"What do you think of Bush's new willingness to consider offering incentives such as WTO membership...in exchange for Iran giving up their nuclear weapon program?"
Tom in Sioux City"
The disastrous EU negotiations with Tehran about nukes have left Brussels staring down the barrel of spectacular failure to demonstrate that they're capable of making effective foreign policy for the entire of Europe.
Add to this, the longer Washington remains aloof from the EU3-led* negotiations with Iran, the more questionable Europe's claim to be a friend of democracy and civilization.
Add to this, the Iranian democracy advocates have expressed their outrage at European complicity with the regime in Tehran. So Brussels knows that if the regime falls, Europe will be pushed to the back of the line for Iranian oil purchases and big-ticket business contracts with the new government. This would include a flood of development bank loans, including World Bank loans, which would be made to a democratic government in Tehran.
Also, a democratic government in Tehran would cancel many outstanding defense-related government projects now underway in Iran and demand a review of the contractors and subcontractors for the projects. It is guaranteed that a democratic government would keep European contractors in the courts for years if not decades, just as a matter of principle, rather than continue with many of the contractors.
So Brussels is not only looking at a massive diplomatic failure and loss of Face; they're also having contemplate the billions of euros that key European industries stand to lose, if the regime in Tehran is booted. This loss would be coming on top of the billions they lost when Iraq's regime was toppled and the money lost from European participation in the Oil for Food Program. All this would come on top of Russia's repatriation of their energy industry.
That's why Europe's media yowled and nattered that Bush must come to Europe prepared to listen. Brussels had only one shot, which was to ask Bush behind closed doors to at least voice consideration for joining Europe with offering incentives to Tehran. In exchange, Brussels would back Washington's call for sanctions against Iran. This would be in the event Tehran betrayed incentivized promises to give up their ambitions for a nuclear weapon.
President Bush fell for it, over protests from the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney. Thus, the United States is now on record for a willingness to consider offering incentives to a regime that finds nothing barbaric about stoning adults and children to death.
Even if Bush decides not to go along with incentives to Tehran, it's now on record that Europe's betrayal of the Iranian democracy movement is not censured by the United States of America. That's what Brussels needed.
As to whether the United States got anything in return for selling out our principles--we got the word of goverrnments who had already sold out on civilization. Even if the EU3 went on record with the assurances they used to bait the trap, we have to assume that Europe would use the United Nations and every other means at their disposal to stall the implementation of sanctions.
They would stall until Tehran presented clear evidence that they had a nuclear weapon. That would allow Brussels to rescind their agreement on the grounds that the sanctions only applied to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That would force negotiations to start all over again.
To put all this another way, Brussels is committed to seeing that the current regime in Iran remains in power as long as possible. Toward this end, they want help from the USA in giving legitimacy to the regime by agreeing to bargain with them. They might not get what they want, but they got what they needed by selling President Bush the Brooklyn Bridge.
* The EU3 are Germany, France and Britain.