Commentary Magazine


Re: The Missing W

Commenting on the LA Times interview with IAEA director Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, Shumel Rosner spots the preposterous claim El Baradei is making: namely, that the policy of containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions has failed due to lack of dialogue with Tehran. As Shmuel says,

So now we know: sanctions can’t do the job. Shunning Iran can’t do the job. Trying to figure out ElBaradei’s recipe for success with Iran all comes down to this: the IAEA failed because its strategy wasn’t polite enough. Iran’s still developing nuclear bombs-according to ElBaradei-because the world didn’t ask them nicely to stop.

Seen from Europe, ElBaradei’s claim is even more bizarre than it may look to the American reader. After all, we have been talking to Iran for six years now. We have shifted our red lines constantly to accommodate Iran’s demands, to “understand” Iran’s concerns, to “take into account” Iran’s fears, to build confidence and show goodwill. In the latest offer made to Iran, we’ve even pandered to their vanity, as the offer’s opening statement clearly shows:

Iran is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It’s people are justifiably proud of their history, culture and heritage. It sits at a geographical crossroads. It has vast natural resources and great economic potential, which its people should be reaping to the full.

We’ve given and offered and engaged and dialogued. We’ve resisted U.S. pressure for more sanctions. We’ve insisted on keeping open channels. And we’ve never taken “no” as an answer from Iran–we’ve always gone back to them with more offers, more incentives, more time.

Not polite enough?

Perhaps it should be time to ask ElBaradei whom he is really working for. Because a cursory glance at the relevant documentation shows only the opposite: we’ve been too polite to Iran –which is why Iran is still taking us for a ride.