Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Negotiating with Iran?

A few minutes ago I talked with Ambassador Mark Ginsberg about the path the US should take with Iran. He said that we should try all possible means to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including negotiation.

I prefer a peaceful solution, but my question is: would negotiation with that regime accomplish anything, or would it just allow them additional time to produce their nuclear bombs?

Two and half years ago I wrote you about the danger of the Iranian nuclear weapon program and suggested that there is negligible likelihood of a peaceful solution. The only way Iran will stop this program is under a powerful international economic pressure with the participation of all major players. This, I said, was not likely since China and Russia have different agendas.
Relying on negotiation with Iran would be a mistake, I believe, because Iran is not willing to negotiate with any degree of sincerity. Let’s review some facts about negotiation:

Despite all the attempts for the last few years to negotiate with Iran internationally and via the UN Security Council, Iran played the negotiation game to gain time for speeding up its nuclear weapons development. Again and again we were left holding the bag. When will we learn?
In addition, and that is critical: Iran has proven - beyond a shadow of a doubt- its determination to destabilize the Middle East by its support of terrorism in Iraq, in Lebanon and in Gaza.
Several Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudia are afraid of Iran’s attempt to control the Middle East. Even without actually using their nuclear weapons, Iran could extend its power over many nations.

Iran is using its unexpected windfall from the substantial escalation of oil prices to finances much of the terrorism in Lebanon (via Syria, a very poor country): the Hizbullah war against Israel two years ago, and against the Lebanese government recently. Israeli forces determined that Hamas has been supplied and trained by Iranian forces and many of the rockets used by Hamas are also supplied by Iran.
These facts and more should alert us that Iran is a proven enemy not only of Israel, but of the civilized world. They have said so themselves. Any attempt to negotiate with them is futile. They have been advancing Muslim extremism inside and outside their borders for years. What could we give them to stop their core national goal?

Negotiation is a word that represents an interaction among people with generally similar expectation of life. We can not negotiate with people who have radically different visions of life and the world, and will use any means to achieve their goals. So how could we have negotiated successfully with the USSR, after all they also were our enemies?

The people and government of the USSR, as militant as they were, wanted to live, to prosper, and to have a successful, peaceful future. True, they wanted the world to be communist, but not at all costs, only when it was relatively easy for them to do so. Muslim terrorists are not only willing to die for their cause, they are eager to die to destroy their enemies. Much of the leadership of Iran are willing to sacrifice millions of their own people in order to destroy their enemies. They have said so repeatedly. You can not compare the USSR attack on Hungary with 9/11, Hamas, or Iran.

The major error in the theory of negotiation with terrorists is that proponents of negotiation all assume, unconsciously, that there is a similar person on the other side to negotiate with. In business negotiations there is the premise of the honesty of both sides, and that they are not going to use the negotiations as a deception but to really try to get to some agreement.
Often extreme leaders in the Muslim world have no morality, no constraints of any type that we can conceive off. They are so much more cunning than we are. They can run circles around any Western that has even just a little morality.

We never faced an enemy of this extreme nature before. We do not want to see it, it is not nice to say…but their Muslim religion and culture encourages them to lie to gain advantage for their overall cause: Jihad: Islam’s conquest of the world. It also tells them to negotiate when they are weak, and when they gain strength to discard the agreements. That is what Mohammad did during his life and what he advocated. It is not only written, it is normally practiced. Negotiation in Arab culture means that you are weak, therefore, after Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accord with Rabin, he had to explain this concept of temporary agreement to his supporters in Arabic: this is a temporary agreement to give us strength, then we will take over all of Israel. And he proceeded with terrorism.

Rabin and Peres understood leaders like Sadat and King Hussein, people with morality. Mistakenly Rabin and Peres assumed that Arafat and his PLO were of similar nature. Their wishful thinking brought the bloodiest wave of terror in Israel existence.
Do not assume that because President Bush was so unreasonable we could not have negotiated with Iran. There is no issue that we can really be agreed upon, and no party that wants or can get to any solution. We are facing extreme fanaticism, combined with death wish, and aims to murder as many people as they can. Iran’s current president is not the only one aiming “to wipe Israel off the map,” the same view is expressed by many in Iran’s leadership, including their previously “moderate” president.

Ambassador Ginsberg also believes that the US has been toothless in that region and we can not influence events there without projecting a viable military power.
We do not have any other leverage. We need their oil, they do not need our money. There are plenty of buyers. Nuclear Iran would dominate the vast Middle East oil resources by threat alone.

Let’s look at several famous attempts at negotiation with the enemy:

Chamberlin’s negotiation with Hitler prior to WWII was a sham. While Chamberlin beamed of peace in our time Hitler advanced and increased his military power and preparation. Brittan meanwhile was not gearing up for a possible war.

I just watched a documentary on President FDR. Japan and the US were negotiating prior to Perl Harbor, the only problem was that while the US was negotiating, the Japanese navy was already on its way to the attack- their secret preparation took months. FDR was shocked by the depth of damage to our fleet, he was fooled. He did not realize the unpreparedness of our navy and the cunnings of the Japanese.

In contrast, Libya’s Kaddafi first decided to reject his nuclear program then we negotiated with him.

Both parties in a negotiation aim for a compromise that will give each of them some of their desires but not all of them. Many international negotiations were very successful between antagonists. But you had to have a willing opponent with the aim of a peaceful compromise. During WWII we did not negotiate with Germany and Japan, they would not have stopped their wars until they were utterly destroyed and defeated.

Why logical people can not already grasp the above points after so much history, after so much evidence of Muslim terrorism, direct Iran participation, and their extreme statements?
It may be a combination of effects: We are exhausted of all the wars, strifes, natural disasters, global warming, and financial agonies. It is understandable, we wish for a miracle solution, “if we just did that…

Or, we hate Bush so much, it is his fault. Now, a new liberal president will wave a magic wand…

Or, common to many Israelis in the past: the fault is our own, we did not do enough, we did not try hard enough. Because of their kind hearts, because it is so much beyond their own experience some liberal Americans can not fathom that some people are evil. That some people have such a twisted mentality that you should not negotiate with them. Could we have talked with Hitler and convince him to peaceful coexistence?

Finally, most Israelis learned from their troubled existence: Palestinian terrorists are murderers and their goal is the full destruction of Israel. According to all the people I talked with a few weeks ago in Israel, representing a wide political spectrum, most Israelis do not wants more talks, they want military solutions. It is time to destroy Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists, they emphasized.

I hope we become wiser and less dreamers in this country since if we misunderstand the extreme nature of Muslim terrorism, and Iran, we and the world would be facing much more than 9/11 atrocities in the future.


p.s. Former Ambassador Ginsberg spent many years in his youth in Israel, and lost family members in Israeli wars. He was US Ambassador to Morocco, and he is Fox News Channel's principal global affairs commentator. I talked with him tonight in Sacramento after his interesting AIPAC presentation. He urges any supporter of Israel to join AIPAC to enhance Israel’s security.

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