Ah diplomacy, always works .
I wonder how the Warmongers are feeling right now ....
New York Times
April 5, 2007
What We Can Learn From Britain About Iran
By Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh
Through the capture of and subsequent announcement that it would release 15 British sailors and marines, the Islamic Republic of Iran sent its adversaries a pointed message: just as Iran will meet confrontation with confrontation, it will respond to what it perceives as flexibility with pragmatism. This message is worth heeding as the United States and Iran seem to be moving inexorably toward conflict.
The timing of the Britons’ capture was no accident. The incident followed the passage of a United Nations resolution censuring Iran for its nuclear infractions, the dispatch of American aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf and the American sanctioning of Iranian banks. Although the Bush administration has been busy proclaiming its increasingly confrontational Iran policy a success, Tehran’s unsubtle conduct in the Persian Gulf suggests otherwise.
Had the British followed the American example, once the sailors and marines were seized, they could have escalated the conflict by pursuing the matter more forcefully at the United Nations or sending additional naval vessels to the area. Instead, the British tempered their rhetoric and insisted that diplomacy was the only means of resolving the conflict. The Iranians received this as pragmatism on London’s part and responded in kind.
The United States, meanwhile, has pursued its policy of coercion for two months now, and one is hard-pressed to find evidence of success. Beyond even the symbolic move of apprehending the British sailors, Iran’s intransigent position on the nuclear issue remains unchanged. To underscore that point, Iran has scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and released a new currency note adorned with a nuclear emblem.
Moreover, although Iran has proved willing to talk to Saudi Arabia, especially regarding Lebanon, it has yielded no new ground. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s concerns, relayed to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, during his visit to Riyadh in January, went unanswered. And if the March 10 meeting of neighbors in Baghdad was supposed to bring a chastened Iran to the table, the opposite happened. Far from being accommodating, Iran boldly asked for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But the meeting was noteworthy in making a show of Iran’s regional influence and its importance to the future of Iraq.
The United States faces a stark choice: it will have to either escalate its confrontational policy or adopt a policy of engagement. Far from arresting the Iranian danger, escalation would most likely present the United States with new perils. Given the balance of power in the region, a continued confrontational course with Iran would saddle the United States with a commitment to staying in the Persian Gulf indefinitely and deploying to other conflict areas in an environment of growing radicalism. It would place the United States at the heart of the region’s conflicts, leaving it all the more vulnerable to ideological extremism and terrorism at home and abroad.
Beyond such concerns, a continued policy of confrontation will also complicate America’s Iraq policy. Just as Iraqi Sunnis have cultural and political ties with Sunni Arab states and look to them for support, Iraqi Shiites trust and depend on Iran. An Iraq policy that allies the United States with Sunni Arab governments to eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq will be construed as biased against the Shiites. Such a policy will not win the support of the Shiite-dominated government on which the success of the new American strategy depends.
Since the United States entered Iraq in 2003, Washington has complained about Iran’s meddling, and about its involvement with radical groups and militias. Still, Iran, far more than any of the Sunni Arab regimes, has also supported the Shiite-dominated government and the Iraqi political process that brought it to power. If Iraq were to exclude Iran and seek to diminish its regional influence, Iran would have no further vested interest in the Iraqi political process, and it could play a far more destabilizing role. Therefore, the current policy will not reduce the Iranian threat to Iraq but rather increase it.
An American conflict with Iran would also undermine regional stability, jeopardize the economic gains of the Persian Gulf emirates and inflame Muslim public opinion. Persistent clashes with the United States will radicalize the Iranian theocracy and, more important, the Iranian public.
Iran today sees regional stability in its interest. It abandoned the goal of exporting its revolution to its Persian Gulf neighbors at the end of 1980s and has since acted as a status-quo power. It seeks influence within the existing regional power structure. It improved its relations with its Persian Gulf neighbors throughout the 1990s, and in particular normalized relations with Saudi Arabia. Iran supported the stabilization of Afghanistan in 2001 and that of Iraq during the early phase of the occupation. Conflict will change the direction that Iranian foreign policy has been following, and this will be a change for the worse and for the more confrontational.
