I’m a newbie to the blogosphere, but thanks to Steve for asking me to pinch hit on The Washington Note. I hope I can live up to his and his readers’ expectations.
Both Washington and Tehran have used the term “positive” to describe a package of incentives — including an offer of some U.S. nuclear technology on top of European help in building light-water nuclear reactors — aimed at persuading the Iranians to halt their uranium enrichment program.
While this development may represent a ray of hope, in recent months President Bush has conceded that the nuclear option against Iran is still on the table but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that security assurances are not on the table. So we are willing to hold open the option of nuking the Iranians to prevent them from having a uranium enrichment capability (even though there is no prohibition on such a capability under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to which Iran is a party) but are completely unwilling to consider the possibility of a security guarantee as an inducement to give up their nuclear program.
For diplomacy to work, however, you have to be willing to give the other party something it wants in exchange for getting something you want from them. If what the Iranians ultimately want is a security guarantee to prevent preemptive regime change, then the current overture is likely to be a go nowhere proposition and a speed bump on the road to U.S. military action.
As long as Steve is giving me a forum, let me also take this opportunity to engage in some blatant and shameless self-promotion by encouraging The Washington Note readers to buy my book “Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism.”
Charles (Chuck) Pena is a senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, MSNBC analyst, and author of “Winning the Un-War.”