GEORGE BUSH, COLD-WAR LIBERAL: It seems to me that this is the kind of diplomacy that Peter Beinart is calling for from liberals:

The United States and five other major world powers agreed Thursday to offer Iran a broad new collection of rewards if it halts its drive to master nuclear technology, but they threatened “further steps in the Security Council” if Iran refuses.

The agreement, announced here by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett following extended talks, brings general unity to the countries’ approach to Iran after months of discord, diplomats said. It is intended to sharpen the choice facing Iran, giving it a clear reason to opt for cooperation over confrontation on its nuclear program.

The question is, will it work? And if so, would it work as well if it weren’t for the presence of U.S. troops on both sides of Iran?

And though the Iraq war is held out as a case of aggressive unilateral warmongering, the fact is that it was the slowest “rush to war” in history, as the Bush Administration made (to my mind excessive) efforts to keep the U.N. relevant. And it’s interesting that Beinart holds up Kosovo as an example of war done right when it had far less U.N. sanction than the Iraq invasion — Wesley Clark, remember, said that the Kosovo bombing was “technically illegal.”

At any rate, it seems clear that the Bush Administration’s approach is far more nuanced than his critics credit. Whether it will be effective is another story.

UPDATE: Bush is certainly more diplomatic than this! If only they’d talk this tough about, you know, terrorists.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Freeman Hunt wants less carrot, more stick.