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In good faith?
Analysts hold that the United States changed its rigid position as a result of various obvious factors and reason



Joseph M. Cachia
June 28, 2006

Fear you not my part of the dialogue – Shakespeare

In a significant shift of policy, the United States offered to join Europe in talks with Iran on its nuclear programme, if Tehran suspends its enrichment of uranium.

One must remember that in 2003, Bush refused to allow any response to the Iranian offer to negotiate an agreement that would have accepted the existence of Israel.

The decision to change tactics towards Iran is definitely a major policy shift for the Bush administration, who earlier had refused to join the talks or make other diplomatic overtures to Iran, despite calls from European nations, other leading diplomats and former US Secretaries of State, overturning a high level decision by Washington last March to freeze Iranian talks.

For the past five years, the Bush administration has followed a failed policy towards Iran, leading to the current dangerous impasse. It is time for the administration to reassess its strategy, think out of the box and enter into direct talks with Iran. The Bush administration has been bullying Iran and, quite understandably, the Iranians have become more resolute in their right to attain nuclear power.

But the story of how a President, who rarely changes his mind, did so in this case could also illustrate the changed dynamics between the State Department and the White House in Mr. Bush’s second term.

Following a meeting she had attended in Berlin, days earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered the grim news to her boss: Their coalition against Iran was at risk of falling apart.

The Chinese had warned the United States ‘not to have any preconditions’ for negotiations. However, that warning went unheeded in spite of the fact that the US offer is also aimed at persuading China and Russia that Washington is doing all it can to find a diplomatic solution to the dispute. If you had believed the Iraq WMD fable, you would probably also fall for this!

In one particular ominous comment, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the negotiations would give Iran ‘one last excuse’ to resist American demands. This tells us clearly that US diplomacy is just a smokescreen for the eventual hostilities.

But could the US afford to ignore participating in direct negotiations?

Analysts hold that the United States changed its rigid position as a result of various obvious factors and reason, mainly;

* the US threat of force became weaker following the Iraq war quagmire for Bush, as his public support rate has decreased to a new record low of less than 31%,

* there isn’t much hope that the US would win any support from most foreign countries, especially from China and Russia, as long as there is a possibility of a diplomatic solution to the issue,

* there has been a growing pressure of a strong demand by the international community for US direct involvement in the negotiations, as most countries are rapidly losing patience with what they increasingly see as US intransigence,

* with its military commitments stretched-out in Afghanistan and Iraq, can the US take on another, most probably unilateral, decision on war on Iran?

* with both Russia and China opposing US sanctions against Iran the Bush administration has hit a roadblock at the Security Council,

* the decision for participation in direct negotiations was approved by the Israeli government, despite the Israeli unabashed and relentless warmongering against Iran

Despite the unforeseeable prospects, dialogue is always better than confrontation and negotiation is always more preferable to threat.

Loyalty is of course important in any negotiations, but it is only important once the facts have been carefully analyzed and evaluated and the truth has been established. Loyalty must be subordinate to truth.

Notwithstanding all this, it is hoped that this is a step in the right ‘realistic’ direction that could really make a difference. Comment

Joseph M. Cachia, Malta Peace Council

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