Democrats & Liberals Archives

The 2003 Iran offer: Bush said no

In 2003, Iran offered a deal to the US. The deal (link) was to fight terrorists (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah), establish democratic institutions in Iraq, stop support of Palestinian opposition forces and accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In exchange, Iran asked the US waive all talk of regime change in Iran, remove economic sanctions and rid Iran of the Terrorist organization MEK. The Bush administration said no.

Now, personally i'm not surprised at this news. i fully expect this macho administration to forgo the smart play of negotiation and diplomacy for the bravado of the posturing, muscle-headed positions so frequently used by this administration. Taking diplomatic positions with unfriendly nations is all a part of the job in Washington. But evidently, this administration puts it machismo above all aspects of common sense to dispense it's own brand of ridiculous foreign policy.

But now, with the Democratic party in the majority, the news of such memos are now coming to light. Like the dog that has been held outside during a snowstorm, the Democrats are feverishly holding public hearings to ask questions that they've been wondering for years. And when they trot out people like Secretary of State, Condie Rice, to ask her about these memos, and she answers with the same, tired, old line of "I just don't remember ever seeing any such thing" during (link) the house foreign affairs committee. One has to wonder: Is the Bush administration, including Ms. Rice, being entirely honest about it's position with Iran? Some think that Rice is lying about her sudden lack of long-term memory (link).

Because it's funny that the very organization that Iran conditionally asked the US to handle is the very same terrorist organization that the Bush administration used to gather its intelligence (link) against Iran. Isn't this what the Bush administration did with Iraq when they used Chalabi as it's main source for intelligence against Saddam?

Even former Bush administration officials thought the Iran deal was a good deal. "What the Iranians offered in 2003 was nothing short of a Nixon-in-China breakthrough in US-Iranian relations," said Flynt Leverett, the Bush Administration's former top official on Middle East policy at the National Security Council said. Leverett also said that Colin Powell felt that he "couldn't sell it at the White House." to take on Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, who opposed negotiations with Iran.

Now Bush accuses Iran of arming Iraq against US forces (link). Should we question this new information? Or are these words just more, drumbeats, for the buildup of the invasion of Iran?

Keep peeling the onion; maybe, one day, we'll find out the truth.

Posted by john trevisani at February 15, 2007 8:11 AM
Comment #208217

Your link contains what the State Department said re: “This document did not come through official channels but rather was a creative exercise on the part of the Swiss ambassador,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday. “he last 30 years are filled with examples of individuals claiming to represent Iranian views. We have offered to Iran a chance to sit across the table from us and discuss their nuclear issue and anything else they would like, should they simply, verifiably suspend their uranium-enrichment activities.”

People talk - even diplomats. Regimes such as Iran’s are very good at floating these sorts of things. They come through the back channel and really come to nothing. It is like Saddam’s “offer” to step down.

The State Department works with cables and official memos. A fax cover sheet means nothing much. This is not mere bureaucracy. If you are selling you house and someone comes by and says his friend will pay twice the price, don’t you want to get the word a little more directly?

I read your links, and what you have is hear-say. The Iranians never said those headlined things. The Ambassador was under the impression that they might have that in mind.

I do not know what follow up State did. It is possible that somebody made a mistake. But it is as likely that this was another triumph of hope over experience or gassing over substance.

The Administration has made many very direct approaches to Iran. The Europeans have made very concrete offers on nuclear cooperation. Are we to believe that the Iranians, who have rejected all these and even boasted of their ability to trick the West, would have changed everything based on a fax?

This is what the EU has to say about Iranian fecklessness “In practice…the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

All this was happening during negations. But they would completely fair and honest in this fax.

Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #208221

Didn’t Abimadajubi make a public statement about the offer and didn’t Bush make public statements rejecting it? Or was that a different offer, etc…?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 15, 2007 10:56 AM
Comment #208225

“Should we question this new information?”


I have:

“I have a question for everyone though. Please look at some of the news photos of purportedly Iranian munitions (they’re spread all over the web) and tell me why the printing is in english. You can look at the Persian alphabet here:

“Same is true of the dates printed on these unexploded armaments. This is 1385 according to the Iranian Calendar, how can the munitions bear the dates 2005 or 2006.

“Posted by: KansasDem at February 12, 2007 08:45 PM” (in Jack’s thread “The Iranian Dilemma”

I’ve continued to read everything I can regarding this. One thing that sticks out in my mind is the ISG reporting that millions in Saudi cash has been provided to Iraqi Sunni’s some of which has purportedly been used to purchase Russian Strela shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles on the Romanian black market.

Or the fact that the recently oft spoken of “EFP’s” were first used by the IRA more than a decade ago:

“a former agent who infiltrated the IRA told The Independent on Sunday that the technology reached the Middle East through the IRA’s co-operation with Palestinian groups. In turn, some of these groups used to be sponsored by Saddam Hussein and his Baath party.”

I’m just not buying what Bush is selling.

Posted by: KansasDem at February 15, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #208230

When it comes to killing on an international scale, English is the language of choice.

Back channel contacts and negotiations do occur without making headlines, with the Swiss acting as go-betweens for the US & Iran. This offer by Iran has been known about for some time. The US rejection supposedly played a role- probably a small role, but nevertheless, a role- in undermining the previous, relatively moderate Iranian leader, and aiding the cause of the more radical Ahmadinejad. The offer was made by Iran when we were at the height of our hubris and arrogance, declaring “mission accomplished!” and the like, convinced military solutions would work in that part of the world. There is nothing surprising about the Iranian offer or the rejection by the Bush administration.

Rice is lying. No doubt about it.

