This Washington Times editorial recounts the Iran foreign policy debacle over which the Clinton administration presided. In 1997, conciliatory rhetoric by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami induced the Clintonistas to make a series of concessions. They waived sanctions against Russian, French and Malaysian firms hoping to develop natural gas in Iran (never mind the likelihood that this project would provide vast revenue the government could use to develop nukes). They streamlined the procedure for issuing visas to Iranians. Even after Iran tested a medium-range missile and Khatami denounced the “Zionists” in a U.N. address, the administration continued to relax sanctions. And, in the signature Clinton foreign policy move, the U.S. apologized to Iran for its role in the 1953 coup that brought our friend the Shah of Iran to power.
Meanwhile, according to former FBI Director Louis Freeh, Clinton sidetracked the investigation into the bombing of Khobar Towers, an attack carried out by an Iranian-backed terrorist group. Freeh says that Clinton was so determined to bring about a rapproachement with Iran that he failed to press the Saudis for access to several suspects in the case and did little to assist the FBI investigation. The Ayatollah Khamenei’s denunciation of such a rapproachement as “treason” failed to make an impression on the wishful thinkers and appeasers who dominated foreign policymaking under Clinton. And why would it? This was an administration willing to grant concessions to the North Koreans.
Moreover, and more astonishingly, there is no evidence that developments since Clinton left office — the development of nukes by the North Koreans, Iran’s hot pursuit of such weapons, and the full emergence of al-Qaeda — have made an impression on the Democratic foreign policy establishment. The Democrats still appear to have only two gears when it comes to dealing with foreign policy difficulties: (1) ignore them and (2) if that option draws too much fire, find someone, anyone, to whom concessions can be offered.