A Good Move On Iran, A Bad Ambassador For Iraq
Allow me to give the Bush Administration their due in realizing they needed to make a change in how to deal with Iran and still have international support. Yesterday, in a backtrack from the PNAC Neanderthal policies of Dick Cheney and the cabal, the administration decided to endorse a "carrot and stick" approach to Iran as suggested by the Europeans. Bush ditched the "my way or the highway" hard line approach which had been the policy up until this week, which the Iranians and everyone else in the region knew was all bluster since we don’t have the military means to threaten Iran anymore with 145,000 troops pinned down next door in Iraq. Sure, we could have allowed the Israelis to launch a strike with little effect on Iran’s program, which would have led to even more trouble for us in Iraq. But Bush decided to let the Europeans have their chance at negotiating with the Iranians, even allowed them to dangle WTO membership in front of Iran, and wait for an answer until after Iran’s elections in June. Even if the Iranians do as I expect and blow this off and botch it, at least Bush will then have the support of the Europeans for stronger multilateral measures through the UN.
And as smart as Bush was in changing course on Iran, a good thing can’t last forever. At the same time Bush made a good decision on Iran, he signaled his true intentions for the future of Iraq when he decided to reassign our current Afghanistan ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a good friend of Cheney and Wolfowitz, to be John Negroponte’s successor as our ambassador in Baghdad. Khalilzad wasn’t exactly doing a bang-up job in Kabul, given that our "liberation" of that country only extends to Kabul, the Taliban are making a comeback, and opium has returned as the cash crop of our new ally. But Khalilzad wasn’t put in Kabul to rebuild the country; he was put there to finish the job he tried to do a decade ago when he worked for Unocal of securing pipelines through Afghanistan so that American companies could profit from the gas and oil reserves of Central Asia. Now with limited success from his time in Kabul, Khalilzad can spread his magic to the big prize of securing American control over Iraq’s oil for his former employer and their industry competitors. But we’ll have to see if the new Iraqi government, now with its Shiite and Kurdish leadership soon to be in place, will let Khalilzad grab the oil or hold onto it for themselves and the benefit of the Iraqi people. For that matter, we’ll have to see if they let the Pentagon finish the military bases that we plan to use to intimidate the Iraqis and their neighbors with.