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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

 

Kagan: Time to talk to Iran http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/04/AR2007120401146.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, December 05, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
Robert Kagan is no tranzi progressive moonbat leftist. Unlike the Podhoretz/Kristol/etc pundit tribe, he's always been an intellectually honest and genuinely thouhgtful policy wonk first and foremost. That he largely stands on the opposite side of the foreign policy debate from my opinions is in my opinion a very good thing. He's been wrong before, but always in a way I can respect.

So it's hardly a surprise that Kagan steps up to the plate with respect to Iran and pronounces diplomacy as the only available option remaining to the Bush Administration:


Regardless of what one thinks about the National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 -- and there is much to question in the report -- its practical effects are indisputable. The Bush administration cannot take military action against Iran during its remaining time in office, or credibly threaten to do so, unless it is in response to an extremely provocative Iranian action. A military strike against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities was always fraught with risk. For the Bush administration, that option is gone.

Neither, however, will the administration make further progress in winning international support for tighter sanctions on Iran. Fear of American military action was always the primary reason Europeans pressured Tehran. Fear of an imminent Iranian bomb was secondary. Bringing Europeans together in support of serious sanctions was difficult before the NIE. Now it is impossible.


Kagan doesn't stop there, however. He goes into exacting detail about what we should talk with Iran about, why, and with what objectives in mind. He points out that far from seeming to be an act of weakness, we (the US) are actually in a position of strength:

The United States is not in a position of weakness. The embarrassment of the NIE will be fleeting. Strategic realities are more durable. America remains powerful in the world and in the Middle East. The success of the surge policy in Iraq means that the United States may be establishing a sustainable position in the region -- a far cry from a year ago, when it seemed about to be driven out. If Iraq is on the road to recovery, this shifts the balance against Iran, which was already isolated.


(note that this concurs with the policy analysis by Anthony Cordesman of teh CSIS that there is a "tenuous case for strategic patience in Iraq" PDF link).

There's a lot more in the original article and I highly encourage giving it a full read.

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Discussion

And what do you think of the very popular view by a leading Israeli analyst Obadiah Shoher? He argues (here, for example, www. samsonblinded.org/blog/america-arranges-a-peace-deal-with-iran.htm ) that the Bush Administration made a deal with Iran: nuclear program in exchange for curtailing the Iranian support for Iraqi terrorists. His story seems plausible, isn't it?

 

I'm not sure how an Israeli analyst can claim inside knowledge of deals made between Iran and America, though I find the very suggestion that Bush has engaged in secret dealings with Iran to be somewhat counter to the facts with respect to the Administration's position on diplomacy with the Iranian regime.

It doesnt strike me as even remotely plausible, to be honest, but plausibility is not really sufficient criteria in either case.

 

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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.