Negotiations with Iran – D. Hamilton, S. Russell, N. Hopkins

This could also be titled The Middle East, Part VIII. rdj This post was updated on 27 August 2006 at 5:35 pm PDT.

The US has consistently blocked resolution of all issues with Iran by refusing to agree to, or even discuss a non-aggression treaty and, in fact, refusing to even talk to them. (See below.) Of course, this means a pretext for further US aggression is being concocted. And that means the people driving this bus are lunatics.

David Hamilton
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Published on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 by the Inter Press Service

Bush Ensured Iran Offer Would Be Rejected
by Gareth Porter

Even before Iran gave its formal counter-offer to ambassadors of the P5+1 countries the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) Tuesday, the George W. Bush administration had already begun the process of organising sanctions against Iran.

Washington had already held a conference call on sanctions Sunday with French, German and British officials, the Washington Post reported.

Thus ends what appeared on the surface to be a genuine multilateral initiative for negotiations with Iran on the terms under which it would give up its nuclear programme. But the history of that P5+1 proposal shows that the Bush administration was determined from the beginning that it would fail, so that could bring to a halt a multilateral diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear programme that the hard-liners in the administration had always found a hindrance to their policy.

Britain, France and Germany, which had begun negotiations with Tehran on the nuclear issue in October 2003, had concluded very early on that Iran’s security concerns would have to be central to any agreement. It is has been generally forgotten that the Nov. 14, 2004 Paris Agreement between the EU and Iran included an assurance by the three European states that the “long-term agreement” they pledged to reach would “provide…firm commitments on security issues.”

Full Article
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There is a major push going on in neocon circles (op-eds and editorials by the usual suspects in the usual places) to engineer an attack on Iran by Bush before Bush leaves office.

The neocons seem pessimistic about having much power after the next election. The leading Repug, McCain, claims in so many words to be a neocon, but he has not toed their line like Bush has. That idiot from Virgina, Captain “Macaca,” would be a handy sockpuppet but surely he will not get elected. Mitt Romney I take to be a realist rather than a neocon. Who else is there? Frist? Not sure about him.

Anyway, the current neocon line is that an attack on Iran within the next two years is a vital US interest.

This in spite of the generals saying (1) we don’t have the wherewithal to attack Iran on the ground thanks to the Iraq circus and (2) it is impossible to take out Iran’s nuclear capability from the air because it’s spread out and we don’t know exactly where.

This is very like the run-up to Iraq in that the civilian leadership and the military disagree and it is the military saying “don’t.” That tinkling sound is stereotypes shattering, and the bass line is Colin Powell chanting “I told you so…I told you so….”

Steve Russell

Negotiations, US style.

The principal US negotiating strategy when dealing with potential adversaries is one designed to keep the US out of such negotiations. You might call it a non-negotiation strategy. The simplest approach is just to refuse to talk to them. The US government presently refuses to talk to Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Hamas or Hezbollah based on an assumption so entrenched that it rarely requires repeating; that they are all such a bunch of dirty, rotten scoundrels, it would sully the US’s honorable reputation to sit in the same room with any of them. Heresy is to entertain the idea that any of them have legitimate needs or that they are motivated by policy interests instead of by their innate venality.

Otherwise, the US’s preferred non-negotiating strategy is to dictate that the opposing party acquiesce to the principal US demand as a precondition to negotiations. Hence, today we have the US demanding that Iran give up its uranium enrichment program (which is legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) in order to get the US to even talk to them directly about anything else – like a non-aggression pact. Likewise, Israel demands that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas guarantee Israel’s sovereignty (over what?) before negotiations concerning Palestinian borders can begin. Give us the main thing we want and sometime later we’ll talk about what you want – maybe – but no guarantees. Those who employ this approach are actually intent on avoiding negotiations altogether because they are getting what they want in the status quo.

This strategy is employed to subvert the possibility of negotiations where the US would have to engage in a process in which the adversary would have equal standing. The US prefers to settle such disputes by resort to arms where it has a significant advantage. When you control a military budget equal to the rest of the world’s combined and your campaign contributors own the war industry, combat is your preferred modus operandi. But, first, you have to go through the charade of appearing to utilize diplomacy. Here is where it is crucial to appear to want to negotiate while skillfully avoiding actually doing it.

The Bush regime fabricated the nuclear issue with Iran, but has consistently refused to negotiate about it before Iran capitulates. This supports the conclusion that the Bush regime remains intent on creating a justification for attacking Iran – and might as well throw in Syria while they’re in the neighborhood. That is, the Bushites seem intent on spreading the current four front war (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine) into a real world war stretching from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, fighting Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Persians, and Muslims in general, in that “belt of insecurity” where most of the world’s oil just happens to be located. Iran could be a great choice for a foil if they would only agree to fight with their conventional army, where US advantages could be fully utilized, rather than asymmetrically. But they know better.

That the Bushites would, at this stage of their demise, boldly pursue this path simply takes my breath away with its audacity or, more likely, its obliviousness to the odds for success and the potential consequences. The driver of this bus is a lunatic on crack and steroids, reading the map upside down and speeding toward the mountains. The damage likely to result from Bushites pursuing this course in the next two years could be enormous. The scenes of southern Lebanon, Gaza, Baghdad and 9/11 may just be appetizers.

David Hamilton

Steve,
It would get really really interesting if when the chips were down, the military refused to do what they were told, not an uncommon happening in other parts of the world.

Nick Hopkins

Nick, I think that’s a horrible idea. That the unelected military should refuse the orders of the elected civilian government is, thank goodness, unlikely.

If the American people won’t step up and be responsible in their voting, a military coup won’t save them.

There is, by the way, an article in this month’s Foreign Policy about how the neocon Paul Bremer, civilian leadership on the spot, disregarded all military advice in screwing up the Iraq occupation.

Even though we are suffering through a time when our military leadership has more sense than our civilian leadership, that is no argument for the general superiority of military rule.

It would, however, be a good idea to listen to military men when they express opinions on what the military can and cannot do.

Steve Russell

Steve, don’t get me wrong, I think it is a horrible idea as well. But this kind of thing happens all the time in Latin America and the Third World, and the US is showing increasing tendencies in that direction. When the elected government violates the Constitution and abuses the people, Latin American militaries feel it is their duty as citizens and patriots to intervene.

Nick Hopkins

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