Iran: Diplomacy Could Succeed Only If Backed By The Threat Of An Attack Without any threat to coerce via military means, negotiations with a hostile power are doomed to fail

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WASHINGTON – Optimistic commentators talking about the upcoming nuclear deal with Iran stress the importance of allowing “diplomacy” to deliver its promised outcome. They say that diplomacy is better than war. For this reason we should try to solve this Iran nuclear problem through negotiations.

Diplomacy has to be backed by force

This is unbelievably silly. In the real world diplomacy about major security issues is never separated from the threat of using military force. In other words, your bargaining power at the “diplomacy” negotiating table changes a great deal if the other side knows that you have the means to obtain what you want by military force, should negotiations fail.

Remember Teddy Roosevelt’s notion about talking softly while carrying a big stick? Well, if you talk softly but have a small stick, or no stick at all, and the other side knows this, they will not be inclined to oblige you in any way. This is not that complicated.

US will do nothing to coerce Iran

And here is the thing regarding Iran. The Iranian leadership is just about certain that the US is not prepared —I repeat, not prepared— to resort to force in order to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, should negotiations fail to reach a deal that will substantially curb the country’s advanced nuclear program.

And this is about all they need to know. What is the penalty for being uncooperative? May be some more sanctions, not universally enforced. But I doubt even that. If negotiations fail, the Iranians will go out in full force to tell their side of the story. “It is all about American arrogance. The Americans threaten the world with their own nuclear weapons. But they will not allow a peace-loving emerging country to develop its own peaceful nuclear program. How horrible!”

Negotiate now, or we shall destroy all your facilities

Imagine instead this scenario. America is completely and totally determined to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, because they have been created with the sole purpose of manufacturing nuclear weapons. The Iranians know that they are about to be attacked and that American overwhelming air power will destroy all their facilities.

But, before attacking, the US President says to Tehran that an attack could be avoided if within 24 hours Tehran will send negotiators to Geneva to set up an internationally monitored timetable unequivocally leading to the immediate dismantling of the entire program.

The Iranians agree. They send their negotiators to Geneva, and the framework for the dismantling process is agreed upon. Well, this is also a solution through “diplomacy”. But of a different kind. This is what used to be called “negotiating from strength”. “I force you to do something that you would rather not do. I can force you, because you know that refusing would bring about very bad consequences”.

No US bargaining power with Iran

Sadly, America has no such bargaining power with Iran today.

Issue one. Washington has proclaimed in every possible way that it would not use force to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.

Issue two. Most analysts argue that America today lacks the military capability to bring about such destruction. For sure, American air power can damage Iran’s nuclear facilities, and therefore delay the program. But it cannot destroy all of them, while an act of war would no doubt cause nasty international repercussions that this US President is unwilling to face.

No will, insufficient tools

So, there you have it. America has neither the will nor the tools to stop Iran’s nuclear programs through military means. Given all this, it takes a real fool to believe that something good and lasting will come out of these negotiations.

As a minimum, the outcome of this “diplomacy” will be to legitimize Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts, while guaranteeing that Tehran, even if in full compliance of a likely deal, will be just one step away from a nuclear weapon.

Use force if diplomacy fails

The problem, let me stress once more, is not that there is something inherently bad about “diplomacy”. The problem is that negotiations with a hostile counterpart can succeed only if our opponent knows that we have the will and the tools to coerce him, should “diplomacy” fail.

Diplomacy without the backing of real military strength and the clear determination to use it is a silly exercise in futility.

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