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August 25, 2006
Iran Tries The 'Support Moderates' Ploy

The Guardian has received a copy of the Iranian response to the West's incentive package from sources inside the Iranian government as part of a warning about a Western refusal to accept it. The Iranians told the Guardian that this proposal represents a temporary victory of Iranian moderates, who will lose all standing if the West rejects it:

Details of its response delivered this week to diplomats, disclosed yesterday by two well-connected Iranian political scientists, claimed moderates in Tehran had won an important power struggle and were offering a negotiated settlement of the nuclear row.

If the US spurns the Iranian olive branch and forces through sanctions from the UN security council, "the stage will be set for a full-scale international crisis", the response's authors stated. ...

The US would have to lift decades-old sanctions against Iran and probably give assurances that it has no policy of regime change towards the Islamic republic to settle Iran's nuclear dispute with the west, according to leaks of the Iranian response.

Iran is demanding firmer guarantees on trade and nuclear supplies, a tighter timetable for implementing agreements and clearer security pledges from the west before it decides whether to freeze its uranium enrichment programme and explore an offer of a new relationship.

For those who have studied the coordinated diplomacy of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the late 1930s, this sounds depressingly familiar. Some people compared UNSCR 1701 to Munich, but this is much closer to that infamous Western collapse. In 1938, Britain and France rushed to dismember Czechoslovakia -- a democracy with highly defendable borders -- in order to assist the "moderate" Mussolini in appeasing the radical Hitler and keep him from waging war. Italy got what it wanted by appearing to be a rational actor, while Hitler got the Sudetenland and the most formidable natural defensive barrier in central Europe.

This sounds almost exactly the same, even playing on the West's analysis of Iran as two separate entities. The mullahs and the hard-line Islamists comprise one portion of the Iranian ruling class, while men like Mohammed Khatami supposedly offer a more reasonable partner for negotiations. It's hogwash. The ruling class in Teheran all share the same goals: an Islamist Caliphate in Southwest Asia with its seat in Teheran. Some of them just happen to have a better sense of Western public relations than Ali Khameini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but that does not make them more rational or less supportive of Islamist triumphalism.

The Iranian leak is part of a calculated strategy to force the UN Security Council into retreat on its demands and into negotiations on Iranian terms. They use media outlets like The Guardian to "warn" of betraying these supposed moderates by not surrendering to their oh-so-reasonable demands. Hitler made this an art form, and Ahmadinejad has learned well from his example.

Unfortunately, we can probably count on the global community to play right into the hands of the mullahcracy. We will hear once again how the Rhineland is really their backyard peaceful nuclear energy is their right, and how dare the West impose its hypocritical restrictions on Iran? Russia has already warned the West to look for "nuances" in Iran's response and has backed away from its pledge to support sanctions if Iran refuses to stop its uranium enrichment.

In 1940, the West found its Winston Churchill, but only after war made it necessary. Will the West learn the same lesson in the same manner? One would hope not, but at this moment, it doesn't look too promising.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2006 5:53 AM

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