In Iraq and Europe, the perils of nice

For eight years, Europe — and many progressives in the US — lamented the Bush Administration’s unilateralist approach in the Middle East.

It was ‘shoot first and ask questions later.’ And with the exception of Great Britain’s Tony Blair, European and UN leaders hated it.

But now the Obama Administration is floundering as it looks to use diplomacy and multilateralism to advance important goals, including the end of Iraq’s nuclear program.

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that diplomatic outreach “has produced very little in terms of any kind of a positive response from the Iranians.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has played an important role in monitoring Iranian nuclear ambitions.

But international organizations — and European powers — have done little to help pressure the Iranians into compliance.

At stake here are two important principles: First, the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to emerge as a nuclear power.

Also vulnerable is the idea that diplomacy, sanctions, and popular pressure can work when America’s military might isn’t in play.

How can we make progress? A good place to start would be filling Europe’s streets with protesters and vigils.

Peace groups on the Continent once raised hell over the U.S.’s nuclear plans. They should do the same over Iran’s infinitely more dangerous ambitions.

If Tehran feels truly isolated — by Europe, China and Russia — maybe, finally, real talks will resume.

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