Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bush administration policy toward Iran: No agreed-upon approach of any kind

Christopher Hitchens, Slate - If you want to know what the Bush administration policy is toward Iran, you will have to keep asking (and if you manage to find anything out, please let me know). After almost five years in office, there is no "go-to" person or department, no strategy in common with allies or with the United Nations, no agreed-upon approach of any kind. One gathers that military options have been excluded, for either regime-change or disarmament, but then one could probably have "gathered" that for oneself.

This appears to leave only two options: either a Nixon/China-style initiative that would try for state-level rapprochement and simultaneous economic and cultural openings, or an aggressive policy of helping internal opposition to the regime. The two might not be mutually exclusive. Millions of Iranians have satellite dishes and relatives in the West; there is a large and restive Kurdish minority that has been much encouraged by developments in Iraq; feminist and other dissident movements are extensive. It is sometimes argued that such groups do not want to be seen or painted as agents of the U.S. government. Very well, then, here is a great project for American human-rights and pro-disarmament and "civil society" groups to undertake. Whatever the case, it cannot be that such a despotic and arrogant regime feels that it can meddle everywhere without any cost to itself.