Iran, Iran So Far Away...But Not Anymore? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak


I don’t begrudge anyone changing their mind…and frankly, I view it as having been willing to remain open to the possibility that changing circumstances may well warrant new conclusions. Notwithstanding, I do find myself less than accepting of the Bush administration’s propensity to state positions absolutely…such that those who hold the opposing view are deemed to be anything from wrong to near treasonous…until such time as they quietly reconsider…without so much as an acknowledgment of their possibly flawed judgment.

Such is the case with our frosty relationship with Iran. For much of the Bush administrations tenure, and especially prior to the 2004 election, direct conversations with Iran were off limits…and the president let John Kerry and the voting public know that it wasn’t going to happen. An article in today’s New York Times tells us that everything has changed.

BAGHDAD, May 28 — The United States and Iran held rare, face-to-face talks in Baghdad on Monday, adhering to an agenda that focused strictly on the war in Iraq and on ways the two bitter adversaries could help to improve conditions here.

“The Iranians as well as ourselves laid out the principles that guide our respective policies toward Iraq," he said. “There was pretty good congruence right down the line: support for a secure, stable, democratic, federal Iraq, in control of its own security, at peace with its neighbors."

The meeting occurred against a backdrop of a worsening conflict in Iraq and deepening animosity between Iran and the United States — each accuses the other of contributing to Iraq’s instability.

The American ambassador said he “laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq." The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in Iraq, including training Shiite militiamen and shipping highly lethal weaponry into Iraq for use in attacks by Shiite and Sunni Arab militants against American troops.

The Iranian ambassador said he told Mr. Crocker that Iran was willing to train and equip the Iraqi security forces to create “a new military and security structure" and asserted that the American efforts to do the same were inadequate. He said Iran was also prepared to help rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, which he said had been “demolished by the American invaders."

Mr. Crocker said the Iranian delegation proposed forming a “trilateral mechanism" to coordinate security matters in Iraq, a proposal that Mr. Crocker said he would forward to Washington for consideration.

If I’m properly deciphering the facts, some four years into the Iraq war, the Bush administration has apparently realized that without regional cooperation, it is doubtful that Iraq can become a stable nation. In fact, our reluctance to entertain direct talks with Iran and Syria may have served to amplify the insurgency and sectarian conflict within Iraq. The president’s proclamation that nations either stand with us or stand with the terrorists may have simply inflamed animosities and pushed others to join radical group’s intent on undermining U.S. efforts.

Clearly, this new attempt to dialogue about specific issues while still maintaining our objections to other actions on the part of the Iranian government is consistent with the successful efforts of prior administration’s to handle rogue nations. It is also consistent with the arguments put forth by a number of Democrats (and a handful of Republicans)…arguments that were ridiculed and dismissed.

I applaud the shift in strategy though I’m inclined to believe that it comes in response to what must be intense efforts by the GOP leadership to convince the Bush administration that it must consider any and all means to progress in Iraq prior to the 2008 election. At the same time, one can’t help but wonder how differently the war on terror and the subsequent conflict in Iraq could have proceeded had it been managed differently or had the administration been willing to consider alternatives along the way. Unfortunately we’ll never know.

Daniel DiRito | May 28, 2007 | 6:21 PM
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