YOU CAN BLEED THEM WHILE YOU NEGOTIATE WITH THEM
When Robert Gates
, the current Secretary of Defense, retired from government service after the end of the first Bush administration, he wrote a memoir , From the Shadows
, in which he described the no-nonsense, George Schultz
as " the toughest Secretary of State I ever knew
" who " saw no contradiction
" in bleeding the Soviets in one part of the world while negotiating with them in another. Secretary Schultz, whose opinion of the CIA on a 1 to 10 scale hovered in the negative integers, was not nearly as complimentary to Robert Gates in his own, ponderously unreadable, memoirs, but that is a story for another day.
I bring this anecdote of a less complex era up because of the furor over the Bush administration classifying the Pasdaran
( the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) as a terrorist organization
in order to take action against those business enterprises that are connected to the Pasdaran. The objections to this move appear to be two-fold: first, that it hypothetically puts American military personnel at risk of maltreatment and, secondly, that it could disrupt negotiations with Iran on a range of bilateral and international issues, most importantly, Iraq.
The critics are incorrect. It is a move a quarter-century overdue.
In the first instance, correctly identifying the Pasdaran as a state sponsor of international terrorism, which as a matter of historical record, it clearly is, does not prevent treating it's uniformed
personnel as POWs in case of an armed conflict between Iran and the United States. The Pasdaran, by contrast, has already tortured two Americans to death
- Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley
and USMC Colonel William Higgins
- at a time of peace between Iran and the United States.
Cry me no river of tears for Pasdaran agents in Iraq being held captive by the U.S. military or who are being whacked in some alleyway by Sunni tribals in our employ. The Iranians knew the risks, from the inception, of the rules they chose to operate under, violating the most basic precepts of international law. It did not have to be that way - even the CIA and the KGB came to a rough modus vivendi during the Cold War that prevented most escalatory incidents - Teheran though has chosen to play rough. Let them enjoy the bed they have made for themselves.
Secondly, until we have an agreement with Iran we do not have any agreement and the regime should be squeezed at every point until we do. I'm all for negotiating in earnest, making the realistic, even generous, concessions that we can easily afford, finding areas of common interest and ( eventually) normalizing relations. We should scrupulously keep our word and demonstrate to the Iranians through actions that we will deliver exactly what we promise. But until that point in time, Teheran should get no favors, no breathing space, no economic freebies of any kind until we come to an arrangement.
The leadership of Iran is a nasty and brutal group. Within that circle, Ahmadinejad represents some of the regime's worst elements but, as a whole, the Iranians do not seem irrational, simply adversarial. We can cut a deal with them but we should proceed without any illusions.IRGC STORY LINKS:Thomas P.M. Barnett
The Glittering Eye
Right Wing Nuthouse
Labels: bush, diplomacy, foreign policy, international law, iran, mideast, terrorism