Feb 24, 2008 8:14 pm


Here we go again. Another IAEA report bemoans Iran's failure to answer all El Baradei's questions or more precisely, to curtail it's nuclear development. Experts have concluded that Iran will have the bomb within a year. The next to worse option, the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities seems more and more likely with every passing day.

Why? Because the one step which could seriously pressure the regime is NOT taken. Indeed, if I hear one more time that the US, unlike Europe, is doing everything it can to pressure Iran, I am going to scream. It is simply NOT TRUE. We did not stop providing the Iranians with the most important escape hatch which prevents that counry from overheating - we did not clamp down on visas to young Iranians. We did not even clamp down on visas to Iranians directly tied to the regime. How about not issuing visas to anyone connected with the Revolutionary guards? How about not issuing visas to the family members of the conservative parties? You get my drift.

To understand the reason I am so focused on the visa issue, one only needs to read the Middle East Reports article entitled Escaping Iran; the New Brain Drain:

TEHRAN - Over the last three decades, Iranian society has suffered a continuing brain drain. Now it is facing a new crisis affecting its young people, which might best be described as the “escape from Iran”.

The results of a poll published last month showed that at least eight out of ten young Iranians are interested in leaving to live in a developed country. The widespread participation of young Iranians in the American Green Card lottery and the countless applications for immigration to countries like Canada, Australia and even the United Arab Emirates serve to underline this astonishing figure.

The strong motivation to leave Iran is clearly apparent when you talk to young people. They see emigration as the only way to escape economic and other difficulties. It’s not that they are fascinated by life in the West, or that they have some ideal city in mind that they’d like to live in. The desire to leave is instead a reaction to difficult circumstances.

Today’s young Iranians enjoy very few opportunities to realise their ambitions. Hardly any of them believe they will be able to pursue what they’re interested in if they stay in their own country. It isn’t just the widespread unemployment, the difficulty of getting married, the high property prices or anything else. It’s that they feel the doors are closed to them.

The notion that America has been closed to those who support the regime and to their family members may just provide the Iranian elite with the incentive it needs to act against Ahmadinejad and his fellow conservatives.

During the Cold War the United States did not issue visas to any former member of the Communist party. Sometimes innocents got caught in the trap. My Hebrew University diplomatic history professor, Dr. Bella Wago, was one of them. He was no Communist but to teach at Bucharest University he was forced to be a party member. But he understood the American policy despite it's effect on him.

In other words, it may not be a feel good solution but it is much superior to both bombs, war or a nuclear Iran.

C'mon, Time is running out!

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