American Enterprise Institute (Sourcewatch profile here)
How can Washington recover from this self-inflicted setback? As a first step, when North Korea presents its list of nuclear programs in 60 days, the Bush administration must be prepared to reject any document that does not include a complete accounting of the HEU program... Only American pressure can keep the issue alive.The pact has been criticized from both right and left, though a number of observers have noted that, given Washington's weak bargaining position, the agreement was the best that could have been expected. The larger problem, as this article explains, is that hardliners like Eberstadt and Griffin have weakened the American position by pushing an approach that has backfired repeatedly. Indeed, there might be no need for this "defeat without a war" - or for similar concessions that may have to be granted to Iran - had neoconservative ideologues not encouraged American policies that have only given "rogue states" incentive to withdraw from negotiations and build up nuclear arsenals as protection from American attack.
The United States might also make any move toward removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism contingent upon the satisfactory resolution of the abductee issue. [...]
Looking beyond the six-party framework, Washington should consider a policy that leverages U.S. strengths against North Korean weaknesses. As North Korea depends on international extortion to survive, the United States should follow Japan's lead and refuse to support the failed North Korean economy until Pyongyang delivers real progress on denuclearization and other issues. Cooperation with Tokyo to increase pressure against Pyongyang's proliferation and counterfeiting activities is a vital measure. And pushing Beijing to facilitate the flow of North Korean refugees though its border along the Yalu River would deliver both humanitarian and strategic dividends.
Western efforts to game the Iranian system, in short, misunderstand the nature of politics in the Islamic Republic. Politicians rise and fall, but the supreme leader’s authority remains supreme. Rhetoric notwithstanding, the president is more figurehead than commander. Factional differences add color to the Iranian scene, and there are nuances in economic and social policies. But politicians do not alter the regime’s ideological underpinnings.The article seems clearly aimed as a rebuttal to those who have pointed out that Iran's hardliners stand to benefit from any American attack. On the contrary, say Rubin and Pletka, there is no substantive difference between Tehran's "reformists" and hardliners, and anyway, "dialogue and the attendant relaxation of U.N. sanctions will strengthen and validate the Ahmadinejad regime." The authors are eager to abandon engagement, and they argue that more dialogue will only get in the way of tougher sanctions:
Those eager to sit down with Tehran say that dialogue does not mean abandoning sanctions. This is hardly serious. Washington has already offered and delivered inducements to the regime--a clear path to World Trade Organization accession and spare aircraft parts--in exchange for behavior modification. In response, Tehran has offered no confidence-building measures. All that remains are direct talks, and even there, Washington has dropped the price from ending Iran’s nuclear program to a temporary suspension of enrichment.The authors do not explain why, as in North Korea, "ratcheting up the pressure" would not merely add to the incentive for Iran to develop nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. Nor do they acknowledge that the "inducements" Washington offered in June 2006 were not rejected out of hand, but because they ignored the security questions at the heart of the Iranian negotiating position. Essentially, Rubin and Pletka conflate the idea of engagement with the Bush administration's current incoherent Iran policy, then offer a false dichotomy between this and a strategy of "ratcheting up the pressure," clearly intended to push the United States and Iran closer to war.
To change course now would signal the impotence of international institutions and multilateral diplomacy. History shows that when the supreme leader believes Western resolve is faltering, Iran will be more defiant and dangerous. Now is not the time to talk. If Washington and Europe truly believe in the primacy of multilateralism and diplomacy, now is the time to ratchet up the pressure.
The United States must push hard for stronger sanctions against Iran, not only at the Security Council but also directly with European and Japanese allies, who have considerable untapped leverage over Tehran. Relying solely on U.N. sanctions, which are likely to be diluted and delayed by Russia and China, will be to too little, too late. Unless the European Union and Japan agree to withhold foreign investment, strategic trade, and technology from Iran, there is little chance that Iran's nuclear ambitions will be stopped, short of war.The article was written after it had become clear that Tehran had ignored the Security Council's February 21 deadline to suspend nuclear enrichment. Phillips argues that the new sanctions under consideration at the UN, while "long overdue," are "far from sufficient to convince Iran's radical Islamic regime to change its behavior." The primary problem, says Phillips, is that China and Russia are likely to use their veto power to limit the strength of any sanctions passed through the Security Council:
Washington cannot depend on the U.N. to take decisive action. Both Moscow and Beijing have a vested interest in protecting Tehran from sanctions that would disrupt their growing economic and military ties.Thus, argues Phillips, the US should organize efforts to "exploit Iran's Achilles heel, its faltering economy." Specifically, American policy should target foreign investment, loans, and technology and trade deals - as well as imposing a travel ban on Iranian leaders. This would be coupled with "public diplomacy programs to explain to the Iranian people the growing costs of their leaders' stubborn refusal to abide by Iran's treaty commitments."