Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 17, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

TALKING TO IRAN....If yesterday's news that an American diplomat would fly to Geneva this weekend to attend a meeting with Iran caused John Bolton to set his mustache on fire, what do you think this news is going to do?

The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush.

The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section — a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.

Unnamed "officials" had previously insisted that yesterday's agreement to attend the Geneva meeting was a "one-time decision," but if the Guardian is right, that was just a smokescreen. Apparently President Bush is thinking about his legacy more and more these days.

In any case, kudos to Bush if this is true. It's hard not to believe that this move was at least partly motivated by the tit-for-tat Israeli and Iranian military exercises recently, but if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. Better late than never.

Kevin Drum 2:44 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Bush is just trying to move closer to Obama so that Obama looks bad.

Posted by: Boronx on July 17, 2008 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently President Bush is thinking about his legacy more and more these days.

Careful. It could simply be an intentional distraction as Cheney gears up for an all-out attack on Iran. This could just be cover, a way of pretending that the administration tried diplomatic means before launching the military assault they always wanted to launch anyway.

Personally I'd prefer if the Bush administration simply refrained from all foreign initiatives during its final days. They've shown again and again they have no competence at handling anything of this sort, and will simply do more harm than good, even if they meant well, which they don't.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 17, 2008 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

Bush et al have never shown any consideration toward the well-being of the U.S.

And I can't believe he's doing it for his place in the history books since he doesn't even read.

I'd like to see the fine print on whatever negotiations are going on. Somewhere a Republican or two are making money from this.

Posted by: Everyman on July 17, 2008 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

And here's the money:

Within the article it says, "Sending Burns, who left Washington last night, to Geneva and the establishment of an interests section undercuts one of the main planks of foreign policy advocated by the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, who argues for direct negotiations with Iran.

The White House has been working in tandem over the last month with Obama's Republican rival, John McCain."

Apparently the few Republicans left in the Bush Administration have realized they need SOMETHING to put McCain in the oval office so they can continue looting the US treasury. McCain's "100 years in Iraq" wasn't doing the trick.

Posted by: Everyman on July 17, 2008 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

so, first korea and now iran call bush's bluff, and expose him for a fraud. just when you thought that your jaw had no further to drop, just when you thought that the profound hypocrisy of this administration could surprise you no further.... there does, of course, remain a small chance that there is some kind of machiavellian scheming behind all this. maybe it's just a blind-side run to cover for a really disgraceful plot yet to be made clear... but there's a big dish of steaming hot humble pie cooling on the window sill right now...

Posted by: billy on July 17, 2008 at 5:26 AM | PERMALINK

Looming impeachment focuses the mind so....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 17, 2008 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

did they mention that this "embassy" will be roughly the size and shape of Iran itself ?

Posted by: cleek on July 17, 2008 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

Part of the Bush habit of waiting until the end to do the right thing after the damage has been done.

Posted by: bob h on July 17, 2008 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK


Maybe I'm paranoid. I just can't help but think things will move forward with diplomacy until, ohhhh, beginning of November.

And then someone from Iran will sneeze the wrong way. The Bush administration will claim Iran wasn't doing this in good faith (jus' a lil' projection) and declare talking to our enemies just doesn't work.

Thank goodness McCain doesn't want to do that!

-Tohst

Posted by: Tohst on July 17, 2008 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is going to be a final warning to Iran that this is their final chance before the Israelis attack their nuclear installations. It would set off an unimaginable firestorm in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, etc. and would probably infuriate the Iranian population if the country's nuclear program (peaceful or not). I am an optimist and think Iran is a serious threat to Middle East stability (as stable as it can get) but between Pakistan (keep an eye on Roggio's blog, its getting ugly there too) and this Iranian situation I don't envy the situation of the next president because these are horrible situations to inherit and they aren't issues that should be laid at the feet of Bush.

Posted by: Mark Eichenlaub on July 17, 2008 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

What's with the Bush hatred if he negotiates or doesn't negotiate guys? Seems like blind hatred no matter what the guy does.

Posted by: Mark Eichenlaub on July 17, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is heading Obama's lead is what is happening.

Look how things are changing for the better already and Obama isn't even President yet.

Talking to Iran, fixing Afghanistan.....

Posted by: lilybart on July 17, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Seems like blind hatred no matter what the guy does."

Comes from years of watching him. How he says or does one thing and it turns out to be something entirely different. You've heard the old chestnut: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

What you are construing as "hatred" is unbridled distrust. Earned distrust, by the way.