A judicious engagement policy will require patience and must begin with a fundamental shift in the style and content of American diplomacy. The breakthrough in American-Chinese relations during the Nixon administration followed such a course. Beijing responded favorably to engagement only after two years of unilateral American gestures. As part of a similar effort toward Iran, the Unites States should try to create a more suitable environment for diplomacy by taking actions that gradually breach the walls of mistrust.
Washington can begin by ending its provocative naval deployments in the Persian Gulf, easing its efforts to get European and Asian banks to divest from Iran and inviting Iranian representatives to all regional and international conferences dealing with the Middle East. Along this path, the language of American diplomacy would also have to alter. The administration cannot propose negotiations while castigating Iran as part of an “axis of evil” or the “central banker of terrorism” and forming a regional alliance to roll back Iranian influence.
Once a more suitable environment has been created, the United States should propose dialogue without conditions with the aim of normalizing relations. For too long, proposed talks with Iran have focused on areas of American concern: nuclear proliferation and Iraq. A more comprehensive platform would involve the totality of disagreements between the two countries and also address Iran’s regional interests.
On the nuclear issue, Iran would have to accede to a rigorous inspection regime to make certain that its nuclear material would not be diverted for military purposes. In the meantime, more cooperative relations between the two parties could benefit stability in Iraq, where both Tehran and Washington support the same Shiite-led government.
After 28 years of sanctions and containment, it is time to accept that pressure has not tempered Iran’s behavior. The announced release of the British captives shows that the Islamic Republic is still willing to mitigate its ideology with pragmatism. A policy of patient engagement will change the context, and that may lead Iran to see relations with America to be in its own interest. Only then will Tehran chart a new course at home and abroad.
Vali Nasr is a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.” Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic.”
"So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3
Ah diplomacy, always works .
I wonder how the Warmongers are feeling right now ....
"The United States, meanwhile, has pursued its policy of coercion for two months now, and one is hard-pressed to find evidence of success."
Well, they did grab a bunch of British, not Americans.
The more I think about it, ol' Billy was right.
Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight.
- The Eagles
Followed the US example?!
Why? The brains have taken flight?
Have another Iraq!
Dead and rotting and bumbling for an exit and fighting amongst each other (Reps and Dems)!
It is a sure way for the Islamists to win and laugh all the way to an Islamic world!
Everywhere the Islamist are making a monkey out of the COW (Coalition of the Willing).
Pakistan, Iraq and now Iran and of course, not to forget the BOSOM FRIEND, Saudi Arabia!
High time to wake up and smell the coffee!
Last edited by Ray; 05 Apr 07, at 18:06.
"Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."
I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.
Crooks Sir, I feel just fine.
You have to remember that the picture is a whole lot bigger then some pie in the sky CFR agenda. To this war monger the only thing diplomacy will get us in this situation is a lot bigger war when the real shooting dose start. Best to fight the wars when they are small rather then pull a Jimmy Carter and condemn the next generation to a new nuclear threat. But, its to late for that now and its my children who are of age to fight. Would have been better if it was me back then, then them now. If we keep waiting like this its going to be a real big fireworks show... The biggest and first nuclear war we humans have ever fought was the off spring of runaway diplomacy and people who were unwilling to get bloody.
Sorry. I'm not buying. Sad to think that this boob, Nasr, is on our payroll. He's an apologist for the mullahs, couched in academia from one of our MILITARY institutions.
If only we would adhere to the example of the "flexible" Brits when dealing with the "pragmatic" Iranians, as though the seizure of sailors and marines from a nation with whom you are not at war while they perform a U.N. mandated function is a pragmatic act. Yeah, they're real lucid, rational, and stable players.
The usual crap here-war will only further alienate the U.S from __________ (insert ethnic grouping, nation, animal of choice, etc. HERE). Twenty-eight years of unsuccessful confrontation, yada, yada.
These twits suggest that we engage the Iranians in a broad, comprehensive, and patient dialogue of which nuclear weapons will only be component of the discussion. Over time, nuanced correctly with the appropriate deference, the pragmatic Iranians will see, too, that we are of similar ilk. Then, finally of like mind, they'll consent to a "rigorous nuclear inspection". No doubt as part of a more comprehensive agreement.
Right. Or build a bomb while they're "engaged" with us. I bet on the latter.
