” he said. As I argue over on the homepage today, pressure is of course essential to negotiations, as the whole of diplomatic history going back to ancient Greece shows.
Then, in a speech to the Iranian people on Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made this breakthrough offer: “Take your guns out of the face of the Iranian nation and I myself will negotiate with you.”
Thankfully, nobody in the Obama administration appears much in the mood to be taken in by this foolishness. That’s especially heartening because it wasn’t so long ago — in the waning years of Communism — that Democrats routinely fell over themselves to take that sort of foolishness at face value.
Still, the administration’s strategy (basically a continuation of the Bush administration’s hands-off wait-and-see approach) is fatally flawed. It guarantees that we won’t have enough leverage for diplomacy to succeed in the near term, and brings military force (supposedly) to bear only “if diplomacy fails” — in other words, once we’ve decided Iran can’t be convinced by any means. This posture guarantees either a nuclear-armed Iran or a major military conflagration, or both. What it cannot produce is a negotiated settlement favorable to U.S. interests.
Instead of telegraphing to Iran that we’re terrified of using force, why don’t we demonstrate instead that we’re deadly serious? Then maybe we wouldn’t need two aircraft carriers in the Gulf.
Maybe if we actually put a gun in their face, we’ll find out what they’re like when they actually negotiate.
[UPDATE: This post was modified slightly from the original].