In his Jan. 22 op-ed In the Northern Virginia Daily, Marino de Medici blames the "Jewish lobby" and "pro-Israeli legislators" ("ever the recipients of the influence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu") for working to impose fresh sanctions on Iran. These, he asserts, could undermine crucial confidence-building steps, doom negotiations and reenergize Iranian hard-line elements and their drive to develop nuclear arms.
While I may be further removed from this negotiation than De Medici, my reading and experience lead to different conclusions:
• Iranian-American confidence-building is a tall order, one that hardly justifies our hopes and concessions; Iranian hard-liners are immune to the charms of confidence-building.
• Iran will happily prolong negotiations merely to promote confidence-building in the form of further sanction removals.
• Iranians will sign no agreement preventing Iran's development of atomic weapons. No agreement, for example, will permit "anywhere-anytime"' inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
• The more productive course is to tighten sanctions on Iran, not to relax them; De Medici and our U.S. negotiators should utilize the ominous Congressional and "Jewish lobby" threats as a negotiating stick -- as assets, not liabilities. Time should be running out for Iran, not for the U.S., as De Medici has it.
• We are losing the sanctions game: the Jan. 23 Northern Virginia Daily reports "European businesses rushing to find Iran bonanza." Question: in response to future Iranian obstruction, are western governments, especially our own, prepared to reimpose sanctions they have just lifted? Iran knows that once opened, commercial taps are not easily closed.
• "Most Americans are tired of sending troops to die in the Middle East..." This is De Medici's defeatist, cap-in-hand orientation. Once the Iranians believe, as no doubt they do, that this permeates Washington's diplomatic game, the game is up!
Finally, it seems De Medici has positioned himself to spin the blame; if we fail to obtain a credible Iranian agreement, blame would not be placed where it belongs, on our administration's diplomatic short-comings, but unjustly upon Israel, American Jewish groups and "pro-Israeli legislators!"
Richard W. Hoover, U.S. Foreign Service, retired, Front Royal