I do appreciate Barone's lack of angst. His refusal to be melodramatic is so refreshing. While other people write the obit for Bush's policy Barone makes some interesting observations.
The foreign minister's concession seems limited. Yet evidently Iran's rulers feel some pressure to indicate a willingness to negotiate. Perhaps they fear the condemnation of "world opinion" if they do not appear to cooperate in the kind of multilateral negotiations "world opinion" always seems to favor. But perhaps they fear something else.
What could that be? Well, take a look at this opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post by Michael Freund, a writer I have not previously heard of. He concedes that Israel may have made blunders in its military action against Hezbollah. But he argues that the biggest blunder was made by the rulers of Iran.
Inevitably, the trouble they have stirred up in the region over the past month is bound to boomerang right back at them.
Indeed, by transferring advanced rockets and weaponry to Hezbollah, Tehran, and Damascus they have just unwittingly proven one of the Bush administration's central contentions regarding the need for pre-emptive action against rogue states in the global war on terror.
The two countries have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to share missile systems with a terrorist organization, thus strengthening the case that they must be prevented from obtaining weapons of mass destruction at all costs.
He goes on to quote George W. Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy last October, in which Bush says that we cannot let evil regimes have nuclear weapons-especially evil regimes that cooperate with terrorist entities.
Through their actions, Iran has just made the case, better than the most eloquent of Washington press spokesmen ever could, as to why they pose a grave and immediate threat to the entire free world with their obstinate pursuit of nuclear weapons. And it is this very same argument, which the Iranians have just unwittingly bolstered, that Bush may one day soon choose to make in justifying the need for possible military action against Iran to stop their drive toward nuclear weapons.
Freund's article brings to mind the words I quoted from former Bush chief speechwriter Michael Gerson earlier this week.
There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement, and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iran--and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a line--someone who says, "This much and no further." At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American "cowboy diplomacy" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
"Cowboy diplomacy," not military action; yet the phrase "cowboy diplomacy" suggests diplomacy with a credible threat of military action behind it. Is this what Iran is responding to now?
I have noticed here of late there have been a number of hysterical headlines out there and the oped writers are all wondering where we went wrong, etc.
When all this started I did not think that in the five years following the attack on the World Trade Center, we would have fewer Americans killed in action than we saw die right here in the United States on that day.
I thought more people would die taking Iraq and Afghanistan. I did not think there would be an elected government in either one of them by now much less both of them. I knew people would fight back. It seems that it comes to some people as a shock to discover that the enemy is just as intent on killing us as he ever he was. I expected it would take a generation to undoe the damage done by eons of neglect and tyranny.
Barone does not whine. He just gives succinct analysis, and I appreciate that. I do wonder however, if the people who are angry at Israel for accepting a cease fire when they did have stopped and thought about how a long protracted war with high casualties might have played out in a divided Israel down the road. We Americans know what that is like.