Adult Supervision on Iran From Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and Ignatius

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America and the World TWN.jpg
Damn! I missed a meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies yesterday with three of my favorite national security thinkers — David Ignatius, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brent Scowcroft.
Chris Nelson who writes the uber-insider and very tough to get Nelson Report was there and gve me permission to run his own account of the meeting.
But I also have the good news that the New America Foundation and Basic Books are releasing a new book on September 8, 2009 that features David Ignatius provoking Brzezinski and Scowcroft in a conversational format about what it will take to change America’s strategic course. The book is titled America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy and you are welcome to pre-order from this Amazon link.
From the Nelson Report:

Adult Supervision on Iran From Brent & Zbig
IRAN…while Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama continues what has, so far, been his very excellent adventure in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, here in DC there was a most excellent application of Senior Adult Supervision by former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, at CSIS.
(We’ll look at how Obama is doing in terms of his goals of “looking presidential and a convincing leader on foreign and security policy” later this week.
But when even the arch-conservative Washington Times notes that Iraqi leaders endorsed the Obama position on setting a deadline for US combat troop withdrawal…it hasn’t been a good week for Republican nominee John McCain.)
At CSIS today, Republican Scowcroft (who has rather pointedly not endorsed anyone so far this year) and “Zbig”, who rather strongly has backed Obama, warned against “militarizing” the Iran nuclear issue by presenting the options as negotiate or fight.
Democrat Brzezinski said he worried that under a McCain Administration, a Secretary of State Lieberman, or Secretary of Defense Giuliani might jump at the use of force against Iran, but that a Secretary of State or Defense Armitage “may be different”.
On that, Scowcroft smiled his best enigmatic smile and studied the ceiling tiles…
Brzezinski seemed to go a bit further than Scowcroft in decrying ANY use of force, by either Israel or the US, as a “regional and world catastrophe” for US interests, and perhaps the US itself.
(While certainly agreeing on all of the hazards, Scowcroft has in the past warned that there are certain red lines…N. Korean nuclear proliferation, especially…which might simply be too much to tolerate, so that force became the only rational option.
He didn’t repeat that sort of concern explicitly today, but it was noticeable that he didn’t always join in Brezinski’s very complete denunciations of force, period.)
Perhaps showing his native Poland influence, Zbig also warned that while Russia and China do seem to be sincerely upset with Iran for not being more forthcoming, a cold calculation of interest tells you that Moscow would not be a big loser if things got really bad in the Middle East.
Host/co-moderator David Ignatius of The Washington Post added that “Russia has to be the key”, and said that the Russians clearly are “very concerned at the tone” of the Iranian responses in Geneva, and “clearly tried to impress on Iran the need to do something…”
Scowcroft said whether it’s Bush, or McCain/Obama next year, the trap of “not taking force off the table” is that it offers “the illusion of a clean solution” to a problem which in fact would only get more dangerous and complex.
The two urged a realistic recognition of Iranian strategic interests as regional players, as Persians in an Arab sea, and as an ancient state with an historic track record of sophisticated appreciation of its real interests.
Don’t therefore “empower” President Ahmadinejad by echoing his bellicose rhetoric, especially as that, or pushing to sanctions prematurely, would likely only improve what are currently his diminishing support in elections next year.
However, Scowcroft urged, the US, China, Russia and the European alliance must “show Iran a solid line on sanctions, but give them a way out without losing face. Take them up on their proposition that they don’t want nuclear weapons, but do want nuclear power….” preferably using Russian fuel which the US et al would subsidize, all under continued IAEA supervision.
The point, “to make our negotiating position and the incentives for cooperation as appealing as possible to the Iranian people”.
More than one member of the audience was heard to murmur, on leaving, “that was further proof that we could use a Council of Elders in this country!”

I’ll be coming back to the themes of the new Brzezinski-Scowcroft-Ignatius book frequently in coming weeks.
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE:
Jim Lobe also attended the CSIS meeting and shares his thoughts here on the call by Brzezinski and Scowcroft to drop pre-conditions on Iran negotiations.

Comments

18 comments on “Adult Supervision on Iran From Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and Ignatius

  1. mikroenjeksiyon says:

    Ok, I have an inkling (pun not intended) to modify
    that book image to the right to say “Schneier on
    Squid.”
    “The closest the squid industry has to a rock star.”

