Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 2, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

IRAN UPDATE....Iran is on a charm offensive. Ali Akbar Velayati, the top foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — which makes him someone with actual authority — basically told president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday to lay off the bluster for a while and let the adults talk. He then went on to say that Iran was seriously interested in the proposal presented last month by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. From the LA Times:

"Americans wanted Iran not to accept Solana," Velayati told the hard-line daily newspaper Jomhuri Islami. "Therefore our interests imply that we should embrace Solana."

....The U.S. and Israel "are seeking a pretext to show the world that Iran does not want negotiation," Velayati said. "We think now at this juncture, we can negotiate," he said. "We should pay attention . . . keep on negotiating with every single European country."

At the same time, Iran's foreign minister told reporters that he was also warmly disposed toward the Solana proposal:

The unusually positive remarks by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to a small group of reporters raised hope that a negotiated solution can be found to defuse the crisis.

....During a 90-minute luncheon at Iran's United Nations mission, Mottaki dismissed the growing speculation that Israel or the United States will strike at Iran's nuclear facilities during President Bush's last six months in office. He described news reports to that effect as part of a long-running campaign of "psychological warfare."

The chance that Israel will attack Iran "is almost nil," Mottaki said. As for a U.S. strike, he said there was little public support in this country for a new conflict. "The consequences of such an attack cannot be predicted," he said.

Mottaki apparently also indicated that Iran would consider allowing the U.S. to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran if we approved Iran's request for direct flights between Tehran and New York. On the other hand, he declined to say anything specific about whether Iran was willing to halt its uranium enrichment program.

As usual, this could all mean anything or nothing. Iran has their equivalents of John Bolton and Barack Obama too, and the opacity of their politics is legendary. Still, an opening is an opening. Best to at least give it a try.

Kevin Drum 1:23 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Comments

As usual, this could all mean anything or nothing. Iran has their equivalents of John Bolton and Barack Obama too, and the opacity of their politics is legendary. Still, an opening is an opening. Best to at least give it a try.

Are you kidding? We still have Bush and Cheney at the helm...not to mention the MOST ineffectual Secretary of State evah!!!

Posted by: jcricket on July 2, 2008 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

jcricket: I MUST agree.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 2, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Well as we all know, even talking to people who we dislike is appeasement. And as the North Korea deal showed, dialogue and diplomacy never get anyone anywhere. I'm not sure what the right thing to do is at this point, but I bet it's whatever cautious action John Bolton would suggest.

/snark

Posted by: Steve W. on July 2, 2008 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

No telling how many buckets-O-shit WE end up eating over the Korean deal. Just when YOU think this administration accidently got something right, Monday morning shows up with the bad news headlines.
Call Pelosi 1-202-225-0100 DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 2, 2008 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Iran's efforts to be more capitulating won't make a shit's worth of difference - Israel wants Iran bombed and the U.S. will go along, whether it means WWIII or $15/gallon gas prices.

The powers that be in the U.S., Democrat or Republican, are dedicated to ensuring that Israel is the only nuclear-proliferating, terrorist state in the Middle East.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 2, 2008 at 6:05 AM | PERMALINK

The equilibrium solution is for all nations to be subject to the same nuclear controls. That is the essence of the debate.


Posted by: Matt on July 2, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hasn't Iran more or less been interested in negotiations -(but not one sided ones) for the last five years at least. That doesn't suit the wingnuts, so the campaign of demonization continues. If Iran negotiates, their dreams of fullfilling the preconditions for the second coming are caput. Also, AIPAC will destroy the political career of anyone seen supporting capitulation.

Posted by: bigTom on July 2, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Recommended reading:

40 Years Later, Nuclear States Still Haven’t Kept Promises
by Tad Daley
July 1, 2008
The Baltimore Sun

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 2, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — which makes him someone with actual authority — basically told president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday to lay off the bluster for a while and let the adults talk.

Hold on -- does this mean the so-called "Mad Mullahs" are reigning in the saber-rattling demagogue?

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory - shhhhhh!

Posted by: kenga on July 2, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Seen from outside the US, the statement "X country has its John Boltons and its Barack Obamas too" is hardly reassuring. As a senior US politician, Obama isn't exactly the anti-Bolton, more a kinder, gentler Bolton.

It's like saying "Mongolia has its Genghis Khans and its Ogotai Khans".

Posted by: derek on July 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the Barack Obama reference was about opaqueness.

We have our war mongering blow hards and our opaque politicians.

Posted by: asdf on July 2, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Wait. What just happened here? Did Iran just say "Hey, the US and Israel are so inept at diplomacy that we can peel their European allies away from them *while announcing that that's what we're doing,* rub it in a little, and then, just for kicks, add that we're pretty sure all this talk about them attacking us is a bluff, which we're calling publicly in front of the world, because seriously, if they attacked us, they'd get really hurt."?

Mottaki and Velayati just agreed to negotiations, but did it in a way such that Iran gets to look totally badass; he accuses us of bluffing in a maximally humiliating way, but does it while agreeing to negotiations so that we can't prove we weren't bluffing without looking like monsters.

No wonder Bush is against negotiating. Can you imagine what would happen if Condi were meeting with this guy? He'd probably talk her into handing over Florida.

Posted by: DBake on July 2, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

No wonder Bush is against negotiating. Can you imagine what would happen if Condi were meeting with this guy? He'd probably talk her into handing over Florida.

WIN.

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Last night on NBC I heard the Iranian Defense Minister (?) talk about how his country is being flooding with apparent plans of an invasion. I wonder, is that supposed to confuse the issue of what actual thing might be done? Why not just release nothing? It seems weird.

Afterwards, the word from an oil expert about invasion consequences: "Name your price: $200, $300, maybe even $400" Terrific, Israel's protection from even a possible threat is worth ruining the entire World's economy over.

Posted by: NB on July 2, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

This US administration has made it perfectly plain that when it comes to Iran they have absolutely no interest in any form of negotiation. They ask for capitulation on national rights before any such thing.

So, talk to the Europeans it is. The US is irrelevant...unless we (AWOL) uses his big penile sustitute.

Posted by: notthere on July 2, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is just that the Iranians have reached out before and then continued on their path towards sponsoring of terrorism and nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Johan Nissen on July 2, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Give it a try? Heaven forbid, it might succeed. That would spoil everything -- like Blix would have if he had confirmed there were no WMDs.

Posted by: urban legend on July 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Beware the Arab bearing charm.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on July 2, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, what choice does Israel have but to attack when the President of Iran says that it wants Israel wiped off the map?

Posted by: AMW on July 2, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

TruthPolitik: nice racist comment there, old boy. And they are not Arabs, they're (mostly) Persians, you ignorant ****, with a history multiply longer than you're family's.

AMW, you need to read what Ahmedinijad a-c-t-u-a-l-l-y said, not what this administration and its media allies has made a meme of what he said. Even Israelis know that is not what he said. Get a grip!

Posted by: notthere on July 3, 2008 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

And, by the way, AMW, the President of Iran, unlike the king of the USA, has very little real power. That would be the Council. And it may be a poor form of democracy but Ahmedinijad has probably had his day. Try to concentrate on the facts.

Posted by: notthere on July 3, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

hey notthere busch adn-min almost over too

Posted by: isthere on July 3, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

>BTW, what choice does Israel have but to attack when the President of Iran says that it wants Israel wiped off the map?


Even if he did say that, which as nothere has pointed out, he didn't, Israel has the choice of laughing its collective ass off at him.

Posted by: doesn't matter on July 4, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK
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