Last time I wrote on this subject it was March [“The game will go on”]. Iran had managed to secure a one-goal shutout advantage over the International Community (the US and its lackeys) at the United Nations. After weeks of semantic offence a watered down Presidential Statement begged Iran to please, pretty please (with sugar on top) to please suspend enrichment in 30 days. More than two months later, Iran is still enriching uranium, as the electrons steadfast in their paths gingerly revolve around a very glowing Persian bilakh to arrogance.
A week ago Iran scored yet another stupendous goal against the international community, and this Iran was not even at the table. When it rains, it pours, I guess. I am referring of course to the about-face on the part of the United States to get actively involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations. Why that is a victory for Iran is because the US involvement will drag out the process even more – which means that Iran will keep enriching uranium, split the atom, sew it back together, develop fusion reaction, build a bomb or two (may be three) until it is blue in the face from yellow cake. I will explain this a little further.
It is rumored that the turn-about in the US posture came as the result of a discussion that Condoleezza Rice and the President had over lunch one day. Well, I am not surprised. Much under this President, domestically and internationally, has been shekami (ventral, in the sense of impulsive) and why not the biggest decision of his presidency should be an exception to whimsy. Take for example the whimsical calling of 70 million people axis of evil, just because some jackass thought it was a great catchy phrase. The first point of order for any Iranian government sitting down with these rogue agents of chaos and disorder is to ask for a direct and unequivocal apology for calling them axis.
The Iranian strategy in the past six years has been to drag things out — outlive the Bush presidency and hope for a new dawn in Washington. The EU-3 negotiations were a god-sent in that it allowed the IRI to continue with their acquisition of technical know-how and equipment even though they had suspended some of their enrichment activities as a confidence-building measure. When the EU countries realized that there is not much they can offer Iran without the US, the talks were called off and enrichment began. This spooked the Israelis and so began the war talk for a second Bush adventure in the Middle East. The deterioration of the situation in Iraq and the backsliding in Afghanistan left very little appetite in Washington for another war.
Meanwhile, Hamas scored a potential destabilizing victory in Palestine and was feted in Moscow and Tehran. Iran’s timely show of force and technology in a series of war games in the Persian Gulf drove the point home that Iran is not Panama. Mahmoud “the Mighty Mouse” Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel and the holocaust also scared the devil out of Mr. Bush — finally there was someone nuttier than him denying the obvious. Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush was a diabolical effort that paid off handsomely. When all is said and done – Mighty Mouse stole the show. Too bad, the Texan could have had taken the initiative much earlier and ensured onto himself a legacy rivaling Nixon’s overture to China.
The entry of the United States into talks with Iran will ensure a very prolonged process. First, the parties need to get over the dirty laundry that has been piled up in the corner from the last time the IRI crapped all over themselves with the illegal seizure of the US embassy and diplomatic personnel. There are also the mega-million dollar judgments and awards out there that various persons have against the IRI for murder, torture and mayhem. Once that deck is cleared then the parties can get down to the issue of incentives.
There is however great difficulty with anything that the Bush Administration may want to promise or deliver to the IRI. First, it is unlikely that anything solid will be achieved before the mid-term Congressional elections in November. After that, given the composition of the Congress, it is unlikely that anything solid can be achieved during the last years of an already lame-duck president. The real time-busting problem with any promise the US may make to the IRI is that the Bush Administration cannot deliver any of it without consultation or even approval of the Congress (and AIPAC).
Similarly, in Iran the parliament and other centers of power must ratify the final agreements. Presently, no less than 18 Acts of Congress and myriad executive orders and Treasury and Commerce and other regulations makes it impossible to trade and deal with Iran. All application of these laws and regulations must be suspended or eliminated before any trade and investment relations can flow between the two countries. Because this all takes time and much debate to accomplish, the IRI once again has managed to buy time.
It should be the policy of the Bush Administration regardless of these talks to lift the trade and investment sanctions against Iran, unilaterally, now. I happen to believe that trade and investment between the private sectors of the two countries heals the rfits and wounds far better than any political accommodation that Iran and US may cobble together from two diametrically opposed ideologies and vantage points of dislike, mistrust and competition.
Guive Mirfendereski is a professorial lecturer in international relations and law and is the principal artisan at trapworks.com. Born in Tehran in 1952, he is a graduate of Georgetown University's College of Arts and Sciences (BA), Tufts University's Fletcher School (PhD, MALD, MA) and Boston College Law School (JD). He is the author of A Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea >>> Features in iranian.com