Saturday, January 29, 2005

Soft Heads for Soft Power

The Europeans complain that we are successfully pressuring European companies not to do business with Iran. I am reassured by this news. Not so the European (and I imagine the European at heart):

In turn this is making it harder for Europe to offer Iran economic incentives to persuade it to abandon nuclear processes that could be used to build weapons.

"They're being pressured by Washington. Major European companies are unwilling to deliver," an EU diplomat said. "This means we really have no incentives to offer Iran at this point."


Among these incentives, the EU's "big three" have promised to help Iran cut deals with EU firms in civilian nuclear, aeronautic, telecoms and other industries.

European diplomats complained about the U.S. increasing pressure on trade just as the European governments were trying to persuade Iran to accept economic incentives.

I am regularly stunned by the Europeans. Just how hard do they really think it would be to get the Iranians to accept bribes ("incentives") for a hollow promise not to build nuclear weapons? The Iranians will build the casings, enrich the Uranium, design the warheads, perfect the missiles, and machine every bolt that puts it all together--all without violating the pledge not to "build a nuclear weapon." And the mullahs will exploit all these incentives to grow stronger. Meanwhile the Europeans will sail along in their peaceful ignorance, getting mad at Americans for pointing out the Iranians are doing all these component things.

Then, when the agreement is no more use to the Iranians, they will nullify it. They will claim some minor infraction or willsimply assert their right to nuclear weapons.

The Iranians mullahs want nuclear weapons and no amount of incentives will persuade them not to build them. How the Euros can convince themselves that they only need to make the bribe large enough and the mullahs will see reason and cancel nuclear plans is simply beyond my powers of comprehension.

The Europeans ignore the threat of Iran while Iran single-mindedly pursues nuclear weapons. The ability of the Europeans to march toward self-destruction with policies that defy rational calculations of costs and benefits is matched by the Iranian ability to do the same.

It will be interesting to see how an agreement born of two such reality-defying outlooks.

"Interesting" meaning how difficult it will be for the US and our allies to correct these two monumental errors in calculations.

In a few months, our Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be filled to capacity. After that, we may feel more free to act to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat. I guess it all depends on the comfort levels of our estimates of how long it will take for the mullahs to get their fingers on the nuclear button.