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Ironduke
28 May 08,, 09:59
I sure hope Khatami's runs and is elected in 2009.

The Problem With Talking to Iran

In a report released this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed "serious concern" that the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to conceal details of its nuclear weapons program, even as it defies U.N. demands to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in lieu of a policy for dealing with the growing threat posed by the Islamic Republic repeats what has become a familiar refrain within his party: Let's talk to Iran.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with wanting to talk to an adversary. But Mr. Obama and his supporters should not pretend this is "change" in any real sense. Every U.S. administration in the past 30 years, from Jimmy Carter's to George W. Bush's, has tried to engage in dialogue with Iran's leaders. They've all failed.

Just two years ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proffered an invitation to the Islamic Republic for talks, backed by promises of what one of her advisers described as "juicy carrots" with not a shadow of a stick. At the time, I happened to be in Washington. Early one morning, one of Ms. Rice's assistants read the text of her statement (which was to be issued a few hours later) to me over the phone, asking my opinion. I said the move won't work, but insisted that the statement should mention U.S. concern for human- rights violations in Iran.

"We don't wish to set preconditions," was the answer. "We could raise all issues once they have agreed to talk." I suppose Ms. Rice is still waiting for Iran's mullahs to accept her invitation, even while Mr. Obama castigates her for not wanting to talk.

The Europeans invented the phrase "critical dialogue" to describe their approach to Iran. They negotiated with Tehran for more than two decades, achieving nothing.

The Arabs, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have been negotiating with the mullahs for years the Egyptians over restoring diplomatic ties cut off by Tehran, and the Saudis on measures to stop Shiite-Sunni killings in the Muslim world with nothing to show for it. Since 1993, the Russians have tried to achieve agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea through talks with Tehran, again without results.

The reason is that Iran is gripped by a typical crisis of identity that afflicts most nations that pass through a revolutionary experience. The Islamic Republic does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause?

A nation-state wants concrete things such as demarcated borders, markets, access to natural resources, security, influence, and, of course, stability all things that could be negotiated with other nation-states. A revolution, on the other hand, doesn't want anything in particular because it wants everything.

In 1802, when Bonaparte embarked on his campaign of world conquest, the threat did not come from France as a nation-state but from the French Revolution in its Napoleonic reincarnation. In 1933, it was Germany as a cause, the Nazi cause, that threatened the world. Under communism, the Soviet Union was a cause and thus a threat. Having ceased to be a cause and re-emerged a nation-state, Russia no longer poses an existential threat to others.

The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but with the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the "Hidden Imam." The following statement by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Supreme leader" of the Islamic Republic who Mr. Obama admits has ultimate power in Iran -- exposes the futility of the very talks Mr. Obama proposes: "You have nothing to say to us. We object. We do not agree to a relationship with you! We are not prepared to establish relations with powerful world devourers like you! The Iranian nation has no need of the United States, nor is the Iranian nation afraid of the United States. We . . . do not accept your behavior, your oppression and intervention in various parts of the world."

So, how should one deal with a regime of this nature? The challenge for the U.S. and the world is finding a way to help Iran absorb its revolutionary experience, stop being a cause, and re-emerge as a nation-state.

Whenever Iran has appeared as a nation-state, others have been able to negotiate with it, occasionally with good results. In Iraq, for example, Iran has successfully negotiated a range of issues with both the Iraqi government and the U.S. Agreement has been reached on conditions under which millions of Iranians visit Iraq each year for pilgrimage. An accord has been worked out to dredge the Shatt al-Arab waterway of three decades of war debris, thus enabling both neighbors to reopen their biggest ports. Again acting as a nation-state, Iran has secured permission for its citizens to invest in Iraq.

When it comes to Iran behaving as the embodiment of a revolutionary cause, however, no agreement is possible. There will be no compromise on Iranian smuggling of weapons into Iraq. Nor will the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps agree to stop training Hezbollah-style terrorists in Shiite parts of Iraq. Iraq and its allies should not allow the mullahs of Tehran to export their sick ideology to the newly liberated country through violence and terror.

