Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Has Brazil's Lula become Iran's useful idiot?

Has Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio “Lula” da Silva become Iran’s useful idiot?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clearly thinks so. On Wednesday his website posted a statement saying he had accepted “in principle” a supposed Brazilian proposal to defuse Iran’s standoff with the U.N. Security Council -- and prevent the adoption of new sanctions pressed by the United States, Britain and France.

The Brazilian foreign ministry hastily denied that there was a concrete proposal. But that’s irrelevant: Lula, who is planning a trip to Tehran next week, is obviously seeking to position himself as the mediator who can broker a deal between Iran and the West.

His gesture would be as irrelevant as his recent attempt to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- except for the fact that Brazil currently holds one of the rotating seats on the Security Council. Like Turkey, another temporary member, Brazil is stoutly resisting the new sanctions initiative, which is one reason why the measure was not adopted last month, as the Obama administration had hoped.

In other words, Lula is providing Iran with valuable time to delay sanctions, even as it presses ahead with enrichment and prepares a new generation of centrifuges to do it more efficiently.

The Brazilian “proposal” seems to amount to another version of the deal Iran has already rejected repeatedly: an exchange of most of the nuclear material it has already enriched for fuel rods it could use to resupply a medical research reactor. Tehran initially appeared to accept a Western offer along these lines last fall, then retreated. Since then it has played at discussing various variations on the deal -- most of which would neuter the point of the transaction from the West’s point of view, which was to remove nuclear material from Iran.

Ahmadinejad’s obvious intention is to discuss this proposal with Lula as long as possible -- without, of course, ever agreeing. “The proposal has many details,” Ahmadinejad’s chief of cabinet said on Wednesday.

Turkey has already been playing this same game with Iran for months, with no results. So why would Lula jump in? For the same reason as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: to prove that his country is an emerging world power that is capable of acting independently -- and defying the United States. It doesn’t matter to Lula that his diplomacy has no chance of succeeding. What matters are the wire service stories describing Brazil as “an emerging world player” and Lula himself as one of the globe’s most influential leaders.

The price for this vanity diplomacy is the continued delay of sanctions that could be the last chance of stopping Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon peacefully. The United States looks impotent; Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard cronies are confirmed in the belief that they have nothing to fear from the West. President Obama’s attempt to restore multilateralism to the center of U.S. diplomacy falls flat.

But will there be any consequences for Lula? The Brazilian president probably doesn’t mind much whether or not Iran acquires nuclear weapons -- after all, he is in his last year in office, and Iran poses no threat to Brazil. Nor does the Obama administration appear inclined to punish the Brazilian leader, whom Obama recently called “my man.” The State Department said this week that the administration is “increasingly skeptical” that Iran was going to change course, and that “there may still be a difference of opinion” with Brazil “as to where we are in this process.”

Nevertheless, “we do recognize the value and importance of a variety of countries engaging Iran,” spokesman Philip Crowley said.

In other words: Lula, go ahead and grandstand.

By Jackson Diehl  | May 6, 2010; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: George Pataki's Times Square bomb plot nonsense
Next: Jim DeMint’s strategy is to help conservative underdogs


The USA and Israel together with the western media are using lies and propaganda to paint Ahmadinejad as a threat in order to brainwash international public opinion and justify an attack on Iran.

This is exactly what they did to Iraq.

The portrayal of Ahmadinejad wanting to wipe Israel off the map is nothing but a sick propaganda campaign to demonize him in the eyes of public opinion.

The entire world knows that it is Israel which is wiping Palestine off the map, but sadly, the so called democratic countries such as UK, USA, France, Germany etc, have kept their silence and LET the criminal leaders of Israel slaughter innocent and defenseless Palestinian women and children with inhumane weapons and get away with murder.

Posted by: ardestani | May 6, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Ahmadinejad’s obvious intention is to discuss this proposal with Lula as long as possible -- without, of course, ever agreeing.

Diehl is quite comfortable with this strategy when Israel uses it.

Posted by: Provincial | May 6, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

1. Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons is not a given, it's a charge made by *some* (as in "a minority of") countries. Treating it as a given is propaganda, not analysis.

2. If new sanctions against Iran were not voted last month, it wasn't because of Brazil or Turkey. UN's Security Council has 15 members, among which those who favor sanctions are a clear minority (U.S., UK, France and Austria are for, Brazil, Lebanon and Turkey are against, China and Russia are straddling the wall for as long as they can but favoring negotiations, and the remaining six have not said a clear word about the issue). *This* is the one reason for which the issue didn't even come up for a vote last month - and won't be voted this month either.

