By Geoff Metcalf
October 29, 2007
“I would remind you, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And... moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” ~Barry Goldwater
A constant frustration is the bitter, mean-spirited, spitting match between political rivals that ignores essential national imperatives. Anything that undermines our national security, especially now, is counter-intuitive.
Virtually every significant debate from sanctions against Iran to European missile defense and from abandoning Iraq to China relations ‘should’ be viewed through the lens of national security. Instead, lawmakers, leaders, and political wannabes eschew reason for visceral rhetoric and partisan rancor. KNOCK IT OFF! Our national security is more important than partisan bragging rights in the next election.
We live in turbulent times and yes, foreign policy missteps and personal agendas have only exacerbated an already difficult environment.
The recently announced sanctions against Iran are a big deal and it compels our European allies to increase pressure on Tehran or risk seeing it attacked.
“The principal intention of the announcement was to send a signal as much to the Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians, as well as to the Iranians,” said Karim Sadjapour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think-tank.
European officials have their panties in a bunch over the Bush administration's designation of Iranian agencies and firms as supporters of terrorism and weapons peddlers. Notwithstanding the fact there is an abundance of empirical evidence to corroborate the reality, the p.c. crowd is angst ridden. Some claim sanctions threaten efforts to get Iran back into the diplomatic fold. Get real!
Diplomacy is ‘supposed’ to be a two way street. We have ample experience of recalcitrant adversaries (N. Korea, Iran, China and yeah, Russia) digging into a hard-line position and refusing to even consider any compromise.
Critics like Alex Bigham at the London-based Foreign Policy Center say sanctions “will make things more difficult” and could create a barricade against relations with Tehran. Excuse me, but the most formidable barricade against diplomacy with Iran has been and remains the vituperative rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian sanctions prohibit U.S. business contacts and also deny access to American markets for foreign companies that do business with designated companies in Iran. Despite the whining of European analysts this is a good thing.
The downside (and the hypocrisy of inconsistent foreign policy) is that we don’t impose similar harsh measures against China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Our failure to be consistent is less a function of elastic principles and more evidence of weakness and fear. By the way, that weakness and fear is recognized by geopolitical adversaries and exploited…big time.
To paraphrase the opening Goldwater quote, Extremism in the defense of our national security is no vice…and moderation (and/or equivocation of principles) in the pursuit of national security is no virtue.
European leaders feel compelled to support those who favor sanctions over military threats, yet they are decidedly hinky about compromising their own profitable business ties to Iran.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the new U.S. sanctions as "running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand." Hey Vlad, the U.S. may be the leather clad biker standing in his doorway pumping the slide on his Remington 870 but if anyone is “a madman with a razor blade in his hand” it is the open neck president of Iran.
Britain backs the unilateral U.S. steps and suggests a third round of United Nations sanctions while pushing for strong EU action. Hey, the ‘United Nothing’ has been, and remains, as worthless as mammary glands on a bull.
In the wake of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's call for independent EU action on sanctions to back up President Bush, European leaders are desperate for options. They include banning travel, restricting visas for some Iranian officials, freezing assets and imposing penalties that would target key players in Iran's nuclear program.
Getting support from nations like Germany and Italy (which together had more than $7 billion in exports to Iran last year) will be a tough nut to crack. Berlin already suffered Russia picking up the contracts German companies abandoned for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station; now, European companies fear Russia and China will move in to fill any vacuum created by EU sanctions outside a U.N. framework.
However, Germany wants to make sure sanctions have a chance to work, if only to discourage the alternative prospect of military action. Henning Riecke of the German Council on Foreign Relations said, "If you have too weak sanctions, or if you don't agree to them, you might play into the hands of those in Washington who want to seek a military solution…So to support the supporters of a diplomatic solution, you had better support sanctions."
Meanwhile the usual suspects continue their partisan games of point spreads and opinion polls eschewing the real imperative of national security.
© 2007 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved
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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's
Britain backs the unilateral U.S. steps and suggests a third round of United Nations sanctions while pushing for strong EU action.