As a nation-state, Iran is not concerned with the Palestinian issue and has no reason to be Israel's enemy. As a revolutionary cause, however, Iran must pose as Israel's arch-foe to sell the Khomeinist regime's claim of leadership to the Arabs.

As a nation, Iranians are among the few in the world that still like the U.S. As a revolution, however, Iran is the principal bastion of anti-Americanism. Last month, Tehran hosted an international conference titled "A World Without America." Indeed, since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, Iran has returned to a more acute state of revolutionary hysteria. Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to truly believe the "Hidden Imam" is coming to conquer the world for his brand of Islam. He does not appear to be interested in the kind of "carrots" that Secretary Rice was offering two years ago and Mr. Obama is hinting at today.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is talking about changing the destiny of mankind, while Mr. Obama and his foreign policy experts offer spare parts for Boeings or membership in the World Trade Organization. Perhaps Mr. Obama is unaware that one of Mr. Ahmadinejad's first acts was to freeze Tehran's efforts for securing WTO membership because he regards the outfit as "a nest of conspiracies by Zionists and Americans."

Mr. Obama wavers back and forth over whether he will talk directly to Mr. Ahmadinejad or some other representative of the Islamic Republic, including the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Moreover, he does not make it clear which of the two Irans the nation-state or the revolutionary cause he wishes to "engage." A misstep could legitimize the Khomeinist system and help it crush Iranians' hope of return as a nation-state.

The Islamic Republic might welcome unconditional talks, but only if the U.S. signals readiness for unconditional surrender. Talk about talking to Iran and engaging Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot hide the fact that, three decades after Khomeinist thugs raided the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, America does not understand what is really happening in Iran.
The Problem With Talking to Iran - WSJ.com (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121193151568724469.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries)

hass
28 May 08,, 14:37
Baloney -- and the media's reports about Iran's nuclear program as well as their account of the IAEA report are all FALSE. See IranAffairs.com for the real facts

Jews4Peace
26 Sep 08,, 02:20
Baloney -- and the media's reports about Iran's nuclear program as well as their account of the IAEA report are all FALSE. See IranAffairs.com for the real facts

IranAffairs.com, a reputable sorce indeed. A guy at the bus station once told me that Iraq was a land were it rains gumdrops and that rainbows shoot out Saddam's ass.

rsp
07 Dec 08,, 02:59
The thing about the 'cause' is that it cools off in due course. The 'cause' behavior has achieved nothing for Iran till now.
Iran's 'cause' has opposition within the Muslim world in the "Sunni-dominated struggle for the future of Islam".
Iran has territorial dispute with its Sunni neighbors.
Oil is the main revenue earner for Iran. "Iran is guilty of NPT deceptions, but it cannot be inferred from this that all Irani claims must be false. The regime’s dependence on export revenue suggests that it could need nuclear power as badly as it claims", for domestic use, in order to preserve its oil for exports.
On the other hand weigh the advantages that will accrue from negotiating with Iran. The very first will be the "supply route to Afghanistan". The route through Pakistan is already under a lot of threat and the US Army has already embarked upon finding alternatives. See "http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/11/new-supply-rout.html"
There is an undeclared world war already raging against Sunni Jehadis in Afghanistan. To win this war there is need to co-opt more allies. Why not Iran also?
Just because earlier attempts have failed is no reason not to talk. Talk must continue and US must persevere to talk more.

RSP

Officer of Engineers
07 Dec 08,, 03:03
Sir,

The problem with talking to Iran is that we don't understand a word that they are saying. Not only are they saying one thing and doing something else but we really have no idea if anybody has any authority to say anything.

tankie
07 Dec 08,, 13:00
Sir,

The problem with talking to Iran is that we don't understand a word that they are saying. Not only are they saying one thing and doing something else but we really have no idea if anybody has any authority to say anything.

:biggrin: