UK bans Israeli Western Wall tourism advert (& When Armageddon lives next door)

April 17, 2010

* Tom Gross: “One gets the feeling that there are some people in Britain who not only want to keep visitors from going to Israel, but wish there was no Israel to visit.”

* Alejo Vidal-Quadras, nuclear physics professor, and vice president of the European Parliament: “Solana, Straw, Fischer, and de Villepin have a lot to answer for since their policy bought Tehran crucial time to advance their nuclear program.”

* Benny Morris, in The Los Angeles Times: “Obama is denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line… I take it personally: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants to murder me, my family and my people. Day in, day out, he announces the imminent demise of Israel. And day in, day out, his scientists and technicians are advancing toward the atomic weaponry that will enable him to bring this about… Obama’s prohibition against an Israeli preemptive strike is immoral.”

* Daniel Pipes: “The ‘peace process’ is in actuality a ‘war process.’ Diplomatic negotiations through the 1990s led to a parade of Israeli retreats that had the perverse effect of turning the middling-bad situation of 1993 into the awful one of 2000. Painful Israeli concessions, we now know, stimulate not reciprocal Palestinian goodwill but rather irredentism, ambition, fury, and violence.”

* Daniel Pipes: “The current crisis in U.S.-Israel relations has a silver lining: Israel makes its worst mistakes when U.S.-Israel ties are strong. When Israeli leaders enjoy strong, trusting relations with Washington, they give more to the Arabs. Golda Meir made concessions to Richard Nixon, Menachem Begin to Jimmy Carter, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak to Bill Clinton, and Ariel Sharon to George W. Bush. Conversely, mistrust of Washington tightens Israelis and closes their willingness to take chances.”

(I sent two of the items below to a smaller group of people earlier in the week.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Petraeus: Israel’s establishment “made world better”
2. Protests to be held at Syrian embassies today
3. Israel’s nuclear installations now within Hizbullah’s range
4. Words fail me
5. Three Muslim extremists charged after attack on Galloway
6. “U.K. bans Israeli Western Wall tourism advert” (By Tom Gross, NRO, April 14, 2010)
7. “Ya’alon: No need ever to remove any settlements” (Jerusalem Post, April 16, 2010)
8. “When Armageddon lives next door” (By Benny Morris, LA Times, April 16, 2010)
9. “The solace of Israel’s poor U.S. relations” (By Daniel Pipes, NRO, April 13, 2010)
10. “Iran’s ticking bomb” (By Alejo Vidal-Quadras, WSJ Europe, April 14, 2010)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five pieces below. Please may I remind readers that I don’t agree with all the points made in the articles included in these dispatches, but the articles below are of interest, and I think all are worth reading.

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and former head of the IDF, Moshe Ya’alon, interviewed in the second article, is a subscriber to this email list, as is the author of the third article, the historian and author Benny Morris.

Ya’alon sits in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner cabinet, so the release of his words at this time is probably not an accident and they should be read with care.

There are also some notes (below) by me before the pieces.

 

PETRAEUS: ISRAEL’S ESTABLISHMENT “MADE WORLD BETTER”

Seeking to diffuse widespread media reports stating that he believes U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan are connected with perceptions that the United States favors Israel, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus gave a strongly pro-Israel speech this week to Holocaust survivors at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.

He said that Israel’s establishment had helped “make our world better” and “Israel has been, is and will be an important strategic ally of the United States.”

He also praised Holocaust survivors. “The men and women who walked or were carried out of the death camps, and their descendents, have enriched our world immeasurably in the sciences and in the arts, in literature and in philanthropy,” he said.

There are some suggestions that Petraeus may seek the U.S. Republican Party nomination for president in 2012.

 

PROTESTS TO BE HELD AT SYRIAN EMBASSIES TODAY

April 17 is Syrian Independence Day. The “Enough Silence” campaign is organizing protests around the world “to remind the Syrian authorities that the independence is still incomplete because the Syrian people are not free”.

Political prisoners at Syria’s notorious Adra Prison have smuggled out a letter in support of the protests and are holding a hunger strike inside the prison.

