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The Wrong Approach to Iran - by Alan Warms

Amazing and unbelievable. On the same day I discover the fantastic Pew Forum Q&A with Princeton's Bernard Lewis, (hat tip Hugh Hewitt) we also get news that the United States has made yet another concession to Iran - agreeing to provide nuclear technology in exchange for the abandonment of weapons programs.

Put aside for a moment the Pew session, we already know from Jimmy Carter and North Korea that this approach doesn't work - it just gives the regime more time, money, and skills to continue to develop nuclear armaments.

What's really galling about this move is that we are in fact rewarding Iran and Ahmadinejad for their complete disregard for the U.N. and the IAEA. As Bernard Lewis said in the Pew Forum transcript, this is precisely the WRONG approach:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Professor Lewis, if this is 1938 -- and I assume your sympathies lie with Churchill (laughter) -- what Churchillian policy would you therefore advocate -- and I'll name three crises -- for the U.S. to follow: one, versus Iran, two, in relation to Hamas and three, in relation to the insurgency in Iraq?

MR. LEWIS: Well, in two simple words: Get tough. I have not suggested that we should launch an armed attack on Iran. I don't think that's necessary. I don't think we should do anything that would either offend or tickle Iranian national pride. We're doing both at the present time. We're offending them by saying you mustn't have nuclear weapons, and we're tickling them by allowing their leaders to present themselves as defying the mighty West, standing alone and successfully defying the United States. I think that's the wrong way to do it. There are other things that one can do to indicate displeasure and to help those there who want a big change.

Have we learned nothing in the 5 years since September 11th? Earlier in the transcript, Lewis compares today to 1938. Every concession we give Iran leads them to believe that we have more concessions to give. We need to get tough, NOW. The problem is for a long time we've said no bilateral negoations with only the U.S., and certainly no concessions ahead of Iranian concessions. We've now given in on both items; thereby completely validating Ahmadinejad's approach, and no doubt shoring up his support in Iran.