Diplomacy is the Only Option with Iran

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Amidst the debate in Washington surrounding the P5+1 negotiations with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, the conventional wisdom is that “engagement” with Iran cannot go on forever. If the Obama administration’s talks with Iran don’t bear fruit soon, we must “try something else.”
But just what is that “something else.” The only two tactical suggestions I have come across are either the use of military force to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities or “crippling sanctions” that would starve Iran’s economy.
The problem is that neither of these “options” is really feasible. A military strike on Iran would have disastrous consequences for the stability of the Middle East and is a recipe for three more decades of antagonistic relations between Washington and Tehran.
Meanwhile, the idea that either the Chinese or the Russians will support “crippling sanctions” against Iran is a delusion.
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett sum up the United States’ strategic position in their article, “What serious diplomacy looks like — in Turkey,” which appears in today’s Politico.

America no longer has the economic and political wherewithal to dictate strategic outcomes in the Middle East. Increasingly, if Washington wants to promote and protect U.S. interests in this critical region, it will have to do so through serious diplomacy — by respecting evolving balances of power and accommodating the legitimate interests of others so that U.S. interests will be respected.

That means engaging in creative diplomacy and understanding that negotiations will likely be a long and difficult process.
How the Obama administration reacts to Iran’s response to the IAEA – which will likely be made public tomorrow – will go a long way toward demonstrating whether it is prepared to exercise the kind of strategic patience necessary to reorient the United States’ relationship with Iran and reverse the decline of American influence in the broader region.
– Ben Katcher

Comments

14 comments on “Diplomacy is the Only Option with Iran

  1. Outraged American says:

    The site was hacked. Look at the timing of the attack, what Steve
    had posted and guess by partisans of which country. I sure
    don’t know. *rolls eyes*
    Brigid, scroll down, I posted two factual articles on Iran. I would
    suggest you read those as well as the one posted by Samuel
    Burke.
    I would also suggest that you stroll by antiwar.com on a regular
    basis and read the articles on Iran, the Middle East and South
    Asia.
    And I’m not sure what you meant by “straw man hyperbole”?
    Please clarify.
    I’ve covered the Middle East and South Asia for the last five
    years, along with the rest of the stupid world. As such I have
    spoken extensively with Iranians both inside the country and ex-
    pats.
    The Iranians are a very proud people; everyone with whom I’ve
    spoken, no matter what position they take — and the vast
    majority of “liberals” in Iran hate Ahmadinejad and Khameni and
    thought the elections were a fraud — said that if Iran were
    attacked almost every Iranian would rally around their country.
    Witness what happened in the weeks after 9/11: Dinky Bush had
    a more than 90% approval rating.
    Same with the Israeli publics approval (the Jews not the Arabs)
    rate of her attack on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008/2009.
    Sky high — where were all the Israeli peace groups then? IIRC
    even B’Tselem supported the Lebanon attack.
    People have this (UN)-natural tendency to rally around the flag
    in times of crisis, and Iran again has an ancient and very proud
    history, vastly longer than ours or *cough* Israel’s *cough*
    The women of Iran will not benefit from us killing them and
    giving, as an extra bonus, the hardliners more power. They’re
    actually much better off than any UsRael intervention could ever
    make them. Ask the women of Iraq and the Gaza Strip.
    I can imagine you as a glowy eyed youngster thinking that the
    US can bring to women all over the world the rights we all
    deserve.
    Well, sister, I worked hard on the Equal Rights Amendment thirty
    years ago, and unless I missed something, and I could have
    because I was overseas a lot and/or stoned, we still don’t have
    an amendment in the US guaranteeing women equal rights
    under the law.
    And yet we’re going to kill Iranian women and their girls to give
    them equal rights just like we are doing to Afghan women?
    Sing it Brigid.
    You didn’t present any facts to back up your assertions so let me
    do it for you:
    * yes, detainees were raped, not all but there were some
    * yes, detainees were tortured, ditto
    * yes, there were killings during the protests by the government
    and paramilitary squads, but to compare Iran in terms of similar
    uprising in say Burma, Tibet, Argentina, Palestine, or even
    Mexico…no. No comparison.
    Plus Brigid, you have to remember that almost everything
    available from the US mainstream media is distorted. A good
    part of the blame comes from two “translation” outfits, MEMRI
    and Site, both run by uber-Zionists, but used as the Bible of
    translations for Arabic/ Persian/ any “enemy of Israel” by the US
    mainstream media.
    And if you don’t think that the US mainstream media is pro-
    Israel than you’re either four or deaf or dumb. Or never worked
    in it, like I did.
    This is not some kind of secret, and it is why I used native Farsi
    speakers to translate Ahmadinejad’s statements. My translators
    had no love for him. One had a brother hung by the mullahs,
    but they would translate honestly, as opposed to MEMRI and
    Site. The latter was founded by an Iranian Jew, Rita Katz, with an
    extremely pro-Israel agenda.
    I always try to link to articles that I feel speak honestly about
    any situation, so here’s one, by an American nuclear physicist
    (and yes Questions, I have interviewed him) on Iran and the
    possibility of WW III. (h/t antiwar.com)
    On the Eve of WWIII?
    (the physics of nuclear energy, why Iran needs enriched
    uranium, and what the French obstruction means, but written for
    the layperson)
    http://tinyurl.com/ycsx6d8

