Rumors have been building for weeks now, and it appears very likely that Condi Rice will finally get to make some genuine international relations history of her own, and become the first US official to formally meet with Iran since the 1979 US embassy takeover and hostage crisis.
Like most, I still feel the deep pain of that most embarrassing moment in our history. Forced to live with a national shame that members of our own tribe could resort to kidnapping and parading captives in blindfolds, only to make the most ridiculous of points.
That the US has spies? That US foreign policy props up paper dictators like the Shah, Noriega, Pinochet, Saddam, Marcos, and today's Musharraf? That US foreign policy is driven by elitist motives of oil companies, and their paid-for barons in congress? That the US on the outside is a far different place than the US on the inside?
What makes these points ridiculous is that everyone knows them already. And while it may be wrong, nothing justifies resorting to a cowardly act, like taking hostages.
Now I can hear everyone calling me a traitor, and of course we should offer this kind of advice to the Iranian government. And I hope we can do that one day, when we have one that won't kill us for doing so.
But since this website is blocked in Iran, and since I am sure someone in the “State Department” must be reading this esteemed publication hourly for it's “poignant insight”, I figure the odds of getting someone's attention are better.
But here's what Condi ought to do, if she meets with her Iranian counterparts:
Shake all of their hands with the cameras rolling. This will establish you as the one with power. Even if they pull away, smile even more broadly and turn to the cameras and joke that you 'don''t bite'. Reach in further and grab their hands in both of yours. If they run away, chase them around the table if you have to. Force them to acknowledge the ridiculousness of their anti-woman proposition.
Apologize for the US led overthrow of Mossadegh, and correct the impression the US tried to portray about him at that time. Admit that Mossadegh was not in fact a communist. Declare Mossadegh a genuine hero of the Iranian people.
Doing this will take some of the wind out of their sails, as no one, not even Khomeini, can compete with a redeemed Mossadegh. It will also let them know that by acknowledging what amounts to the US' biggest mistake in Iran, that had this mistake not been made, you and the people of Iran would not have to deal with these morons in the first place.
Event though I just did, don't treat them like morons.
Based on your low polling numbers, they have the PR upper hand, so defer to their momentary self-perceived greatness, and let them have their current PR win. You've got nothing to go with right now, best to steer clear of any moral arguments. Especially ones you can't defend.
Quickly assure them that the US will not attack or invade Iran, and as soon as Iraq is stable, the US will withdraw all forces, but reserves the right to return should it's security be threatened by anyone in the region.
This will remove the current immediate fear of invasion that they are cunningly holding over the heads the Iranian people, and will hit their internal credibility. With no looming war, people can go back to complaining about lack of basic freedoms and women's rights. For which they have no moral argument.
Stay away from any discussion of Israel. If pressed, remind them that if Cyrus the Great gave back the Jews their homeland, and recognized their right to exist, than you would think the sons of Cyrus would do no less, and honor their, and the world's, father of democracy.
This will immediately put them at odds with their heritage, and show you know their history. But stay away from Israel at all costs. There is no way you can ever justify Israel's position on Palestine.
Since this is a cornerstone of their argument for international meddling, they will try to put you in the indefensible corner to discuss Palestine. Remind them politely that everyone is there to discuss solutions for Iraq, and once this immediate situation is resolved, you are open to their help on that problem as well. This will anger the Iranian critics back home and they will feel the backlash of, “Why do you ruin opportunities to negotiate with the Americans by constantly talking about Palestine all the time!”
What to do if things get out of hand:
Although very rare, sometimes, public spectacle Iranian social situations can get rowdy. Keep in mind you are a woman, and that they fear your mystical powers and that they are really scared that if unchecked, you will unleash your ultimate Femme power and control over them. Know that if you step out of your subjugate role, and talk to them that way they cannot respond even to save face, and shortly after, their heads may actually explode. Especially if you leave the room with their jaws on the floor.
Here are several ways to leave the room with their jaws on the floor:
Mention that you are glad to see that Iran has finally accepted an unveiled woman of authority. That it is good to see Iran actually speaking to an unveiled woman about important issues. You are very concerned though that the respect they have shown you apparently does not extend to Iranian women.
Respecting some non-Iranian women, while disrespecting Iranian women is disingenuous and an insult to all daughters of Cyrus the Great. You hope that this demonstrated example of their willingness to consider an unveiled woman to be valid will be taken back as your gift of hope to all Iranian women.
Or this one could really mess with their minds:
While these talks have been somewhat amusing, you wish that you could actually be negotiating the discussions with the representatives of Iran, and not the toadies of an illegitimate self-appointed religious ruling committee of the Guardian Council. That you are saddened to see the great vision of Khomeini and the hopes of the Iranian people for true freedom and democracy trampled by self serving, corrupt, extremist factions subverting a peaceful religion and Iran's constitution for their own vanity and financial gain.
Then provide the reporters with a list of the personal wealth of each key member of Iran's government and provide Swiss bank account numbers. Make enough copies.
Or this one:
While you appreciate the kind gentlemen coming to today's meeting, you had hoped that you could meet with the freely elected representatives of the free people of Iran. But regrettably since that does not exist, you frankly don't see the point in any further discussions. Then get up and leave. As you get to the door, turn and say, '”Please let Mr. Ahmadinejad know that since he too was not freely elected by the free people of Iran, that the US cannot grant him any kind of foreign leader status. Even to speak at the UN. Although he is free to apply for a tourist visa as an Iranian citizen, at any US consulate in the world.
Ask to present a video before speaking, then show all the Discovery channel footage from nuclear weapons testing. The small wood frame house exploding, the 1950's era US soldiers in the trenches covering their eyes from being hit by the shock wave dust in Nevada, the silhouetted ships at sea, mushroom cloud after mushroom cloud, and that shot of a Big Boy dropping to the ground out of the airplane's bomb bay. Try to pick footage that shows Nevada, which looks uncannily a lot like Iran.
Then ask them to seriously consider what the sons and daughters of Zal and Rostam would want them to do. And to stop consulting with the Deev.
Keep smiling, because nothing throws an Iranian man off topic more, than a smiling woman.