March 13, 2006


Straw's direct appeal to Iranians (BBC, 3/13/06)

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the prospect of taking military action against Iran remains inconceivable, telling the BBC: "This is not Iraq."

Mr Straw spoke ahead of a speech in which he will appeal to the Iranian people to back a return to negotiation and "normalisation of relationships". [...]

The result of Iran "putting itself beyond the pale" of the international community was serious economic damage.

"It is a proud country with a good civilisation. We want to see a normalisation of relationships with this country and it is still not to late for the Iranians to get back into negotiations with us," he said.

Mr Straw commented that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "a difficult individual to deal with", but added that he was not "the critical decision-maker" in Iran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad just needs to be treated the way George W. Bush treated Yassir Arafat and Ronald Reagan treated the Bolsheviks, as an impediment preceding inevitable brighter days for his people.

U.S. Campaign Is Aimed at Iran's Leaders: Uneasy About Tehran's Nuclear Plans, Bush Administration Tries to Build Opposition to Theocracy (Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler, 3/13/06, Washington Post)

The internal administration debate that raged in the first term between those who advocated more engagement with Iran and those who preferred more confrontation appears in the second term to be largely settled in favor of the latter. Although administration officials do not use the term "regime change" in public, that in effect is the goal they outline as they aim to build resistance to the theocracy.

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Senate testimony last week. "We do not have a problem with the Iranian people. We want the Iranian people to be free. Our problem is with the Iranian regime."

In private meetings, Bush and his advisers have been more explicit. Members of the Hoover Institution's board of overseers who met with Bush, Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley two weeks ago emerged with the impression that the administration has shifted to a more robust policy aimed at the Iranian government.

"The message that we received is that they are in favor of separating the Iranian people from the regime," said Esmail Amid-Hozour, an Iranian American businessman who serves on the Hoover board.

"The upper hand is with those who are pushing regime change rather than those who are advocating more diplomacy," said Richard N. Haass, who as State Department policy planning director in Bush's first term was among those pushing for engagement.

Short term regime change is quite easy since they have elections, but in the longer term they need to reform their political system so that the Guardians don't control who runs or have a hand in day-to-day government functions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2006 8:02 AM
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