Jaw-Jaw In Order to War-War?

AEI’s Reuel Marc Gerecht now believes that Washington should offer to engage in unconditional, high-level talks and even normalize diplomatic relations with Iran…apparently in order to rally support for war.

In a New York Times op-ed misleadingly entitled “Attack Iran, With Words,” Gerecht, who is certain there’s no way that the mullahs will agree to such offer, argues that their predictable refusal will rally the public and perhaps even Washington’s European allies to support a pre-emptive attack on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

“If the mullahs don’t want to negotiate, fine: making the offer is something that must be checked off before the next president could unleash the Air Force and the Navy. To make the threat of force against clerical Iran again credible, there needs to be a consensus among far more Democrats and Republicans that a nuclear-armed Iran is intolerable. If the White House tried more energetically to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat, if it demonstrated that it had reached out to Iranian “pragmatists” and “moderates,” and that again no one responded, then the military option would likely become convincing to more Americans.

“…If the Bush administration were to use this sort of diplomatic jujitsu on the ruling clerics, it could convulse their world. No, this is absolutely no guarantee that Tehran will stop, or even suspend, uranium enrichment. But a new approach would certainly put the United States on offense and Iran on defense. We would, at least, have the unquestioned moral and political high ground. And from there, it would be a lot easier for the next administration, if it must, to stop militarily the mullahs’ quest for the bomb.”

It’s worth noting that Gerecht, like other neo-cons including several of his AEI colleagues, appears to have given up hope of an attack before the end of Bush’s term and now believes that it will up to his successor to decide what to do about Tehran’s nuclear program. His argument echoes that of the generally more pragmatic Robert Kagan who came out in favor of negotiations after the NIE’s release in early December in a Washington Post column entitled “Time to Talk to Iran.” Two differences: Kagan was less certain than Gerecht that Tehran wouldn’t take up a negotiations offer. He also did not stress the importance of offering high-level talks, although that the fact that he suggested putting all outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran on the table implied it. The basic line was much the same. Here’s Kagan nearly three months ago:

“Beginning talks today does not limit American options in the future. If the Iranians stonewall or refuse to talk — a distinct possibility — they will establish a record of intransigence that can be used against them now and in the critical years to come. It’s possible the American offer itself could open fissures in Iran. In any case, it is hard to see what other policy options are available. This is the hand that has been dealt. The Bush administration needs to be smart and creative enough to play it well.”

It will be very interesting to see if Gerecht’s and Kagan’s advice, as cynical as it may be, is being considered by the hawks within the administration, and particularly in Cheney’s office.

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

  • R. Nelson

    Iran is bombed if it does, bombed if it doesn’t. AEI, on the other hand, is praised when it’s wrong, and praised when it’s wrong. All seriousness aside, isn’t it time for the AEI to drop the “American” from its title?

    • Make the Aggressive Enterprise Institute (or perhaps the Authoritarian Enterprise Insitute?).

  • The argument appears to be much too “esoteric”, and so quaint and out-dated as to be even medieval.

    Much more likely is that the Bush administration will not attempt ANY justification at all; but will merely ‘cut to the chase’: a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident–prior to the election especially if it appears that the ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ Obama is going to beat McCain, who can reasonably be expected to initiate the war with Iran sooner rather than later.

    Bush doesn’t CARE about rallying “the public” OR the “European allies”.

    After all, it was GOD Who told Bush to go into Afghanistan and Iraq and to “solve the conflict in the Middle East” between the Israel and the Palestinians.

    No doubt, he will soon feel another ‘Revelation’ coming on with regards to Iran.

    See, also:

    http://after-the-false-peace.blogspot.com/

    Michael Cecil

  • 8Ball

    Let’s cut through all of the clap-trap and distill American foreign policy down to its essence. It is, basically: If you (threat du jour) are doing something that we do not like then we will kill you and destroy your country..

    The rest of this is just window dressing that attempts to justify the process. Medieval is an understatement, “Stone Age” is a better description.

  • lester

    there’s the door, Mr Gerecht

  • PatM

    Interestingly, Gerecht never mentions Ahmadinejad. Gerecht uses the terms "regime", "clerical regime" and "mullahs". But Ahmadinejad is absent. "Katami" is gets named. "former Interior Minister Abdallah Nuri" is spoken of. "Ayatollah Khamenei" gets a air-time. But Ahmadinejad is totally absent. The lightning rod for U.S. hatred, the man synonymous for world endangerment never existed.

    I am convinced that this is a complete withdrawal from an attack on Iran. Gerecht implies that calling Iran to the negotiating table would be twisting its arm but Iran offered complete negotiations in March 2003. It was the U.S. that forced Iran to send word through the Swiss. But there's a method to this idea of "forcing" Iran to the peace table.

