Quinta-feira, 22 de Novembro de 2007

Triple Entente or Dual Alliance

Professor Raymond Tanter and Thomas McInerney, Lt. Gen. USAF (Ret)


[21.11.07] In 1776, Benjamin Franklin went to Paris as America’s first ambassador to gain support for American independence. Franklin convinced Paris to recognize U.S. independence from Britain and concluded an alliance. Scholar Leo Lemay wrote: “There is no doubt that America would not have won the Revolutionary War against Britain without France's financial and military aid and that Franklin was almost entirely responsible for obtaining that aid.”


Now Washington again needed Paris during the first State visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy to America. Sarkozy’s visit advanced the cause of American-French relations almost as much as the sojourn of Benjamin Franklin. This time around, Paris can play a role in unison with Washington and London, instead of in conflict with London, as during the Revolutionary War. At issue, however, is whether London will join a “triple entente” with Paris and Washington or allow a new “dual alliance” to isolate the British.


On the Bush-Sarkozy agenda was policy on Iran. But Washington cannot solve a growing crisis with Iran on its own and needs assistance from Paris and London to fashion a transatlantic policy. The European Union (EU) maintains leverage over Iran in trade, credits, and investment. EU member states constitute Iran’s main trading partner, with a 35% total market share; the EU supplies 44% of Iran’s total imports.


Both presidents agreed that with the bomb, an Iranian regime driven by aggressive Islamist ideology would create an unprecedented international crisis. So far, however, Iran’s nuclear clock ticks faster than stalled Western diplomacy.


Consistent with the Sarkozy position that, "Iran represents the most important problem on the international scene," on October 25, Washington blacklisted the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its affiliates because of its tasks: save the clerical regime from its opposition, export terrorism and radical Islamism, suppress the Iranian people, and produce nuclear weapons.


Absent a third UN Security Council resolution, France suggested EU members willing to implement sanctions should not wait for others. If the EU, led by Paris, would impose Washington-like sanctions on Tehran, it would make the regime feel pressure of a unified West.


This growing relationship between 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Elysee Palace is encroaching upon the “special relationship” between the White House and 10 Downing Street. Hence, it is essential that London join Washington and Paris in a transatlantic trio to enhance sanctions against Iran, with or without a UN Security Council Resolution or EU consensus.


And to reinforce the diplomatic front, London, Paris, and Washington should look to the Iranian street. Major anti-government demonstrations in protest of gasoline rationing in June indicate that Iran is rife with disenchantment and ripe for coercive diplomacy.


Given growing Iranian instability, consider three options: multilateral diplomacy, unilateral military action, and empowerment of the Iranian people. Empowerment would reinforce diplomacy and make military action unnecessary.


Because Tehran has failed to respond to the diplomatic option, EU emphasis on diplomacy is likely to lead to a nuclear-armed Iran, something the United States will not allow. The more Europe stresses a failing diplomatic option, the more Washington moves toward the military option, which Europe correctly wants to avoid.


On August 27, President Sarkozy said that increasing sanctions while holding out the possibility of dialogue with Iran was the only policy “that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”


For coercive diplomacy to work requires the West gain leverage over Tehran by empowering the Iranian people. Empowerment requires an organized resistance movement in the lead not Western-styled regime change, as in the 1953 UK-USA overthrow of the elected government of Iran. The role the Iranian opposition can play is crucial in an Iranian solution to the dilemma of an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran.


The Iranian parliament-in-exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) are Iranian opposition groups that threaten survival of the extremist regime in Tehran. A study of regime statements by the Iran Policy Committee finds that Tehran pays attention to the MEK 350% more than all other groups combined.


A 16-month review by the United States in July 2004 found no basis to charge members of the MEK in Iraq with violations of American laws, though the group is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Interviews by officials from State and FBI did not produce any basis to indict MEK members. In July 2004, General Geoffrey Miller, then deputy commander in Iraq, announced MEK members as protected persons by the United States, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, providing them new rights.


And because the NCRI is not on the EU list, London and Paris are in a position to convince Washington to remove the NCRI from the State Department list. Indeed, Washington is considering whether to remove the NCRI from its terrorist lists; hence, Sarkozy has an opportunity to help Bush move in the direction the White House is already moving. Now is the time to reinforce unilateral American sanctions against Tehran with a common western approach, led by London, Paris, and Washington, to empower the Iranian people via their opposition groups.


Ambassador Benjamin Franklin would be proud to see President Sarkozy advancing the cause of American-French relations, reinforcing diplomacy, and preventing war by empowering the Iranian people to oppose the unelected clerical regime. Such a move would be consistent with the Benjamin Franklin dictum, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”


Professor Raymond Tanter is a former senior staffer of the National Security Council in the Reagan-Bush White House and is President of Iran Policy Committee. General Thomas McInerney (USAF, Ret.) is former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chair of the Iran Policy Committee Advisory Council.
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