Posted by: phx8 at February 15, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #208233

It is easy to make offers if you do not plan to live up to your promises. Iran has been stringing along the Europeans for several years, promising big, delivering nothing.

Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2007 12:15 PM
Comment #208234


You are sure Rice is lying. IF she had seen this and it was brought to her attention, what motivation would she have for not following up unless she just judged that it was not a serious offer?

Beyond that, in 2003 this would still have been Colin Powell’s State Department. The message went through State channels, through Armitage and probably Powell. You have to assume that not only Rice, but also Powell, Armitage and several layers of career foreign service are lying. Armitage explains much of this anyway. It is really not a Bush and probably not a Rice thing.

Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2007 12:23 PM
Comment #208238

Now I remember, it was last Summer, not ‘03.

It is easy to make offers if you do not plan to live up to your promises…Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2007 12:15 PM
Kind of like WMDs, flowers, and “all I know is the tax cuts will mostly benefit those at the bottom”? And what promises are you referring to anyway? I remember a lot of quid quo pro talk has been going on but nothing done by anyone.
It is really not a Bush and probably not a Rice thing…Posted by Jack at February 15, 2007 12:23 PM
Actually, it sounds exactly like a “Bush thing”. He would get no political capital from peace with Iran. How would he have invaded them next after the cake walk in Iraq?

Those guys sure have to do a lot of explaining, don’t they.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 15, 2007 12:40 PM
Comment #208239


Why are you so desperate to assume the best? Shouldn’t learning about information like this, hearsay as it might be, be reason to ask questions rather than assume you have the answer? Especially when that answer involves the most inherently risky methodology.

Look, it makes perfect sense to me why a nation with less formal bargaining power would want to pursue back-room negotiations. This is not rocket science here. And wanting a bilateral negotiation seems to have been the primary aim. This white house wouldn’t even have considered it officially without preconditions. So why are you so confused about Iranian motive? Be skeptical, but if it quacks, maybe check and see if it can swim too before passionately labeling it a non-duck at the possible huge expense of our nation’s security.

Yes, history tells us to be skeptical. But being careful is not the same as being pig-headed. If we didn’t pursue this offer to negotiate seriously, assuming it was on the level, then we have relegated ourselves to walking a dangerous tight-rope. And its obvious that we didn’t pursue it seriously seeing as how Ms. Rice is publicly ignorant about it (go figure).

Why was it necessary to limit much needed options? Because some subjectively say they aren’t to be trusted? Those same people have been wrong so many times now, it is almost funny. And Ms. Rice ought to have her own comic strip on Sunday mornings.

Me thinks it was arrogance and incompetence above all else. And the evidence keeps backing up that conclusion more and more over time. Powell’s comments in the Washington Post link certainly lead us there.

re: English markings on weapons - Can anyone shed light on what KansasDem is talking about? I’m really curious too.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 15, 2007 12:45 PM
Comment #208243

As the article by John states in the next to last paragraph, “Flynt Leverett, the Bush Administration’s former top official on Middle East policy at the National Security Council” has brought this story back into the headlines. At the time he worked for the Chairman of the NSC, Rice. State & Armitage were involved, as the links show.

Why would Rice lie? Well, her motivations would involve speculation. She could be motivated by mere embarrassment for missing a blown opportunity of colossal proportions. She could be motivated by the intent to pursue a confrontational policy with Iran. From everything we have seen, the latter seems most likely.

Posted by: phx8 at February 15, 2007 1:03 PM
Comment #208264

What exactly are you disputing? Do you dispute the existence of the letter/fax? Or do you dispute the motivations for the letter?

You should understand that the leaders of Iran in 2003 were different than today.

i’ll bet that Condie is kicking herself about that letter. That she’s wishing she could turn back time to when she get the memo and take appropriate action. She’s probably thinking it would have made her current job a lot easier if she did.

If she isn’t thinking that; she should.

Posted by: john trevisani at February 15, 2007 3:36 PM
Comment #208292

What I am disputing is the whole conspiratorial tone of this. In the course of any complex relationship, lots of things are said and floated. Most of them come to nothing and many times nothing is meant to come of them.

I assume that a communication that went through our professional diplomats, to top-level political appointees such as Armitage and Powell and then to a smart woman like Condoleeza Rice was properly considered. I also assume this was one of many such proposals they has received.

You have third parties speaking for other third parties, interpreting words of others. Taken out of context, it always sounds more interesting than it is.

Recently someone located in the British records that the French had proposed a union with the UK, even offering to accept Queen Elizabeth as their soverign. The document is evidently authentic, but does anybody really believe there was a serious chance of that happening? Or how about Rudolph Hess’ peace mission to Britian?

I find it distressing that you all are so willing to credit the third hand word of enemies of the United States and in the same breath assume that the every direct statement of your president is a lie.

And it is not only the president and his loyalist you call liars. You assume that various members of the career Foreign Service, non-political men and women who probably have been serving their country for 20 or 30 years, plus otherwise good people like Powell and Armitage are all so stupid, incompetent or craven that nobody until now has investigated this.

If you read carefully, you understand that this fax went to State, not directly to Rice, who was not Secretary of State in those days. That is why it would certainly have to have made the rounds and implicated all those guys above.

The whole thing just beggars belief. I would not believe it under Clinton either, BTW and the State Department was run much less effectively under Albright than under Powell or Rice.

Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2007 6:17 PM
Comment #208340

Jack: The message came through the Swiss Embassy because that is the unofficial laison between the U.S. and because there is no official means of discourse. We have no way of knowing if the Iranians were disingenuous because the offer was rejected outright. What if we had said may be? A conspiratorial attitude is the only one to have with this Administration because they are conspirators. They are conspiring against the best interests of the American people and the world with their Pax Americana theory of conquest and blackmail. I doubt that there is any nation on Earth that was more pleased that we were going after Saddam, not even Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: jlw at February 15, 2007 8:22 PM
Comment #208342

I’m sure we could cut a deal with the Iranians. The fact that they deny the holocost happened gives me the warm fuzzies that they are honest rational people who we can trust. The fact that they publicly state that they want Israel wiped off the map tells me that we are dealing with a people who want peace if we would just leave them alone. We need a democrat in the white house who will do the right thing and cut a deal with these guys so we can all live in peace.

Posted by: Carnak at February 15, 2007 8:27 PM
Comment #208363


Can I see the evidence that all or even most Iranians deny the holocaust?

I’ve only heard one unpopular and powerless president say it, personally.

Posted by: Kevin23 at February 15, 2007 9:38 PM
Comment #208371
…Colin Powell felt that he “couldn’t sell it at the White House.” to take on Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld

It’s interesting that the same thing came out about Dr. Rice in the Libby trial. She was afraid to cut the yellowcake story in the State of the Union because she didn’t want a fight with Cheney, who was pushing it hard.

This is another example of a completely dysfunctional administration. Bush isn’t getting the info he needs to make good decisions, and he’s not doing anything about it.

Posted by: American Pundit at February 15, 2007 11:09 PM
Comment #208380

The manufacture date on one device was written mm/dd/yyyy. The US is one of few countries to use that format. Iran,as the rest of the world ,uses dd/mm/yyyy.
I learned on the Discovery Channel how to make those EFPs.Really. Not too hard. Piece of 8” pvc fit with a copper cone,high explosive and detonator.Nothing that could not be made Iraq.

Posted by: BillS at February 16, 2007 1:44 AM
Comment #208391

Thanks for the answers.

Since you do not dispute the fax (no pun intended), what do you think a responsible administration should do with such communication?

You, like the current administration, seem to pick and choose which data you’re going to use to support your particular opinions. Rather than identifying a stated objective, identifying a particular method to achieve the objective and adapting to unforeseen challenges during the execution of the objective, it’s all about faith.

Chalabi and his ilk was the poster-child of all that this administration wanted to hear. They trotted out bad information after bad information because it fit their needs. Any person, …hmmm.. let’s say: Joe Wilson, that disputed the information was branded as unAmerican and smeared.

In this particular case, the administration, in all its bravado, had a specific method in mind: nation build by invasion, when they attacked Iraq. When a neighboring nation like Iran, who they already branded as being part of the “Axis of Evil” comes through, albeit round-about channels, with an offer. This administration tossed it aside, period.

As AP said: it’s the work of a completely dysfunctional administration.

Posted by: john trevisani at February 16, 2007 6:37 AM
Comment #208394

Trying to make a deal with the devil. Dont try it unless you have some real hard-core fiddling skills.
This reminds me of the cartoons my kids watch. Its usually a story about a bad guy who pretends to be a good guy and then double-crosses the heroes. And then, they spend the whole episode trying to figure out how to defeat a bad guy who now has intimate knowledge of the heroes weaknesses. So, they use intangible weapons such as teamwork, heart, or kindness to show the bad guy the error of his ways.
This strategy is only good for a saturday morning plot device.

Posted by: JoeRWC at February 16, 2007 8:07 AM
Comment #208396

The Neocons came into power with the preconceived notion that the previous, “liberal” methods of dealing with foreign governments were all wrong. They felt that much more could be gained by negotiating “from strength”. That was the way that they approached every negotiation. It was their belief that they should not be quick to accept any offer from another government; especially one with whom we had an adversarial relationship. They felt (and probably still feel) that the opponent had to suffer for awhile before we would consider sitting down to talk with them. That way, they would be “softened up” and ready to submit to our terms.
(This was the method used with North Korea. Of course, it didn’t work. Instead of rolling over, Kim Jong Il developed nuclear weapons and tested them. So he actually improved his position for negotiation.)
This would explain why the Bush administration would ignore any offer to negotiate from Iran. The Neocons would have felt that, after our glorious success in Iraq which they were so sure of, the Iranians would roll over for whatever we wanted. So it would have been best to wait until we had proven that we could do whatever we wanted in the middle east.
It’s not so hard to believe that the Bush admin ignored any previous attempts by Iran to treat with us if you consider their mindset. And, considering their track record, it’s not so hard to believe that they would now deny it.

Posted by: Cole at February 16, 2007 8:42 AM
Comment #208398


We do not know that it was rejected out of hand. The article quotes Armitage as saying that he could not determine what was the Swiss Amb wishful thinking and what was the Iranian offer. I do not know what else Armitage did re, but this indicates to me that somebody analyzed the document. The State Department is not a store front where the fax comes directly to Armitage, Powell or Rice. Some experts studied it & thought about it, otherwise it never would have gotten to the Armitage level at all. Career Foreign Service are very circumspect about these sorts of things and very few of them are Republicans anyway.

There also seem to be two parts to this. One is the Iranian offer; the other is the Swiss Ambassador’s gloss on what he thought the Iranians said. Evidently the offer is offers much less than the Ambassador thought they might have said.


See above.

It is very likely that that this piece of information was fully evaluated long before it got to the Armitage level. It is a clever diplomatic technique to throw up lots of offers. It works even better, as in the case of Iran, where you do not intend to follow them up if you partner does. The idea is to get your opponent chasing the chimera. Failing that, you create doubt, which is what they succeeded in doing with you guys.

