Iran is the Key, But Bush Must Open the Door

Is there a course of action that in one fell swoop, would address almost every major problem that the White House confronts in the Middle East? According to this op-ed article from China's state-controlled Xinjingbao [Beijing News], the solution is for the Bush Administration to normalize relations with Iran and accept the Clinton policies that it once rejected out of hand.

By Ju Hung-qi, a Beijing Scholar

Translated By Haywood Ho

September 22, 2006
China -Beijing News - Original Article (Chinese)    



President Bush, the man President Chavez referred to as
'El Diablo,' delivers his speeach to the opening of the 61st
session of the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 19. (above).


—UNITED NATIONS VIDEO: President George Bush's
speech at the opening of the 61st session of the U.N.
General Assembly, Sept. 19, 00:20:50
RealVideo

RealVideo[SLIDE SHOW: Opening of U.N. General Assembly].

—UNITED NATIONS VIDEO: Iran's President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad awaits his turn to speak at the opening of
the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 19,
00:11:40
RealVideo

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad awaits his turn to speak at the
opening of the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly. (above).






President Hugo Chavez Addresses the 61st session of the
U.N. General Assembly. He backed Iran's right to a nuclear
program, and called President Bush a 'tyrant' and a 'liar.' (above).


—UNITED NATIONS VIDEO: Venezuela's President Hugo
Chavez addresses the opening of the 61st session of the
U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 20, 00:23:50
RealVideo

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In Bush's speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 19th, he reiterated his preference for diplomatic means to resolve Iran's nuclear issue and that the United States will not oppose Iran's civilian nuclear plan. But he resolutely objected to Iran seeking nuclear weapons.

Bush has in fact softened his stance against Iran, but nevertheless, he was called "The Devil" by Chavez and was criticized by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Recently, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 54% of American voters agreed that the United States should launch military strikes against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. But on the other hand, on September 16, the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Havana issued a statement supporting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, and believed that Iran's nuclear question could be resolved through diplomacy and peaceful dialogue.

If one reviews America's present policy toward Iran, one can see that its main objective is the downfall of Iran's current regime, and that the nuclear issue is seen as the best lever for accomplishing this task. In fact, Iran long ago made a very simple and direct request of the United States: recognize Iran and normalize relations. To achieve this purpose, Iran, just like the U.S., is using the nuclear question as a lever. During the Clinton era, the nuclear question was never as intense or sharp and was almost ignored by the two countries. But high-ranking Bush Administration officials were unwilling to continue this, and jettisoned the policy of their predecessors, making a fresh start.

Iran has been forced into a corner and the Americans, remembering Khatami's reformist policies, have asked him to act as a go-between to address the outstanding issues. But it is precisely the Bush Administration's policies over previous years, of isolating and sidelining Khatami and his reformist policies, which forced Iran's voters to select a hard-line president.

The Bush Administration's greatest concern is that if Iran continues on its present course, there is precious little that the Americans can do. Instituting effective sanctions against Iran, let alone unleashing another war, will be very difficult. And it's not because Bush's Administration doesn't want to attack, it's just that right now, it can't handle another war.

Although the likelihood remains slim, we must pay attention to the possibility that Bush may yet emulate Clinton, and in his final years in office ease relations with Iran. Because of Iran's role and stature across the entire Middle East, when Bush entered office Iran wanted to reintegrate itself into the international community and favored an easing of relations with the U.S.

There is little chance that the next U.S. administration will begin a war with Iran. There is in fact a good chance that a new Democratic Party government will institute a large-scale moderation of American policy. Even if it is a Republican administration, it wouldn't be foolish enough to ignore the difficulties of its present circumstances. The dilemma within which the United States finds itself must be solved somehow, and one of the ways is to make use of Iran's influence. In fact, locking horns with Iran is not in the American interest at all, benefiting only a small number of special interest groups and conservative religious organizations.

If five years ago, starting in 2001, the U.S. had continued with the Clinton Administration's policies, the terrorist ideology now confronting the United States would be far less virulent and "9/11" would not have occurred or would have been delayed; America and the Islamic World will not now be confronting one another; the American and British publics would not now need to live under such strict security; and America would not be caught in its current Middle East quagmire. Furthermore, relations with Iran would not in the present state of frigid stalemate and Palestinian-Israeli talks would have continued to make progress.

What a pity that the U.S. government was replaced, and changed so many of the good policies of the previous administration.



