Barry Rubin says this is the big one and I agree. Obama’s decision to accept Iran’s, er, offer of talks is a mistake of simply staggering proportions. It was inevitable – and yet even so it is hard to believe that an American President can be quite this reckless.
As we all know, Obama offered Iran a hand of friendship in the hope that this would finally encourage the regime to open up its clenched fist. Months passed; Obama’s hand remained open, the Iranian fist remained clenched and Iran made good use of the precious gift of time Obama had given it to advance its nuclear programme to the point where it is now variously estimated as soon able /already able to manufacture a nuclear weapon.
As time and credibility drained away, the Obama administration announced that if Iran hadn’t moved by late September, the US would finally get tough, which meant some kind of souped-up sanctions regime. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what would happen next. Having contemptuously disdained the idea of talking to the US, a few days ago Iran suddenly said it would indeed talk to the Great Satan – but not about its nuclear programme, only about ending nuclear proliferation (guess which country it has in mind for a cosy chat with Obama?) and getting rid of great power vetoes at the UN.
In other words, it has graciously consented to talk about terms for the surrender of the west. In doing so, it would park the sanctions threat indefinitely and tie the US up in further knots for months, thus ensuring the tranquil completion of its nuclear programme, and make the US look so weak and pathetic that Neville Chamberlain would retrospectively appear heroic and far-sighted by comparison, thus hugely endangering not just America but the world. In the circumstances, only an imbecile, brainwashed ideologue or lunatic would agree to pick up Iran’s gauntlet of contempt.
Obama has agreed.
‘There's language in the letter that simply says the government of Iran is willing to enter into dialogue,’ State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. ‘We are going to test that proposition, okay? And if Iran is willing to enter into serious negotiations, then they will find a willing participant in the United States and the other [partner] countries. If Iran dissembles in the future, as it has in the past, then we will draw conclusions from that.’
The US will ‘draw conclusions’, eh! Doubtless when Iran tests its nuclear weapon the US will ‘draw conclusions’ from that as well; and when the balance of regional and world power finally tips irrevocably towards Iranian hegemony and the nuclear blackmail of America and the world, not to mention the nuking of Tel Aviv, the US will ‘draw conclusions’ from that too. But it will never act. Instead the US, having dug itself into the ground up to its neck so that it can be stoned, is going to enter into ‘serious negotiations’.
At first, the leaks were that both the United States and the Europeans rejected the letter. Yet within two days this was all reversed and they accepted it. Why would such a thing happen? Unless they received some secret Iranian assurances—which is possible—it means that the State Department mid-level officials scoffed at the letter but as it went up the chain of command, to Obama itself, he chose to accept it. There’s no doubt that this decision was made at the very top and there are also indications that wiser heads who understand the situation better were against it.
For those waiting for the Administration to make some dreadful mistake, they now apparently have their case. One close Washington observer of Iran policy stated in bewilderment, ‘This makes no sense.’ But it can be made sense of in several ways. One is that the Administration leadership has no idea of what it’s dealing with. Another is that it has fallen prey to wishful thinking. Both are true but the real answer might also involve something else: a government desperately seeking to avoid even a lower-level confrontation and passionately desiring to do nothing about the most dangerous issue it and the world faces.
We will draw our own conclusion: it was always going to be like this.