Thursday, November 13, 2008

Calling Iran's bluff

Iran has said for sometime that they wished to engage the west in diplomatic discussions. Instead of engaging them though the Bush administration ratcheted up the tensions with Tehran and refused to engage.

Obama has decided to engage the Iranians and, what do you know, seems to have caused much consternation in Tehran. Today's WaPo reports,

Since 2006, Iran's leaders have called for direct, unconditional talks with the United States to resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. But as an American administration open to such negotiations prepares to take power, Iran's political and military leaders are sounding suddenly wary of President-elect Barack Obama...

For Iran's leaders, the only state of affairs worse than poor relations with the United States may be improved relations. The Shiite Muslim clerics who rule the country came to power after ousting Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a U.S.-backed autocrat, in their 1979 Islamic revolution. Opposition to the United States, long vilified as the "great Satan" here in Friday sermons, remains one of the main pillars of Iranian politics.

This is of course not a particularly surprising development. The Bush Administrations belicosity towards Iran was an obvious strategic blunder and was clearly playing directly into Tehran's hands. You have to wonder though if Bush wasn't playing much the same game as the Iranians - ratcheting up tensions unnecessarily for domestic political gains. Actually one doesn't have to wonder, I think it's more than likely that that was exactly what the Bush administration was doing.

Spencer Ackerman has more,

All of a sudden, you’re deprived of a method of demagoguery that’s aided your regime for a generation. And if you refuse to negotiate, you’ve just undermined everything you told the international community you wanted, and now appear unreasonable, erratic, and unattractive to foreign capitols. Amazing how the prospects for peace are more destabilizing to the Iranian establishment than any inevitably-counterproductive-and-destructive bombing campaign or war of internal subterfuge.

Yes, amazing.

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