William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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STRATEGY OR APPEASEMENT? – AT 10:52 A.M. ET:  It's odd.  This same offer was made public weeks ago.  The Iranians rebuffed it and...the offer is back.  Is this real strategy, or just the obsessive appeasement that seems to dominate the thinking of some Western diplomats, including our new secretary of state?  From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Major powers will offer Iran some sanctions relief during talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this week if Tehran agrees to curb its nuclear program, a U.S. official said on Monday.

But the Islamic Republic could face more economic pain if it fails to address international concerns about its atomic activities, the official said ahead of the February 26-27 meeting in the central Asian state, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"There will be continued sanctions enforcement ... there are other areas where pressure can be put," the official said, on the eve of the first round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers in eight months.

The Iranians have already shown that sanctions will not influence their nuclear program.

"The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in London. "There is still time but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and negotiate in good faith."

Take that, Iran!  You get more time if you negotiate "in good faith."  What, precisely, does that mean?  Who decides?

Western officials say the Almaty meeting is unlikely to produce any major breakthrough, in part because Iran's presidential election in June may make it difficult for it to make significant concessions before then for domestic reasons.

But they say they hope that Iran will take their proposals seriously and engage in negotiations to try to find a diplomatic settlement.

"No one is expecting to walk out of here with a deal but ... confidence building measures are important," one senior Western official said.

COMMENT:  Huh?  Confidence-building measures?  While the nuclear clock is ticking in Iran?  Confidence-building measures?  How many decades has the West been negotiating with the mullahs, with no result?  With each passing week, Tehran gets closer to a nuclear bomb.  And we're talking about building confidence. 

You know, maybe it is 1939 all over.

February 25, 2013