But, first, prayers for a speedy recovery to the victim of a shooting at Harvard this afternoon. As a friend was saying at dinner, with our budget being slashed, and now this, it makes us realize we aren't fully sheltered in Harvard bubble separated from the world.
Now, back to part of what I regurgitated for my American Foreign Policy final this morning. The New York Times reported that after meeting with the prime minister of Israel, President Obama (still can't get over that), has set something of a deadline for Iran to comply with his diplomatic overture.
After a delicate Oval Office session with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Obama said Monday that he wants a positive response from Iran to his diplomatic opening by the end of the year and is keeping open “range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions” if it fails to respond.As I learned in AmFoPo, the steps in "coercive diplomacy" are diplomacy -> threat of sanctions -> implementation of sanctions -> threat of force -> demonstrative use of force -> war, and for such diplomacy to be successful requires 4 things. 1) Absolute clarity of acceptable terms, 2) Sufficient domestic support, 3) Sense of urgency, and 4) The target state must be more fearful of escalation than you are. A state must also be willing and ready to carry out all threats made and diplomatic negotiations don't cease during escalation.
Obviously, with regards to Iran, we've jumbled up the process, which perhaps is why we haven't made much progress with them. Soon after our embassy was hijacked in 1979, we cut diplomatic relations (now conducted through the Swiss), skipping negotiations and the threat of sanctions and went straight to sanctions. Fortunately, for us, Iraq under Saddam didn't like the Iranians much either, so during their decade-long war in the 80s, we didn't have to do much to Iran. But with Saddam now out of the picture, Iran's relative power in the region has only grown, and now they feel they can safely pursue nuclear technology, which is their right as a sovereign country under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if used for peaceful purposes (really only to generate electricity) of course, the U.S. and especially Israel fear they mean to develop a nuclear weapon, which is not their right. Of course, to resolve the situation (allowing IAEA inspectors to verify there are no nukes, or getting Iran to abandon uranium enrichment completely) without war, we need to know what they want, but without negotiations (thanks to Bush's stubborness), we don't know. And again, the graf makes it seem Obama is putting the cart before the horse, creating a sense of urgency and threatening escalation before knowing what our acceptable terms are and according to polls, without public support for what could be a military encounter with Iran.
Of course, further down
As for Iran, Mr. Obama said that he was keeping open “a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions” for dealing with Iran if it proceeds with its nuclear program.But maybe the Israel Lobby had them bury that down there.
He said he hoped for progress on his diplomatic opening to Tehran by year’s end but added that he saw no reason to set any artificial deadline.