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The art of the deal or buying protection?

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted June 5, 2006

I love it when the diplomats and the foreign policy experts tersely bark out "rapprochement" in French on the Charlie Rose show (PBS) or any other ultra-liberal media venue. It just sounds so incredibly pretentious, a little like the time that Kathy Levine and Joan Rivers kept barking "Cartier" at each other in full-shtick on QVC. Sorry, you had to have been watching to appreciate it; it was hysterical.

To continue, "rapprochement" is a diplomatic term, which means to reestablish cordial relations with another nation. In terms of the current crisis at hand, diplomats from six major nations – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France) plus Germany – are seeking to cut a deal with Iran, dissuading it from continued engagement in "sensitive" nuclear activities (i.e. uranium enrichment), and with a view toward bringing Iran back into the international fold. The details of the "package" crafted by diplomats are still being held in secret. However, the deal is being touted as a "major opportunity" for Iran, which is being given only weeks to make its decision and overcome its impasse with the international community.

Recently, Iran has been at odds with the international community, given that no nation in its right mind wants to see the Mad Mullahs of Iran and their puppet-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get hold of nuclear weaponry. Clearly, Israel and the US are at the top of the Iranian hit-list, but everyone realizes it wouldn't take long before nuke-laden Mullahs were threatening their neighbors in the Middle East, all of western civilization, and the entire globe for that matter.

I have no doubt that the Mullahs et al. are a bunch of loons in terms of their cult of death, enmeshment with terrorists, and apocalyptic mentality that make them dangerous to the world at large. However, the bottom line is that the Iranian leadership knows how to make a buck and feather its own nest. And, yes, individuals can be out of touch with reality in some respects, while simultaneously attending to their self-interests.

That being said, the Iran package being floated is reportedly all about "carrots and sticks", or more precisely, significant incentives for Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions paired with a series of disincentives if it continues down its current path. It would be fair to say that the "substantive incentives" being offered up to the Iranians are essentially akin to buying protection, and I'm not just saying that out of deference to the season finale of the "Sopranos" this past weekend. As to the so-called disincentives (diplomats are loath to use the word "sanctions"), it wouldn't be a stretch to guess they'll be relatively weak. Even if the Iran case makes its way to the UN Security Council, Russia and China have already gone on record as saying they're not in favor of formal sanctions.

Here's my thoughts on the proposal being pitched to Iran: We're likely to see a deal struck with the Iranians, and not just because they want to avoid a military confrontation with the US and Israel. My hunch is that the Iranians are eager for the economic benefits associated with a deal, but of course they'll want the arrangement to reflect the best possible terms for themselves, with wiggle room to facilitate at least some of their nuclear activities. That's why they'll haggle and attempt to use any leverage at their disposal, including their current threat to disrupt the flow of oil as it's moved out of the Iranian region. Ultimately, I believe Iran is prepared to pull a "North Korea": In other words, even if we get the Iranians to sign on the dotted line, they'll surely violate the nuclear deal just as the North Koreans did in the not-too-distant past. The bottom line is that the Iranians crave nuclear fuel for nuclear weapons. And they have us pegged; they know that they can get-over on us eventually. In a real sense, time is not on our side in our dealings with the wily Mullahs.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Iranians were priming us for a deal all along. Here's a major tip-off that they've been gaming us: Just focus in on the Iranians' hyperbolic, over-the-top rhetoric put forth for international consumption during the past few years. Their words have been terribly egregious, in a patently "in-your-face" fashion. It would be fair to say that the Iranians have been blatantly pushing our buttons. Moreover, they've assiduously taunted Israel and our nation with the threat of destruction, as a backdrop to their nuclear activities. The Iranians were almost begging to be bought off! It's either that or commence the military strikes now.

That being said, President Bush understands that ordering military strikes against Iran is a last resort that would have extensive ramifications, and that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted. Moreover, as I've stated previously, hitting Iran's nuclear facilities is just a temporary fix. The real remedy, the strategic long-term solution, is "regime change", and toppling the Mullah-led dictatorship in Iran can only be accomplished with considerable efforts by the Iranian people, residing inside and outside of Iran. That will take time, and President Bush is attempting to buy time by delaying Iran's acquisition of nuclear weaponry. If Bush can "kick the can down the road" so to speak and prevent the Mullahs from getting nukes for as long as possible, it would certainly give Mullah-opposing forces the opportunity to coalesce and plan effective action against the current Iranian regime.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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