Thursday, June 01, 2006

To My Friends on the Right

To my conservative friends on the right who don’t like the idea of American talks with Iran, let me just say this: We cannot bomb them before we talk to them.

The American body politic won’t permit it.

I am not against bombing Iran if that’s what it will ultimately take to stop these crazy theocratic thugs from making nuclear weapons. And, I would prefer tough financial and economic sanctions to precede a military response.

But the key point is that the American public will demand diplomacy. I don’t care about Western European opinions; nor do I care one wit about the so called, “Arab Street.” But I do care about supporting our military here at home, and that is one reason why I am in favor of direct Iranian diplomacy.

I also believe we should attempt, in good faith, to strike a trade and investment deal, along with strict weapons restrictions and inspections. I am convinced by the arguments of my friend Tom Barnett, who is a brilliant out-of-the-box defense thinker. Barnett believes that connectivity is vitally important, even in the darkest corners of the world.

And I recall, frankly, that when Ronald Reagan started a dialogue with Mikhail Gorbachev, he was heavily criticized from many on the right. We know how that conversation ended.

Again, let me repeat: if bombing is the ultimate endgame to stop these Iranian thugs, then so be it. But we have much work left to do before we get to that point. And part of that work must be to persuade an American public, which, regrettably, has soured on Iraq for a number of reasons, some good, some not so good.

But the reality is that we need to talk to Iran first.