3. During Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN the day before yesterday, nine countries walked out. Out of 189 country delegations present to the NPT revision conference, or less than 5% of them.

4. So, unlike what you say, the "West" does not want anything regarding Iran, it hasn't yet decided what it wants. Treating the "West" as a block, Cold-War style, is not an analysis, it's propaganda.

Posted by: TomasRosaBueno | May 6, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Using half-truths or misrepresentations, treating charges as if they were facts, dealing non-entities like "the West", and suppressing undeniable facts are clearly the mark of someone bent on writing a piece of disinformation, not of someone honestly trying to present an opinion.

Posted by: TomasRosaBueno | May 6, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The President should discontinue talks with Iran and demand they halt their support of terrorists and no longer pursue nuclear technology.

If they still refuse then the U.S. and any allies willing to participate should invade Iran and take their theocratic regime.

Iran is an outlaw nation that supports terrorism with the huge amount of revenue their government recieves from oil export sales.

Iran is terrorism's big brother and the best way to halt the terrorism they support and the growth of radical Islam is to obliterate the country's regime.

Posted by: Objectivity2 | May 6, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

It is the Americans who are in the business of creating monsters to fear and fight across the planet. President Lula and Brazil are not in that business -- much to the consternation of American newspaper employees such as Mr Diehl.

The Brazilians are interested in trade, not war and perpetual conflict as are the Americans.

President Lula and the Brazilians are rational, pragmatic people and understand that they have nothing to fear from the half-way-round-the-world Iranians. Only the Americans and their coterie of nuclear armed warmongering-buddy states suggest the ridiculous scenario whereby Iran would initiate an attack on a country that today possesses hundreds or more nuclear weapons (i.e. The USA, Israel, UK, France etc).

Posted by: dragutin_dimitrijevic | May 6, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

No more WAR!
IRAN is a country three times the size of IRAQ, well educated and general population loves USA, no extremism is preached in IRAN, only populist president curses USA once in a while to appeal to his base and gain popularity in Moslem world as a courageous leader who stands against US.

'Objectivity2' suggests to go to war with Iran if they do not listen to us. Iran is a sovereign country and this attitude of listen to me or else is wrong. NO MORE WAR!!! who is going to pay for another war??? who is even going to fight in another war??? Iran if happens to get a nuke, still is no match for 5113 nukes that US alone possesses. They are not so stupid to use it to guarantee their extinction. So what is the FUSS?? Extremist Pakistan that happens to be US ally (for now!!) has it and no one makes a big deal of it. Father of this Shahzad guy was a Pakistani airforce vice Marshal. So how much more dangerous is it to tolerate a Pakistani nuke??

Posted by: PersianEng | May 6, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The NPT consists of a preamble and eleven articles. Although the concept of "pillars" appears nowhere in the NPT, the treaty is nevertheless sometimes interpreted as a three pillar system, with an implicit balance among them:
disarmament, and
the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Article I:Each nuclear-weapons state (NWS) undertakes not to transfer, to any recipient, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, and not to assist any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices.

Article II: Each non-NWS party undertakes not to receive, from any source, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices; not to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices; and not to receive any assistance in their manufacture.

Article III: Each non-NWS party undertakes to conclude an agreement with the IAEA for the application of its safeguards to all nuclear material in all of the state's peaceful nuclear activities and to prevent diversion of such material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Article IV: 1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

Article VI. The states undertake to pursue "negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament", and towards a "Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control".

Article X. Establishes the right to withdraw from the Treaty giving 3 months' notice. It also establishes the duration of the Treaty (25 years before 1995 Extension Initiative).


Posted by: tyurieotwre | May 6, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

It's a great pleasure to watch the increasingly pathetic protestation of reactionary types like Diehl, as they see their old ideologies becoming increasingly irrelevant in our rapidly changing world. It will take an entire new generations of news editors in order to save the American media establishment from this free fall into irrelevance when it comes to world affairs. We have left the era of American-centric intl relations, but their old ways of thinking are simply uncapable of grasping this evident fact.

Posted by: diogodenczuk | May 6, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Lula is a 4th grade elementary school drop-out, so what do you expect? Lula's Brazil is a corrupt third-world country that is unable to develop its' impressive array of natural resources. Nightly TV broadcasts are littered with hand-cuffed crooks and cops alike. Lula has a hand-picked successor waiting in the background.