Protestors at the Syrian embassies and consulates in Washington, Brussels, Paris, London, Geneva, Montreal, Berlin and Erbil are planning to wear black t-shirts.

Naturally, since Israel isn’t involved, the Western media will barely cover these protests.

 

ISRAEL’S NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS NOW WITHIN HIZBULLAH’S RANGE

Last week, U.S. and Israeli officials said Syria has transferred long-range Scud missiles to the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group. The Scuds are believed to have a range of more than 435 miles – placing Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s nuclear installations all within range. During a month-long war with Israel in 2006, Hizbullah used rockets with ranges of 20 to 60 miles.

Israeli officials called Scud missiles “game-changing” armaments that mark a new escalation in the Mideast conflict. They alleged that Assad is increasingly linking Syria’s military command with those of Hizbullah and Iran.

Intelligence sources said the Scud missiles Syria transferred were built with either North Korean or Russian technology.

Responding on Wednesday to a reporter’s question about Syria supplying Scud missiles to Hizbullah, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley replied that it “represents a failure by the parties in the region to honor UN Security Council Resolution 1701. And clearly, it potentially puts Lebanon at significant risk.”

Resolution 1701, which ended the fighting between Hizbullah and Israel in 2006, specifically outlaws arming non-governmental organizations such as Hizbullah. The Lebanese government had already repeatedly flouted the resolution by providing legal authority for the terrorist group to retain its arms. Critics of the Obama administration argue against pursuing its new policy of engaging Syria while Damascus remains deeply involved in acts detrimental to regional stability.

 

WORDS FAIL ME

Moderate Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who is a subscriber to this email list, writes on his Facebook page:

“Tufts Friends of Israel, the pro-Israel group on campus, has decided to cancel a lecture by Khaled Abu Toameh, scheduled for next week, in fear that I will be seen as anti-Islam by the Arab students and would make Tufts Friends of Israel look bad.”

This follows the recent decision by the Israel Society at Cambridge University in Britain to cancel a talk by Benny Morris (see a previous dispatch on this list for details.)

(See also the dispatch: When was the last time you saw Khaled Abu Toameh interviewed on BBC or CNN? January 4, 2006.)

 

THREE MUSLIM EXTREMISTS CHARGED AFTER ATTACK ON GALLOWAY

British extremist Member of Parliament George Galloway, who is a keen sympathizer with Hamas, has been attacked by three Muslims for whom Galloway isn’t extreme enough. He was set upon last week while campaigning in East London to retain his seat in the forthcoming British general election.

Three men, believed to belong to the extreme sect Islam4UK (formerly known as Al-Muhajiroun), were arrested and charged with public order offences.

“They called me a filthy Kaffir,” said Galloway, “and shouted that no one should shake the ‘filthy Kaffir’s hand.”

Islam4UK don’t want Muslims to vote, and say Galloway is a traitor because he is campaigning for Muslims to vote for him and his Respect party. Galloway’s assistant Kevin Ovenden had his phone smashed in the incident and other supporters were abused and jostled.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

UK GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG BANS ISRAELI WESTERN WALL TOURISM AD

[This item was first published on April 14 on The National Review (America) and The National Post (Canada)]

UK government watchdog bans Israeli Western Wall tourism advert
By Tom Gross
NRO / The National Post
April 14, 2010

In recent years, Israel-bashing has become something of a national sport among Britain’s chattering classes, but a fresh development today might just mark a new low.

The UK’s official Advertising Standards Authority has banned an Israeli tourism advert showing the Western Wall, saying it is “misleading” since (in the British government’s eyes) the wall should not be part of Israel.

In fact the Western Wall, which (together with the Temple Mount) is Judaism’s holiest site, is the number one tourist destination for visitors to Israel.

The advert (above) coupled a picture of the wall with a picture of surfers in Tel Aviv. It reads: “You can travel the length of Israel in six hours, imagine what you can do in four days.”

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism (which yesterday announced records numbers of tourists visiting Israel in March) said it was flabbergasted by the decision. “It is entirely accurate to assert that a visitor to Israel could visit Jerusalem as part of a short visit,” it said in a statement. “The advert provides basic, accurate information to a prospective UK visitor.”

