Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Engagement vs. Provocation
Diplomatic engagement with Iran is inevitable, not because they're "ten feet tall and on a roll," as this WaPo article (via Laura Rozen) puts it, or even because they're "dangerous, and clever, and good at asymmetric warfare." Diplomatic engagement is inevitable because it's the only official means of communication between nations besides war, and war is in neither Iran's nor our interest. On the other hand, I don't think that diplomatic engagement should be organized under a logic of "[T]hey have a lot of vulnerabilities -- and. . .we can exploit them." At this point, too, how to manage the second most thorny strategic challenge facing the country (I put Russia first) is a question best left to the incoming administration. The opening of a State Department interests section in Tehran during the last six months of a Bush administration comes across as yet another provocation. The opening of a State Department interests section in Tehran during the first six months of a new administration comes across as an initial feeler. So it's a good idea, but for the wrong reasons at the wrong time.
Cross-posted to World Politics Review.