This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat
To answer Peter Beinart’s question. The neoconservative idea of diplomacy is blackmail. “Give us everything we want and we won’t destroy you, or we’ll tell you we won’t destroy you.” As the saying goes, Iran may be crazy, but they’re not stupid. Of course they would expect to get something out of giving up their nuclear weapons program. Just as South Africa did, Libya did and Ukraine did. But lets say Saddam Hussein let the weapons inspectors into Iraq in 2002-03. And of course they would’ve found nothing, because as it turns out that program was eliminated in 1998-99. Would’ve the Bush Administration decided not to invade Iraq after discovering that there were not WMD, or nuclear weapons program to be found? Perhaps they wouldn’t have believed the reports, or bothered to even look at them.
President Obama, simply wants to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran a known terrorist state from obtaining a nuclear weapons program. That is his only goal here. He doesn’t have some idealistic utopian fantasy that he can remake Iran and the broader Middle East from a region of authoritarian states and turn them into liberal democracies. With President George W. Bush unlike his father H.W., G.W. wanted to remake Iraq. And he started with eliminating Saddam and his regime from Iraq. But he also had vision that other countries would follow our lead in Iraq and become democracies as well. Well twelve years later, sure Iraq looks better when it comes to freedom and democracy. But its Arab neighbors and Persian neighbor Iran doesn’t. If anything Iran looks worst today.
When you’re simply trying to get something from someone, or get them to try to behave better and you have economic leverage on them, all you have to do is convince them why it’s in their best interest cooperate. You don’t have to try to destroy them, or even threaten to destroy them to try to accomplish that. You show them why it’s in their best interest to improve their behavior. That is the difference between President Obama when it comes to Iran and President George W. Bush when it comes to Iraq. President Obama, is not looking to remake Iran. President Bush wanted to create a new Iraq and even broader Middle East even by force. And that is the main difference between the two President’s when it comes to the Middle East.
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