Posted by: Everyman on July 17, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that this diplomatic move undercuts Obama and therefore scores a political victory for McCain is delusional hogwash.

First, Obama's stance on talks with Iran was not in response to a popular clamor for said talks; it was a courageous and sensible policy position for him to take, but it was something that appealed mainly to people whose views on foreign policy are more sophisticated than "you're either fer us, or agin' us." And as was entirely predictable, the McCain campaign, the GOP, and their surrogates on Fox immediately pounced on Obama for even suggesting that talks could be productive, and have spent the entire time since then labeling him as an appeaser of terrorists.

It was predictable precisely because invoking the fears of terror and the related national security issues is the only real weapon in the McCain policy arsenal. He can't campaign on jobs and the economy, he can't campaign on the fiscal situation, and he can't campaign on health care and education, because voters by large margins give the edge to Democrats on these issues. The only area where McCain is competitive with Obama is in the area of national security, so he has to attack Barack as weak and naive on terrorism, and thus the whole talking-to-Iran-is-bad stance was a major part of his campaign theme.

Far from undercutting Obama, this move by the administration essentially pulls the rug out from under the McCain campaign on a major campaign issue, and basically validates what Obama was saying from the beginning.

That being said, I have no doubt that the mainstream media will attempt to portray it as something other than a complete reversal of the previous GOP and administration position on Iran. After all, we've always been at war with Eurasia.

Posted by: bluestatedon on July 17, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the oil companies have told Dick Cheney that conflict with Iran would be very bad for their profits and to back down?

Posted by: bakho on July 17, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Can these assholes be trusted to do anything remotely logical? His legacy? That's what gets him up these days? Christ almighty. What a punk.

Posted by: bobbywally on July 17, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Quick observation. T Boone Pickens is on TV saying we need to stick it to the Arabs. CNN is doing a report today about why in hell did they destroy electric cars, with one guy saying, I don't think they wanted the public to know just how bad their combustion engine cars are.

Just yesterday, it was reported that major warmongers are talking to Iran and today they're going to be opening a diplomatic office in Tehran.

I don't think these events are unrelated.

Posted by: Jan in Stone Mtn on July 17, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I know in some quarters of the liberalblogosphere, you're not widely considered a master comedy stylist, but I rather laughed inordinately at attend a meeting with Iran caused John Bolton to set his mustache on fire.

Posted by: The Critic on July 17, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Boronx is on to something. In addition to what s/he said, I think the coordinated republican strategy at this point also contemplates Bush purposefully doing a few things the right won't like so McCain can both rally the base AND seem like he's distancing himself from Bush at the same time.

Posted by: Big House on July 17, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

If yesterday's news that an American diplomat would fly to Geneva this weekend to attend a meeting with Iran caused John Bolton to set his mustache on fire, what do you think this news is going to do?

Despite his recent defense or explanation of what the purpose of bombing Iran would be, don't you think John Bolton would be one of the architects of this rapprochement? I mean, he's so close to the policy.

I'd think they'd all be on board for this.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

. . .don't you think John Bolton would be one of the architects of this rapprochement? I mean, he's so close to the policy.

He's so close institutionally, and I would think personally as well, to the creation of the White House's foreign policy, I guess I should say.

If there's a foreign-policy cauldron brewing over at the White House, I'd think that John Bolton would have his spoon in the pot.

Thinking that he can't be just because he's made some bellicose statements (even many times) is a shallow analysis. It's like thinking they would nominate a guy with no artiface, or a two-dimensional character for a children's cartoon show, to the post he holds.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

for a children's cartoon show, to the post he holds.

Crap-- shoulda been "from a children's cartoon show."

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sending Burns, who left Washington last night, to Geneva and the establishment of an interests section undercuts one of the main planks of foreign policy advocated by the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, who argues for direct negotiations with Iran.

Can anyone exlain to me why adopting Obama's polices undercuts him?

Can we look forward to the Bush adminstration, in a cynical attempt to get McCain elected, withdrawing from Iraq, raising taxes on the upper brackets, and embracing gay marriage?

Posted by: rea on July 17, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're kinda unnecessarily reinforcing the White House's depiction of John as "mutt," their wacko who is going to beg them to nuke anyone who is slightly out of line, for them.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Makes sense in the context of trying to get the price of gas down by election time. They need to reduce the tension between Iran and the US. This might reduce the premium being placed on a barrel of oil because of this tension thus bringing down the price of gasoline. They manipulated the price of gas before the 2006 election and they'll do it again.
Bush's legacy ain't part of the equation on this deal.

