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Diplomacy & Sanctions- Twin Beacons of False Hope

former State Department advisor, NSC official and a special assistant to President Obama,

former State Department advisor, NSC official and a special assistant to President Obama,
Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

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The latest in the Obama administration’s campaign to convince an already skeptical public that Iran should not be attacked – by either the US or Israel, is none other than Dennis Ross. A former State Department advisor, NSC official, and special assistant to President Obama, Mr. Ross made his argument in a February 15th New York Times op-ed “Iran is Ready to Talk.”

His opening line sets the tone, if not the accuracy: “Speculation about an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is rife, but there is little discussion about whether diplomacy can still succeed, precluding the need for military action.” Since he is only the most recent in a long line of Obamite “Talking Heads” on TV and penning op-eds in recent months, it is disingenuous to suggest that “there is little discussion.”

The Obama administration is in full court press mode suggesting diplomacy is the way – the only way. On February 1st, Radio Free Europe reported: “US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on January 31st that a combination of Western sanctions and diplomacy could still persuade Iran to abandon nuclear work which could be diverted toward an atomic weapon.” William H. Luers and Thomas R. Pickering, in a February 2nd New York Times op-ed entitled “Envisioning a Deal With Iran”, wrote: “As the dangers mount in the confrontation between the United States and Iran, both sides will have to raise the doors high for diplomacy to work, and to avoid conflict.” These are only a couple of examples of the endless discussions Mr. Ross must have missed by not reading, listening to, or viewing any American media vehicle in the past several months.

Ross admits from the start that “Many experts doubt that Tehran would ever accept a deal that uses intrusive inspections and denies or limits uranium enrichment to halt any advances toward a nuclear weapons capability, while still permitting the development of civilian nuclear power.” But having said that, he nonetheless claims: “But before we assume that diplomacy can’t work, it is worth considering that Iranians are now facing crippling pressure and that their leaders have in the past altered their behavior in response to such pressure.” When Iran has comparably “altered their behavior” in the past he doesn’t say. But no matter, declares Mr. Ross: “Notwithstanding all their bluster, there are signs that Tehran is now looking for a way out.” Again, the reader is left to guess the signs, since he doesn’t identify any.

As proof of Iran’s growing isolation in the region, Ross points out: “Gone is the fear of Iranian intimidation, as the Saudis demonstrated by immediately promising to fill the gap and meet Europe’s needs when the European Union announced its decision to boycott the purchase of Iran’s oil.” And here, he offers the proof that “Even after Iran denounced the Saudi move as a hostile act, the Saudis did not back off.” Mr. Ross neglects to mention that Sunni Saudi Arabia has been in a tizzy about a nuclear Shi’ite Iran for sometime and not thrilled with the take-it-slow Obama approach. The Guardian (UK) reported last June 29th that Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, warned senior NATO military officials that… “We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don’t,” he said.

“Beginning in 2010, Washington worked methodically to impose political, diplomatic, economic and security pressure, making clear that the cost of noncompliance would continue to rise while still leaving the Iranians a way out,” Mr. Ross explains. “This strategy took into account how Iranian leaders had adjusted their behavior in the past to escape major pressure — from ending the war with Iraq in 1988 to stopping the assassinations of Iranian dissidents in Europe in the 1990s to suspending uranium enrichment in 2003.”

Mr. Ross fails to mention that Iran was attacked first by Iraq, accepted a UN brokered ceasefire after 8 years of combat and destruction, a loss of 500,000 soldiers and civilians, and completely restored its pre-war borders. He fails to point out that assassinations of Iranian dissidents in 1990’s was reduced due to proactive measures of international law enforcement agencies and the fact that most of the wanted dissidents were already killed. And his contention that Iran suspended uranium enrichment in 2003 repeats the canard promoted in the now infamous National Intelligence Estimate, which was wrong when written and again by even the latest International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report. Iran merely hid its uranium enrichment operations and blithely lied about them, while certain American intelligence officials blindly bought it out of political expediency.

Ross maintains that “The Obama administration has now created a situation in which diplomacy has a chance to succeed.” Although he admits that “It remains an open question whether it will.” Meanwhile, he suggests Israel gamble on its national survival. Given their foreign policy record thus far, that is a scary contention.

Ross admits “it is unclear whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose regime depends so heavily on hostility to America, is willing to make a deal on the nuclear issue.” In other words, everything he wrote until now is basically wishful thinking.

Ross continues with his cop-out clause: “Of course, Iran’s government might try to draw out talks while pursuing their nuclear program.” Simply put, they will continue their ongoing, and successful strategy of lying to the Western dupes who want to believe them at almost any cost – especially if its Israel that will be the one to pay.

Iran’s ploy to offer to negotiate is predicated on a reduction of sanctions, as confidence building measures, or just a precondition for negotiations, period. So the Mullahs can easily stretch out “negotiations” while they are able to cross every one of the Obama administration’s “red lines”. Nothing like diplomacy and sanctions to win the day; too bad the day is over.

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About the Author: The author is a veteran journalist specializing in geo-political and geo-strategic affairs in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Insight Magazine, Nativ, The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon. His articles have been reprinted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the US Congressional Record.


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