One gets the feeling that there are some people in Britain who not only want to keep visitors from going to Israel, but wish there was no Israel to visit.

 

YA’ALON: NO NEED EVER TO REMOVE ANY SETTLEMENTS

Ya’alon: No need ever to remove any settlements
By Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
April 16, 2010

“Jews should be able to remain in Palestinian entity under any peace accord,” strategic affairs minister tells ‘Post’.

Israel should not have to remove any settlements in a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon has told The Jerusalem Post, adding that just as Arabs live in Israel, so, too, should Jews be able to live in a future Palestinian entity.

“If we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the [Palestinian] insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews?” Ya’alon asked during a wide-ranging interview that will appear in the Post’s Yom Ha’atzmaut [Independence Day] supplement on Monday April 19.

“Why do those areas have to be Judenrein?” he asked. “Don’t Arabs live here, in the Negev and the Galilee ? Why isn’t that part of our public discussion? Why doesn’t that scream to the heavens?”

Ya’alon said that if Israel and the Palestinians were truly headed down the path of peace and coexistence, “Jews living in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty and citizenship” should be possible.

He stressed that “no settlement” should be removed, and that the country’s previous withdrawals – from Lebanon and from Gaza – strengthened Hizbullah and Hamas, respectively.

“That is opposed to our strategic interest and to the strategic interests of the West,” he said.

Ya’alon, who sits on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s top decision-making body, known as the septet, and is among those deliberating on how to reply to US President Barack Obama’s reported demands for a construction freeze in east Jerusalem, said Israel must not give in on the issue.

“We cannot fold on Jerusalem. What is Jerusalem ? It is Zion,” he said.

“We disengaged politically in Judea and Samaria, and physically from Gaza,” Ya’alon pointed out. “The policy of the Netanyahu government is that we don’t want to rule over them [the Palestinians]. But not ruling over them does not mean we have to withdraw to the 1967 borders, which are indefensible borders; or that we have to divide Jerusalem in order to bring Hamas snipers into Jerusalem.”

Ya’alon, like the other members of the septet, is very discreet about the discussions regarding the answers to be given to the Americans, and would not even discuss what it was exactly that Obama was demanding.

And while stressing that the US and Israel had a deep, strategic alliance, Ya’alon acknowledged significant conceptual gaps regarding how each side saw the region.

“In order for there to be a proper prognosis, you need a proper diagnosis,” he said, adding that the US administration had misdiagnosed the root of the conflict here as territorial, when in reality it was about the failure of the Palestinians to recognize the right of the Jews to be here in any permutation.

“Those who want to continue the Oslo process, who want us to continue to give and give and give, without a Palestinian willingness to recognize our right to a national home, are cooperating with the phased plan for Israel’s destruction,” Ya’alon said.

Amid reports that Obama may, in a few months, try to impose a peace plan on Israel and the Palestinians, Ya’alon – who has accompanied the diplomatic process from up close since he was the head of Military Intelligence in 1995 – said that anyone who thought it was possible to “impose peace just like that” is “detached from reality.”

The government must work closely with the Obama administration to prevent the imposition of any such plan, he said.

Turning to Iran, Ya’alon said that country’s rulers must be faced with a determined West that placed the following dilemma before them: the bomb or regime survival.

Asked who in the West was showing the most determination against Iran these days, Ya’alon replied with France and Britain.

“Something has happened here that we haven’t seen in the past,” he said.

“Previously, the US led the aggressive line. Today, as I said, the president of France and prime minister of Britain are leading a more aggressive line than the president of the US.”

Asked if there were people in Jerusalem charged with coming up with plans on how to contain Iran if it eventually got the bomb, Ya’alon replied, “By one way or another, the Iranian military nuclear project should be stopped. And we should not discuss any other possibility.”

 

WHEN ARMAGEDDON LIVES NEXT DOOR

When Armageddon lives next door: Obama is denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line
By Benny Morris
The Los Angeles Times (Opinion)
April 16, 2010

I take it personally: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants to murder me, my family and my people. Day in, day out, he announces the imminent demise of the “Zionist regime,” by which he means Israel. And day in, day out, his scientists and technicians are advancing toward the atomic weaponry that will enable him to bring this about.

