Major international talks have been taking place that were designed to stop or slow down the Iranian nuclear program, while possibly easing or lifting sanctions on Iran. Those talks have failed, and the reasons for the failure are entirely predictable:
In the end, though, it was not only divisions between Iran and the major powers that prevented a deal, but fissures within the negotiating group. France objected strenuously that the proposed deal would do too little to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment or to stop the development of a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.
“The Geneva meeting allowed us to advance, but we were not able to conclude because there are still some questions to be addressed,” the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, told reporters after the talks ended.
Neither Ms. Ashton nor Mr. Zarif criticized France, saying that it had played a constructive role. But the disappointment was palpable, and the decision to hold the next meeting at the level of political director, not foreign minister, suggested that the two sides were less confident of their ability to bridge the gaps in the next round.
Let me preempt Andrew Sullivan, in addition to preempting my former professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer by pointing out what I think just about everyone knows, but may not be willing to admit; the decision by the French to blow up the talks was the consequence of the influence exerted over the French Socialist government by the Israel lobby here in the United States. Israel is very wary about any kind of nuclear deal in Iran, and it doesn’t take much to see that the Israelis contacted lobbying organizations in the United States that are loyal to Israeli interests, and got those organizations to persuade the French to become very hostile towards Iran in the discussions regarding Iran’s nuclear program, and the possible lifting of sanctions on Iran. As has been plainly established, the Israel lobby exerts total control over the formulation and implementation of America’s Middle East policy. What is less well known is the degree to which the Israel lobby–including AIPAC, but also involving other Christianist organizations–shape French Middle East policy.
Indeed, it is worth noting that Mearsheimer and Walt did write about the degree to which the American Israel lobby has the last word on what the content of French Middle East policy. Their seminal paper on the topic was titled “Mon Dieu, les juifs! On How the Israel Lobby in the United States Controls Discourse on Middle East Policy in France, Which Is Sort of Like Going Around Your @$$ to Get to Your Elbow, But Never Mind That,” and it was co-authored with Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky. Mearsheimer’s dog ate the paper before it was published–and strangely enough, didn’t return to his own vomit afterwards–but I have little doubt that the paper will be reworked, and published in JSTOR within short order.
I trust that this blog post has been helpful in shedding light on why the Iran talks failed, and who is responsible for that failure. I also trust that Messrs. Walt, Mearsheimer, Sullivan, Finkelstein and Chomsky will be pleased to see that their methods of research and argumentation are being replicated so very closely in this post.