Proudly presenting the original English version of Berlin Aspen Institute's Jefffrey Gedmin's article in WELT (Ohne Härte geht es nicht):
If you´re not tough enough, it won't work!
Column in "Die Welt", 06.09.2006 By Jeffrey Gedmin
What are the reasons why President Assad sends terrorists into Iraq? First, he wants to get rod of Syria's Islamic terrorists. Second, they might do some good and kill some Americans. Third, he uses them to show the U.S. that the Americans need Syria if they want to solve Iraq. So some Syrians say.
A friend of mine traveling in Syria recently attended a public trial of a young terrorists. Such trials are apparently open to Western observers, as the regime wants to show that it is cracking down on terrorism. In the middle of the trial, the poor terrorist expressed his confusion and dismay, "How can you try me now", he blurted out, "after it was you who had trained me to do what I do." What a country.
I do not think you need to be a great Arabist or Syrian expert to figure out
something doesn't quite tick right with the Syrian leadership. Common sense ought to compel us all to worry at least a little bit about foreign minister Steinmeyer's grand strategy to coax the Syrian regime into better behaviour through a generous package of aid, trade and diplomatic niceties. It feels like the U.S. government offering Al Capone tax breaks, if only the guy would clean up his act. There is an important rationale behind the Steinmeyer gambit, to be sure. The idea is to split Syria off from Iran, a noble cause if there ever were one. Let's wish Steinmeyer success.
But Syria was always a side show. Iran is the real issue: 70 million people, a young and growing population, plenty of oil and natural gas, ruled by mad Mullahs on a mission. Of course, the President denies the Holocaust and is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. A Czech diplomat friend tells me there is a seal on the floor when you enter the Iranian foreign ministry, emblazoned upon which are the words, "Neither East, nor West, but the centre of the world." Forget about Israel for a moment. It is no wonder that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran's othe other neighbors are not keen to see Iran get the bomb.
The August 31st deadline to comply with UN demands has come and gone, and Kofi Annan and the EU have now told the Iranians they can have more time to think about it. If we ever get real deadline that sticks, I'd suggest we take up the following three things.
First, we need to finally try tough, multilateral economic sanctions. Peace and security trump business and trade. We'll try to craft "smart sanctions," but sanctions are inevitably a blunt (and for this reason a generally instrument of policy). They will hurt the people, not just the regime. We can only hope the a majority of Iranians will then find ways to pressure their rulers to cooperate with the United Nations.
Second, we need a kind of "Sullivan Principles" for Iran. That's what we did with the Apartheid regime of South Africa and it worked. Bad regimes can be shunned. Companies that insist on doing business in Iran should be asked voluntarily and publicly to distance themselves from the policies and practice of the regime. Repression of minorities, stoning of women, calling for a UN member state to be wiped off the map-these might be good places to start. The regime in Iran will hate it. The people will love it.
Finally, we all want to avoid a war. Then let's begin a serious campaign to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities. Let's get key scientists to defect. I am told the human capital is as important as the hardware. I will not mention kidnappings or assassination as policy options. Both would be in breach of international law and we do not want that.