Roger Gale is Conservative MP for North Thanet.
US President George W Bush has condemned critics of the US administration who advocate direct talks with Tehran, stating that such a policy was equivalent to the ‘appeasement’ of Adolf Hitler before the Second World War.
‘As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history,’ Bush said in his address to Israel’s Parliament.
Bush’s statements could easily describe the policy adopted by the European Union throughout recent years.
The EU has for many years adopted a policy of appeasement towards Iran, most significantly through ‘incentives packages’ as well as through continuous ‘negotiations’ over Iran’s nuclear program. This approach has taken many forms, but ultimately the policy has failed in its objectives.
The international community offered its latest ‘incentives package’ to
Tehran only a matter of weeks ago. As on previous occasions there has
been a deafening silence from Tehran in relation to what was offered,
with the rhetoric from Iran’s officials clear and unambiguous, ‘our
nuclear rights are not negotiable’. Clearly, the end of the long
appeasement road looks to be in sight and as was necessary in the
1940s, so a change of policy is now essential.
Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal in the UK ordered the
de-listing of Iran’s opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of
Iran (PMOI) from a list of proscribed terrorist organisations. The PMOI
was banned in the UK in 2001 by then Home Secretary Jack Straw, who
later admitted in a 2006 interview with Radio 4 that he had done so,
‘at the behest of Tehran’.
It was this action by the British government that laid the foundations
for the policy of appeasement. The group was later listed by the EU in
2002 under UK pressure. However, the intrinsic link between the PMOI’s
terror listing and the policy of appeasement adopted by the EU came in
2004. A report by Agence France Press on an incentives package offered
to Iran at that time stated that the EU would continue to view the PMOI
as terrorists if Tehran abided by its nuclear obligations.
Now the Court of Appeal has given a damning indictment of the British
government’s actions in its 7 May judgment. The panel of three judges
chaired by the Lord Chief Justice of England of Wales, stated that
“neither in the open material nor in the closed material was there any
reliable evidence that supported a conclusion that the PMOI retained an
intention to resort to terrorist activities in the future,” and “there
is no evidence of any attempt to ‘prepare’ for terrorism.”
With the government now agreeing to implement the Court’s ruling within
weeks, the major plank in the appeasement platform will be removed. On
the back of the court’s judgment the UK must act to lift British
proscription as soon as possible and it must make it clear to the EU
that no legal justification exists for the proscription of the PMOI in
the EU-wide list either.
Appeasement has had its day and failed. With the PMOI’s historic
victory in the courts, an opportunity is now open for a change of
strategy towards the threat posed by the Iranian regime. The UK and EU
must now recognise the Iranian opposition as a group worthy of
assisting the international community to find a positive and
emancipated way forward. Support for the democratic aspirations of the
brave Iranian population offers the most viable path to an end to this
crisis by peaceful means. Such a policy needs to be be implemented now,
before it is too late.