Wednesday, May 24, 2006

# Posted 12:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

YGLESIAS IN CHARGE: Matt is filling in for Josh Marshall this week at TPM. Today, Matt says we'd have to be crazy not to take up Iran's offer of direct talks. Kevin makes a similar point on his blog. I think the Iranian proposal is worth some serious consideration, but it's interesting that neither Kevin nor Matt points out a very liberal counterargument to the idea of direct talks -- they undermine the multilateral negotiating process that has been going on for quite a few years.

The situation here bears some rough similarity to the one on the Korean peninsula. There, Kim Jong Il wants direct talks with the US in order to raise his standing on the international stage and avoid the pressure that comes with talking to China, Russia, Japan, the US and South Korea all at once.

By the same token, Iran may want to get away from facing the British-French-German negotiating team that has been on the job up until now. The Euro-3 didn't get Iran to compromise, but they did demonstrate Iran's intransigence to the point where the UN had to take up the issue.

Does this mean we shouldn't talk to Iran one on one? Not necessarily. If pre-negotiations suggest potential for a major breakthrough, fine. But first we have to make sure that direct talks will strengthen the hand of both the Euro-3 and the UN/IAEA, so that such talks don't become the pretext for Iran renouncing any negotiation whatsoever.

And given liberal skepticism of the Bush administration's ability to do anything right, especially anything complicated, do Kevin and Matt really want the White House to take the reins away from our enlightened European allies and their colleagues at the UN?
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Liberty and Justice TrackBack
Iran Wants Direct Talks

Ahmadinejad has proven himself, as we all know, to be a reliable partner. A rational person, moderate in his views. Well, except of course for his views on Israel, the US (great satan), Christians, Jews in general, other religious minorities in Iran, Iraq, dress codes for Muslims...
But that's besides the point

Given the "liberal skepticism" shown by Kevin and Matt, I believe that they consider themselves to be in a win-win situation.

If the White House does not negotiate directly, slam them for pasing up the opportunity. If the White House does negotiate successfully, Kevin and Matt are smart enough to recognize that there is no chance of any substantive progress, so when negotiations fail, slam the White House as incompetent negotiators.

Well said. I have been trying to make this same point at Belgravia Dispatch.
Seriously, does anyone believe the Iran will actually stick to anything agreed, even if (and I think this is a big if) they agree to anything? Given the examples of history it never ceases to amaze how many people wish to play Halifax and Chamberlain to today's Hitlers (and with this particular leader that is not so inexact an analogy).
Neil, is Ahmadinejad Iranian or Saudi. From your description, I couldn't tell.
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