Jaw-Jaw In Order to War-War?

AEI’s Reuel Marc Gerecht now believes that Washington should offer to engage in unconditional, high-level talks and even normalize diplomatic relations with Iran…apparently in order to rally support for war.

In a New York Times op-ed misleadingly entitled “Attack Iran, With Words,” Gerecht, who is certain there’s no way that the mullahs will agree to such offer, argues that their predictable refusal will rally the public and perhaps even Washington’s European allies to support a pre-emptive attack on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

“If the mullahs don’t want to negotiate, fine: making the offer is something that must be checked off before the next president could unleash the Air Force and the Navy. To make the threat of force against clerical Iran again credible, there needs to be a consensus among far more Democrats and Republicans that a nuclear-armed Iran is intolerable. If the White House tried more energetically to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat, if it demonstrated that it had reached out to Iranian “pragmatists” and “moderates,” and that again no one responded, then the military option would likely become convincing to more Americans.

“…If the Bush administration were to use this sort of diplomatic jujitsu on the ruling clerics, it could convulse their world. No, this is absolutely no guarantee that Tehran will stop, or even suspend, uranium enrichment. But a new approach would certainly put the United States on offense and Iran on defense. We would, at least, have the unquestioned moral and political high ground. And from there, it would be a lot easier for the next administration, if it must, to stop militarily the mullahs’ quest for the bomb.”

It’s worth noting that Gerecht, like other neo-cons including several of his AEI colleagues, appears to have given up hope of an attack before the end of Bush’s term and now believes that it will up to his successor to decide what to do about Tehran’s nuclear program. His argument echoes that of the generally more pragmatic Robert Kagan who came out in favor of negotiations after the NIE’s release in early December in a Washington Post column entitled “Time to Talk to Iran.” Two differences: Kagan was less certain than Gerecht that Tehran wouldn’t take up a negotiations offer. He also did not stress the importance of offering high-level talks, although that the fact that he suggested putting all outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran on the table implied it. The basic line was much the same. Here’s Kagan nearly three months ago:

“Beginning talks today does not limit American options in the future. If the Iranians stonewall or refuse to talk — a distinct possibility — they will establish a record of intransigence that can be used against them now and in the critical years to come. It’s possible the American offer itself could open fissures in Iran. In any case, it is hard to see what other policy options are available. This is the hand that has been dealt. The Bush administration needs to be smart and creative enough to play it well.”

It will be very interesting to see if Gerecht’s and Kagan’s advice, as cynical as it may be, is being considered by the hawks within the administration, and particularly in Cheney’s office.

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.

3 Comments

  1. I read Gerecht’s book, Know Thine Enemy, in which he exaggerates his position in the CIA, and he smuggles himself into Iran in the back of a truck, spends a few days walking around, where he is generally ignored, so he manufactures a fantasy according to which the reason he’s being ignored is because he’s secretly being watched — so he then smuggles himself back into Turkey.

    Sounds like a very frustrated individual who wants to be taken seriously. The NeoCons provided him with his opportunity, that’s all.

  2. Wow. What will they do next? Bellow at the moon?

    The neoconservative annointed â?? once so arrogant a princeling like David Frum could call for political liquidation of recalcitrant paleoconservatives â?? have become cankered and rotted to the degree they are unable to acknowledge their own irrelevance.

    And gotta love that line about â??diplomatic jiu-jitsuâ?? on the mullahs. Ooo! Senor Gerecht es muy macho! Of course, he means spin-job head-busting for the American peasanty. Yeahâ?¦ heâ??s going to fool us all over again. â??We tried to talk to Tehranâ?¦ tried to get â??em to the table. Now â?? dang it â?? gotta let those big eagles FLY!â??

    Weâ??re not listening – but that doesnâ??t mean we should stop paying attention.

  3. It’s truly absurd. It’s like saying we’ll talk but we’ll make darn sure the talks fail.

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