    Reply

  2. burun estetiÄŸi says:

    So we need to keep the Kurds within a minority status sphere despite their essentially guarding most of pipelines heading out of the Middle East from this point forward.

    Reply

  3. medyum says:

    Steve,
    Does AIPAC distrust Zbig? If so, how formative Would their lobbying efforts be against Barry O for having Zbig on Barry’s new select “team”? Is anyone on Barry’s side calculating the potential lost voters?

    Reply

  4. medyum says:

    Mr. Ignatius actively provided some transparently objectionable justifications for invading and occupying Iraq. Some of those blatantly pushed the Administration line of lies while ignoring widely available facts. Several of his columns could barely stand on their own legs. And Ignatius’ factual foundations crumbled simply by referencing a) the daily newspapers, and b) more expert sources.
    It is a grievous mistake to assist David Ignatius regain his footing after losing face and stature.
    This is a matter not of degree, but of kind. It isn’t about technical knowledge or intelligence.
    Medyum

    Reply

  5. iddaa says:

    Ignatius is aptly named, a stenographer for the Confederacy of Dunces, the neocons, short for neoconfederates.
    As for Brzez, he is a serious iconoclast in the role of foreign policy. In my opinion, the last person who matched him to that degree was Churchill.
    Cheney is similarly driven, but not in terms of effectiveness. He shares motivations and machinations that both the other named figures have, but then exceeds their faults by cosmic thresholds.

    Reply

  6. tercüme says:

    great page! thanks for sharing

    Reply

  7. Burun Estetigi says:

    Ok, I have an inkling (pun not intended) to modify that book image to the right to say “Schneier on Squid.”
    “The closest the squid industry has to a rock star.”

    Reply

  8. burun estetigi says:

    The hawks were wrong about everything, and people are pushing back. Generals are seeing some precedent for prosecution with international justice. The military is quite burdened and business must open new markets to meet growth expectations. The old compressed models of expectations are falling apart from energy and currency problems.

    Reply

  9. hekimboard says:

    Maybe he’s a smart guy, with a lot of bright ideas that colleagues can respect.

    Reply

  10. Saint Michael Traveler says:

    The starting point for defusing the nuclear cycle issue with Iran is simply a pledge of security for Iran.
    Iran submitted a package to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in mid-May 2008 as well as to world powers, including Russia and the United States. The proposal suggests “the creation of uranium enrichment consortiums in various countries, including Iran.” It also requires that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) step up its supervision of nuclear sites around the world and asserts that more should be done to ensure nuclear programs would not diverted materials for fabrication of nuclear bomb.
    “Thomas Pickering, the US ambassador to the United Nations under President George H.W. Bush, endorsed the idea of such a consortium in a March article in the New York Review of Books.” And the plan is “getting increased interest from senior members of both parties in Congress and nonproliferation specialists”[Boston Globe June 10].
    Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, have said publicly that the consortium plan should be explored. Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, went further, calling the plan “a creative, thoughtful, and productive potential solution.”
    Robert Naiman, Tue Jun 17, 3:08 PM ET, NYT Exposes Fraud of “Generous Offer” to Iran reported: “The same PIPA poll found that 58% of Iranians support the idea of making a deal with the UN Security Council that would allow Iran to have a full-cycle nuclear program while giving the International Atomic Energy Agency “permanent and full access throughout Iran to ensure that its nuclear program is limited to energy production” and not producing nuclear weapons. PIPA notes that in a March 2008 poll for the BBC World Service 55% of Americans approved of such a deal.”
    “In April, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland published a poll of Iranian public opinion. PIPA found that 81% of Iranians consider it “very important” for “Iran to have a full-fuel-cycle nuclear program” which would give Iran the capacity to produce nuclear fuel for energy production. Four out of five. Only 5% think Iran should not pursue a full-fuel-cycle program.”
    If the basis for the 6-nation negotiation with Iran over her nuclear fuel cycle is enforcement of the United Nations Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), then the Iranian proposal has fully achieved the objective.
    President Bush often stated that everything is on the table unless Iran stops nuclear fuel cycle activities. He further has asserted that his administration would only talk with Iran after the nuclear fuel cycle activities verifiably had been stopped. Iranian people have consistently rejected his precondition for diplomatic negotiation. He is using the 6-nation as a fake diplomacy knowing that Iran will not stop her nuclear fuel cycle activities. Iranians consider the nuclear fuel cycle a part of their national energy independence.
    Israel and the United States advocate that Iran would be dangerous learning about nuclear technology; what if they use this knowledge sometimes in the future and make nuclear bombs. Israel, whose nuclear arsenals and airplane to deliverer the devices were subsidized mostly by USA, has been assured by both Republican and Democratic candidates that if Iranians would ever develop any nuclear bomb and if she would use the bomb on Israel, we will obliterate Iran to dust.
    Israel and USA are insisting that unless Iran stops their nuclear fuel cycle, jointly they will destroy their country. It is reported that President Bush may not allow Western-made technology required for Iran’s oil industry, creating bottlenecks in Iran’s oil production. This action will result in increase of price of gas to a $10 per gallon and disruption of the International market. Also, it is reported that President Bush may consider a naval embargo of the Persian Gulf. This action is declaration of war and attacking Iran, the beginning of the World War III.
    Should we set example and require Israel to eliminate her nuclear bombs.
    President Truman said: “Starting an atomic war is totally unthinkable for rational men.” [Truman, public Papers]. Benny Morris Israeli historian said: Killing of Millions of Iranians by Israeli Nuke is Justified. If the world cannot protect Iran, then can we force Iran not to protect herself?

