The danger of talking to Iran
In light of the letter sent yesterday by a bipartisan group of senators urging the president to press forward on sanctions against Iran, I asked Jamie Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative and a former Defense Department and National Security Council official, if there are downsides to talking yet again to Iran about a nuclear weapons program it shows no sign of relinquishing. He e-mailed me:
Always a danger that Iranians will use negotiations to buy time to continue to develop their nuclear program. But it is unclear, despite all the talk of the supposed impact of the sanctions, that the Iranians feel they need to even pretend to compromise at this point. The way Secretary Clinton spent her time in Bahrain literally running after her Iranian counterpart encapsulates the situation we are in -- the Obama administration appears more desperate for a deal than Tehran. They should reinforce the message that time is running out and that the military option remains a viable option if Iran does not halt it's program. The threat of force is the only approach that gives us a chance of changing the regime's calculus.
He is referring to the ludicrous sight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stalking Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki not once, but twice. Nile Gardiner characterized the scene as "humiliating." But it is also foolish, conveying a whiff of desperation to the Iranian regime that perceives weakness as an opportunity to dig in.
It is not an auspicious start to talks that, at this stage in the game, may only encourage more Iranian gamesmanship.
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