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FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Lessons learned: Let's try diplomatic route this time

A predominantly Muslim country in the Middle East whispers to its neighbors that it is developing nuclear weapons, but denies the existence of such a program in official public statements. It claims its uranium-enrichment program is peaceful and aimed only at generating electricity.

The rest of the world is concerned — and rightly so, since the rogue state is run by a lunatic whose public denunciations of Israel and the United States stir nationalistic pride among his people, but prompt anxiety among member nations of the United Nations Security Council.

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, issues a report critical of the rogue country's nuclear program, but delays action in hopes that the concerned countries can find a diplomatic solution.

The United States, however, refuses to negotiate directly with the renegade regime.

Sound familiar?

The situation with Iran is frighteningly similar to that exactly three years ago, just before the United States invaded Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from using his weapons of mass destruction against Americans.

Today, perhaps taking its cue from Saddam's regime, neighbor Iran is talking tough. Ali Soltanieh, the chief Iranian delegate to the IAEA, this week threatened the United States with "harm and pain" if it pushes the United Nations to adopt sanctions against Iran. The comments sound remarkably like those of former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (better known as "Baghdad Bob"), who gave daily briefings detailing how the Republican Guard had soundly whipped American troops — even after his office had been destroyed by Coalition forces, forcing him to give his press briefings from the streets (surrounded by Coalition tanks and troops).

The situation seemed humorous at the time, but the events that followed have been tragic. Instead of embracing their liberators, many Iraqis have turned arms against the Coalition troops and the rebuilt Iraqi security forces.

The situation in Iran is painfully familiar. Let's hope we learned an important lesson in the weeks and months following the invasion of Iraq.

Let's hope the situation with Iran can be defused with diplomacy.

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