However, the typical Brazilian is a gift from our Father in Heaven. Accordingly, the Lulu crowd should flee to Tehran and let the people live in a Brazil bereft of Lulu-land corruption and greed!

Posted by: dru4819 | May 6, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Let's see....In the past 8 years since Lula has been in control of Brazil: The country has increased it's status on the international scene (goodbye 'G-7', hello 'G-20'!)....It's debt has been elevated from "junk" status to "investment grade"...President Lula has been recognized as one the 20 most influential people in the Time 100 list....Brazil has become THE leading economic and political power in South America...Brazil will become the FIRST South American country to host an Olympic Games....Hey Diehl! By way of comparison: How has the esteemed Washington Post performed during the last eight years???...Crickets?...Yes, only an elitist neoconservative scribe would describe the guy as an "idiot". While Diehl continues to carry-the-water for Israel; Lula has developed Brazil into the fastest growing (and second largest) economy in the Western Hemisphere!

Posted by: TruthHurts2 | May 6, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

After reading just the first few lines and noticing the wrong spelling of LULA’s full name it became clear to me that the rest of the article would be just a confirmation that Diehl is the real idiot here.

It’s sad that most Americans don’t realize that this is just another case of bad propaganda.


Posted by: SergioSerafim | May 7, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: tyurieotwre | May 7, 2010 3:00 AM | Report abuse

How can someone call a man of such importance today in our society, an idiot? And then misspell his name on the article? Honestly, wake up america, let's educate ourselves first prior to become criticals of subject matters we really know about!!!

Posted by: matias_dasilva | May 7, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mr. Diehl, but I find your analysis as shallow as the grandstanding diplomacy that you allege that President Lula is engaging in. As a matter of fact, when I hear President Lula, I consistently hear that as long as Iran is willing to abide by international rules and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes only, then he wishes for Iran the same that he wishes for Brazil. In my estimation this is very qualified support, and President Lula has never provided unqualified support to Iran's nuclear plans. I also think that President Lula is willing to give Iran the opportunity to demonstrate to the international community it's real intent. This may not be such a naive approach as many in the US media, uncluding you, have implied. After all, we spent lives and millions of dollars chasing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in my opinion after starting a war for the sole purpose of showing the world who's boss, and we never found one! Perhaps we have something to learn from naive President Lula!

Posted by: InMaryland | May 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

“Perhaps we have something to learn from naive President Lula!”

I am absolutely sure that we can learn anything from any other person in the world.

Take Brazil’s Lula. If we want to learn how to suck up to dictators, there is no better professor. Lula’s position with regards to Iran has nothing to do with solving a problem or making the world better, but it is just a component of the general theme of his diplomacy: to provide cover to every dictator of the world (right or left).

If Iran were a democracy, Lula would not be providing cover for Ahmadinejad. He provides cover to Ahmadinejad for the same reason why Brazil opened an embassy in North Korea for the first time, and fights tooth and nail for Sudan’s government right to kill and torture. Alas, that is the same reason why Lula provides political, moral and financial support to the Castro regime.

Understand this: If Cuba were a democracy, Lula would not visit Castro and make jokes about political prisoners. It is only because Lula knows that Castro tortures and imprisons opponents that he feels obliged to lend his country’s political weight to the old decrepit dictator with hands full of blood.

Posted by: cabotinonassif | May 8, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Direct of brazil:"Lula é uma anta!"
anta = tapir.
to signify:
Lula is someone who is stupid and silly.

And I have said!

Posted by: zebrapura | May 9, 2010 4:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm Brazilian. Brazilian president is nothing but a liar and attention seeker. While he sent back to Cuba boxing fighters who wanted to stay here after running from their government, he decided Brazil should give home to the italina terrorist Cesare Battisti (at least in my book). We lost money when the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela decided to "nationalize" private installations of companies such as Petrobras. Petrobras wanted to go for the World Trade Organization, but the president Lula said: shut up. Also, his government is trying to change us into some sort of tyrany, just like Venezuela. He is creating laws to negate us the right to culture or even spoken expression.

Posted by: branjunk13 | May 9, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

May 2010

Congratulations to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Time magazine has just named President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – Brazil’s incumbent and charismatic leader the world's most influential leader.


Posted by: brazilamaral | May 10, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

The truth is that Lula's international staff are all against the US and they are old leftists that love Fidel Castro and Chavez and want to show the world that they are hurting the US government.
Yes, Lula is an idiot exposing a serious country giving support to the insane Iran's president who kills people who dare to say NO to him.

Posted by: terezamurray | May 10, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company