When I say this was not a Bush or Rice thing, I am not only (or even mostly) trying to defend the Administration. This looks like the kind of thing that is best disposed of at a lower level. One reason our (and most) government is dysfunctional is that need to push every decision up to the top. We do need to have some filters.

A fax about what the Swiss Ambassador thought the Iranians might mean (although they never said it) is like that. The Iranians might have to come back channel. BUT the Swiss do not. The Swiss Ambassador, if he thought it was so important, can get a meeting with important Americans. He would not just fax it over. This is like those junk mailings you get asking you to refinance your mortage.

It just makes no sense to anybody who understands how diplomacy works for this to be very important. I would assume that the Swiss Ambassador would know what any junior officer learns at his first posting.

So for this to be true you have to assume the Bush Administration is completely incompetent. I know many of you would accept this. But you also need to assume the career Foreign Service is craven or incompetent, that people like Armitage and Powell are dishonest. That the Swiss do not understand the basics of diplomacy (or are careless - which is not a Swiss trait) AND the Iranians are honest and trustworthy as the Swiss. This is just a bridge too far.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2007 9:57 AM
Comment #208399

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. Obama’s parents met at the University of Hawaii.

When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a radical Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, “He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.”

Obama’s political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama’s introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Osama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the radical teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.

Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy.

Posted by: bonnie at February 16, 2007 10:39 AM
Comment #208400

What a fantasy. It’s already been agreed here that the Administration did not persue the letter. Why not? Because it’s been clearly postulated that there was no political advantage to be gained by doing so (within the Bush mind set anyway). None of your prerequisites (beyond incompetency or ideological zeal) is required for that to be true.

Using your analogies; What should be really clear is that treating an official communique from a competing government as “junk mail” is as stupid as ignoring a letter from the IRS. No matter what you think of the sender, they can’t be treated as another annoying money hog looking for a fee. The excuse of “filters” is how Bush has been avoiding responsibility of his failures as the “CEO President” He makes Lay and Nardelli look like a Welch.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 16, 2007 10:42 AM
Comment #208401
I find it distressing that you all are so willing to credit the third hand word of enemies of the United States and in the same breath assume that the every direct statement of your president is a lie.

I don’t know if this is true or not, but wouldn’t be suprised in the least if it was. It seems to fit his foreign relations “strategy” of giving other countries the brush off. I certainly think it should be investigated. Is that really asking too much?

I personally would not be suprised to find that the president, vice president, and his inner circle lie, because I believe I have already found that out numerous times. At this point, I think it is more reasonable to believe that the president manufactured evidence and used to get support for a war than not. I also believe the president was personally involved in leaking the identity of an undercover agent, and then covering it up. I believe this based upon many, many hours of looking at evidence and government reports, as well as listening to experts. I am hardly alone.

If clear and compelling evidence emerges that Bush manufactured evidence to lead us into war, will you support impeaching him?

Posted by: Max at February 16, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #208402


I find it distressing that you all are so willing to credit the third hand word of enemies of the United States and in the same breath assume that the every direct statement of your president is a lie.
So this is somehow different than that right win myth about Clinton being offered bin Laden? You guys chose to believe the word of Sudan, a country that our own State Dept accuses of harboring terrorists, over the Clinton Administration.

This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: ElliottBay at February 16, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #208410

Jack: According to Lawerence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, The offer came in a letter which was unsigned but which the State Department believed was approved by the highest authorities in Iran. Although the State Dept. was very interested in the offer, it was vetoed by Cheney. According to Wilkerson,”But as soon as it got to the White House, the old mantra of ‘We don’t talk to evil’…reasserted itself.”

We would be hard pressed to find anyone in this country that is more evil than Dick Cheney and he doesn’t give a damn about how many of our troops have to die to further his goals. His Pax Americana B. S. has gone far enough, it is time for the trial.

A majority of the American people are fed up with this Administration and it neocon/American corporations world domination scheme. They want funds for the surge cut off and they want our troops out of there before Cheney, the real decider, can invade Iran. The House GOP leaders have gotten the message and are calling on their members to vote against the surge.

Posted by: jlw at February 16, 2007 12:03 PM
Comment #208411

Is this story for real? Is it a conspiracy? The only reason it is of any interest in the first place is because of the current context.

If we were pursuing the ISG recommendation and, incidentally, common sense, we would be openly negotiating with Iran. A missed opporunity would only represent a delay in achieving peaceful goals.

Instead, the Bush administration seems to be pursuing a policy which stresses intimidation, belligerence, and the use of military & economic force, accompanied by a lot of bellicose rhetoric.

We have deployed a third carrier group to the Gulf, shipped air defense missiles to other nearby countries, at a time when we are involved in two land wars. We have added troops in Iraq, and accused Iran of responsibility at the “highest levels” for killing 170 US soldiers and wounding 600 more, to say nothing of the issue over the Iranian nuclear program.

We seem to be pursuing goals using the threat of military force, rather than through negotiation; it appears goals could have been already achieved by pursuing opportunities to negotitate. Worse, this pursuit runs a very real risk of a miscalcuation or mistake turning into a totally unnecessary cataclysmic conflict.

Posted by: phx8 at February 16, 2007 12:09 PM
Comment #208417


There are different levels of diplomatic communication. YOu get lots of things by fax. A fax by itself is a very low form of communication. You might even understand this from your own experience. If you are looking for a job, do you just fax your resume? If you do, how interested are you in that job? I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would never consider such a thing serious.

The sender was a Swiss Ambassador. If he wanted to follow up, he could easily have done so. You would expect him to follow up if he thought it was important. Again, think of your resume.

Now remmember that the fax went to State where dozens of career FSOs would have seen it. We know that Richard Armitage saw it. None of these guys evidently thought it was serious enough to make a big deal over.

You may hate Bush, but you have to take down the Swiss, career Foreign Service, Armitage and Powell to get at him.

My experience tells me one thing; yours evidently leads you in another direction. I do not know which of us has more, but this is not the kind of issue that can be resolved by argument. Either you understand it or you do not.


I reject the premise of your question. Such a hypothetical makes no sense. It will just lead to long diatribes re what is clear and compelling and what is manufactured.


I do not believe Clinton has the opportunity to get bin Laden in that way. You are right that the case are parallel, except in the case of Clinton you are talking about one thing, while for Bush it requires you to believe a long list of improbable factors.

You are right that the Bush haters are behaving as badly as the Clinton haters. I hate the stupidity of both.

P.S. If you can find any instance where you think I have been unfair to Clinton in any of the thousands of words I have written about him, please let me know.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2007 12:31 PM
Comment #208420

(I get very very few faxes but a ton of e-mails)

Whether I understand it or not?
Why would the Swiss ambassador follow up? He’s a messenger, period. Why didn’t the administration follow up? That is the real question.
In your answer, you ignore everything but your core argument. When an e-mail comes in on a critical topic from a unique soruce I read it and ensure those interested have a chance to see it. It appears throughout the administration that dissenting information was usually summarily discarded in favor of those things that supported dogma. It would also appear that the only person who didn’t take it seriously was Cheney. You can call it ‘filtering’ I call it stupid intentional ignorance. Much like the instructions to Atta “don’t talk to others for they will surely convince you away from the path”

From jlw (would like the link):

According to Lawerence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, The offer came in a letter which was unsigned but which the State Department believed was approved by the highest authorities in Iran. Although the State Dept. was very interested in the offer, it was vetoed by Cheney. According to Wilkerson,’But as soon as it got to the White House, the old mantra of ‘We don’t talk to evil’…reasserted itself.’

You are right that the Bush haters are behaving as badly as the Clinton haters. I hate the stupidity of both.
Most people hated Clinton for his politics and as sheeple. I hate Bush for what he has done to this country with his politics and his war. For his lies, for his deficits, for his abuse of 9/11, for a huge list. What I also hate is the blindness of those who follow him simply so they can be against liberals or because they can’t handle the guilt associated with their support and his being so grotesquely wrong about so many things. Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 16, 2007 1:19 PM
Comment #208421

Maybe the US should suspend our enrichment program and allow UN inspecters to verify as a pre-condition to talks with Iran.

Posted by: BillS at February 16, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #208426

Jack’s comments remind me of his arguments concerning the Plame leak cover up: Perhaps Rove and Cheney did not know Plame was undercover? Perhaps Rove did not realize he was confiming Plame was undercover to a newspaper reporter? To believe this, I would have to pretend these men know absolutely nothing about their jobs, and ignore all the news reports regarding Rove and Cheney’s everyday everyhour obsession over this issue.

It’s really the same with this. Maybe they didn’t read the fax? Maybe they didn’t know this note was important? Maybe they didn’t take the note seriously? Maybe the whitehouse dog came by and ate the report? I mean, seriously Jack, do you seriously expect us to believe this was ignored because it was a fax? Bush & Co didn’t follow up on this, because the fact that the message was a fax tipped them off that it wasn’t for real? I think you’re really stretching on this one….

Posted by: Max at February 16, 2007 1:53 PM
Comment #208449

It seems obvious to me that given such a communication was sent, one of the first courses taken would have been to confer with the Swiss, given that they were the backchannel. Of course with backchannels, comms are non attributable, precisely the reason they are useful. It is a mechanism for communicating without risk, until sufficient confidence has been established into the bona fides of each party. Logically, such a process is likely to take several series of communications before they would either mature into more direct contact or else be discarded as not worth pursuing. And also no doubt the Swiss would be offering their advices on the reliability and persuasiveness of the Iranian sources. This is typically what Diplomats would do in such circumstances.

The fact that it did not apparently go beyond a single communication through the Swiss suggests strongly that it was not explored in any detail and was dismissed contemptuously. Such an interpretation fits perfectly with the mindset of this regime, which will entertain noting which does not tie in with its imperial and viciously aggressive agenda. In any county of laws, this regime would be in the dock by now. How far the US has fallen.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 16, 2007 3:26 PM
Comment #208452

Apologies, last sentence should have read ” In any country”, not county.


Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 16, 2007 3:28 PM
Comment #208458

Thanks for reminding us Paul, what would you do about it? I’m out of ideas…

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 16, 2007 3:48 PM
Comment #208463


I do not think it was ignored. I think the experts at State decided it was not a serious proposal. Maybe they were wrong. Probably they were right. It is likely it never made it up the chain past Armitage. We hire these smart guys to deal with these things. Each day thousands of such decisions are made. It is easy to second guess any one of them. If we all made those perfect decisions at the time that we say we would have made now, there would be no fat, poor or unhappy people in the world.


We do not know how much they conferred with the Swiss Ambassador. The people who really know (including the Ambassador) won’t say and nobody else evidently knows. As I wrote above, State might have made a mistake. More likely this proposal was something like the French proposal to accept Queen Elizabeth as sovereign or worse, just an attempt to tie up the U.S. is useless discussions.

The fact that it remains a single communication based on third party hear-say indicates that it probably was not serious. If you are talking about real good faith attempts to communicate, you cannot only look to one party. If I was interested in getting a meeting, I would do more than just speak in general terms and try more than once.

