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Appeasement By Any Other Name By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 02, 2006

IF BILL CLINTON HAD UNVEILED GEORGE W. BUSH’S IRAN POLICY, we would have called it appeasement. Even when implemented by an infinitely more responsible president, this “fresh start” approach has the potential to reward our avowed enemies, finance worldwide jihadists, teach terrorist fanatics that nuclear brinksmanship pays – and still result in an atomic Tehran.

It has already had the byproduct of making Dr. Condoleeza Rice, arguably the smartest woman in government, sound like a fool. At Wednesday’s press conference, she averred on national television, “It's time to know whether Iran is serious about negotiation or not.” The Islamic Republic of Iran’s diplomatic history has been an endless string of tergiversations, each predicated upon stalling negotiations long enough to render them gratuitous.


When pressed for the consequences of Iranian demurral, all Rice could offer Bill O’Reilly was “isolation from the international community.” Conversely, “if they make the right choice, then there are benefits” – among them economic incentives and a “civilian” nuclear reactor. One can be forgiven for comparing this to the 1994 Clinton-Carter concordat with North Korea, which assured Pyongyang a doomsday device.


The policy’s defenders state the Bush administration is calling Iran’s bluff to secure Russian/French/Chinese support for action in the UN Security Council. These could produce economic sanctions, triggering a revolution…or more.


First, if these aggrieved nations have not yet perceived Iran’s game, they are irremediable. Second, the administration has made clear even utter rejection (Iran’s response to date) would not bring them to support military action. UNSC economic sanctions would come about on the Chinese and Russian timetable(s), not ours. And when push comes to shove, even they may never materialize. (Did President Bush’s quest for a second authorization of force resolution teach him nothing?) Sanctions, provided they were not violated as our sanctions against Iraq were, would have to be “given time to work.” Certainly no military action could be undertaken – by the United States, a second “Coalition of the Willing,” or…other parties – until this full process had run its course.


There is certainly no economic incentive for our “good faith allies” to freeze out Iran: the mullahs’ nuclear capacity was created by these nations under the Clinton administration’s watch.


Russia played a pivotal role, trading ICBM technology and scientific know-how for much-needed rubles. Eight years ago last month, document thief Samuel Berger said, “One and a half years after President Yeltsin told President Clinton that ballistic missile technology transfers to Iran would stop, it still continues.” The following February, CIA chief George Tenet testified before the Senate this Russo-Persian trade persisted. [1] As it still does: Russia enjoys $1.5 billion in trade with Iran from two deals alone: building a nuclear reactor in Bushehr and supplying the mullahs with short-range missiles.


The Chinese have courted Tehran since the Revolution, selling literally tons of weapons material in 1998. Ken Timmerman has reported Chinese scientists worked on Iran’s nuclear program in the ‘90s. China inked a $4.5 billion weapons deal with Iran – in 1996. [2] China and Iran did $4 billion in trade in 2003 and signed a 25-year, $100 billion trade deal.


French exports to Iran total more than 3.5 billion Euros annually. EU exports in general more than doubled between 2000 and 2004.


All these veto-wielding UN member states have greater trade with Iran than Iraq, the invasion of which they still oppose.


They have more than economic reasons to oppose invasion. A nuclear Iran is a short-sighted tool in their long-range plan to recreate the multipolar world Russia and France mourn and China covets. Whatever its destabilizing influences, they reason, a nuclear Iran would be more amenable to these nations than the Great Satan, tilting the global balance of power away from American hegemony.


Matters become foggier if Tehran actually accepts the deal. How will President Bush and his successors “trust but verify”? Ahmadinejad would never allow agents of “The Great Satan” to inspect his country, especially after archrival Saddam ejected “U.S. spies” during the Clinton administration.


The “international community’s” abysmal record inspires no confidence. North Korea and Pakistan developed nuclear weapons under the IAEA’s All-Myopic Eye. In February 1992, an IAEA team refused to take along GPS systems when “verifying” compliance at one Iranian site, indicating this would reflect a “lack of trust.” [3] The 1997 Rumsfeld Commission reported that Iran could “construct a small number of weapons in the next ten years” under IAEA supervision. [4] A decade later, the United States may supply the “civilian” reactor making this possible. Accepting such an agreement – knowing the UN will tolerate at least a “decade of defiance” – could prove Iran’s WMD passport.


Then there are the unenumerated “economic incentives.” Should Tehran agree, the U.S. will become a beneficator to “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” and an indirect financier of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Iran gave the al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam $20,000 and the Hamas-led Palestinian government $50 million. Iran recently announced it had recruited more than 50,000 suicide bombers to attack “Western infidels and Zionists.” Meanwhile, the Iranian armed forces have been training both to incite and to quell uprisings like those it instigates and finances in Iraq. The ones that kill American soldiers every single day.


All of this will be subsidized in exchange for a return to the Iran of a few years ago: a repressive, sexist, terror-exporting, Muslim theocracy. Your tax dollars at work.


There is one glimmer of hope: Condoleeza Rice told Bill O’Reilly Wednesday night, “Outside of the [UN] Security Council there are options, too.” Whether unilateral, multilateral, or foreign, recent history shows these are the only options likely to succeed – or even see the light of day. President Bush’s Iranian engagement plan may be a preparatory move to secure international approval of these options – approval that would have been unnecessary without the Left’s relentless mantra: “Bush lied.” His plan may trigger crushing economic sanctions that will spur the youth of Iran to sweep the bearded fanatics from power.


But one has a sinking feeling this is the beginning of interminable diplomatic wrangling – finally, Bush’s quagmire. One with unthinkable consequences.




1. Gertz, Bill. Betrayal. (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc., 1999), pp. 167, 171.

2. Timperlake, Edward, and Triplett III, William C. Red Dragon Rising. (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc., 1999), pp. 100-108.

3. Timperlake and Triplett, p. 101.

4. Gertz, p. 72.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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