    Reply

  11. reggie says:

    May I suggest one thing America could do to reduce the threats against it would be to stop promoting Islamic fundamentalism a la Brzezinski in the 1980’s.
    He doesn’t inspire too much confidence based on his past endeavors.

    Reply

  12. Mr.Murder says:

    Ignatius is aptly named, a stenographer for the Confederacy of Dunces, the neocons, short for neoconfederates.
    As for Brzez, he is a serious iconoclast in the role of foreign policy. In my opinion, the last person who matched him to that degree was Churchill.
    Cheney is similarly driven, but not in terms of effectiveness. He shares motivations and machinations that both the other named figures have, but then exceeds their faults by cosmic thresholds.

    Reply

  13. pauline says:

    Steve,
    Does AIPAC distrust Zbig? If so, how formative Would their lobbying efforts be against Barry O for having Zbig on Barry’s new select “team”? Is anyone on Barry’s side calculating the potential lost voters?

    Reply

  14. rich says:

    Re David Ignatius—
    Maybe he’s a smart guy, with a lot of bright ideas that colleagues can respect. All well and good.
    But Ignatius’ fundamental and gross errors in the run-up to Iraq preclude him from being first in line as a voice or reason or foreign policy ‘wise man’ when it comes to Iran, or in any new administration. An adult? Sure, one that has a few things to answer for.
    Mr. Ignatius actively provided some transparently objectionable justifications for invading and occupying Iraq. Some of those blatantly pushed the Administration line of lies while ignoring widely available facts. Several of his columns could barely stand on their own legs. And Ignatius’ factual foundations crumbled simply by referencing a) the daily newspapers, and b) more expert sources.
    It is a grievous mistake to assist David Ignatius regain his footing after losing face and stature.
    This is a matter not of degree, but of kind. It isn’t about technical knowledge or intelligence.
    Allowing Ignatius to pivot, and play the role of an ‘adult’ on Iran, when he failed readers, country and foreign policy circles alike, is simply irresponsible.
    Now, I can respect and work well with anybody. But apparently some frankness is required to get the message across. What about lessons learned?
    Has Ignatius changed his stripes?
    Prove it.
    One last niggling detail. All that work he’d done prior to his Iraq bumble, that impressed people so—it really set the stage for Ignatius’ own hubris, which was of a piece with the vanity/hubris of the Bush-media-think tankery bubble. Was his previous contribution really in any way helpful, if it could clear the way for Iraq? Open the doors and windows. Ignatius didn’t care what the country thought.

