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May 31, 2006

Change Of Course Or A Poison Pill?

I'm amazed at the naivety of some media pundits regarding Condoleeza Rice's proposal to the Iranians. It's being trumpeted as a major change in U.S. foreign policy. It is not that at all. Here is what she said:

The positive and constructive choice is for the Iranian regime to alter its present course and cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue, beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as well as full cooperation with the IAEA and returning to implementation of the Additional Protocol which would provide greater access for the IAEA. This path would lead to the real benefit and longer-term security of the Iranian people, the region, and the world as a whole.

. . .

Thus, to underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance the prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.

Iran has stated publicly that they have no intention of giving up their right to process uranium. Today they repeated the assertion:
The Iranian news agency said Iran accepts only proposals and conditions that are in the nation's interest. "Halting enrichment definitely doesn't meet such interests[.]"
They've reiterated their insistence on nuclear research countless times. In fact, they've already called Rice's overture "a propaganda move."

Well, of course, it is.

You see, Rice's proposal contains a poison pill -- a condition designed to be unacceptable to the Iranians. Upon Iran's rejection of the offer, we can re-claim the rhetorical high ground we lost when Ahmadi-Nejad sent that stupid letter. We are attempting to regain the "initiative," which is a military analogy that means that we're trying to control the game by placing our opponent on the defensive.

Iran either accepts the conditions or they don't. Either way it's a win-win for us. If they accept the conditions, we gain time to promote regime change from within (assuming the Bush administration takes my advice). If they reject the offer, we gain leverage with our allies and public opinion (assuming we spin it right). Or, you can look at it another way: if the Iranians agree to stop enrichment, they would look really bad if they started it up again for any reason.

Look, regime change is the ultimate goal here and everyone should know this. Ahmadi-Nejad is a bigger nutcase than Saddam ever was, and infinitely more dangerous. We cannot be safe as long as Iran is controlled by religious extremists who hate us. Democracy in Iran is the necessary next step in any permanent solution to the problem of Islamic terrorism.

If you look at what we did to set up Saddam Hussein, you'll see we used the same poison pill method. On the eve of war, we proposed a multi-layered ultimatum which Saddam could not possibly have satisfied. He tried submitting a 12,000 page Declaration of Compliance, but of course that hastily prepared document never had a chance. And the ultimate result is that Saddam is now in prison instead of ruling Iraq.

Now, in the case of Iran, we need to manuever them into a position where we can take out the regime without using the military option. At least I hope that's the plan, because attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in the near future would be politically disastrous, if not technically unfeasible.

But the Iranians have a poison pill of their own, which they haven't yet trotted out. It's called the "security gaurantee" card. When the time is right, they will play it, don't worry. Iran will demand that we give them the same assurance we once gave to Castro: that we won't try to overthrow the current government. As I pointed out above, regime change should be our ultimate goal, and therefore we must never agree to that condition. If Iran plays the security guarantee card effectively, they may regain the rhetorical advantage unless we are ready to counter it.

Posted by annika, May. 31, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


So you are claiming that because of the poison pill, it is not a change in policy; that makes sense, though most people won't grasp that, and will see it on its face as a policy change. Indeed, it would be easier now for the Administration to propose talks now that the initial policy roadblock has been publicly lifted.

Regime change would be appealing, though Ahmedi-Nejad is very popular, making such a transition difficult based on a popular uprising without a highly successful (with an infintesimal margin for error) psyops campaign. Whether he is as mad as Saddam is debatable; with his stated goals and the enrichment efforts ongoing, he certainly can be more dangerous.

Posted by: will on Jun. 1, 2006


How can you say that Ahmedinejad is very popular. He was elected with only 10% of the population voting. The rest stayed home in protest.

There have been massive demonstrations against the Iranian goverment during the past two summers. Plus the nuclear war talk of the government has the people scared to death.

Overthrow is a very real possibility.

Posted by: Jake on Jun. 1, 2006

Jake, where do you get your information from?


Posted by: will on Jun. 1, 2006