This is the general problem with the one off conspiracy theory things. They point to one vague case, extrapolate to the hypothetical, assume the best or worst case scenario, no matter how low the probability and then look for villains.

Hypothetically, most things are very easy.

And these kinds of things have more fathers than Anna Nicole’s baby with about the same claim.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2007 4:14 PM
Comment #208469
The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.
Joseph Heller (1923 - 1999), Catch 22 Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 16, 2007 4:58 PM
Comment #208474

“it was not explored in any detail and was dismissed contemptuously. Such an interpretation fits perfectly with the mindset of this regime, which will entertain noting which does not tie in with its imperial and viciously aggressive agenda.”

Paul in Euroland,

IMO that pretty much says it all. At the very least a large number of Americans and an even larger number foreigners have lost all faith in Bush & Co. I just don’t feel that I can trust anything communicated by the Bush administration. That’s a bad situation given that I’m far from being alone in that opinion.

Would we trust him if he needed to respond to an immediate threat?

BTW Condi’s has had no credibility since her testimony before the 9-11 commission. I’m just too damn sick and tired of the BS to google her response again. THERE WAS A MEMO warning of the threat!

Jeeeez lueeeez!

Posted by: KansasDem at February 16, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #208478

Dave1-20-2009: The article was from the BBC dated Jan.18,2007. I googled Iran offers help in Iraq.

I really messed up part of my previous post. The GOP has not gotten the message and are not urging members to vote against the surge.

Posted by: jlw at February 16, 2007 7:19 PM
Comment #208481

If I was interested in getting a meeting, I would do more than just speak in general terms and try more than once.

Posted by: Jack at February 16, 2007 04:14 PM

Jack, the Israelis and Syrians have been having back channel negotiations for a settlement for some time. Yet when they were disclosed, the highest levels of both regimes denied anything was happening or authorised.

Such talks are super sensitive and carry potentially huge risks for either one or both parties. Now, if you’re trying to establish a line of communication in such fraught circumstances and the immediate response you get is contemptuous, then I think, with all the risks inherent in the situation even in the best circumstances, you will tend to hold fire on taking it further. I can well imagine Iranian leadership seeing in such a response a US determination not to find a negotiated solution that requires them to give something. If you know in advance that your counterpart in only interested in your total surrender to their hegemony, then, unless you are ready to so surrender, you will not pursue that road.

Dave 1-20-2009, its really very simple. If the US is a democracy, and if your political appointees, whom you as citizens appoint, do not act in your interests, then you engage in activity to get their attention. You cannot wait until 2008 for the next house elections and the presidential elections. American democracy is only an empty shell if, the people having expressed their clear will last Nov, nothing changes and the people just accept that; “Oh Jeez, well that didn’t work, might as well just give up!” That is not the American people I thought I knew. If your pols are not acting in your interests, you have to get their attention. That means mass emailings, mass protests in their electoral districts, mass petitions. If they know that their voters are DEMANDING UNCONDITIONALLY that they behave as required, and that failure to act will guarantee their political oblivion, you will get change. It means more than posting on blogs. The end of the Vietnam war was really before my political maturity, tho’ I was somewhat conscious of it. Probably like many people, I learned more about it long after it was over. I do however have a strong sense of the anti war protests. Perhaps that was simply because there was a draft. I have a strong fear however that today’s generations, including mine, have had it too easy for too long. It’s easy to bitch in small groups, or in any situation which does not involve too much inconvenience, but if people are not prepared to get their hands dirty and work up a sweat, don’t be surprised if nothing changes. That is what the Masters of the Universe, or the Vulcans depend on. Viva La Revolucion!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 16, 2007 7:26 PM
Comment #208482

Jack: according to the BBC article dated 1-18-2007/, the State Dept. did think it was a serious proposal and they did send it to the White House where it was rejected by Cheney. Perhaps Armitage is just the boy that works under Cheney’s desk. Perhaps George Bush thinks he is Luke Skywalker instead of the Emperor. Perhaps Cheney thinks he is Obi-Wan kenobi instead of Darth Vader.

Posted by: jlw at February 16, 2007 7:49 PM
Comment #208490

Hypothetically then. If it was a serious offer do you think it was a missed opportunity? Do you see any value now with an Iranian dialoge?

Posted by: BillS at February 16, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #208495

Thanks for reminding us Paul, what would you do about it? I’m out of ideas…
Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at February 16, 2007 03:48 PM

Listen to your fellow citizen!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 16, 2007 9:22 PM
Comment #208525

Paul & BillS

It depends on whether you think this particular thing was crucial.

We do not know all the details. By its very nature a backchannel or off the record approach would be unknown. Perhaps this was part of something else.

What I find very silly is the demand that everything be made public all the time. We get one piece of information and either we assume we know it all or each of us wants to substitute our judgment for those who made the decision.

I do not have any inside information either. On the face of this, however, it does not make any sense.

Think of it from the Iranian point of view. Assume somebody in power wants to talk. He speaks elipically to the Swiss diplomat. Nothing happens. Is the the ONLY thing he does? He just gives up?

Others have brought up the supposed Sudan offer to hand over bin Laden to Clinton. This also does not make much sense. These are the kinds of things of spy FICTION. The ONE super thing that changes the world as we know it. The ONE indispensible man. The ONE key decision. ALL of it secret.

I do not know very much about those of you who write, but I assume some of you are in mangement or leadership positions. You make a decision. All decisions are made in climates of some uncertainty and by their nature they include some things and exclude others. You probably have a subordinate or colleague whose idea was rejected or (he thinks) overlooked. He always goes around telling everybody how this would have changed everything if only… He is not always wrong, but it is never that simple.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 9:39 AM
Comment #208526

One more thing about decisions. You have to decide from among many things. The decision you make is never the best possible solution, becuase there are many more possibilites than you can make reality.

