Saturday 26 July 2008

Europe and Iran - a protracted and barren monologue

The ever hopeful Europeans persist in their belief that a dialogue with the Tehran bazaris has already/will eventually bear fruit.
Martin Doerry and Henryk M. Broder interviewed Dutch author Leon de Winter "about his new novel, which is set in 2024, the threats mounting against Israel and the assimilation of Muslims in Europe" for Der Spiegel:

"SPIEGEL: The Europeans are trying to mediate in the conflict between Iran and the West. They keep returning to the negotiating table to prevent a possible nuclear threat against Israel…

De Winter: ... but what good does it do? Remember the so-called troika, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK: Joschka Fischer, Dominique de Villepin and Jack Straw. They flew to Tehran and back, drank tea and coffee with Iranian politicians and negotiated over the Iranian nuclear program. Imagine that: three respectable European intellectuals negotiating with guys who grew up in the Tehran bazaar and would sell them their own watches! That's the kind of results that it produced. They told us that they had pursued a constructive dialogue but had not yet attained their objectives, and so they said that negotiations had to continue … And these three educated, sensible, and critical European intellectuals went along with this! And then, in the fall of 2003 -- in other words five years ago -- they held a press conference: We've reached our goal! Actually, nothing has happened, no agreement, absolutely nothing.

SPIEGEL: What do you think the Europeans are doing wrong?

De Winter: They are chasing illusions. At the time, I met Fischer during a reception at the headquarters of Springer Verlag (publishing house) in Berlin, and he came to me and asked: "What do you have against me? Why do you write such negative things about me?" I said: "I have placed so much hope in you, but you have disappointed me." And he was really taken aback. I tried to explain the situation to him. He had to be told that the Iranians weren't taking him seriously; they were making a fool of him. Fischer's response to this was that we had to pursue a dialogue and return to the negotiating table again and again.

SPIEGEL: But Fischer was right. What would have been the alternative?

De Winter: We could have told them: If you don't stop, we'll wipe you out!

SPIEGEL: You can't really mean that.

De Winter: Yes, I really do. I would have told the Iranians that if they don't halt their nuclear program today, we'll put the fear of God into them tomorrow. And they would have stopped because that's a language they understand. You can't go to these people and say: "Listen, if you renounce generating nuclear power, we'll help you produce something else. And if you don't do that, well, we'll be very, very sad." "Okay," is definitely what the guys in Tehran would say "That's a threat that we take seriously, and we'll meet your demands." What a ludicrous idea.

SPIEGEL: That is, with all due respect, the slightly simplified worldview of a novelist who lives in nice, little Holland and doesn't have to make such decisions. A foreign minister has responsibilities and has to be more cautious in his judgments.

De Winter: But we know who we are dealing with here. These people pursue their objectives with all possible means. If we wait to see what happens, then we have already accepted their ground rules. We are placing our fate in the hands of fanatics and fundamentalists. When you deal with diplomats from Iran or politicians from the Middle East, you cannot act as if you were dealing with the state governor of Hesse or Bavaria! It's another world. You cannot negotiate without threatening to use force, especially if you want to prevent the development of nuclear arms by people who are practically longing for the apocalypse."

Read the whole piece : 'The Europeans Are Chasing Illusions'

1 comment:

Ben Heine said...

Menahem Macina,

I wasn't aware of the comments' content below this drawing :
You're such an unfair person. I really start to become upset by you. I know and cherish values of Peace and Justice. I'm not an antisemite. The only thing you try do is to censor people around you who do not share your views. I'll have my revenge, don't worry. If needed, I'll write an illustrated book, explaining the truth about what I did and why I did it.

I do not share AT ALL the content of the racist and negationnist comments under this drawing and the other ones. The purpose of this specific image was political and showed what had been reported in the news. I'm NOT an antisemite. May Peace, justice and mutual respect happen in Israel/Palestine.

Stop harassing me

Ben Heine