Guest Column: Why diplomacy with Iran had to fail
European diplomats, who courted Iran in an attempt to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program, regret that diplomacy did not dissuade Iran from its plans. But this failure was foreseeable.
Europes diplomatic effort was touted as a reasonable way to settle the dispute over Irans suspected nuclear weapons program without any losers. By enticing Iran to the negotiating table, we were told, the West can avoid a military confrontation, while Iran gains economic incentives that can help build its economy. But the negotiationsbacked also by the George W. Bush administrationonly strengthened Iran and turned it into a greater menace.
The proposed dealwhich was said to include the sale of civilian aircraft and membership for Iran in the World Trade Organizationrested on the notion that no one would put abstract goals or principles ahead of gaining a steady flow of economic loot. And so, if only we could have negotiated a deal that gave Iran a sufficiently juicy carrot, it would forgo its ambitions.
But to believe that Iran really hungers for nuclear energy (as it claims) is sheer fantasy. Possessing abundant oil and gas reserves, Iran is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC. To believe it values prosperity at all is equally fantastic; Iran is a theocracy that systematically violates its citizens right to political and economic liberty.
What Iran desires is a nuclear weaponthe better to threaten and annihilate the impious in the West and in Irans neighborhood. Iran declares its anti-Western ambitions stridently. At an official parade in 2004, Iran flaunted a missile draped with a banner declaring that: We will crush America under our feet. (Its leaders, moreover, have for years repeated the demand that Israel must be wiped off the map.)
A committed enemy of the West, Iran is the ideological wellspring of Islamic terrorism, and the worlds most active sponsor of terrorism (according to the U.S. government). A totalitarian regime that viciously punishes un-Islamic behavior among its own citizens, Iran actively exports its contempt for freedom and human life throughout the infidel world. For years, it has been fomenting and underwriting savage attacks on Western and American interests, using such proxies as Hezbollah. Like several of the 9/11 hijackers before them, many senior al-Qaeda leaders, fugitives of the Afghanistan war, have found refuge in Iran. And lately Iran has funneled millions of dollars, arms and ammunition to insurgents in Iraq.
Its absurd to think that by offering Iran rewards to halt its aggression, we will deflect it from its goal.
The only consequence of engaging such a vociferously hostile regime in negotiations is the whitewashing of its crimes and the granting of undeserved legitimacy. The attempt to conciliate Iran has further inflamed the boldness of Irans mullahs. What it has taught them is that the West lacks the intellectual self-confidence to name its enemies and deal with them accordingly. It has vindicated the mullahs view that their religious worldview can bring a scientific, technologically advanced West to its knees.
Whether negotiations yield a deal, diplomacy abets Iran. The deal would have sustained Irans economy, propped up its dictatorial government and perpetuated its terrorist war against the West. But even without a deal, simply by prolonging negotiations, Iran grows stronger because it gains time to continue covert nuclear weapons research.
This approach of diplomacy-with-anyone-at-any-cost necessarily results in nourishing ones enemy and sharpening its fangs. That is what happened under a 1994 deal with communist North Korea. After endless negotiations and offers of aid, North Korea promised not to develop nuclear weapons. When the North was caught cheating on its pledge, the West pursued yet more negotiations, and the North eventually promised anew to end its nuclear program. In February 2005, North Korea declared (plausibly) that it had succeeded in building nuclear weapons.
Another, older attempt to negotiate with an avowed enemy was a cataclysmic failure. In 1938, the Europeans pretended that Hitlers intentions were not really hostile, and insisted that peace in our time could be brokered diplomatically (by letting him take Czechoslovakia). The negotiations afforded him time to build his military machine and emboldened him to launch World War II.
Ignoring the lessons of history, the Europeans embarked on negotiations with Iran that likewise sought the reckless pretence of peace today, at the cost of unleashing catastrophic dangers tomorrow.
To protect American (and European) lives, we must learn the life-or-death importance of passing objective moral judgment. By any rational standard, Iran should be condemned and its nuclear ambition thwarted, now. The brazenly amoral European gambit has only aided its questand will entail a future confrontation with a bolder, stronger Iran.
Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute ( http://www.aynrand.org/) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Randauthor of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism. Send reactions to email@example.com.
From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue