While the Germans worry about the World Cup dilemma,
The thorniest dilemma facing Germany as it prepares to host the World Cup is what to do about Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he insists on coming to watch his team play next month.
Germany is obliged to admit the head of state of a participating nation, and the tournament’s official motto is “A Time To Make Friends”. But Mr Ahmadinejad has demanded Israel’s destruction and has repeatedly denied the Holocaust — a crime in Germany.
The “engage Iran” coalition also has advocates in the U.S. Over the past few weeks they have hammered the “engagement” theme with op-eds, TV soundbites and speeches. Some have recommended John Kennedy’s “sophisticated leadership” during the Cuban missile crisis as a model for George W. Bush. The incident has entered American folklore as an example of “brilliant diplomacy,” but few bother to examine the small print. The crisis, as you might recall, started when the Soviets installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, something they were committed not to do in a number of accords with the U.S. Kennedy reacted by threatening to quarantine Cuba until the missiles were removed. The Soviets ended up “flinching” and agreed to removal.
In exchange they got two things. First, the U.S. agreed never to take or assist hostile action against Castro, offering his regime life insurance. The second was to remove the Jupiter missiles installed in Turkey as part of NATO’s defenses. Instead of being punished, Castro and his Soviet masters were doubly rewarded for undoing what they shouldn’t have done in the first place. And Castro was free to do mischief not only in Latin America but also in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, often on behalf of Moscow, right up to the fall of the U.S.S.R.
Not just right up to the fall of the U.S.S.R., but beyond: Look at Our favourite Latin American dictators, and how el comandante, the presidente for life and their buddy are trying to influence the politics of Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, with a little help from some Iranian, Russian, and Chinese friends. (Update: Include Argelia on that list. link in Spanish)
Believe it or not, the second model for engaging Iran is actually Jimmy Carter’s policy towards the mullahs. Mr. Carter has called for a “diplomatic solution,” and Zbigniew Brzezinski, his national security adviser, has published an op-ed blaming the Bush administration for the crisis. He writes: “Artificial deadlines, propounded most often by those who do not wish the U.S. to negotiate in earnest, are counterproductive. Name-calling and saber rattling, as well as a refusal to even consider the other side’s security concerns, can be useful tactics only if the goal is to derail the negotiating process.”
Let’s forget that the “artificial deadlines” have been set by the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council, and that most of the “name-calling and saber rattling” has come from Tehran. But let us recall one fact that Mr. Brzezinski does not mention–that the Carter administration did “engage” with the mullahs without artificial deadlines, saber rattling and name-calling. The results for the U.S. were disastrous.
In 1979, soon after the mullahs seized power, Mr. Carter sent Ayatollah Khomeini a warm congratulatory letter. Mr. Carter’s man at the U.N., a certain Andrew Young, praised Khomeini as “a 20th-century saint.” Mr. Carter also tapped his closest legal advisor, the late Lloyd Cutler, as U.S. ambassador to the mullarchy.
A more dramatic show of U.S. support for the mullahs came when Mr. Brzezinski flew to Algiers to meet Khomeini’s prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan. This was love at first sight–to the point where Mr. Carter approved the resumption of military supplies to Iran, even as the mullahs were executing Iranians by the thousands, including many whose only “crime” was friendship with the U.S. The Carter administration’s behavior convinced the mullahs that the U.S. was a paper tiger and that it was time for the Islamic Revolution to highlight hatred of America. Mr. Carter reaped what he had sown when the mullahs sent “student” fanatics to seize the U.S. embassy compound, a clear act of war, and hold its diplomats hostage for 444 days. “The Carter administration’s weakness was a direct encouragement to [anti-American] hard-liners,” wrote Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the hostage-takers, years later.
Mr. Clinton did not reveal that in 1999 he offered the mullahs “a grand bargain” under which the Islamic Republic would be recognized as the “regional power” in exchange for lip service to U.S. “interests in the Middle East.” As advance payment for the “bargain” Mr. Clinton apologized for “all the wrongs that my country and culture have done” to Iran, whatever that was supposed to mean. The “bargain,” had it not been vetoed by the “Supreme Guide” in Tehran, might have secured Mr. Clinton the Nobel Peace Prize he coveted, but it would have sharpened the mullahs’ appetite for “exporting” revolution.
Taheri sees three options,
The options are clear: retreat and let the Islamic Republic advance its goals; resist and risk confrontation, including military conflict; or engage the Islamic Republic in a mini-version of Cold War until, worn out, it self-destructs.
With the options clear, Messrs. Carter, Brzezinski and Clinton along with other “engagers” would have to tell us which they favor and, if they like none, what alternative they offer. Calling for talks is just cheap talk. It is important to say what the proposed talks should be about. In the meantime, talk of “constructive engagement” is sure to encourage President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s intransigence. Why should he slow down, let alone stop, when there are no bumps on the road?
And, for starters, ban Iran from the World Cup: “A Time To Make Friends”. Update No women friends, that is.