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“Conflicting Signals” for the Easily Confused

Tuesday, June 6, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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So the Iranians got an offer sheet, and are off to “study” it. The AP reports on some details:

The incentives package offers economic and political rewards if Tehran relinquishes domestic uranium enrichment, which is used to generate power but can also produce weapons-grade uranium for nuclear warheads. It also contains the implicit threat of U.N. sanctions if Iran remains defiant.

In a breakthrough last week, the United States agreed to join in multinational talks on the package.

Details of the basket of perks and penalties have not been made public. But an earlier draft shared in part with The Associated Press offered help in building nuclear reactors and a guaranteed supply of fuel as well as an offer to supply European Airbus aircraft for Tehran’s civilian fleet.

Diplomats revealed Monday that Washington has sweetened the offer originally drawn up by France, Britain and Germany by saying it will lift some bilateral sanctions on Tehran such as a ban on Boeing passenger aircraft and related parts if Iran agrees to an enrichment freeze.

One of the diplomats also said Washington would be prepared to take some ”dual-use” technology off its banned list of exports to Iran. The term is used for products and material that have military as well as civilian uses. The diplomat declined to go into details.

Iranian officials have sent conflicting signals on the initiative, reflecting a possible struggle within the leadership on how to react. Additionally, the U.S. offer to join in direct talks with Iran might have taken Tehran’s top officials off guard.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, normally a hardline critic of the United States who insists that Tehran has a right to enrichment, said over the weekend that a breakthrough in negotiations was possible and welcomed the U.S. offer to join talks, while rejecting preconditions.

But threats by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to disrupt the world’s oil supply if Tehran is punished over its nuclear program reflected Tehran’s nervousness.

Although other Iranian officials have repeatedly ruled out using oil as weapon, his comments propelled oil prices to $73 a barrel Monday. Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The coalition-of-the-easily-confused-by-conflicting-signals will no doubt be studying below the fold paragraphs of editorials in the Qum papers in search of some new “conflicting signals” for use in insisting that the Iranian leadership can indeed be trusted and does indeed desire to negotiate away its nuclear ambitions.

The same proponents of negotiations with ourselves will ignore all the evidence concerning Iran’s leadership that doesn’t fit their Western understanding of appropriate behavior by governments.

It is in this refusal to admit into their closed systems any information that does not fit within approved Council on Foreign Relations seminar rules that disables their otherwise fine minds from producing rigorous analysis of the Iranian crisis.

Here’s an example of out-of-the-Harvard-box thinking that while failing to persuade nevertheless does at least provide a coherent rationale for doing nothing in the face of bizarre behavior from the fanatics of Iran.

As for me, I remain old-fashioned and credit senior leaders of hostile powers with sincerity when they speak threats against the United States. This radical approach to foreign affairs is often deprecated by those who, decades ago, passed through Tabriz on their way to the Kars-Kagizman-Erzurum district to buy rugs.

But it does have the advantage of avoiding the sort of surprise that can kill Americans or Israelis or Europeans by the millions.

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