Washington Undermining Itself on Iran Nukes

Big powers lose valuable influence when they make themselves look foolish.

Tokyo is playing a very cautious, low-keyed game to mediate between Tehran and Washington, trying to remain solidly in Washington’s good graces while working to resolve the nuclear dispute. Ankara is working toward the same compromise solution but with far more of a public display of confidence, seeking not just to minimize the conflict but to fill the missing middle in a Mideast characterized by extreme positions. Both regimes are offering to provide temporary storage for uranium that would be traded between Iran and the West.

Now Brazil, like Japan a nuclear-knowledgeable power without the bomb, is instructing international neophyte Hillary Clinton on how to conduct a diplomatic campaign with a bit more finesse than she has so far demonstrated. The three distinct styles come from countries with different side interests but a common desire to achieve a compromise that leaves Iran as well a “nuclear-knowledgeable power without the bomb”—exactly the position Iran claims to aspire to.
If Washington thinks that public humiliation is the way to isolate Iran, perhaps it should think again. These are core pro-Western established or rising powers with a record of international moderation. Slavish obeisance to right wing Israeli expansionists who cannot tolerate the thought of an independent and defiant Iran is making Washington look foolish and amateurish. That is a dangerous perception for the world to have of its last superpower.
Hillary should go back to working on that other key Obama project – health care – and Obama should find a seasoned diplomat (or at least an open-minded thinker) free of any Likudnik taint to construct a quiet global (i.e., not “white industrialized”) coalition for a moderate path forward on the nuclear dispute with Iran.

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