Thursday, May 18, 2006

No alternatives

Fred Kaplan in Slate (recall also this earlier post).
It's ironic that President Bush is now endorsing a diplomatic stance toward Iran so similar to the stance that President Clinton took toward North Korea. When he first took office, Bush so feverishly opposed the Agreed Framework with North Korea in large part because Clinton had produced it.

Yet the convergence shouldn't be so surprising. Bush has been maneuvered into a diplomatic path toward Iran because he has no real alternative. And if the diplomatic task is to lure a hostile regime from the nuclear precipice, there are only so many inducements to put on the table—alternative sources of nuclear energy, economic assistance, political recognition, security guarantees. The Agreed Framework—which took more than 50 nightmarishly difficult negotiating sessions for Clinton's emissaries to conclude—contained all these inducements. If a deal is to be worked out with Iran, it will have to provide them in some fashion, too.

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