Charles has this slightly wrong, actually. Whatever Kerry’s advisors were saying at the time, public perceptions of Democratic weakness would have made him think twice before trying something so craven as president. As with Nixon and China, only Bush has enough anti-Islamist cachet to appease Islamists so nakedly.
But then, if they’re going to be getting centrifuges anyway, who cares which country’s flag is stamped on the side?
Details of the proposals have not been made public, but an early draft indicated that if Iran agrees to abandon uranium enrichment, the world would offer it help in building nuclear reactors, a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel and European Airbus aircraft.
The European offer of light-water reactors meant for civilian nuclear energy purposes was revealed last month, but there had been no previous suggestion that the Americans would also agree to help build Iran’s civilian nuclear program if Tehran freezes enrichment and agrees to negotiations.
Bush has nothing to lose by doing the deal because if he doesn’t, Germany will. If Germany doesn’t, Russia will, etc. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma, and like all prisoner’s dilemmas it’s made possible by the disunity of the participants (read: the west). Some on the left will ignore that and blame our lack of strategic options on Iraq, but if we weren’t there most of them would oppose a military strike on Iran anyway. It’s no different from when they whine about why we haven’t captured Bin Laden: they’re unwilling to accept the consequences of the action they prescribe — invading Pakistan and risking all-out war with a nuclear-armed country — but it’s a clever-sounding little “gotcha” against Bush so they use it anyway.
To borrow a phrase, with great multilateral power comes great multilateral responsibility. An Iranian version of Operation Desert Storm would solve the problem, but how many nations would be willing to contribute troops? Iran’s Arab neighbors and its European “partners in peace” are threatened as much as we are, so why is it America’s and/or Israel’s responsibility alone to rise to the occasion if need be?
Anyway. No wonder Ahmadinejad was so anxious to publish the secret American offer. Think how many other countries will have a lightbulb moment once they find out they too can have reactors of their very own.
Update: Khomeini’s grandson wants war. But it’s not what you think…
Update: I think Jon Henke’s kidding himself, but he’s always worth reading.