What you cannot realistically do is choose from subequent outcomes to judge the validity of a choice. You cannot just pull one thread out and keep other things. Even if you have complete prescience, you could not make the choices that will produce the optimal outcomes you can imagine.

Doing something differently will produce different outcomes, but life does not allow you to choose from among the results.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 9:47 AM
Comment #208541

My question?

Posted by: BillS at February 17, 2007 12:31 PM
Comment #208567


It is a hypothetical like “Do you still beat your wife?”

To paraphrase President Clinton, it depends on what the work “If” means.

Maybe it is more like saying, “If the lottery ticket was a winner, wasn’t it a mistake not to buy it?” Yes. IF. But just like you cannot buy all the lottery tickets, you cannot chase every opportunity.

And most of the lottery tickets are worthless, BTW.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 4:11 PM
Comment #208568

Sorry the WORD not the work.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 4:13 PM
Comment #208578

Nice piece of schmoozing Jack. You want something to happen, seriously want it to happen. Suddenly, you get an indication that events could go your way. Do you ignore it or explore it? I guess that depends on what it is you really want. Sometimes, people put out demands that they fervently hope will not be met. Usually its because what they say they want, is not really what they want. They’re just playing a game, a propaganda game. That’s how I read this one.

When the head of the IAEA says that he has no evidence of Iran breaking the NNPT, that he has had full access to their nuclear sites, it puts me in mind of Hans Blix and Iraq. That didn’t save Iraq from its calvary. The reason it didn’t is because many people both in the US, and particularly internationally, know about the manufactured intelligence from the OSP of Douglas Feith. Manufactured intell which interpreted evidence as it saw fit, contrary to the interpretations of your own professional intell agencies, and took aboard everything that was fed to them by the Israeli intell agencies on faith. The fact is the neo cons were not interested in the truth. They were only interested in anything that would apparently justify what they wanted to do. Invade Iraq.

Jack, to me and to many others, your country has suffered a silent coup d’etat. Even as your people voted last Nov, nothing changes. As my brother-in-law cynically says, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always wins. In an admittedly unscientific survey by TIMEEUROPE.COM in 2003, asking which country poses the greatest danger to world peace, North Korea, Iraq or the US? The US won the title, gaining an incredible 86.9% of the vote. Congratulations. Lots of people around the world are hoping for one of two things. Either the total anihilation of the neo cons at the next US elections, or else the total humiliation of American power. Preferably number one, but if it comes to it, no 2 will do anyway. Why do they hate you? Wrong question. Why would they not hate you???

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 17, 2007 5:19 PM
Comment #208628


A lot of people can be wrong.

I have been here before with Ronald Reagan. All those liberal Euro & American weinies called for a nuke freeze. Five years later we had a real reduction and the problem was on the way to being eliminated in the form they feared.

Let me say again what I said in my post across the way. I do not expect the U.S. to invade Iran. It would be stupid and you can quote that back to me if I am wrong. One reason all these people think America is a danger is that they swallow the propaganda that we will invade Iran.

Re humiliation of U.S. power, I would not hope for that if I were a European. Without us around, you would have to defend yourselves to a much greater extent. Frankly, I would like to see that, but every time we have a real action, only a few step up. European “going it alone” in Bosnia, Kosovo, Darfur etc is not encouraging.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 9:24 PM
Comment #208630


Or let’s talk about Iran itself. How is that European effort to solve the nuke problem going over there? During this time you are saying Rice was not working with the Iranians, Europeans were running that show. Presumably they should have come up with this breakthrough.

Not so easy as you think. If the Europeans had achieved some success in these negotiations, we would not even be having this discussion. We would just be giving peace a chance and those Iranians would be reading Kant.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2007 9:32 PM
Comment #208742

“I do not expect the U.S. to invade Iran. It would be stupid”—-Invading Iraq was very stupid, but that didn’t stop the neocons. Many still think the neocons aren’t stupid. The neocons have a stupid ideology and they will stupidly persue that stupid ideology as long as we stupidly allow them to do so.

The Iranians want one thing desperately, why, I don’t know. They want diplomatic recognition from the U.S. They would probably be willing to give up a lot to get it. We in America and I mean all of us are very relunctant to give them what they want because of what they did to our embassy personel in 1979. They need to humbly admit that what they did was very wrong and very stupid. We need to humbly admit that what we did to them before 1979 was wrong.

I think the people of Iran have forgiven us for the Shah even though their government won’t let them forget it. We haven’t forgiven them, but perhaps we should and give them an opportunity to prove that they are willing to join the world as a peaceful nation. What was that old Reagan philosophy, “Trust but verify.”

Posted by: jlw at February 18, 2007 6:14 PM
Comment #208755


If we invade Iran I will write against Bush and admit you were right. If we do not invade Iran, you can write in support of Bush and admit I was right.

We are engaging Iranians in various ways. I do not read Persian either, but I know people who do. Our government has been doing outreach to Iranians for a long time now.

Posted by: Jack at February 18, 2007 8:19 PM
Comment #208756

Jack, you say that without the US around, Europe would have to defend itself much more. Against what exactly? The Soviet Union is long gone, and there is nothing on our frontiers that could not easily be dealt with with existing EU states capabilities. Russia is more likely over time to draw closer to Europe anyway.

