FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The Definition of Insanity: Richard Haass and “Talking Iran Out of the Bomb”
Council on Foreign Relations head Richard Haass, in an op-ed placed in the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail this week, laid out his vision of a strategy for preventing Iran – which is currently acting every bit the rogue state as it goes on enriching uranium and threatening the sovereign state of Israel with destruction – from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the suggestions he offers (whose title – “We must talk Iran out of the bomb” – is so laughable that one wonders if the G&M’s headline writer chose it for parody purposes alone), though they are couched as “new” advice for the incoming Obama administration and echo many Liberals’ suggestions for future policy, are largely composed of the exact same things the Bush administration has been doing for the last six years – not that you would know it from listening to critics who make a living decrying the outgoing administration for its “cowboy diplomacy” and supposed refusal to talk to other nations.
In order to “eliminate Iran’s enrichment effort,” Haass says, the U.S. must negotiate with the leaders of Iran (Europe has been doing this on our behalf, and with our guidance, for years). We should offer Iran the “access to nuclear energy but not physical control over nuclear materials (we did so in 2007, with Russia agreeing to house the nuclear reactors and materials for Iran’s peaceful use). We should offer to ease economic sanctions as a reward for cooperation, and offer Tehran a path to normalized relations with the U.S. if they will agree to these terms (does this one even require further comment?).
Never mind that the only nation to willingly surrender its weapons of mass destruction program in this century, Libya, did so as a result not of diplomacy and economic incentive, but of the U.S. invasion of Iraq (and a resulting fear that it would be next to be forcibly disarmed); the fact is, the suggestions put forward by Haass – and echoed by Barack Obama and so many foreign policy “progressives” – make up the very core of the policy which the Bush administration has been pursuing for several years now.
Not only has Bush – by following these very suggestions – utterly failed to deter Iran from forging ahead in its quest for weapons-grade uranium (despite claims by hapless Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the policy has been “successful“), its insistence on diplomacy and U.N.-sponsored sanctions has provided Tehran with something far more valuable than all the offered (and suggested) economic and diplomatic incentives combined: time with which to progress ever closer to its goal of being a nuclear weapons state.
According to Einstein, the definition of “insanity” is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Iran has been offered these very concessions since 2003, and has been rejecting them for that same length of time. If Haass and a number of foreign policy liberals honestly believe that the very same offer, albeit coming from Obama instead of from Bush, will be met by anything other than outright rejection by Tehran, then they have bought too far into the Obama-as-transcendent-unifier ????? to be trusted with America’s foreign policy, which must be based in actual reality.