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    Yes, this seems to be a technical issue.

    Reply

  3. nadine says:

    Paul,
    A number of comments which were not removed are now full of non-letter characters. Also, new comments are being added to the top rather than the bottom of the list, causing the list of comments to be out of date order. I wonder if some files on the server have been corrupted?

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    Paul,
    A number of comments which were not removed are now full of non-letter characters. Also, new comments are being added to the top rather than the bottom of the list, causing the list of comments to be out of date order. I wonder if some files on the server have been corrupted?

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    I notice that several comments, from this thread as well as on the Meshal-
    interview thread (and one comment from another thread) have been removed -
    comments from me, Nadine, Steve Clemons and POA. Some of them were admittedly
    very polemical in tone and content; others were not. I just wonder if they were
    removed deliberately, or due to a technical accident?

    Reply

  6. brigid says:

    ( Interesting, the comments are reversed now.)
    @ Outraged American
    How about something besides “Outrage” and the pathetic straw man hyperbole and vitriol to make your points?

    Reply

  7. Outraged American says:

    So we’re supposed to kill Iran’s “best & brightest” outright rather
    than having them “murdered & raped.”
    How many Iranians, Brigid, have been murdered and raped by
    the Iranian regime, if that is indeed what you’re claiming
    because I’m confused as to what country you’re referring to?
    Because at first I thought you meant the US and the casualty toll
    plus the rape rate amongst our female troops.
    And how can we stop the murder by bombing the country?
    I keep tabs on Iran and talk to Farsi speakers, both Iranian ex-
    pats and those inside Iran — there’s this huge mythology built
    up about Iran facilitated by the pro-Zionist mainstream media in
    the US. Iranians have a rich and glorious culture, that is still
    there.
    Iran is not ready for her “Kumbaya” (and that sounds rather
    offensively Christian when speaking about a predominantly
    Muslim nation) moment, but she’s getting there. Since the
    Iranian Revolution women there have made great strides. As I
    think JohnH pointed out, women make up the majority of Iranian
    university students.
    If we attack Iran the hardliners will win, and even the
    progressives and the chicks will circle the wagons and fight.
    Liberal interventionists, especially those who use women’s rights
    (and I am an uber-feminist — lest we forget I am the Founding
    Mother of Feminazia) to make excuses for “regime change”,
    better known as “war”, really offend me.
    But then I’m always offended seeing the body parts of the
    children my country has bombed to shreds under the guise of
    making them just like us.
    I say we cut a deal with the mullahs — they enrich uranium for
    peaceful purposes, just like they’re doing, and in return we get
    equal rights for Iranian women/ gays/ Bahais/ whatever other
    group Brigid feels need help.
    No bombs will fall, no one will get dead.

    Reply

  8. brigid says:

    I’m sure a regime that murders, imprisons, and rapes its young, best and brightest is ready for “kumbaya” time.

    Reply

  9. brigid says:

    I’m sure a regime that murders, imprisons, and rapes its young, best and brightest is ready for “kumbaya” time.