One thing that bothers me, and I’ve asked for your opinion on it without reply, is why the US needs to outspend the rest of the world in military spending. Is it contemplating taking on the rest of the world? If so, why? To me this seems to be the only example of insane military spending of any country I know of. Particularly at a time when there is no country, never mind group of countries arming and militarising at anything like the rate of the US. This isn’t an arms race. It’s a one horse race. Looking back in history, it seems to me that whenever a country unilaterally invested so heavily in arming itself, it turned out to be a massive threat to those nearby. Of course, with the US’s power to project its power around the globe, it is not necessarily only its neighbours who need to be wary. Please explain to me Jack, why the US needs to outspend the rest of the world on its military?

As to the rest of your post re Iran, perhaps the answers lie with the author of the following piece;

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 18, 2007 8:21 PM
Comment #208761

Jack, you link to the state dept is wonderful. Given that neither of us understand or can read Persian, it adds little to the debate. One might assume that it is trying to reach ordinary Iranians to encourage their receptivity to the US govt. Such a strategy, over time might yield results, if it were not for unsubtle military threats and positioning three carriers groups with Iran clearly the target in their sights. I have a simple rule that seldom fails me. Never mind what someone is saying, look at what they are doing. Actions speak louder than words.

I know that if I were an Iranian, BushCo manipulation and threats in my region would leave me very cold to the US. And if the US attacked me, I would be an Iranian first, regardless of my political leadership. We saw the same in Russia when Hitler invaded. The Iranians have threatened no one as a people. They are a sophisticated and educated people with a great national pride. They will not be dictated to by anyone, and no doubt if attacked by the US, they will resourcefully find multiple ways in their own region to make the US pay.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 18, 2007 9:00 PM
Comment #208917


You could not even move a European army to the front unless you sent them on public transportation. European forces are not mobile.

Re Iran

I like the Iranian people too. I repeat again that the idea that the U.S. will invade Iran is an idea floated by Bush’s critics and probably by the Iranian leadership.

I do not read Persian, but I know lots of people who do. These are outreach. Some are in English too.

Posted by: Jack at February 19, 2007 5:22 PM
Comment #208945

What front are you talking about Jack? If you exclude Russia, there is no formidable military threat anywhere near Europe, especially not one that has any mobility to move military assets to anywhere near threatening distance of Europe. Now if we take Russia as a possibility, perhaps it has that level of mobility, I don’t know. But I don’t have shivers of fear regarding a Russian invasion. That fear dissipated with the end of the cold war.

Speaking of shivers of fear, why is the US so apparently pathologically fearful of attacks from abroad, seemingly always fears of countries with no capacity to present any credible threat to the US? It does not present an image of a country deserving of the title of home of the brave. I notice also Jack that you decline to offer your opinions, as requested, on the need for the US to outspend the rest of the world on military spending. The reality is Jack, the the Military Industrial Congressional Complex has taken over the reins in the US, and its puppets use the stirring up of fear among Americans to ensure that the plundering of taxpayers money for unnecessary military programs. Flying the flag, or wrapping yourself in it, produces the Pavlovian response desired to blind the people with patriotism, while their pocket books are plundered. Of course, when you build a military juggernaut, the temptation to use it, or perhaps sometimes to justify it, can be compelling. It was Samuel Johnson who described patriotism as the last bastion of a scoundrel.

Jack, please give me your interpretation of the need for the US outspending the rest of the world combined on military investment? Surely the only logic in such apparent insanity is for the US to expect to take on the rest of the world, all at the same time. If that is the case, then surely it implies offensive intent much more so than defensive intent?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 19, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #209115


Americans are a bit odd in that way. We want to feel safe from all possible things. We used to depend on the oceans and the Royal Navy to protect us. In those days, we were like Europe today. We spend almost nothing on military to protect a very large land area because the Brits did all the housekeeping (i.e. keeping the sea lanes open, not allowing any continental power to threaten us). The Brits became unable to defend us and in 1917 we had to step in. As soon as that was over we demobilized. In the 1930s we had an army smaller than Spain or Italy. After Pearl Harbor and WWII, we took the lesson that we had to be strong. Maybe we learned the lesson too well, but others started to behave as we did vis a vis the Brits.

Maybe we should cut back. Why should the U.S. taxpayers shoulder the burden and then take all the crap from everybody else from doing it. But when we do not act, the world gets Rwanda, Kosovo or Darfur. W/o U.S. sea and airpower, almost no international relief would have reached the victims of the tsunami or earthquakes in Pakistan. Somebody has the run the world emergency corps.

In fact, if you subtract the naval capacity of the English speaking countries (US, UK, Australia) nobody could keep the pirates off and teh whole world trade system would be threatened.

You do not have to thank us all at once, but like the old song, you’ll miss us when we are gone.

Posted by: Jack at February 20, 2007 9:34 PM
Comment #209133

And for these reasons you spend more than all of the rest of the world on the military? Really Jack, is that the best you can do? You disappoint me. Keeping sea lanes open and free from pirates would cost a fraction of your spend.

As to Darfur and Rwanda etc? Well, you didn’t act on those, did you? No, because neither of those represented what the US perceived as a vital interest. And of course I see it now. The US has to have a huge military to distribute humanitarian relief. How could I have been so cynical.

You disappoint me Jack. There have been so many contributions of yours on this blog which clearly demonstrate that you are an educated and intelligent man. Most of those have been eminently rational and moderate. It just seems that these are certain areas where you are unwilling to question the status quo. Of course we all have our blind spots, but I like to think that we are open to questioning them when others challenge them. To my mind, the only possible rational reason for US profligate spending on its military is to enable it to dominate the world and seek to impose its will and its concept of order on everyone else. The Imperium continues.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 21, 2007 3:50 AM
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