We have a decided military advantage and a small window of opportunity. We'd better come to our senses and use it while we can. The fundamentals of this ongoing argument are simple. Iran is volatile, in the extreme, in every which way. Their policy-making absolutely lacks transparency. They are rife with competing political players, some of whom are armed adherents of a radical islamic theology. Meanwhile, they destabilize their neighbors, reaching as far west as Gaza and Lebanon with their money, training, and military zealots. They've previously attempted to intimidate the world by squeezing our jugular in 1988, hinting then at their willingness to leverage the straits of Hormuz when advantagous. Oh, and NINETEEN years of nuclear subterfuge until discovered by the IAEA in 2003.
Where's the example of pragmatism in the EU-3 talks of last summer? What was the response to the olive branch offering by Bush and Rice? Sophisticated copper-cored shaped charge explosives and Austrian sniper rifles to Iraqi shia militias. Sweet.
Nah. These guys are apologist assholes peddling the same ol' tripe. Time to take off the pin-striped suits and don the fatigues while engaging in some old-fashioned nation-state balance of power mathematics.
To paraphrase the old Soviet theorm, for the near-term we possess a decisively favorable correlation of forces. Our dialogue, if any, with Iran must emphasize that we've the leverage and the will to prevent their acquisition of nuclear weapons- and that we'll do so.
I'm glad that the Brit sailors and marines are now back home safe to make their fortunes. How interesting the MoD perspective of all this. Just glad it's all resolved, I suppose. Were I them, I'd immediately exercise a "Right of safe passage" exercise in the exact area of the capture. That's just me, though.
I've advocated a very unfair, unbalanced, sustained, intensive, debilitating, comprehensive, and conventional air-sea bombing/blockade campaign against Iran for some time. Yup. Bring this whole "clash of civilization" thing right to head. Maybe even bubble over. Who knows?
What I, without doubt, do know is that I've NO interest in waiting till it's a "fair fight" while Iran stands with it's foot on the throat of the west, possessing nuclear weapons that hold the GCC states, Israel, and even Europe hostage.
Not good. Shouldn't happen. Quite likely will anyway.
My take is that the catch & release of the Brits was planned (cleverly, I might add) to paint Iran as reasonable, thus pre-empting outcry when the nuclear announcement was made today.
In doing so, Iran has painted their adverseries int a corner, where any attack (no matter if justified or not) would be perceived as aggression against a "reasonable" country.
One wonders how China & Russia view these developments (no doubt enjoying the West squirm, but perhaps with unease with this nascent nuclear power)
Socialism is simply the Collective denial of responsibility.
No, not 'humbled'; 'humiliated' is the better word.
And how do YOU feel? Vindicated? You shouldn't. I always felt they'd be coming home 'eventually' (the word you so blithely chose a few days ago, when you pronounced that you'd be satisfied with whatever time period your enemy had decided to hold the Brits for) myself. So it was never an issue of whether we'd see them free or not, but what would have to be paid for them.
Well, now we know (maybe not the exact price, but enough is known to make any thinking person lament the weakness and fecklessness of a once-proud and mighty nation).
Enjoy your revel. It's a luxury some of us will deny to ourselves, because we understand a bit better than yourself that more was lost than is represented by the 15 lives that were preserved.
"The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory."
- George Orwell
How can you negotiate with an Iranian Government whose leaders believe that everyone in the west is an infidel and needs to die?
Weak negotiation attempts will quickly come to an end when Iranian nuclear devices are detonated in cities throughout the USA, Europe and Israel. That is the threat that Iran poses to the world, either the USA can confront and destroy that threat now or can wait until millions of westerners and Israelis are killed by Iranian backed terrorists and than deal with the Iranian threat.
Last edited by JMH; 13 Apr 07, at 05:25.
I have a point to make and have no idea where it goes, so placing it in here as it, loosely, is do do with the thread title.
When Iraq was under the auspices of one Saddam Hussein and his thugs. Iran was "kept in its place" by the nasty neighbour, next door, and his bulging muscles. Now that neighbour is in a thousand pieces and westerners pour all over the land. I can now see Iran flexing its own muscles and beginning to gain influence over the region by stealth at first and then - what?
That region is decidely dodgy now, and I can see no respite, only grief.