    Reply

  15. Mr.Murder says:

    Condi’s on a rhetorical crusade once again. Brzez really pummeled her lack of tact.
    He’s always had an amazing sense of the weight with which you address the other party as peers. On the highest level talks both sides really want the same thing. They have different ways of getting that done.
    As for Israel’s being in the game, things have changed greatly. Iran radar watched the entire time we enforced no fly items. You’d be amazed at what they could do.
    Also, should you ever bomb Iran, something will make its way out to the markets that you’re not ready for. Shoulder fired guided rockets will be a neutralizer of tactical strike and even some strategic aircraft. You’d really want to think giving those states the opportunity to widen access to such items.
    Finally, the Exocet missile aimed at floating tin cans can sink them in essence. There’s a reason we lost every war game we played in trying to simulate a way to secure the gulf vs. Iran.
    Not that we’d lose entirely, but we’d suffer enough losses to not consider ever going forward with such plans. That’s why we want diplomatic solutions to the same extent Iran really does. Their leader’s bluster is simply rhetoric for trying to develop a working body of support in parliament. By hardlining against the west he can mollify such critics in his land, running to right of them with rhetoric instead of policy.
    As for the people of Iran, they want peace and the chance to share in the new world model.
    Burns has really made some major contributions at State. The Senior and Deputy ranks have made some very solid policy into starting points.
    Why they even make Rice part of this is a mystery. She could ruin a shoe sale. Let the real movers do the work and get the credit.

    Reply

  16. Mr.Murder says:

    They want proliferation, so Star Wars ends up becoming a full(fool) endeavor.
    Canada exports much nuclear material, world’s leader in that market sector? Nobody is demanding they stop from fear the country could tighten its oil spigots to the south….
    We’ll settle this on the back of a NAFTA/CAFTA type of deal. The hawks were wrong about everything, and people are pushing back. Generals are seeing some precedent for prosecution with international justice. The military is quite burdened and business must open new markets to meet growth expectations. The old compressed models of expectations are falling apart from energy and currency problems.
    Agree to disagree and develop softer forms of coercion. The idea of ramping oil prices up is big with how we approach Iran, but it appears that peak items are making the prior path of progress less secure. By opening the spigot we can mitigate the shock doctrine on the market to some extent.
    China’s demand for oil grows a third every month.
    We’ve enabled North Korea to an extent they are buffer to China. They’re now on good terms, or at least improved terms, with the USA.
    Why not Iran? They’ve got a sizable middle class market as well. Someone has to pick up the slack of the deficit-addled USA demand for shiny objects.
    Then we can leverage India’s market emergence in the upscale sector. They maintain rather educated per capita profiles. You act like Iran being a nuclear power is a big deal when Pakistan is the gorilla in the room. The devil of our making is ten times as important an item at this time.
    Iraq is capitulated to the Shi’ite, there’s no getting around that fact. Turkey won’t join the EU/NATO, alongside the Ukraine, to hedge Putin, if we Balkanize Iraq. So we need to keep the Kurds within a minority status sphere despite their essentially guarding most of pipelines heading out of the Middle East from this point forward.
    Brzez would normally play these factors against one another and wage low intensity warfare through third parties. Hard to do that and maintain the stability necessary to run the oil machine smoothly. How much of a share will the former Soviet play with these items? That’s where the American iconoclast has set his policy needs.
    Look back to the people Grossman detailed at times prior. That would secure the NATO puzzle, further mollify the Russian influence, and develop serious inroads to all of the oil-stans.
    Contingent upon Iraq remaining intact for political neighbors. As noted in his book, Amb.Wilson said Turkey gave the American diplomats serious heat and static for making the region’s atmosphere charged with their strong arm policy on Iraq.
    They actually seem to have favored some of Baghdad’s ability to shape their border in terms of stability. They appear to have been a strong deterrent to Kurdish autonomy.

    Reply

  17. sensible says:

    Steve,
    Thanks very much for the link to this book. I just watched your interview with Jane Mayer on C-Span. She gave you a lot of credit for getting her to do her book and expanding her expose of David Addington.
    Now, you are clearly involved with this book by David Ignatius, General Brent Scowcroft, and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.
    We don’t thank you enough on your blog for pushing this incredibly important material into the public. But seriously, thank you. You are really changing the dynamics of debate in the United States and world.

    Reply

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