Thursday, June 01, 2006

Offer To Talk With Iran Beginning Of A Long Process

The offer by the Bush Administration to talk with the Iranian government was probably inevitable, and is just a beginning in what is likely to be a long, long process.

The immediate situation is well summed up in a quote in the L.A. Times story from an unnamed diplomat in Vienna: "They've crossed the threshold. They've said they will talk directly to the Iranians...There are conditions that make it unlikely that it will happen quickly, but it's part of a process."

Often, when talks begin on an intractable problem, it takes a long time to even decide on the shape of the table, as was the case in the talks with the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war.

So the statements on the two sides now must be put into perspective. Their opening positions are only the first small step.

But it's clear the Iranians want talks. That can be seen in last month's letter from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, to President Bush. While couched in terms of religious nonsense, it nonetheless showed a desire for mutual exchanges.

At present, the Bush Administration says it will only talk with Iran about a program of economic incentives to get it to abandon plans it has to build a nuclear weapon.

However, the reason we are so concerned about Iran building a weapon is its threats to "wipe out" Israel, and a possible threat of a nuclear-armed Iran against the Gulf states, with their immense oil resources. If Iran were to actually begin assembling a nuclear weapon, it would not only lead to a possible Israeli strike, or even American action, but it could well lead Saudi Arabia and Egypt to also try to develop the atomic bomb, thus compounding nuclear proliferation problems in the Middle East.

It is not going to be easy, and may not be wise, to limit any talks that do begin to the nuclear issue alone. The whole issue of Iranian relations with Israel, including its sponsorship of the murderous Hezbollah organization in Lebanon and its alliance with the corrupt Assad regime in Syria probably should be on the table as well.

It may be worth remembering that before Khomeini came to power, Iran, under the Shah, had fairly decent relations with the Israelis, including the sale of oil. The Israelis, on the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, chose also to deal with the Iranians as a counter to Iraq, and it is noteworthy that during the Iran-Contra affair in the last years of the Reagan Administration, the Israelis urged the sale of American arms to Iran.

There are certain pressures on the Mullahs who control Iran from an Iranian citizenry which is increasingly tired of so much religious zealotry, and the Iranians have stopped well short of embracing such enemies of humanity as Osama bin Laden and Mus-ab al-Zarqawi, in part because Iran's Muslims are Shiites, while the Arab terrorists are mostly Sunnis.

The U.S. decision to broach the idea of talks was, of course, directly related also to Russian and Chinese resistance to the idea of forceful action against Iran in the U.N. Security Council. But both the Russians and Chinese oppose the most terrorist elements of Islam almost as much as we do.

In this mix, there is hope of an eventual solution, though it certainly won't be easy.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this talk about nuclear weapons is purely political spin. The IAEA has stated that it has not found any evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. Iran has a legitimate economic case for nuclear power, which is why the US and Europeans were cooperating with Iran's nuclear program -- see http://iranaffairs.typepad.com

6/04/2006 4:14 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home