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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Apparently, we spurned Iran's offer to negotiate

   
Author Topic: Apparently, we spurned Iran's offer to negotiate
MrSquicky
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From a Washington Post article,
quote:
Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

Last month, the Bush administration abruptly shifted policy and agreed to join talks previously led by European countries over Iran's nuclear program. But several former administration officials say the United States missed an opportunity in 2003 at a time when American strength seemed at its height -- and Iran did not have a functioning nuclear program or a gusher of oil revenue from soaring energy demand.

"At the time, the Iranians were not spinning centrifuges, they were not enriching uranium," said Flynt Leverett, who was a senior director on the National Security Council staff then and saw the Iranian proposal. He described it as "a serious effort, a respectable effort to lay out a comprehensive agenda for U.S.-Iranian rapprochement."

I thought frightening Iran into coming to the bargaining table was one of the reasons given for our foreign policy.

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but I can't see this as anything but a big screw-up. "We don't want to negotiate now, when our position seems really strong and yours seems really weak. Let's wait until that situation evens out some and then we'll try to talk."

I'm reminded of the Downing Street Memo, that revealed that the Bush administration was actively trying to provoke Saddam into war. Are we trying to do the same thing with Iran?

[ June 19, 2006, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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Kwea
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They could have been using it as a delaying tactic, remember.

I am NOT a Bush fan, nor do I think we are handling our self-appointed duties particularly well overseas at this point in time, but it would take a lot more than one more memo offering to begin talks to convince me that this was anything more than propaganda.


They didn't have a lot of credibility then, nor do they now.

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Lyrhawn
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Well.

The propaganda angle makes little sense, if they wanted to do it for propaganda purposes, they would have released it via Al Jazeera, not a secret message passed to the State Department via the Swiss Embassy. The fact that they did it all cloak and dagger, and backed by the Swiss no less, I think adds all the more to the credibility of the offer, or at the very least, the lack of intent to gain some sort of political or media capital out of it.

THEY haven't said anything about it in the past few years have they? Their best chance to use the secret event for political gain was months ago. They could have said "Look, we TRIED to work with the US, directly, we put everything on the table before this whole debacle began and then turned down, outright, any chance for negotiations or peace."

It's true they don't have a lot of credibility, but. How long ago was Ahmenidijad (spelling slaughter there I know, I was doing it from memory) elected? I'm wondering if a different man was president when this offer came out, not that it matters anyway if it didn't come from Khameni. I'm curious as to what Bush, and Iran, both have to say about it NOW.

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SenojRetep
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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his term in August, 2005, thus significantly after the offer. The results of the election, IIRC, were a big surprise to the US, who thought that a more moderate was set to be elected (not that the Supreme Council would have let that happen, but whatever).
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calaban
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I don't think Iran wants to negotiate for anything other than more time for nuclear development. To Iran the payoff is too great. They want to have the international influence and bully power that Nukes provide.

Negotiations present the ability to extend the time frame surrounding the development of nuclear weapons to the point that they are at a critical mass literally and figuratively. Thier bluff is that no one will really do anything about it militarily.

They are likely using the international response to Pakistan obtaining nuclear power as thier model.

Additionally, if they can outlast the current administration, they are counting on getting an administration that will be more passive on the international front. This would allow them to achieve thier goals because at the best of times the UN is like DARE, lots of talk about what is or is not acceptable, coupled with no real enforcement capability.

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Shawshank
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I have a really difficult time believing something like this. That is that Iran would be willing to consider really actually 'discussing' its nuclear programs or policy toward Israel. Sounds rather anive.

And now that this memo has just randomly surfaced, it boggles my mind. I think sometimes people write memos just so they can say- oh look at this memo from 3 years ago.

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