Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Evoking of "Real" and "Concrete … Problems" Forms the "Moderate Aspect" of the Iranian President's Letter to the "Cowboys"

While people joining in the chat with Bruno Tertrais show a willingness for being understanding towards Iran and a knowledge of any anti-Washington conspiracy theory that has ever shown a ripple on the water, the reactions of Le Monde readers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's moralizing letter to George W Bush in the Iranian nuclear crisis are quite revealing… Most of them are at best equalizing (us superior Europeans between the equally-fanatic Yanks and Iranians) and at worst understanding of, and sympathetic, to the Tehran despots…

Update: Amir Taheri sees through the fog (but don't expect his article(s) to be given wide diffusion in France and Europe anytime soon):
The attempt at fabricating another "cause" with which to bash America is backed by the claim that the mullahs are behaving badly because Washington refuses to talk to them. Some of this buzz is coming from those who for years told the U.S. to let them persuade Iran to mend its ways. They include German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his British and French colleagues in the European Union trio that negotiated with Iran for years. Preparing to throw in the towel, they now say the U.S. should "directly engage" Iran. That would enable them to hide their failures and find a pretext for blaming future setbacks on the U.S.

… 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" [American and otherwise] 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?

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