Sunday, October 01, 2006

An Interesting Proposition (The Hidden Koppel)

Ted Koppel invokes The Godfather school of diplomacy with Iran in his NYTimes column, An Offer Tehran Can’t Refuse (fully available to Times Select subscribers):

What, then, can the United States do to prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology? Little or nothing. Washington should instead bow to the inevitable.

“You insist on having nuclear weapons,” we should say. “Go ahead. It’s a terrible idea, but we can’t stop you. We would, however, like your leaders to view the enclosed DVD of ‘The Godfather.’ Please pay particular attention to the scene in which Don Corleone makes grudging peace with a man — the head of a rival crime family — who ordered the killing of his oldest son.”

In that scene, Don Corleone says, “I forgo my vengeance for my dead son, for the common good. But I have selfish reasons.” The welfare of his youngest son, Michael, is on his mind.

“I am a superstitious man,” he continues. “And so if some unlucky accident should befall my youngest son, if some police officer should accidentally shoot him, or if he should hang himself in his cell, or if my son is struck by a bolt of lightening, then I will blame some of the people here. That I could never forgive.”

If Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it. The elimination of American opposition on this issue would open the way to genuine normalization between our two nations. It might even convince the Iranians that their country can flourish without nuclear weapons.

But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear “accident,” Iran should understand that the United States government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.

Maybe we could induce Richard Armitage out of retirement to play the Don Corleone part. Apparently he knows the role, having already played it in Pakistan.


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