Braunholtz: U.S. continues to fumble with Iran |

Braunholtz: U.S. continues to fumble with Iran

Alan Braunholtz
Vail CO, Colorado

When a broad swath of media start spouting the same talking points it’s interesting how few bother to learn any argument that might back up those points, instead relying on volume and repetition to substitute for reason.

A recent example is their following of President Bush’s lead on calling anyone who talks to people or governments that are in conflict with us as “appeasers.” Then to shut off all argument, the phrase Nazi Germany is thrown in without any knowledge of the how sand whys of history and that’s that.

Diplomacy is about talking to people, then acting on what you have learned. Without this knowledge you don’t know what leverage you can use to encourage the behavior you desire. The world is a fluid place and situations are constantly changing with a lot of subtle undercurrents “if you’re not communicating then you’re unaware and incapable of influencing these changes through your policies. President Bush’s own Secretary of Defense contradicts his stance by advocating talking to Iran to find out what leverage we may have.

While many of Iran’s leaders’ policies and stances are abhorrent, knowledge never hurts when dealing with a people. Iran’s stance on nuclear weapons is scary but Iran’s leaders can easily sell this to their population as simple security. This is a country that suffered a horrendous war when Iraq attacked it. The world did nothing to stop this act of unprovoked aggression. Iraq used chemical weapons when it started to lose this war in defiance of a United Nations treaty against chemical weapons. Iran showed the world indisputable proof ” pictures of planes, bomb markings, dead troops, etc. ” of these attacks, and despite being a signatory to this UN treaty that was supposed to protect them, no one did anything again.

In fact the U.S. government cynically disputed this evidence, falsely claiming these chemicals belonged to Iran and blew back onto their own troops. No credibility at all, but this idea was promoted enough to muddy the waters so we wouldn’t be embarrassed too much by supporting Iraq and helping provide the chemical weapons. This caused disagreement within the first Bush’s government between those who wanted Iran defeated at any cost and those who saw this use of weapons of mass destruction ” and international inaction ” as a bad precedent.

It’s easier to understand why Iranians may not trust the U.N. or western governments to be honest brokers where their security is concerned and how much hard work it is going to be to convince them to give up their nuclear ambitions. Threats tend to make people rally to the flag even if they dislike their government, and since we’re overwhelmed in Iraq right now, any threats we issue look pretty idle and counterproductive to achieving change in Iran.

The U.S.’s reputation as an honest broker in the Middle East took another dive courtesy of another segment of the same President Bush speech. He basically told Israel that the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza were theirs by divine right because (our) God told Jeremiah that ” a sort of biblical destiny.

Basing your foreign policy on ancient scripture isn’t too smart. Other religions’ holy books say different things and holy books aren’t open to compromise, diplomacy or reason. They’re the original media for repetitive talking points, really, and a dead-end for reasoning that could avoid conflict.

For the president to say such a thing on a trip supposedly to help jump-start the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is mind-boggling as it undercuts the moderates on both sides and makes compromise less likely.

Scarily it does fit in with the evangelical Christian Zionists movement and their beliefs regarding any policies that might get in the way of Ezekiel’s predictions for Armageddon. Check out this link,, for an interesting interview with Pastor Hagee of Christians United for Israel.

Hopefully The Rapture isn’t a part of our foreign policy planning.

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