Iran does not want what one might call a regional apartheid political system in which Israel can have nuclear weapons while Iran cannot; Israel can attack neighbors at will while Iran cannot even provide military assistance to its allies; and Iran continues to be criticized for its domestic political system because it is out of step with the U.S.-centric international political system. Iran wants respectful treatment, recognition of its right to play a leading role in the Mideast even as it chooses its own path, and a fundamental reconsideration of both Iran's and America's proper regional role.
If Kerry visits Tehran either holding a cake in his hand or a knife behind his back, the mission will fail.
Obama tried upon election to make
It is tempting to compare a Kerry visit to
What offer could Kerry take to
Kerry could probably offer total U.S. support for Iranian uranium refinement up to 20% (medical grade), an offer to negotiate a joint policy toward Afghanistan and Iraq, complete termination of economic sanctions, aid to modernize its petroleum industry (including gasoline refinement), and acceptance of Iran’s support for Hezbollah and still see Tehran dismiss him out of hand.
Why? Would such a list of concessions not be generous? Well, yes, if one sees the
All those seemingly significant
Were Kerry to put on the table an offer to accept the long-term principle of a single regional nuclear standard,
But will Obama dare to go this far? And could he back up such an offer, given the self-destructive nature of
Even if Obama dares to take a historic step and can pull it off in terms of domestic politics, history cautions us that the grand play that puts all eggs in one basket is inadvisable. Iranians will not have forgotten the absurd bungling of Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal, and Obama’s impatient mishandling in recent weeks of the effort to cut a deal with Iran to trade uranium suggests that Washington still has little idea how to work with Iran.
The idea of a Kerry trip is great; the timing is probably not yet right. The alternative idea of parliamentary talks, which would be lower-level and less sensitive but still get to or possibly even involve key security official Ali Larijani makes more sense at the moment.
The urgency is great, as indicated by the Manichean blindness of Alan Kuperman’s recent call for war in the New York Times that was so ably refuted by Marc Lynch. The