Monday, March 8, 2010

"Dear Tehran: Let's Do Lunch"

Sometimes Ahmadinejad says some odd things, but other times he hits the nail right on the head. For example, on his recent visit with his good friends in Syria, not to mention Nasrallah and Meshaal, (a trip I’m sure you read all about in your local paper), he said (Arab News, March 8):

(The Americans) want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that.

It is hard to argue with that remark.

Continuing, Ahmadinejad stated in his trademark conciliatory negotiating stance that, for the life of me, reminds me of no one so much as Hillary:

We tell them that instead of interfering in the region’s affairs, to pack their things and leave.

There you have it, folks: the nub of the issue between Tehran and Washington. Of course, we really can't literally ask Iran to pack its things and leave; they live there. But that is the essence of Washington's policy. Pardon me for believing that the Mideast is big and complex enough so that these two parties ought to be able to co-exist there. Of course, Ahmadinejad is unlikely to admit that because his career is based on being a tough guy (for an American parallel, a certain former vice president comes to mind). But out of 70,000,000 Iranians, that still leaves 69,999,999 with whom we could have a chat.

So, how about some low-keyed informal chats between national security officials or non-official specialists on both sides, press absent to avoid posturing, so we can get to know each other? Think back to the Cold War 70’s and Soviet USA specialist Arbatov’s first meeting with Professor Kissinger. Did the world fall apart because the two gentlemen had a chat? Imagine a conversation between, say, Flyntt Leverett and Ali Larijani…

Meanwhile, official Washington continues to pour gasoline on Mideast flames:

  1. Hillary to Lebanese Speaker Berri: "Washington cannot make an effort to prevent Israel from making any aggression if Hizbullah does not stop replenishing its arsenal.”

  1. Hillary again: [called on Syria] "generally to begin to move away from the relationship with Iran.”

  1. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley: "We want to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region….One step would be to make clear to Iran what it needs to do. Unfortunately, this did not happen."

How any foreign government could resist such gentle and beguiling language is beyond me.

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