    In true Orwellian double-speak Gerecht portrays this retreat as "a new approach would certainly put the United States on offense". Gerecht's words imply an offensive, a physical attack yet this "diplomatic jujitsu" is really a surrender. Gerecht even refers to "restoring relations" with a regime that months before was denounced for calling for the anihilation of Israel. Continuing to instill a sense of attack, Gerecht says "…the proposal that scares (Iran) the most: the reopening of the American Embassy".

    What this retreat would really do is cement Iran's gains that the U.S. has brought about during this War on Terror.

    All that the U.S. has done is increase Iran's influence in the Middle East and defeat Iran's enemies. U.S. fought alongside Iran in Afghanistan driving the Taliban out. Saddam saw himself as a bulwark against Iranian encroachment in the Middle East and Bush removed him and installed a Pro-Iranian Iraqi government. The Bush admin releases an NIE that weakens Bush's case against Iran, Neocons are calling for "unconditional" talks with Iran and France's US embassador Vimont called for "supporting Iran's regional role" in the Middle East. Gerecht even hints at allowing Iran to pursue nuclear power.

    Writer Andrew Sullivan opened my eyes a year or two ago. The Bush administration has been using bellicose words but, the actions of the U.S. have all worked to strengthen and expand Iranian power in the Middle East and Gerecht's op-ed only confirms this.

  • Al A

    I read that article and even though it was very hawkish. When did clinton beg the iranians to come to the negotiation table. Never. he was actually the one that extended the iran sanctions act in 98. Gerecht is a warmonger

    • PatM

      Actually, Clinton gave waivers against complete sanctions on Iran. In point of fact both Clinton and Bush admins have never had a complete sanction against Iran. Even Reagan in the Iran-Contra scandal was selling arms to Iran while sponsoring Iraq. The US was still selling parts for US built fighters to Iran. Halliburton was fulfilling contracts in Iran up to 2005.

  • Ed.

    “this is absolutely no guarantee that Tehran will stop, or even suspend, uranium enrichment.”

    A certain level of enrichment is necessary for nuclear power. The latest NIE says Iran is not believed to be exceeding that level at this point, and doesn’t appear to have plans to do so. But Gerecht obviously wants to imply that ANY enrichment = nuclear bombs, for propaganda purposes.

    “If the mullahs don’t want to negotiate, fine: making the offer is be a lot easier for the next administration, if it must, to stop militarily the mullahs’ quest for the bomb.”

    Again, there is no proof that Iran is on a quest for the bomb, but even if it was, would it not be justified, given the Neocon propensity for invasion and occupation in the neighborhood? If America can live with a nuclear armed Israel, which has a demonstrated record of ethnic cleansing and racialist animosity towards the Palestinians and Arabs, why can’t it live with a nuclear armed Iran? In fact, which country is more likely to spark a Mideast conflagration?

    Until the US government has someone in office who is willing to restrain the Israel Frankenstein monster it and the Israel lobby have created, it can hardly complain if countries in the extended neighborhood seek nuclear weapons to defend themselves against both Israel and the loose cannon Neocons doing its bidding using the US military their muscle.

  • Tim R.

    I am curious:

    What is the solution that most people on here propose? The fact of the matter is that there are Muslim fanatics who want to kill Americans and Westerners.( and yes I like calling them Islamo Fascists or Muslim Nazis).

    So what do we do? Pull out of Iraq? Pull our all support for Israel? Kiss up to the President of Iran and tell him what a wonderful and civilized nation he has? What exactly do you propose? Most liberals like Obama and Hillary Clinton won’t even use the word terrorism and Islam in the same sentence. So I don’t see how we can fight a war when we can’t even admit what we are fighting!

    But in any event, rather than just saying what the US is doing right, I ask you what should we do? What is YOUR solution?

  • Karl Rohm

    Why NOT engage Iran and normalize relations? Of course, it would put the wind up the Israelis, but SO WHAT- do we bow and scrape to the whims of Tel Aviv? Oh, right- I forgot. We do.

    Normalizing relations with Iran would give us a much better position in the Middle East, as opposed to our continuing to pander to Israel. With the millstone of Israel off of our necks, an awful lot of animosity towards the US would vanish.

    By the by- since Iran is being held to an ultra-high standard of information disclosure re their nuclear power program, is Israel to be held to the same standard and made to disclose information regarding their own nuclear WEAPONS stockpile?

    I’m not so blind as to see that there are plenty of groups out there who wold love to take a jab at the US, for any number of reasons- but at the same time, I know that our continued game of patty-cake with Tel Aviv is leading us down a path that will result in our eventual downfall. Israel supposedly has one of the best armies in the world- let them defend themselves. They’ve got plenty of nukes to use- let them defend themselves.
    (And by the way, just in case there IS a ground invasion of Iran- ostensibly on Israel’s behalf- how many troops, tanks, and aircraft are they going to supply for their part?)

    • peace

      I hate Israel’s warmongering nature, and control of our foreign relations and other dominations of the USA.