Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to talk to Iran

Photo copyright Associated Press

"I don't see why the most powerful nation in the world can't talk to the leaders of Iran (and) put some pressure on (them)...When I was in Europe, I talked to (Yugoslavian President) Slavodan Milosovich and told him that if he didn't get in line he would be bombed"

Thus spake General Wesley Clark, former commander of NATO, former Democratic Party Presidential candidate, and political pundit. He was criticizing the State of The Union Address and the current administration's refusal to talk to the leadership of Iran to find a solution to the dual wars in Iraq. Of course, we know that NATO went to war with Yugoslavia, and Milosovich's country was bombed incessantly after Clark's talks with the wayword President. Clark's talks didn't amount to much.
It sounds to me as if Clark, who has expressed fear that the United States may engage in armed conflict Iran, is advocating war. This wasn't the only comment in which General Clark seemed to be contradictary. "We don't have to talk to (Iranian President Ahmadinejad), there are other elements in Iran we can talk to."
But none of these "other elements" are in a position to make or influence national and international policy in Iran. Certainly, as did the Iraq Study Group, individual "moderate" ayatollahs on the Supreme Islamic Council, can be spoken to, but not in the element of official policy. The Supreme Islamic Council, as the ruling body of Iran, cannot, by their perception of their religion, speak to representatives of the United States in any official capacity, because such representatives are "dhimmis" and not of the correct standing to speak to in such capacity.
Nor can the dissident or shadow government of Iran be a viable party in such talks. Those who are not in prison or in exile may be allowed to speak to representatives of the United States, but they dare not go contrary to the government's policy for fear of imprisonment or death. Besides, what purpose would that serve?
There is a glimmer of hope for future relations with Iran in that there has been some talk about impeaching, or at least reigning in President Ahmadinejad. This may mean a more moderate stance on the part of Iran, and, if it does, then it could be possible to have meaningful talks with that government. However, the Supreme Islamic Council will most likely not change its stripes, and the US will still be "The Great Satan," and untouchable in the minds of the ayatollahs.
That does not mean that Iraq can't establish relations or agreements with Iran. It should be up to that government to establish relationships with its neighbors. The Iraqi government first needs to be secure, though, before it can do so, otherwise it has no leverage.
We don't have to fear war with Iran. It is very possible that within forty minutes of the moment that Iran announces that it has a nuclear weapon, it will be green-glassed by Israel. Israel is the target of threats by Iran, and Israel, with a reported two-hundred warhead nuclear arsenal, will not hesitate to strike preemptorily to prevent its own annihilation. Hopefully, the ayatollahs realize that, and, eventually, will give in to the rest of the world and accept the light water nuclear technology which has been offered them.

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