What Region are you talking about? Who "holds hands" with Iran. One hand is held in Friendship the other holds the knife!! No! I think President Mr Ivegotadinnerjacket will not hold his breath waiting to pounce on his Enemy
Seemed to me that this is the best thread to post this in, given that it is what has Britain learned....
SourceThe errors that let Iran seize 15 crew members
· Secret report accuses senior commanders
· MoD backs ban on military personnel selling stories
Wednesday June 20, 2007
A secret report on the seizure of 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines by Iranian forces has uncovered bad intelligence, inadequate training, confused communications and poor judgment by senior military commanders.
The conclusions are part of an internal Ministry of Defence inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the capture of the sailors by Iranian revolutionary guards in the northern Gulf in March. The defence secretary, Des Browne, skirted around the unpublished report yesterday when he presented the findings of a separate study on the media handling of the affair.
The incident was described yesterday by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the first sea lord, as "one bad day in our proud 400-year history." The navy personnel were shown on television before being released in a propaganda coup exploited to the full by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The humiliation was compounded by the navy's decision, accepted by the MoD, to allow the sailors and marines to sell their stories to the media.
The findings presented by Mr Browne yesterday said that serving military personnel should be banned from making money this way, a recommendation accepted by the MoD. The seizure by the Iranians of the naval boarding party, which had just inspected an innocent merchant ship close to, but not in, Iranian waters, was "about judgment, not about kit", Sir Jonathon said yesterday.
He insisted that the rules of engagement were not at fault, and that there was nothing wrong with the Lynx helicopter which had returned to the mother ship, HMS Cornwall, during the boarding operation.
The separate unpublished report into the incident, drawn up by Lieutenant General Sir Rob Fulton, governor of Gibraltar and a former head of the Royal Marines, will be kept secret for operational reasons, said Mr Browne, though it has been given in confidence to the Commons defence committee. Sir Jonathon said it pointed to a "collective failure" in what he called a "very complex, fast-moving operational context".
Mr Browne told MPs that Gen Fulton noted the "need for improvements in the handling of intelligence, in communications, in doctrine, and in training, both individual and collective".
Mr Browne said the Fulton report concluded that the incident was "not the result of a single gross failing or individual human error but of the coming together of a series of vulnerabilities". He suggested there was "no case for disciplinary action against any of the individuals involved". However, Sir Jonathon said later: "Appropriate administrative action will be executed." This could affect careers but is unlikely to lead to a court martial. The first sea lord said a sailor in the navy "should not have an iPod on him" - a reference to the youngest of the seized crew, Arthur Batchelor, 20, who said in an interview on his release that he had his iPod taken from him and was teased about being like Mr Bean.
Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House and former BBC director of news and current affairs, who drew up the report on the MoD's media handling of the affair, spoke yesterday of a "collective failure of judgment or an abstention of judgment" within the ministry. He said he had not been able to identify " a single person who in practice authorised the decision" to approve payments by the media to the released navy crew.
· Leading Seaman Faye Turney, who was 26 when she was captured, sold her story to ITN and the Sun
· Royal Navy Operator Maintainer Arthur Batchelor was 20. He was ridiculed for saying that his iPod had been taken away and he had been teased for looking like Mr Bean
· Navy sailor Nathan Summers was 21. He was shown on Iranian TV saying the British had "trespassed". But the tape showed signs of editing
· Royal Marine Captain Chris Air, 25, was shown on Iranian TV saying they were apparently seized in Iranian waters. He later said fighting back would have caused a major incident
· Royal Marine Joe Tindell, 21, said: "We had a blindfold and plastic cuffs, hands behind our backs, heads against the wall. Basically there were weapons cocking. Someone, I'm not sure who, someone said, I quote, 'lads, lads I think we're going to get executed'"
Socialism is simply the Collective denial of responsibility.
You guys are all quick to jump on iran for being a destabilizing factor. This is absolutely true. But what about teh U.S.? America is a much biggert destabilizing factor in the Middle East. Afterall over the last 10 years Iran hasn't really occupied anyone's country, the U.S. has done it twice and in both places it led to a humanitarian disaster.
Diplomacy with Iran may or may not work but the U.S. will not go to war with Iran until the Afghani/Iraqi mess is over with. Keep in mind until the U.S. can free up troops and rally popular support for yet another war that seems next to pointless diplomacy is the only option.
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