Friday, February 23, 2007
Talking To Tehran
One of the problems with the Bush administration's stance towards Iran is that they've set it up so that the simple act of sitting down around a negotiating table becomes tantamount to defeat. Which is too bad because, if you read Ray Tayekh's article in the March issue of Foreign Affairs, it seems as if there are some very real, very attractive advantages to a détente policy towards Iran.
The Soviet Union posed more of an existential threat to America than Iran ever could, and yet we had diplomatic relations and ongoing negotiations with them throughout the Cold War. Nixon's diplomatic overture to China serves as another example of the stabilizing effects that dialogue can have even in the absence of any fundamental agreements.
Not every strategic rival is an enemy. And not every negotiated settlement is the Munich Agreement. The regional interests of the US and Iran converge in a number of areas. Reinforcing cooperation where they do can provide the leverage for inluencing behavior where they don't. But first you've got to agree to talk.