Sunday, February 20, 2005

Perle on Iran

Nathan Gardels interviewed Richard Perle for the San Diego Union-Tribune on US-Europe relations, the situation in Iraq, and the problems posed by Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. Perle's remarks are in contrast to Kissinger's cited below, which incidentally appeared in the same paper last week.

Perle argues for giving real support -- "political, moral, and materiel" -- to Iranians pushing for democratic change. He also hopes that Iraq will serve as an example to its neighbors and that political broadcasts from Iraq will make their way into Iran, teaching the Iranians about democratic politics. Perle speculates that a democratic Iran would not be seeking nuclear weapons so eagerly, and concludes that "[i]f the only way we can prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon is to take military action against their production facilities, then the US must do so."

Kissinger might view this last remark as being in accord with the part of his framework that sanctions "pressure" against regimes. But as Jacob points out, this would only be a short-term solution. However necessary it may to take out Iranian reactors, we don't have any "carrots" to offer regimes of this character over the long haul without compromising our principles and undermining our credibility. And the problem is not that Kissinger is simply more willing to compromise principle or be more Machiavellian (as that term is popularly understood). It's that his "realist" framework may not allow him to understand reality as clearly as Perle. You miss a lot when you neglect to consider the internal character of regimes. From Kissinger's framework, Perle's most shocking remark is not that we may have to attack Iran or apply "pressure" but that a more liberal and democratic Iran is a more peaceful Iran.

One disappointing thing about this interview is that it doesn't raise the question of Putin and how to deal with him.


Post a Comment

<< Home