Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 16, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

IRAN UPDATE....The latest on the diplomacy front:

President Bush has authorized the most significant American diplomatic contact with Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, sending the State Department's third-ranking official to Geneva for a meeting this weekend on Iran's nuclear program, administration officials said Tuesday.

....William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, will attend a meeting on Saturday with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran's nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement on Wednesday.

As usual, I'm not clear on what took us so long, but this is good news regardless. It may be unlikely to lead to anything significant in the near term, but baby steps are better than none.

Kevin Drum 1:02 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (11)

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Maybe good news, but maybe this is intended to fail and thereby to prove that military is our only option.

Posted by: sam spade on July 16, 2008 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

According to the Washington Post:

“Burns will not negotiate with the Iranians nor hold separate meetings, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. Instead, he will advance the White House’s position that serious negotiations can only begin after Iran suspends its enrichment of uranium.”

So, what exactly is the new big change here if there is going to be no direct involvement by Burns and all he is going to relate is the same old crap that the Iranians should capitulate completely on their program before there can be substantive negotiations?? This looks to be PR bunk to me, for whatever reason it is intended, but it sure doesn’t look like any significant change in tone or policy; in fact it looks like the same old Bush crappy PR lie that they are using to make their subsequent oppressive moves look more palatable.

Posted by: bmaz on July 16, 2008 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: albertchampion on July 16, 2008 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Sending someone to the talks who is not going to talk isn't diplomacy. It's sticking the 800-pound gorilla in the room that everyone is supposed to pretend isn't there but who affects everything just by being there.

Bastardizing diplomacy is worse than no diplomacy at all. It castrates the State Department and disables any chances they might have to actually make a difference.

Posted by: Everyman on July 16, 2008 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

Did someone hit Bush in the head really hard recently??

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 16, 2008 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad Kevin thinks this is good news, but we've seen this movie before. Bush team goes to Public Enemy #1 with the promise to "negotiate", makes demands it knows PE#1 will never meet, and comes home saying, "Hey, we tried!"

This is another cynical ploy by the Bushies to take some of the wind out of Obama's sails. It mutes his point about negotiating with nations like Iran with the implication that Iran is unwilling to negotiate. And you can be sure it will be prefaced by, "Well, if we couldn't do it, what chance do you think a weak, terrorist-sympathizing Osam...I mean Obama has?"

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 16, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you're adorable. MeLoseBrain pegs it. I believe the term is "fig leaf".

Posted by: southend on July 16, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Saddam threw out the inspectors!

Ahmedinezad refused to respond to our oh so sincere diplomatic efforts!

Posted by: gregor on July 16, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

With the neocon advisers scattered to the winds, only Condi is there to lean on like a rubber crutch.

Posted by: Luther on July 16, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

We love you, Charlie Brown, but are you ever going to stop taking Lucy's word for it about that football?

The "diplomacy" will fail, as scare-quotes diplomacy always does and in Bush's case is always designed to do.

The best we can hope for is that the engineered failure is only intended to turn Americans against Barack's diplomacy talk. Just as likely, it is the signal that the plans to attack Iran have now been firmed up.

Posted by: pt bridgeport on July 16, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

they're taking baby steps because they have a toddler's mentality about foreign policy.

Posted by: secularhuman on July 16, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK
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