[Marxism] Why Iran Shares U.S. Spotlight With Iraq

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 16 14:08:56 MST 2006

(Are the Iranians really worried about a rapid U.S. pullout from Iraq? 
That is hardly the impression one gets from reading the coverage.
Why would the Iranians want to U.S. to remain in the Middle East?
They want normalized relations with Washington, not war with it.

Washington is truly trapped in a quagmire in Iraq, which is quite a
bit more reminiscent of the Napoleon or Hitler's attempts to march
into Russia. Internationally, Washington's attempts to isolate Iran
haven't gotten very far. Except for the Israelis, most of the bigger
and more influential countries: Russia and China in particular, have
demonstrated a considerable lack of interest in helping Washington
to threaten Iran. China and Russia are very fortunate now that they
don't have to worry about the "Sorrows of Empire" as in the title of
Chalmers Johnson's prescient book. Iraq is turning out to be much
more than Washington is able to chew, and impossible for the U.S.
to digest. Think of all those permanent military bases which they've
thought they could build and keep in Iraq. They'll be lucky if they're
able to keep a U.S. embassy in Iraq after all is said and done there.
The U.S. will be even more dependent on, and beholden to Israel 
and not everyone in the United States would consider that to be a
"good thing".)

The Wall Street Journal 		

November 14, 2006

Why Iran Shares U.S. Spotlight With Iraq
As Bush Travels to Asia, Pressure
Grows for Direct Talks With Tehran
November 14, 2006; Page A4

WASHINGTON -- Last week's midterm elections were largely about Iraq,
but when President Bush departs for an eight-day Asia swing today,
another country will top his list of concerns: Iran.

How to deter Iran's nuclear ambitions and persuade the country to
help stabilize neighboring Iraq is expected to be a main topic during
Mr. Bush's private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Chinese President Hu Jintao. Russia and China have expressed
reservations about U.S. and European efforts to pass a United Nations
Security Council resolution designed to force Iran to rein in its
nuclear program.

The Bush administration has long ruled out direct talks with Iran
unless Tehran suspends its uranium-enrichment efforts. But the White
House is facing mounting domestic and international pressure to seek
Iranian help in calming the situation in Iraq. British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and Australian Premier John Howard said Monday they were
in favor of talking to Iran and Syria about ways to reduce the
violence in Iraq -- a stance shared by many influential U.S.
lawmakers from both parties.

Calls for direct talks with Iran are likely to increase. The Iraq
Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Republican Secretary of
State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, is
expected to recommend that the U.S. negotiate with regional
powerhouses like Iran and Syria about Iraq, said people familiar with
its work.

Members of the Baker-Hamilton commission met with Mr. Bush and his
top national-security team for the first time yesterday at the White
House. Speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Bush said he was
"impressed by the questions they asked" and looking forward to
reading the group's report. Many say they hope the report, which is
expected next month, can serve as a blueprint for overhauling U.S.
policy in Iraq.

The administration would face tough choices in any potential
negotiations with Iran. Tehran is expected to seek U.S. concessions
regarding its nuclear program in exchange for providing any
assistance in Iraq. Mr. Bush has ruled out allowing Iran to develop
nuclear weapons, so it is unclear what, if anything, the U.S. would
be willing to give Iran in return for its help.

"They would certainly want a quid pro quo. And the question would be:
If they want it, what are we prepared to give them?" said David
Steinberg, a foreign-policy expert at Georgetown University.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed Iran at length with
President Bush at a meeting in the White House yesterday, and Israeli
officials later indicated they thought Mr. Bush would be cool to the
idea of an international conference on the region's problems, even if
the Baker commission recommends such a step. "I don't think we have
to be concerned about an international conference," a senior Israeli
official said later. Israeli officials have always been skeptical
that a large international gathering is a better setting for
resolving the region's issues, arguing that direct talks between
adversaries work better.

White House officials yesterday reiterated that the U.S. would talk
to Iran only if it halts its uranium-enrichment work, citing Mr.
Bush's comments yesterday that his position on Iran "hasn't changed."
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe declined to say
whether the administration expects Iran to seek U.S. concessions on
its nuclear program in return for any assistance in Iraq, or how the
U.S. would respond.

"What we expect Iran to do is stop meddling in Iraq, and to stop
providing weapons there that are used to kill Iraqis and Americans,"
he said.

Mr. Bush is bringing a range of objectives to his Asia trip, which
will take him to Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. The centerpiece is
a three-day stop in Hanoi for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum, where Mr. Bush is scheduled to sit down Sunday with a number
of regional leaders, including President Hu, to talk trade, regional
security, and issues such as North Korea's nuclear program.

Mr. Bush will depart for Asia on a sour note after the lame-duck
Congress failed to pass legislation lifting Cold War-era economic
restrictions on Vietnam and granting the country the same benefits as
other U.S. trading partners in the World Trade Organization. Mr. Bush
had hoped to arrive in Vietnam with the measure in place, but the
congressional setback makes that far less likely. Even if they opt to
try again, supporters of the bill have only a small window of time
this week to get the bill through both the House and the Senate
before Mr. Bush's arrival in Vietnam Friday. (See related article.1)

Still, Iran will cast a shadow over Mr. Bush's trip, as he seeks to
reach consensus with several putative allies over the nuclear
programs of both Iran and North Korea.

For more than two months, the five permanent members of the U.N.
Security Council -- the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia --
have tussled over how to pressure Tehran after it spurned an earlier
U.N. resolution demanding it suspend its uranium-enrichment work, and
persuade it to join talks on the future of its nuclear program.

Negotiations at the U.N. over the issue ground to a halt last week
over Russian objections to a draft sanctions resolution put forward
by Britain, France and Germany. Both Russia and China worry that a
possible hard-line resolution could pave the way for an eventual
military attack on Iran by the U.S. and others. Russia is also
concerned that a sanctions push may turn Iran away from future talks
and spur it to follow the example set by North Korea, which conducted
its first nuclear-weapons test.

Moscow is eager to preserve Russia's lucrative business dealings with
Iran, primarily at the nuclear-reactor project in the Iranian port
city of Bushehr.

China, which considers Iran to be far less important strategically
than North Korea, also is anxious to preserve good relations with
Iran. Iran is China's third-largest supplier of crude oil and an
expanding market for Chinese goods.

Mr. Putin met Saturday with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali
Larijani, as part of a Russian bid to head off international
sanctions against Iran and launch six-country talks that would
include both Iran and the U.S.

Last week's Democratic sweep to take control of Congress, combined
with the anticipated recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, have
led many to conclude that U.S. talks may be inevitable both with Iran
and with Syria, another Iraqi neighbor and U.S. rival.

"There is no alternative to this approach," said Imad Moustapha,
Syria's ambassador to Washington, who said he has met with people
working on the Baker report. "If not today, if not in two months
time, eventually the U.S. will re-engage with Syria. It is
inevitable. And the same goes for Iran."

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