Monday, May 22, 2006

The Peace Option Is Not On the Table

Is the Bush administration truly committed to resolving the Iran nuclear crisis via diplomacy? Liberal Oasis says no:

How unserious is the White House about a peaceful resolution for Iran's nuclear program?

On NBC's Meet The Press, Sec. of State Condi Rice offered the boilerplate regarding any standoff: keeping the "military option" on "the table" while wanting a diplomatic solution:

RICE: We have a lot of tools at our disposal. We have three tracks.

The U.N. Security Council track, which we will pursue.

We have the negotiating track, which we will pursue -- and by the way, the United States will support that track and support it fully.

And we have the -- whatever states, like-minded states may wish to do outside of the Security Council, with financial measures and the like.

TIM RUSSERT: And a military option as well?

RICE: The president's not going to take any option off the table, but we believe that this is something that can be resolved diplomatically.

In and of itself, that statement is no big deal.

Even most people committed to a peaceful solution can appreciate the bargaining value of nominally leaving the "military option" on the table.

But if you were really interested in a diplomatic solution, you wouldn't take the "peace option" -- assurances that you won't seek to militarily overtake Iran if it relinquishes any effort to obtain a nuke –- off the table either.

Yet over on Fox News Sunday, that is exactly what Rice did.

Rice was asked about a Saturday NY Times report that said the White House was rejecting European attempts to include "security guarantees" against regime change as part of a deal to stop any nuclear weapons program.

While she dismissed any notion of a US-European split in her response, she also said, "security assurances are not on the table."

So, the "military option" is on the table, and "security assurances" are off.

When Rice said on Meet The Press that "the president's not going to take any option off the table," she forgot to mention that doesn't include the peace option.

As noted here before, it is such telegraphing -- that regime change is around the corner – that constitutes a major incentive for Iran to pursue nukes.

A serious effort to defuse the situation would involve taking away those incentives, not making more.

Which means that there is no serious effort to defuse the situation.

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