The Jews of Europe (and Poles, Russians, Czechs, the French, etc.) should likewise have taken personally Adolf Hitler’s threats and his serial defiance of the international community from 1933 to 1939. But he was allowed, by the major powers and the League of Nations, to flex his muscles, rearm, remilitarize the Rhineland and then gobble up neighboring countries. Had he been stopped before the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II, the lives of many millions, Jews and Gentiles, would have been saved. But he wasn’t.

And it doesn’t look like Ahmadinejad will be either. Not by the United States and the international community, at any rate. President Obama, when not obsessing over the fate of the ever- aggrieved Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, proposes to halt Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program by means of international sanctions. But here’s the paradox: The wider Obama casts his net to mobilize as many of the world’s key players as he can, the weaker the sanctions and the more remote their implementation. China, it appears, will only agree to a U.N. Security Council resolution if the sanctions are diluted to the point of meaninglessness (and maybe not even then). The same appears to apply to the Russians. Meanwhile, Iran advances toward the bomb. Most of the world’s intelligence agencies believe that it is only one to three years away.

Perhaps Obama hopes to unilaterally implement far more biting American (and, perhaps, European) sanctions. But if China and Russia (and some European Union members) don’t play ball, the sanctions will remain ineffective. And Iran will continue on its deadly course.

At the end of 2007, the U.S. intelligence community, driven by wishful thinking, expediency and incompetence, announced that the Iranians had in 2003 halted the weaponization part of their nuclear program. Last week, Obama explicitly contradicted that assessment. At least the American administration now publicly acknowledges where it is the Iranians are headed, while not yet acknowledging what it is they are after – primarily Israel’s destruction.

Granted, Obama has indeed tried to mobilize the international community for sanctions. But it has been a hopeless task, given the selfishness and shortsightedness of governments and peoples. Sanctions were supposed to kick in in autumn 2009; then it was December; now it is sometime late this year. Obama is still pushing the rock up the hill – and Ahmadinejad, understandably, has taken to publicly scoffing at the West and its “sanctions.”

He does this because he knows that sanctions, if they are ever passed, are likely to be toothless, and because the American military option has been removed from the table. Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates – driven by a military that feels overstretched in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and a public that has no stomach for more war – have made this last point crystal clear.

But at the same time, Obama insists that Israel may not launch a preemptive military strike of its own. Give sanctions a chance, he says. (Last year he argued that diplomacy and “engagement” with Tehran should be given a chance. Tehran wasn’t impressed then and isn’t impressed now.) The problem is that even if severe sanctions are imposed, they likely won’t have time to have serious effect before Iran succeeds at making a bomb.

Obama is, no doubt, well aware of this asymmetric timetable. Which makes his prohibition against an Israeli preemptive strike all the more immoral. He knows that any sanctions he manages to orchestrate will not stop the Iranians. (Indeed, Ahmadinejad last week said sanctions would only fortify Iran’s resolve and consolidate its technological prowess.) Obama is effectively denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line.

Perhaps Obama has privately resigned himself to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and believes, or hopes, that deterrence will prevent Tehran from unleashing its nuclear arsenal. But what if deterrence won’t do the trick? What if the mullahs, believing they are carrying out Allah’s will and enjoy divine protection, are undeterred?

The American veto may ultimately consign millions of Israelis, including me and my family, to a premature death and Israel to politicide. It would then be comparable to Britain and France’s veto in the fall of 1938 of the Czechs defending their territorial integrity against their rapacious Nazi neighbors. Within six months, Czechoslovakia was gobbled up by Germany.

But will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follow in Czech President Edvard Benes’ footsteps? Will he allow an American veto to override Israel’s existential interests? And can Israel go it alone, without an American green (or even yellow) light, without American political cover and overflight permissions and additional American equipment? Much depends on what the Israeli military and intelligence chiefs believe their forces – air force, navy, commandos – can achieve. Full destruction of the Iranian nuclear project? A long-term delay? And on how they view Israel’s ability (with or without U.S. support) to weather the reaction from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria.

