An Iranian offer to help the United States stabilize Iraq and end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas was rejected by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003, a former top State Department official told the British Broadcasting Corp.
The U.S. State Department was open to the offer, which came in an unsigned letter sent shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, told BBC’s Newsnight in a program broadcast Wednesday night. But, Wilkerson said, Cheney vetoed the deal.
The Moderate Voice delves into the debate about negotiating with Iran, with several commenters taking the view that it is hopeless.
Negotiation is almost never futile or hopeless. Ask professional hostage negotiators, if you don’t believe international diplomats. I’m frankly surprised so many “moderates” are so militaristic. If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
The first thing a successful negotiator would tell you is to knock off the inflammatory rhetoric. Getting into a shouting match with a crazy person is just plain dumb.
There are always areas of commonality. In this situation there are many. For example, Iran doesn’t want a million refugees. We want a secure border with Iran. We both want a secure border with Iran for different reasons. Same for Syria. Iran says it only wants nuclear power generation. A competent negotiator doesn’t say “Bull”. She says OK, let’s talk about how we can help you generate all the electricity you need and you can alleviate our fears that you want weapons (like letting the UN back in to seal those facilities). We’ll feel less threatened and cool it with inflaming our citizens against you. These are simple examples and there are many apparent, especially to a professional.
A familiarity with the history of Iran’s nuclear program is essential because many are offering the red herring that we can’t negotiate (on Iraq) because Iran won’t give up its nuclear ambitions, as if that’s a prerequisite for talking.
Here’s some background on Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, The USA started the Iranian nuclear program. France, UK and Germany helped. After the ‘79 Revolution, all these countries refused both to deliver on contracts or to return payments. Russia and China stepped up in the 1990’s to help them with peaceful power generation. Both of these countries were-and are-our “allies”. China is our banker and almost our entire manufacturing sector. So we’ve been supporting the builders of the Iranian program without objection for at least a decade. We ‘tried’ unsuccessfully to block the sale of some nuclear technology by China to Iran, but no attempt was made to force Walmart –for example, since it controls 10% of the Chinese economy– to stop the sale, nor to simply outlaw business with China and Russia until they stop dealing with Iran. We have not at all exhausted negotiating positions. This would be extreme, but not as extreme as attacking Iran.
There’s a common false assertion that Iran has rejected all negotiations on its nuclear program. Far from it. Iran is not even in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which the USA refuses to sign because we won’t allow inspections that Iran does. Furthermore, the Iranian nuclear facilities were under UN seal until 2005, a full 2 years after we started a war with their neighbor and 4 years after our “unreasonable fanatic” president declared them the axis of evil, as if God told him they’re working with the devil. Iran has plenty of reasons to distrust us and Bush looks as kooky and dangerous to Iranians as Ahmadinejad looks to us.
And another thing. What total BS to say that Iran “knows” we’re a part of the EU and Russian negotiations when we refuse to sit down at the table. Negotiation is about finding commonality and compromise, not taking and holding entrenched positions.
The US has no evidence that Iran is working on a bomb, just the word of a “dissident”. UK admits that Iran is not in violation of international agreements because notification of the two new facilities described by the dissident need not be made until nuclear materials are introduced.
The USA, and some of it’s more radical militaristic citizens, are advocating yet another unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation without evidence and long before nonmilitary options have been exhausted. This is a description of a dangerous aggressor armed with WMD that does not view war as a last resort, but condones “pre-emptive” war.
Now I know I won’t convince idealogues, because I think their positions are entrenched. For readers who are truly centrists, moderates or open-minded, I urge you to read up on the history of this conflict and consider that perhaps we are being manipulated, rather than informed, by the same warmonger and fearmonger zealots who got us into our current mess.