Having missed a July deadline for reaching an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the six world powers party to the talks -- the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany -- have set November 24 as their new deadline. Iran says there will be no extension if a deal isn't reached.
Given the Obama administration's horrible record in the Middle East -- treating Israel as an enemy and Islamic dictatorships as potential friends -- things don't look good for an agreement that will curtail or reverse Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
An indication of what the Obama administration hopes to achieve in these talks came from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. In remarks to a liberal group last January obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Rhodes said: "Bottom line is, this is the best opportunity we've had to resolve the Iranian issue diplomatically, certainly since President Obama came to office, and probably since the beginning of the Iraq war. ... This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is health care for us, just to put it in context."
Burnishing a president's legacy is not a sufficient reason to trade away American and Israeli security. That would leave a legacy of the type Neville Chamberlain left at Munich in 1938 after the "peace" he negotiated with Adolf Hitler.
Because of our secular diplomats' refusal to believe the religious motivations of Iran's leaders, the United States has placed itself at a disadvantage.
The latest, but by no means the only example of this denial, is found in the current issue of The Economist. In a special report titled "The Revolution is Over," the article says, "Iran has changed" and its "revolutionary fire has been extinguished." In addition, "the traditional religious society that the mullahs dreamt of has receded" and "pragmatic centrists" are on the rise. Editor-in-Chief John Micklehwait, writing about the stalled Iran nuclear talks, adds, "...we believe the prospects of a deal -- if not now, eventually -- are improving."
This is part of the wishful thinking that will allow Iran to produce and possibly use a nuclear weapon against Israel and threaten Europe and the United States.
The problem with the West's attitude toward Iran is that it refuses to take seriously the messianic statements driving Iran's foreign policy. One question Westerners cannot answer is this: Why would people who believe they have a direct command from their god to eradicate Israel and take down the West disobey that god and negotiate an agreement with "infidels" and especially a country they label "The Great Satan"? Did their god change his mind?
Some Muslim clerics claim the Koran gives them the right to lie to "infidels" in pursuit of their goals, so how do we know they are not lying when they claim their nuclear objectives are peaceful? If Iran's intentions are truly peaceful, what's to negotiate?
TIME magazine has assembled some of the more incendiary comments by Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. TIME writes, "He calls America 'the devil incarnate' with plans for 'evil domination of Iran.' Negotiating with the United States, he said in 2009, would be 'naive and perverted.' He warns that the west is plotting to 'arouse sexual desires' in Islamic Iran, because 'if they spread unrestrained mixing of men and women ... there will no longer be any need for artillery and guns.'"
Last month, according to the Washington Free Beacon, "At least two former Iranian nuclear negotiators joined with Holocaust deniers, 9/11 truthers and anti-Semites from across the globe ... in Tehran for Iran's second annual New Horizons conference, an anti-American hate fest that U.S. lawmakers say highlights the country's dangerous duplicity."
Tell me, how do you negotiate with that?
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.