An Israeli attack might harm U.S. interests and disrupt international oil supplies (though I doubt it would cause direct attacks on U.S. installations, troops or vessels). But, from the Israeli perspective, these are necessarily marginal considerations when compared with the mortal hurt Israel and Israelis would suffer from an Iranian nuclear attack. Netanyahu’s calculations will, in the end, be governed by his perception of Israel’s existential imperatives. And the clock is ticking.

 

“TAKING SOLACE IN THE ADMINISTRATION’S BLUNDERS”

(For background to this U.S.-Israel dispute, please see: Obama: I have seen the enemy and it is Jewish housing.)

The solace of Israel’s poor U.S. relations
By Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
April 13, 2010

The silver lining of this relationship’s deterioration: Israel makes its worst mistakes when U.S.-Israel ties are strong.

Things are not always as simple as they seem; the current crisis in U.S.-Israel relations has a silver lining. Four observations, all derived from historical patterns, prompt this conclusion.

First, the “peace process” is in actuality a “war process.” Diplomatic negotiations through the 1990s led to a parade of Israeli retreats that had the perverse effect of turning the middling-bad situation of 1993 into the awful one of 2000. Painful Israeli concessions, we now know, stimulate not reciprocal Palestinian goodwill but rather irredentism, ambition, fury, and violence.

Second, Israeli concessions to the Arabs are effectively forever, while relations with Washington fluctuate. Once the Israelis left south Lebanon and Gaza, they did so for good, as would be the case with the Golan Heights or eastern Jerusalem. Undoing these steps would be prohibitively costly. In contrast, U.S.-Israel tensions depend on personalities and circumstances, so they go up and down and the stakes are relatively lower. Each president or prime minister can refute his predecessor’s views and tone. Problems can be repaired quickly.

More broadly, the U.S.-Israel bond has strengths that go far beyond politicians and issues of the moment. Nothing on earth resembles this bilateral, “the family relationship of international politics” and “the most special” of special relationships. Like any family tie, it has high points (Israel ranks second, behind only the United States, in number of companies listed on NASDAQ) and low ones (the Jonathan Pollard espionage affair continues to rankle a quarter-century after it broke). The tie has a unique intensity when it comes to strategic cooperation, economic connections, intellectual ties, shared values, United Nations voting records, religious commonalities, and even mutual interference in each other’s internal affairs.

From Israel’s perspective, then, political relations with the Arabs are freighted but those with Washington have a lightness and flexibility.

Third, when Israeli leaders enjoy strong, trusting relations with Washington, they give more to the Arabs. Golda Meir made concessions to Richard Nixon, Menachem Begin to Jimmy Carter, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak to Bill Clinton, and Ariel Sharon to George W. Bush.

Conversely, mistrust of Washington tightens Israelis and closes their willingness to take chances. That was the case with George H. W. Bush and is even more so with Barack Obama. The current unease began even before Obama reached the Oval Office, given his public association with prominent Israel-haters (e.g., Ali Abunimah, Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said, Jeremiah Wright). Relations degenerated in March, when his administration simulated outrage on the 9th over an announcement of routine construction work in Jerusalem, followed by a brutal telephone call from the secretary of state on the 12th and a tense White House summit meeting on the 23rd.

To make matters worse, the Obama-administration figure most identified with maintaining good U.S.-Israel relations, Dennis Ross, was anonymously accused by a colleague on March 28 of being “far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests.” A prominent foreign-policy analyst used this to raise questions about Ross having a “dual loyalty” to Israel, impugning Ross’s policy advice.

These ugly and virtually unprecedented tensions have had a predictable effect on the Israeli public, making it mistrustful of Obama and resistant to U.S. pressure, and have inspired usually squabbling politicians to work together to resist Obama’s policies.

Fourth, U.S.-Israel tensions increase Palestinian intransigence and demands. When Israel is in bad standing, it empowers their leaders; if those tensions arise from U.S. pressure for concessions to the Palestinians, the latter sit back and enjoy the show. This happened in mid-2009, when Mahmoud Abbas instructed Americans what to extract from Jerusalem. Conversely, when U.S.-Israel relations flourish, Palestinian leaders feel pressure to meet Israelis, pretend to negotiate, and sign documents.