    Reply

  10. JohnH says:

    Amid press reports that Iran “rejected” the nuclear deal, it’s important to remember what the proposal actually was. Iran was to ship 80% of its enriched uranium out for conversion to fuel rods, which were to be returned. But what if the destination countries, France or Russia, simply said, “Ha! Ha! We got your uranium! Try and get it back! Sucker!!!”
    Far from “rejecting” the West’s proposal, Iran made a reasonable counter, proposing to ship out enriched uranium in small quantities, each of which would have been exchanged for fuel rods before Iran made another shipment. This would have kept the West from simply absconding with the fuel.
    IMHO the West was bargaining in bad faith, making a proposal that any rational actor party would reject. Which is what Iran did.
    Such shenanigans do nothing to ease tensions with Iran. In fact, they look like nothing more than another excuse for belligerency.
    If Turkey’s negotiations with Iran succeed, the US will be left on the outside looking in, as Leverett and Mann point out. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the world does not want or need the energy protection services that the US insists on foisting on everyone.

    Reply

  11. samuelburke says:

    “Not surprisingly, Iran, with the second largest oil as well as gas reserves in the world, looms large in the strategic plans of Beijing. The Chinese want to import Iran’s petroleum and natural gas through pipelines across Central Asia, thus circumventing sea routes vulnerable to U.S. naval interdiction. As this is an integral part of China’s energy security policy, little wonder that Chinese oil companies have committed an estimated $120 billion dollars — so far — to Iran’s energy industry.
    During a recent meeting with Iran’s first vice president, Muhammad Reza Rahimi, in Beijing, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries when it comes to hydrocarbons and trade (at $29 billion a year, and rising), as well as “greater coordination in international affairs.” Little wonder, then, that China has already moved to neutralize any sanctions that the United States — backed by Britain, France and Germany — might impose on Iran without United Nations authorization.
    Foremost among these would be a ban on the export of gasoline to Iran, whose oil refining capacity falls significantly short of domestic demand. Chinese oil corporations have already started shipping gasoline to Iran to fill the gap caused by a stoppage of supplies from British and Indian companies anticipating Washington’s possible move. Between June and August 2009, China signed $8 billion worth of contracts with Iran to help expand two existing Iranian oil refineries to produce more gasoline domestically and to help develop the gigantic South Pars natural gas field. Iran’s national oil corporation has also invited its Chinese counterparts to participate in a $42.8 billion project to construct seven oil refineries and a 1,000 mile trans-Iran pipeline that will facilitate pumping petroleum to China.”
    http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2009/10/29/why-obamas-iran-policy-will-fail/
    driving iran further away from the u.s and into the arms of the other superpowers will be counterproductive for generations to come….
    cuba is a perfect example of a country that started down the wrong road towards communism…so what was the u.s response?…we isolated them and drove them further into the living hell that is a communist police state.

    Reply

  12. Outraged American says:

    Yet again Congress is ratcheting up the Iran sanctions BS w/
    that Zio-Clown Berman leading the charge. And then there’s
    doddering Dodd to take the baton in the Senate.
    Key US Senate panel approves sweeping Iran sanctions
    http://tinyurl.com/ylfenj7
    And now it appears that the Iran deal is close to collapse
    because Iran is objecting to France getting her enriched uranium
    because France has ripped-off enriched uranium from Iran in
    the past.
    Bloody French. As my very old, now British auntie used to say,
    “The French closed their eyes and spread their legs for Hitler.”
    And I would add, “didn’t use a condom.”
    Iran Deal on Brink of Collapse as West Condemns Compromise
    Europeans Uninterested in Deal Unless Iran Exports Most of Its
    Uranium
    by Jason Ditz, a fantastic reporter/ writer over at antiwar.com
    (excerpt)
    In September, Iran proposed a system of third party enrichment
    which would allow the nation to create medical isotopes without
    having to enrich any uranium to levels higher than needed for its
    energy generation program. After intense negotiation the draft
    agreement had Iran exporting much of its existing low-enriched
    stockpile to Russia and eventually France.
    The “eventually France” part was a stalling point for Iran
    however, as France had previously reneged on Uranium
    Hexafluoride shipments to them and Iranian MPs expressed
    concern that the French might simply keep the uranium once it
    got to them.
    whole article
    http://tinyurl.com/yjfpz6g

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    the usa is isolating itself in some backwater, while turkey and others move forward. the article posted in this link sum it up well..

    Reply

  14. JohnH says:

    Ben rightly questions the conventional, militant wisdom that says that “If…talks with Iran don’t bear fruit soon, we must ‘try something else.’”
    The militants’ confrontational stance represents 30 years of failed policy, yet the conventional “wisdom” rarely questions it or demands trying “something else.”
    After 30 years of failed policy, why not give “something else” a REAL chance?

    Reply

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