Originally created 06/05/06

Diplomacy first

As they say in the Internet age, bookmark this page.

If Iran fails to heed diplomatic pressure and repeated warnings and continues to develop nuclear weapons technology - and yet another coalition must consider force at some point in the future - you'll want to remember this development:

The United States last week offered to join European representatives at the negotiating table with Iran for the first time in 27 years, in an effort to reach an agreement that would stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"Iran now has another path," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

"I believe that it's important that we solve this issue diplomatically," said President George W. Bush, "and my decision today says that the United States is going to take a leadership position in solving this issue."

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called the offer "the strongest and most positive signal of our common wish to reach an agreement with Iran."

Bookmark this page, because if and when the shooting does start several years from now, you'll have this as a reminder of the fact that the civilized world, including the United States, went the extra mile to prevent hostilities while fighting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Sadly, China and Russia have steadfastly refused to join in the fight. Both countries oppose the use of economic and political sanctions against Iran, should Tehran refuse to stop uranium enrichment activities.

The U.S. gesture could not be more profound. President Bush deserves high praise and lasting appreciation for reaching across the 27-year abyss left by the Islamic revolution of 1979. The gesture is all the more noteworthy due to the Bush administration's hard-line reputation.

It's a reputation that's not completely fair: Saddam Hussein invited hostilities after more than a decade of nuclear cat-and-mouse, refusals to cooperate with weapons inspectors and blatant violations of terms of his 1991 surrender - including a regular dose of shooting at U.S. planes enforcing no-fly zones in Iraq.

Still, maybe the administration's hard-line reputation isn't all bad. It tends to get a little respect - from Libya, for instance.

Let history show that the United States is going to the ends of the Earth to avoid hostilities with Iran.

But recent history, anyway, shows the United States means business.


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