Combining these four presumptions results in a counterintuitive conclusion: Strong U.S.-Israel ties induce irreversible Israeli mistakes. Poor U.S.-Israel ties abort this process. Obama may expect that picking a fight with Israel will produce negotiations, but it will have the opposite effect. He may think he is approaching a diplomatic breakthrough, but in fact he is rendering that less likely. Those who fear more “war process” can thus take some solace in the administration’s blunders.

The complexity of U.S.-Israel relations leaves much room for paradox and inadvertency. A look beyond a worrisome turn of events suggests that good may come of it.

 

SUMMITS IN WASHINGTON ARE FINE, BUT IRAN IS MOVING MUCH FASTER THAN THAT. SO WE’D BETTER CATCH UP

Iran’s Ticking Bomb: Solana, Straw, Fischer, and de Villepin have a lot to answer for since their policy bought Tehran crucial time
By Alejo Vidal-Quadras
Wall Street Journal Europe
April 14, 2010

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted last week that the regime would install 60,000 new, “third-generation” centrifuges to enrich uranium. As world leaders met in Washington this week to discuss how to prevent nuclear terrorism, there was little doubt that time is running out to deal with Iran’s nuclear weapons threat.

It is now eight years since the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran blew the lid on the mullahs’ secret atom program and disclosed the existence of a uranium enrichment plant in Natanz and a heavy water plant for the production of plutonium in Arak. The NCRI also blew the whistle on the secret enrichment site in Qom back in 2005, a fact that was confirmed by world powers only last September. And yet, during all that time, Tehran has been allowed to make steady progress toward developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has had a lot of help along the way from what can only be described as appeasing policymakers who offered concessions and incentives, while telling the world that they could get the regime to change its behavior. And the regime did change its behavior: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei replaced the supposedly moderate President Mohammad Khatami with the fanatical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while Iranian officials continuously vowed not to back down one “iota” from their nuclear projects.

Regrettably, the European Union was one of the main culprits in facilitating Iran’s nuclear progress. Particularly the EU’s former high representative for foreign policy, Javier Solana, as well as the former British, French and German foreign ministers – Jack Straw, Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer – have a lot to answer for. It was they who devised this policy of “constructive engagement” and thus bought the regime many of the eight years they have had to advance their nuclear program.

The most popular excuse for the failure of their Iran policy was that U.S. reluctance to negotiate directly with Iran supposedly prevented a breakthrough with the mullahs. When President Obama took office, there was much hope in Europe. Last year, he extended his hand to the Iranian leadership and set a number of deadlines for a negotiated settlement of the dispute. Iran, though, quickly repelled Mr. Obama’s hand. The President’s deadlines came and went without any Iranian “engagement.”

Now it was Washington that bought the regime additional time. The White House failed to quickly gather a coalition of the willing to implement the “biting” sanctions it had threatened. Instead, more than three months after the end of the last deadline the U.S. administration had set, “biting” sanctions are not even on the horizon. At best we can expect that after weeks of haggling in the United Nations Security Council, there will eventually be much watered-down sanctions that won’t be able to stop Tehran.

Engagement with Iran has been based on the false premise that the mullahs would respond to carrots and somehow act in Iran’s national interest. In diplomacy, there is only one thing more dangerous than failing to respond firmly to threats to international security, and that is threatening to respond firmly, but failing to follow through. The Iranian regime knows now, if it had any doubts before, that the international community lacks the courage or conviction to confront its nuclear program.

One reason why our leaders pursued a policy of appeasement toward Iran over the past decade was that they argued, falsely, that the only alternative was a military attack on Iran. Biting sanctions, though, could have and still could work. Of course, a military confrontation with Iran would be devastating for its 70 million people. But allowing the regime to gain weapons of mass destruction could in the end be even more devastating for Iran and the entire region if it triggered a wider war. Engaging the mullahs only had the effect of legitimizing them and extending their brutal reign.

It is time for Europe and the United States to redouble their efforts for winning as broad a coalition as possible for biting sanctions that stand a chance of changing the regime’s behavior. Equally important will be to politically support the opposition and the millions of brave Iranians marching on the streets and demanding change and democracy. Summits in Washington are fine, but Iran is moving much faster than that. So we’d better catch up.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.