Thursday, January 18, 2007
You don’t stop a schoolyard bully by giving him your lunch money. And you don’t stop a bully on the world stage by inviting him to that stage. But with the conflict in Iraq still raging, it seems that pressure is building to reach out to terrorist sponsoring Iran to—let me understand this—stop the terrorism in Iraq?
Is President Ahmandinejad of Iran, who recently said he could let loose 40,000 suicide bombers in the region, the person who can stop the car bombings and suicide squads in Iraq?
I don’t think so.
For sure the situation in Iraq cannot continue on its current path. But Iraq’s future must depend on Iraq, not Iran. Last year, 12 million Iraqi citizens braved threats of violence to vote in free elections. As President Bush said at the time “You’ve stood firm in the face of horrendous acts of terror and sectarian violence – and we will not abandon you in your struggle to build a free nation.”
That struggle for a free nation continues. And a free nation is not what the leaders of Iran envision, for it would undoubtedly weaken their hold on power within their own country and the region as a whole. For those reasons, it is incomprehensible that Iran would share a goal of stopping the violence in Iraq. More likely, they have the power to stop the violence temporarily as a means of showing the world their “good intentions,” while in reality, they would consolidate control over the terrorists groups for their own purposes.
Iran is seeking to become a nuclear power. President Ahmandinejad has said that the holocaust was a myth and that Israel should be “wiped off the face of the map.” It is pretty clear who we are dealing with here, is it not? Even Adolf Hitler was not so forthright about his intentions. He played the “diplomatic” game to hide those intentions, and unfortunately, he played it well.
As Europe tensed prior to the outbreak of war, all diplomatic efforts were employed to avoid conflict. Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, in a policy called appeasement, said “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators.”
His approach was weak and the policy of appeasement was wrong… dead wrong; and more than 60 million people perished as a result.
But one does not need to go back to World War II for examples of failed collaboration through personal contact with dictators. In 1994 after then Secretary of State Madeline Albright visited with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-il, the Clinton administration signed the so-called Agreed Framework whereby North Korea agreed to stop its program to build nuclear weapons.
Five years later when a Congressional study determined that the dictator was violating the agreement, Secretary Albright insisted that the agreement was working and simply dismissed the report. Today, we all know better and even the Secretary has admitted that the North Koreans were indeed cheating. But her admission was not a result of diplomatic investigation or tough inspections; it was a self-evident admission only because the facts compelled it. So 1994 was just a diplomatic photo-op that solved nothing.
If this sounds familiar, it should. It is exactly what is happening in our country today with respect to solving the problems in Iraq; the calls for “diplomacy” to deal with killers and tyrants. It didn’t work in North Korea, or countless other hot spots around the world. How many people have died in Darfur as diplomats and politicians continue to debate a course of action?
And more recently, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire to end the Israeli–Lebanon conflict. The resolution, among other things, called for the disarming of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Does anybody believe that Hezbollah is disarming? And what provision is there to ensure that this happens. None! More empty words, similar to previous UN resolutions calling on Lebanon to take control of its southern territory to prevent terrorists from launching attacks against Israel. Instead, where once the PLO controlled Southern Lebanon, now Hezbollah— funded by Iran—controls it, and the attacks continue.
And where are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah inside Israel that sparked this recent conflict? They are still captives of Hezbollah with no agreement for their safe return in sight.
So the record of accord with the bullies of the world does not inspire an expectation that Iran will change course and assist Iraq to prosper as a freely elected democracy. That does not mean that we should not, to borrow Chamberlain’s words, establish “personal contact with the dictators.”
Only that we should not be fooled into thinking that our goals for Iraq, the Middle East and the right to live in a terror free world, are the same as theirs.