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Negotiating with Iran

Back in March of this year I posted an article, “A Grand Bargain with Iran,” in which I said it was time to negotiate seriously with Iran, not only about their nuclear power program, but about the many items that divide Iran from U.S. Many thought I was a dreamer who has lost his ties to reality. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read yesterday in the latest issue of the American Prospect that Iran had suggested to the U.S. a grand bargain similar to the one I had written about way back in the spring of 2003!

Briefly, on March 22, 2006 I suggested 3 items to a grand bargain:

  • Iran forgoes nukes & U.S. drops Iran from "Axis of Evil"

  • Iran helps achieve Iraqi peace and U.S. recongnizes Iran as primary Middle East power

  • Iran helps achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace & U.S. offers economic development aid
According to Gareth Porter, the author of "Burnt Offering" in the June issue of the American Prospect, after 9/11, Iran cooperated with the U.S. in search and rescue operations, humanitarian aid and even in supplying Afghanistan-target advice. U.S. tossed all this aside and answered by listing Iran in the "Axis of Evil." Porter notes that Condoleezza Rice was against this move, but Bush went with the hard-nosers, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Being on the "Axis" convinced Iran that America would attack it after finishing with Iraq. The author quotes Trita Parsi, of the Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, an expert on Iran, as saying, relative to Iran's nuclear program:

"They believed if they didn't do something, Iran would be next."

So in 2003, the Iranians proposed a grand bargain. I quote him directly:

"The proposal, a copy of which is in the author's possession, offered a dramatic set of specific policy concessions Tehran was prepared to make in the framework of an overall bargain on its nuclear program its policy toward Israel, and al-Qaeda."

The document offered:

  • "to accept much tighter controls by the International Atomic Eenergy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for 'full access to peaceful nuclear technology.'"

  • "acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-states approach.)"

  • "a 'stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory' and 'pressure on these organizations to stop violent action agaisnt civilians within borders of 1967'"
This grand bargain is very similar to what I suggested. But the Bush administration refused to talk. Nothing but angry rhetoric do we hear from administration officials.

Recently, Iran tried again. After spewing rounds of tough talk, it appears that we are finally beginning to talk. I sure hope so. Maybe Rice pushed a little harder this time. Maybe Bush learned his lesson about the limits of bullying. Whatever the reason, negotiations can break the deadlock in a way that will satisfy both sides.

Intelligently attacked, negotiation with Iran can lead to better results in Iraq, a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to a more prosperous Middle East.

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 8, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #155755

“Recently, Iran tried again. After spewing rounds of tough talk, it appears that we are finally beginning to talk. I sure hope so.”


Those few words sum up my feelings about the situation. I couldn’t help but notice earlier today on another thread that one of our resident “trolls” brought up a criticism of Joe Biden’s comments on MSNBC’s Hardball from yesterday regarding Iran.

I hadn’t had time to watch Biden’s exchange on Hardball until just before I read your article, but Biden’s feelings regarding Iran pretty much agree with yours. That exchange is now available on the web. Damn I hope beyond hope that “we” will be cool headed enough to expend all efforts toward a peaceful solution with Iran.

I still remember Hans Blix nearly pleading for more time just before Bush ordered the bombing to begin. Well, the rest is history. Unfortunately the history is still unfolding before our eyes.

Be things as they may you were right in March and you are right now. Would you care to start a poll regarding how many times you and I will be called traitors on this thread? Not that either of us care.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 8, 2006 7:48 PM
Comment #155761

You guys will have to check with Aldous on this one!!

Posted by: Duano at June 8, 2006 8:17 PM
Comment #155777

For once Duano and I agree…

Anyway, it is too late for talk. Iran can only be safe as long as they have nukes. We must hit them now while they are vulnerable.

Posted by: Aldous at June 8, 2006 8:41 PM
Comment #155779

Paul; Kansas: are you two serious? One wonders how you have made it through life to this point without learning anything at all about it. Do you guys live in a bubble designed to keep you from reality, on the grounds it may offend you in some way? The only place you can spew this crap is on the internet. If you did it in public you would be laughed out of town..

Posted by: whitebigot at June 8, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #155780

Anyone who honestly believes that you can successfully negotiate with a terrorist state and takes their word at face value is a complete fool. Ask yourself if they mean business or is this just the same kind of delaying tactic that we’ve seen so many times from other dictators around the world.

I’m sure the U.N. will do the same incompetent job that they did with North Korea and Iraq. Unfortunately, once again it will fall on the U.S. and Great Britain to do the job that the rest of the world is unwilling or unable to do.

Posted by: Tim at June 8, 2006 8:45 PM
Comment #155828

Uh, negotiation costs “time” and “words”.

War costs lives.


PS: Will we be any less able to blow the hell out of Iran if we talk to them first?

Posted by: KansasDem at June 8, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #155844


Considering that the US and Great Britain are 2 members of the Security Council, you might want to limit your “Incompetence in the UN” rant.

Posted by: Aldous at June 8, 2006 10:24 PM
Comment #155876

Bush and his motley crew are cowards to the bone. It took no courage whatsoever to invade and conquer a nation (Iraq) with a second class defense, no air force and no air defense system. Iran has a first world military defense and one supposes a fairly well thought out strategy of counter-attack through terrorism.

In case anyone missed the Ayatollah’s not-so-subtle threats, the targets of any retribution by Iran would not be iconic buildings or monuments but rather oil fields and refineries from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia to Venezuela to Texas. Temporary shut down of Katrina damaged rigs and refineries caused the price of oil to cross the $70 per barrel line. Mere saber-rattling between our nation and theirs caused the price of oil to jump over the $75 per barrel mark.

If carried out, the Ayatollah’s threats would probably cause the collapse of the world economy. Even with our strategic oil reserves, the price of gas in America would destroy the trucking industry and the dominoes would begin to fall. Those threats were not lost on Bush and Co. and like any bully, they backed down.

Posted by: Thom Houts at June 8, 2006 11:58 PM
Comment #155899

I thought Bernanke had more to do with Bush’s wimpiness than Iranian threats.

Regardless, we must attack Iran now. I see nothing that could be offered that could convince Iran that Bush won’t topple them at the first chance.

Nukes are the only safety the have.

Posted by: Aldous at June 9, 2006 1:43 AM
Comment #156137

Watchblog Editors:
Why won’t you allow me editorial comment?

Posted by: jblym at June 9, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #156138

Watch Blog Editors:
Why won’t you allow me to have editorial commment?

Posted by: jblym at June 9, 2006 6:12 PM
Comment #156732

Paul you ever think that maybe the Iranians might see now that George Bush is a serious man and not even the liberal democrats can sway him from doing exactly what he says he is going to do?Face it Iran will not have a Nuke program as long as the Republicans have the White house.So stop patting yourself on the back you sound FOOLISH!!

Posted by: lookingout at June 12, 2006 1:17 PM
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