Posted by: leftcoastindie on July 17, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Jan wrote: "T Boone Pickens is on TV saying we need to stick it to the Arabs. CNN is doing a report today about why in hell did they destroy electric cars, with one guy saying, I don't think they wanted the public to know just how bad their combustion engine cars are."

Pickens is planning to invest 10 Billion Dollars to build wind turbines in Texas and nearby states, to produce 20 percent of the USA's electricity from wind power within ten years. Meanwhile, Al Gore is delivering a major speech in DC today in which he will set forth a plan for producing 100 percent of the USA's electricity from wind, solar and other clean renewable technologies within ten years.

The commercially-exploitable wind and solar energy resources of the USA are more than sufficient to produce several times as much electricity as the entire country uses -- more than enough for all current uses and to electrify our transportation system, and more than enough to completely phase out ALL fossil fuel use, not only oil but coal and natural gas as well, and phase out toxic and dangerous nuclear power as well.

And once the infrastructure for a wind & solar powered energy economy is built, the "fuel" is free, and on time scales that matter to human civilization, it is limitless, forever.

It's easy to see why the fossil fuel and nuclear power corporations are doing everything in their considerable power to delay the transition to a solar & wind based energy economy as long as possible, so they can continue to reap trillions of dollars in profits from their obsolete business model of selling a limited supply of expensive fuel.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 17, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's all about the election.
This is leading up to an 'October Surprise'.

There is absolutely no chance for the republicans with the current economic/oil supply situation.

Reapproachment with Iran will temporarily dump oil futures this fall... and pump up the stock market ahead of the election. The attack can wait until after the first week in November.

The Israelis must really be chafing at this delay... but they might figure it's in their best long term interests to have McCain in power. Either that ot they will bomb on their own and let the fallout land where it may. (quite literally)

Posted by: Buford on July 17, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Anyway, get a camera on Bolton so we can watch his Louis del Grande imitation.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 17, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Now watch the Israelis swing into action to torpedo any chance of any improvement in US-Iran relations.

After all, if Iran and the US started to get along, who needs Israel? THAT is the real "existential threat" to Israel.

Posted by: hass on July 17, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Relations with Iran? Why does Bush hate America?

Posted by: dcbob on July 17, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

US diplomats in Iran=CIA/Special Forces to plant GPS homing divices,stir up trouble,ect.

Posted by: R.L. on July 17, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Swan: artiface?

Posted by: thersites on July 17, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I think the McCain people might want to change their banner ad at PA asking if it's okay to meet with Anti-American foreign leaders.

Or are they positioning themselves to the right of Bush?

Posted by: thersites on July 17, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

You should find something better to do with your time than nitpick my comments, Thersites. Isn't there a Republican whose typos you can needlessly post a comment about?

How about going to fight the Iraq war? You probably believe in it.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, Al Gore is delivering a major speech in DC today in which he will set forth a plan for producing 100 percent of the USA's electricity from wind, solar and other clean renewable technologies within ten years.

Why don't the Republicans just volunteer to manually push the turbines in 12 hour shifts? It will demonstrate how much they love their country.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Swan: How about going to fight the Iraq war? You probably believe in it.

You just don't read any of my comments unless you see your name in them, do you? Not that you're obligated to do so, but if you did you'd know what I think about the Iraq war.

I've already been in one war I didn't believe in, thank you very much. I'll pass on this one.

Posted by: thersites on July 17, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

can we have a day off from the Swan Posts Acres of Psychosis and Thersites, Lousy Speller Himself, Responds by Nitpicking Again on a Misspelling show? get a life, you two.

Posted by: on July 17, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

owtch.

Posted by: thersites on July 17, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Going on the assumption that Bush is a plutocrat above all else, this might just be an attempt to keep the economy from being annihilated on his watch. There are many reasons that oil is high, but tensions in the middle east is one of the big ones. I wonder if Bush's corporate masters yanked his chain on this one.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on July 17, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's public posturing does not mean he isn't aware of his past mistakes.

Posted by: Luther on July 17, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

You just don't read any of my comments unless you see your name in them, do you? Not that you're obligated to do so, but if you did you'd know what I think about the Iraq war.

I think you're dishonest.

I've said it at least a couple of times before.

Posted by: Swan on July 17, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "In any case, kudos to Bush if this is true."

Buck Fush.

Posted by: Out in Pasadena on July 17, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

What you are construing as "hatred" is unbridled distrust. Earned distrust, by the way.

I have no problem adding a scoop of hatred and a dash of contempt for Bush.

Cheney qualifies for total unbridled hatred

Posted by: MLuther on July 17, 2008 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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