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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-30-07 03:45 PM
Response to Original message
2. Engage Iran
by Wes Clark

There is no doubt that Iran poses a threat to stability in the Gulf, to US allies in the region, and to our efforts in Iraq. But all of this was perfectly predictable: after all, we knocked out Iran's greatest enemy, Saddam Hussein, and left them the largest force in the region. And now they are, by every indication, seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

But the right response now is to engage Iran diplomatically. Use sanctions against their terrorist elements as a way of underscoring our purpose, but talk, and talk without pre-conditions to explore their interests, understand their motives, and seek some common interests.

Right now the angry rhetoric and saber-rattling is a boon to the most hard-line, anti-American elements in their government. It strengthens their grip, intimidates moderates, and confuses our allies around the world, who want to see Iran's hegemonic aspirations contained without the use of force.

We should send a top level mission into the region, just as Bill Clinton did in the Balkans, and talk to all parties, both inside and outside Iraq. Armed with a statement of principles, some inducements, and a sharp explanation of the consequences of failure, we might well craft some understandings that could help pave a successful US exit from Iraq, check Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, and reassure anxious neighbors.

I reject the use of force at this time. While all agree that Iran should not be permitted to acquire nuclear weaponry, the intelligence that has been shared with me suggests there is still time for a diplomatic initiative, not only to head off their nuclear plans but also to persuade Iran to end its military assistance to militia inside Iraq. Surely the United States will have the wisdom and courage to try diplomacy first, and save the use of force for a last, last, last resort.

I look forward to continuing our dialogue in the comments.

Update : I have to go catch a flight. Thank you for joining me in the discussion. To help stop a dangerous slide into war with Iran, please visit my website
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