Why the Right Hated the Iran Talks
Image Credit: Office of the Iranian President

Why the Right Hated the Iran Talks

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Most of the world reacted with cautious optimism, and some relief, when the April 13 to 14 Iran talks in Istanbul ended on a positive note, with an agreement to hold a second round of more formal negotiations in Baghdad on May 23. World oil prices fell on the news, currency and stock markets in Iran rose, and in the United States, editorial writers and columnists expressed satisfaction that U.S.-Iran tensions appeared to ease.

But not everyone was thrilled. On the right, a chorus of strident voices in Washington and Jerusalem arose to demand that the administration of President Barack Obama avoid anything that eases the pressure on Iran.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and a coalition of hawkish and neoconservative think tanks and policy analysts responded with alarm to the idea that Washington and Teheran might strike a deal.

Their fierce objections, reinforced by allies in Congress and in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are probably strong enough to prevent Obama from making American concessions to Iran in search of a mutual, step-by-step plan to resolve the standoff over Iran’s uranium enrichment program. But make no mistake: what they fear is that an U.S.-Iranian accord, even a shaky one, would tilt the world’s focus away from the Israel-Iran conflict and back to the Israel-Palestine dispute. As Akiva Eldar, a columnist for Haaretz, an Israeli daily, wrote tongue-in-cheek, Netanyahu’s real concern is what Eldar imagined as the prime minister’s lament: “What are we going to do without the Hitler of Tehran? Who will we say is threatening us with a second Holocaust?”

So far, at least, Obama seems undeterred by Netanyahu and his American allies’ rumblings. One day after the Istanbul talks ended, Netanyahu delivered his verdict on the agreement to resume talks in May. “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” he said. “It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.” But Obama responded almost instantly, directly contradicting Netanyahu in decidedly undiplomatic language: “The notion that somehow we’ve given something away or a ‘freebie’ would indicate Iran has gotten something,” said Obama, adding that the onus is on Iran in the next round. At the White House and the State Department, officials delivered surprisingly upbeat assessments of the Istanbul talks in briefings to the media, and, according to the New York Times, in the aftermath of the talks a senior U.S. official said, “We believe there is a conducive atmosphere, but we need to test it.”

But the Wall Street Journal summed up the right’s response to the U.S.-Iran dialogue: “Renewed negotiations between Iran and international powers over Tehran’s nuclear program this weekend already are facing fire from Israel and American lawmakers, who fear the Islamic Republic is seeking to use the revived diplomatic track to forestall additional economic sanctions while continuing to advance its nuclear work.” In Congress, there was agitation for yet another package of even tougher economic sanctions against Iran, and conservative analysts delivered scathing reviews of the talks.

“A careful reading of the history of nuclear diplomacy with Iran…provides little reason for optimism,” opined the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank founded by William Kristol of the right wing Weekly Standard, even before the talks were underway. “Iranian leaders not only have repeatedly used negotiations to buy time as they steadily improve their capability to make nuclear weapons on increasingly shorter notice – but will almost certainly do so again with the planned talks in Istanbul.”

At the American Enterprise Institute, another neoconservative think tank, its chief foreign policy analyst, Danielle Pletka, fretted anxiously that Obama had “signaled” his readiness for a deal with Iran and that Iranian officials, such as Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, envision one as well. And she, too, writing as the talks began, predicted outright failure: “Talks begin tomorrow between the P5 + 1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) and Iran. Today, the P5+1 group is having a prep meeting. Talks with Iran are destined to fail, not because I want them to, but because every piece is in place for failure.”

Comments
6
joan
May 4, 2012 at 08:36

I think the US and the way it has attempted to run the world ‘our way or no way’ is a clear failure.

You don’t negotiate with the US…the US dictates to you.

An attack on Iran will become a global war. Can you say world war 3? The US and it’s allies do not have the conventional military means to bring Iran to it’s knees. And even if they did….what about the rest of the Islamic world?

I am a Christian and I believe these times may well be the end times. Sure seems that way to me.

Duglarri
April 22, 2012 at 15:01

Patrick Clawson’s article is significant in that it demonstrates what would actually happen if a deal was struck. It would by definition be found to be inadequate, as would even regime change in Iran.

Clawson’s position is of course absurd, as any Iranian will explain that the Green movement in Iran would erupt in protest if the Mullahs abandoned civilian nuclear energy under pressure from the west. The Green Iranian movement is fully in support of nuclear power for Iran. It’s nothing but sophistry to suggest that sanctions should be maintained so that a Green-based democratic Iran would emerge that would halt the Iranian nuclear program, and I’m sure Clawson is fully aware of this fact.

Clawson’s position shows that the nuclear issue is and always has been simply an excuse, and even regime change is inadequate for the objectives of the Israelis and the American Right.

If Iranians dismantled and discarded their nuclear program tomorrow, the demands would hardly pause, let alone stop.

There are only two ways Iran could satisfy Israel and its supporters: one would be to accept an Israeli governor. The second would be to convert en mass to Judaism. Short of that, we will not see the end of Israeli enmity for Iran. The very existence of the country outside of Israeli control- in fact, of any significant neighbor not under Israeli or US hegemony- is an unacceptable, existential threat to Israel.

Roger Lafontaine
April 22, 2012 at 13:08

I am afraid that it is becoming obvious that Iran, despite its’ religious objections, has no choice but to develop nuclear weapons due to the constant threats of attack from Israel and its’ agents aka American politicians. I don’t believe that Iran wanted a nuclear weapon program. That idea, indeed that necessity has been planted by Israel and its agents who seem to be so sure that they can actually succeed in committing this crime of destruction of an entire nation that nothing seems to stop them from stirring up and fomenting trouble to achieve their nefarious agenda. The US, Iran and Israel taken together are becoming the ‘axis of destruction’, a threat not only to world peace but to the very survival of life on earth. Who can bring wisdom into this rush to folly ? Obama seems to lack courage, his administration divided, some of whom may actually be engaged in plotting against him to bring about this certain disaster. No one can count on him to stay strong against the tide of hysteria-mongering and back-stabbing that Israel seems to have become in our government.

Mirand sharma
April 22, 2012 at 07:16

Except Ron Paul.

Marv R
April 22, 2012 at 04:24

Time for America’s leaders to put the needs of America first and make peace with Iran. We cannot afford another war. But, if they want to be Israel-firsters, let them renounce their American citizenship and make aliyah. We don’t need any sunshine patriots working for a foreign power.

James
April 21, 2012 at 17:18

The American Wrong, I mean Right, wants a war at all costs. They want to outdo the Democrats in killing foreign people.

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