ARE PRESIDENT BUSH'S RECENT STATEMENTS
ON IRAN DANGEROUSLY PROVACATIVE?
By Dr. Michael Rubin
Navel-gazing is a Capitol Hill pastime, but such criticism is misplaced. Since the disclosure of Iran's covert enrichment program, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors — not the Central Intelligence Agency or Iranian exiles — report a litany of lies being told by Iranian political regime. IAEA inspectors discovered traces of uranium metal used to build bombs, not fuel reactors. IAEA inspectors also found that Iran had experimented with chemical separation of polonium, a material used to initiate nuclear detonation. Iran still has not revealed what rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan sold on his trip to Tehran.
Diplomacy should always be the strategy of first resort, but its track record with Tehran does not encourage. While fashionable for Liberals, partisan Democrats, and ultra-internationalists to blame Iran's nuclear desire upon the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tehran's nuclear program predates such U.S. interventions by 15 years. In the name of engagement, the European Union nearly tripled trade with Iran between 2000 and 2005. But, rather than invest that windfall in schools and hospitals, the Iranian government — then under reformist control — poured money into its military and centrifuge programs. Tehran has yet to provide the West a single, confidence-building, reassuring measure.
Iranian diplomats say their program is peaceful, but officials close to Supreme Leader ‘Ali Khamenei suggest otherwise. On February 14, 2005, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi, Secretary-General of Iranian Hezbollah, said, "We are able to produce atomic bombs and we will do that." Three months later, Gholam Reza Hasani, Khamenei's representative to the West Azerbaijan province said, "An atomic bomb…must be produced." And, on September 3, 2007, Khamenei himself said, "Iran will outwit the West on the nuclear issue."
Iran's centrifuge cascade, Syria's surprise nuclear plant, and North Korea's role in its construction suggest time is limited. To avert escalation, the White House must demonstrate diplomacy to be Tehran's best option. Bush's rhetoric dampens Iran's overconfidence and underscores U.S. seriousness, both in Tehran and at the United Nations. Bashing Bush may make good politics, but it is irresponsible and may hasten the result which Bush's domestic critics most fear.
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
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International Politics & World Disorder:
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
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Dr. Michael Rubin, a Ph.D. in History (Yale University) and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Islamic culture and Islamist ideology, is Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001) and is co-author, with Dr. Patrick Clawson, of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Rubin served as political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003-2004); staff advisor on Iran and Iraq in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002-2004); visiting lecturer in the Departments of History and International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001-2002); visiting lecturer at the Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan (2000-2001); Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1999-2000); and visiting lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University (1999-2000). He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leonard Davis Institute at Hebrew University, and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.
The foregoing article by Dr. Rubin was originally published in the Congressional Quarterly, November 16, 2997, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ŕ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat.
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