Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Praise Canada?

Eli Lake, The New York Sun:
Here is a sentence I thought I would never write. America could learn a thing or two from Canada on how to deal with Iran.

Canada? A country the Hollywood left toyed with as a refuge from President Bush's America during the 2004 election; a nation whose foreign policy until recently has elevated the tactic of multilateralism to a first principle; the northern neighbor that got bullied a few years back by French speaking separatists into reducing the font size of English words on signs in Quebec's storefronts.

Well, last week, Canada's leaders showed the kind of spine now missing from a Bush administration content with its predecessor's approach to pending threats. When word reached Ottawa that Iran's delegation to the Human Rights Council in Geneva included a man who complied in the murder of a Canadian citizen, Canada's foreign minister tried to have him arrested. Peter MacKay began ringing up his European counterparts to find out if Saeed Mortazavi might be detained in the Frankfurt, Germany, airport and extradited to Canada where he might explain in a court of law how in 2003 he imprisoned photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, where soon after she was beaten to death.

He did not succeed, but last Friday, Mr. MacKay made it clear that the Iranian Torqemada should plan his travel to the civilized world carefully. "Mark my words, this individual is on notice," he said. "If there is any way that Canada can bring this person to justice, we'll do it." READ MORE

Mr. Mortazavi deserves incarceration. As prosecutor general, he has enthusiastically carried out the criminal work of the mullahs. He not only sent a Canadian photographer and journalist, Zahra Kazemi, to the prison where she was raped and murdered, but he also cleared the thugs that two independent commissions found to be responsible. The prosecutor is believed to have closed 100 independent newspapers in Tehran and has prosecuted numerous dissidents and political reformers, including Akbar Ganji and, more recently, the philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo.

Mr. Mortazavi's dossier is petty compared with his bosses. Canada's example could inspire the Germans to reopen the investigation into the 1992 gangland-style assassination of Kurdish dissidents in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant. In 1997, a German court found that this killing was ordered at the highest levels of the Iranian government by a committee that included supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the man then serving as president, Hashemi Rafsanjani. Last year, an Austrian legislator began an investigation into whether President Ahmadinejad delivered the weapons used, in 1989, by Iranian hit men to kill the Iranian Kurdish leader Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou.

A few months ago, when it appeared the Bush administration was more serious about Iran, some of our diplomats really were drawing up the kinds of targeted sanctions that could include the extradition of some of Iran's leadership. Ideas discussed included the seizure of assets of senior regime leaders, limiting their travel, and other measures meant to isolate the leaders of Iran from their people.

It turns out that such tactics are out of fashion in Washington today. Diplomats aspire to talk things out with a gallery of Iran's rogues. There is a dance to get the mullahs to come discuss the future of their nuclear program in exchange for enhanced trade and possible security guarantees.

A deadline is in place this week for Tehran to decide whether it will return to negotiations over the nuclear program it kept hidden from the world until 2003. Don't bet on the deadline being enforced. The recent history of the back and forth with Iran is fraught with false deadlines that disappear at the last minute as our European allies try again to ease the access for inspectors or entice Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. Typically, Mr. Ahmadinejad now says he needs until August to come up with a response to the latest deadline.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post recently suggested that the entente with Iran is as important as Henry Kissinger's secret talks that led to the normalization of ties between President Nixon's America and Chairman Mao's China. "What's needed is a broad discussion of whether the security interests of Iran and those of the United States and its allies can be linked," Mr. Ignatius wrote.

Mr. Ignatius is well-connected enough that his suggestion either reflects current thinking in the administration or will soon be reflected in it.

But is a broad discussion really in order? America is fighting a war against violent Islamic nihilism. Iran has cornered the export market on the Shiite variety. If the Bush administration can't figure out that a regime which sends Saeed Mortazavi to a U.N. Human Rights parley will not link up with our long-term security interests, then something's wrong. It's time for Mr. Bush to have a chat with his counterpart in Ottawa.