The Europeans have been negotiating with Iran since August 2003, and getting strung along the entire time as Tehran tries to extract more “carrots.” Tehran later reneged on its agreement to stop building centrifuges and enriching uranium, but the Europeans continued to negotiate anyway. Now, the Bush administration ? apparently the only international actor serious about ending Iran’s nuclear program ? will have to wait on the sidelines while the EU3 once again buys the mullahs time.
This is interesting language, no? The Bush administration will “have to” sit on the sidelines while the Europeans dither around some more. Have to? What’s more, this sitting around apparently demonstrates that Bush is serious about getting tough with Iran.
And what does Bush’s version of getting tough consist of? Referring the whole issue to the UN Security Council and recommending economic sanctions.
It’s a curious world, isn’t it? If Bill Clinton had been doing the exact same things as Bush ? letting Europe handle direct negotiations, recommending UN sanctions, making occasional tough sounding noises ? National Review would be beside itself with outrage that he had no real plan for dealing with Iran’s gathering threat and was seemingly unwilling to clearly draw a line in the sand. The UN!? Sanctions?! Puh-leeze. That’s Jimmy Carter all over again.
And yet, when this is George Bush’s plan, he’s a hero. Funny, that.
UPDATE: Arms control expert Paul Kerr has more on this. Like me, he’s bemused by the contradictory attitude toward the UN among conservative commenters on Iran. (Unlike me, though, he actually knows what he’s talking about.)