[China Daily, China]


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Presently, Iran has taken a more moderate position. But realistically, even if Iran hadn’t moderated its position and continued on a hard-line course, there is nothing the United States could do about it. Since the Iraq War, the American President and his secretaries of State and Defense have expressed many tough words, but what good has come of it? Iran may soon harden its stance. Talks between Iran and the U.N. are beginning to bear fruit, which means Iran could persist in its strategy of stalling until the Bush Administration comes to its senses.

The most effective way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue is for the U.S. and Iran to hold direct talks and to negotiate a normalization of ties. This would help solve many of the important questions that the United States confronts in the Middle East. Iran's influence on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Hezbollah is well known. Many American experts have repeatedly urged the government to change its policy toward Iran, and to use Iran to overcome the many predicaments the U.S. confronts.

But it seems that Bush simply won't listen.

Chinese Version Below

美伊冷战仍将持续

2006-9-22 \ · 来源: 新京报

日前,在919日的联大讲话中,布什重申用外交手段解决伊朗核问题,不反对伊朗的民用核计划,但坚决反对伊 朗谋求研制核武器。布什实际上已经软化了对伊朗的立场,但仍被查韦斯称作“魔鬼”,并受到伊朗总统内贾德的批驳和抨击。而此前不久,美国《华尔街时报》和 美国全国广播公司进行的一项新的民调表明,54%的美国选民称,如有必要,美国应当对伊朗发动军事打击以阻止其获得核武。而对立的一条消息是,不结盟运动 国家领导人916日在哈瓦那发表联合声明,支持伊朗和平利用核能源,并相信伊朗核问题能够通过外交与和平对话的途径得到解决。

  回顾美国对伊朗政策,其重要目标是想把伊朗的现政权倒掉,核问题作为突破口比较合适。实际上,伊朗长期以来对美国的要求很简单直接:承认伊朗, 与美国实现关系正常化。核问题也是伊朗争取这一目标的手段而已。伊朗核问题在克林顿时期没有现在这样激烈和尖锐,甚至在两国关系中可以忽略不提。但布什政 府的大员们就是不愿意这样做,而是推倒前任的对伊朗政策,另起炉灶。

  伊朗被逼迫到墙角,现在美国人想起哈塔米了,请他发信号解围。但前些年孤立哈塔米的改革政策、把他弃置一边,迫使伊朗人民选择强硬总统的正是布什政府的大员们。

  即便伊朗继续我行我素,恐怕布什政府也奈何不了什么,推动制裁伊朗都很难做到,更别提发动战争了。对伊朗的战争要打起来很难,不是布什政府不想 打,实在是因为打不动了。倒是要注意一个动向:布什有可能模仿克林顿,执政后期突然大幅度缓和与伊朗关系,尽管可能性目前看还不大。因为伊朗在整个中东的 地位和作用太重要了,伊朗本来就有与美国缓和建交的强烈愿望,以融入国际社会。

  美国下届政府对伊朗发动战争的可能很小,倒很可能回归民主党政府的大幅度缓和政策。即便是共和党政府,也不会再愚蠢到对当前的困境视而不见,困 局总要设法摆脱,而摆脱办法之一就是借助伊朗的影响。其实,与伊朗“顶牛”不符合美国的利益,只符合美国一些利益集团和宗教保守势力的利益而已。

  追溯过去5年,如果2001年美国政府延续前政府的政策,恐怖主义不会与美国如此对立,也不会这样猖獗,“9·11”或许不会发生,或者延缓发 生;美国与伊斯兰世界不会如此对立;美国和英国公众不会生活在如此严密检查的社会氛围中;美国在中东决不会陷进当前的泥潭,更不会把与伊朗的关系搞得如此 糟糕僵持;巴以和谈继续取得进展……可惜,政府更换了,更要命的是政策方向背离了前政府的轨迹和许多可取之处。

  目前是伊朗做出了一些缓和姿态。但进一步讲,即便伊朗没有缓和姿态,继续强硬,美国也基本无可奈何。从美国总统到国防部长到国务卿,狠话都不知 放过多少遍了,伊拉克战争后,哪个狠话实现了?伊朗很快又会强硬的,伊朗与欧盟日前的谈判已经取得进展,伊朗很可能利用战略空当,一直这么执拗下去,直到 布什政府到站。

  其实,解决伊朗核问题最有效的方法是:美国与伊朗直接谈判和对话,商谈关系正常化问题,则美国在中东面对的许多重大问题可能因此而解。伊朗在这 个地区,在伊拉克,在阿富汗,对叙利亚黎巴嫩以及真主党的客观影响,是众所周知的。美国的许多专家早就呼吁过多次,要求政府改变对伊朗的政策,利用伊朗解 决现在的诸多困境。但布什听不进去。

  齐云鸿(北京学者)