The Western-Iranian nuclear road-show, for it hardly seems to merit the term “negotiations,” continues inJudging from public reports,
’s backyard. Iran and Tehran may insist on slapping each other in the face at every opportunity, but the region has changed greatly with the demise of Washington ’s bitter enemy Saddam and the rise of Shi’i rule in Iran . Iraq
Western apologists for the West’s hardline stance are, judging from public reports, correct that
Such tactics merely empower extremists on both sides.
It is bad enough when politicians play a zero-sum game in which they reject compromises that allow each side to benefit and instead demand solutions that leave the adversary punished, humiliated, and vowing revenge. But when politicians play a negative-sum game, in which both sides are harmed, one has a perfect picture of unprofessionalism. The politicians of course have their reasons. Obama fears Republican electoral exploitation of any demonstration that he is thinking rather than flexing his muscles like a true cowboy. Given the even more vicious nature of Iranian politics, Ahmadinejad, already on the defensive for numerous domestic reasons, may fear for his life if he makes too many concessions. So both societies risk proxy wars, economic sabotage, terrorism (by Mossad, by the MEK, or perhaps by
No one expects the West to make all its concessions on day one, but it must offer some recognition of 1)
As for negotiating a genuine solution, the Western position is still not even close to the starting gate. If the Obama Administration has any clear idea at all of what would constitute a “solution” to the U.S.-Iranian dispute, it is keeping that idea very, very close to its chest, and that is a tragedy, because what the world needs now is transparency: Iranian nuclear transparency and American transparency on a vision of how a genuine U.S.-Iranian détente might be made to work.