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Thursday, January 18, 2007

# Posted 7:24 AM by Taylor Owen  

COULD THIS BE ONE OF THE MISTAKES BUSH IS TALKING ABOUT?: So it turns out that in 2003, Iran offered the following to the US - ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups, helping to stabilize Iraq following the US-led invasion and making its nuclear programme more transparent. This in return for Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (operating in Iraq) and repatriate its members. Not ideal, but seeing as though they had been helping considerably in Afghanistan, this seems like a pretty good offer. Perhaps at the least a dialogue starter?
One of the then Secretary of State Colin Powell's top aides told the BBC the state department was keen on the plan - but was over-ruled.

"We thought it was a very propitious moment to do that," Lawrence Wilkerson told Newsnight.

"But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the Vice-President's office, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil'... reasserted itself."

Observers say the Iranian offer as outlined nearly four years ago corresponds pretty closely to what Washington is demanding from Tehran now. (emph mine)
So how has that rejection turned out?

Since that time, Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah inflicted significant military losses on the major US ally in the region, Israel, in the 2006 conflict and is now claiming increased political power in Lebanon.

Palestinian militant group Hamas won power in parliamentary elections a year ago, opening a new chapter of conflict in Gaza and the West Bank.

And Iraq?...


PS: Will the axis of evil line be seen as one of the single most damaging things ever said by (or written for) a president?

(23) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Because if there's one thing Iran does it's keep its word!
 
Sometimes I wonder if Americans haven't adapted to the Palestinian mind set: Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Danny L. McDaniel
 
Can this really be true?
Can any administration be stupid enough not to act on this?
I'm stuck in a nightmare and I can't wake up.
 
This was in the news at the time, IIRC.

And the reason why it failed is obvious - in return for green-lighting the Iranian nuclear weapons program Iran gives the west only opaque and unverifiable promises to lessen aid to terrorists. Aid which it can resume at any time if enough nuclear weapons help is not forthcomming.

This is a terrible deal - its like a bully promising to stop slapping you - if you buy him a gun. And keep your eyes closed so you can't tell who keeps on slapping you.
 
Anon,

at present, the United States has approximately 10,600 nuclear weapons with delivery systems somewhat better than Amazon FREE Super Saver Shipping.

It toppled the nationalist democrat Mossadegh (for oil), backed the dictator Pahlavi, backed Iraq in the bloody invasion of Iran (~1M casualties and a smiling Donald Rumsfeld), invaded not once but twice Iran's next door neighbor (for oil).

And you're calling Iran a bully? You might want to rethink your metaphor.
 
We should have taken the deal, look at the deal we made with N. Korea years back, that worked.
 
Taylor:

I thought you research types looked into news articles and conducted a modicum of fact checking before repeating the contents.

Captins Quarters has a little bit of background "...This is a bit of old news, though. The story of the supposed offer floated to the top of the news cycle briefly during the last election cycle, complete with the Cheney singlemindedness on "evil", as Armitage -- oops, the "senior former official and Powell aide" told the BBC. Only both the BBC and Armitage miss something about this unsigned offer, which is that it's unsigned -- and it demanded security guarantees and normal relations as a reward for ending its support of terrorism, something Iran shouldn't have been doing anyway...." and

"An unsigned note means little. The official Iranian position had not changed, nor would it have after we had normalized relations. Teheran did not conduct terrorism around the world in order to win most-favored-nation trading status with The Great Satan. They conduct terrorism to push Israel into the Mediterranean and to gain control of Southwest Asia as a new caliphate based in Persia rather than Arabia. If they wanted to change their official position, someone in charge would have made clear that the offer was official, and backed by the government, rather than an anonymous note that could have originated anywhere.

However, some people are gullible enough to believe anything that comes from Iran, and it's no great surprise that an inordinate amount of them work at the State Department -- or in this case, used to work at Foggy Bottom."

Go to the link for the briefing.

A little perspective
 
women in Iran are treated like dogs, of course Iran is a bully.
 
Hey Taylor,

its been too long. when are you next around?

Re: 'axis of evil' talk. Is there a problem with chronology here? Bush's 'Axis of Evil' line had been uttered, as I recall, in January 2002.

Had it been as utterly disastrous a statement as you say, and had the Iranian offer been sincere as well, would the Iranians be making these kinds of offers in 2003?

In other words, if we assume for a second that the Iranian government was sincere in its offer after his 'axis of evil' speech, doesn't this suggest that Bush's rhetoric wasn't nearly as prohibitive as you assume?

Characterising the Soviet Union as an evil empire didn't ultimately preclude serious negotiations or talks with the Soviets.

For the record, I'm not sure that rhetorically lumping the Iranian theocracy with North Korea and Saddam was proportionate or necessary.

But as for the other regimes, North Korea had already violated the non-proliferation agreement, and Saddam had to be policed by no-fly zones, sanctions and weapons inspections, so designating those regimes as 'evil' and recognising their duplicitous and predatory nature seems to be pretty accurate as a judgement.
 
Anon

Dogs in Iran have the right to vote? I was unaware. Dogs in Iran "compose more than half of the incoming classes for universities around the country"? News to me. Compare and contrast this with Saudi Arabia, the country where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from.

Stop watching Fox News and get an actual clue.
 
Patrick

the Evil Empire rhetoric had the effect of focusing our attention on our current adversary. On the other hand, the 'Axis of Evil' rhetoric was the beginning of the drumbeat for the disastrous invasion of Iraq, a decision that Bush had come to a priori. It was a cynical misdirection from our real enemy, al Qaeda, towards Bush's enemies.
 
anonymous,

that's a slightly separate issue.

The point I was driving at is that the possibility that the Iranians were making serious offers of assistance a year after the 'axis of evil' rhetoric suggests that the rhetoric was not as catastrophic as Taylor suggests.

whether or not their offer was genuine is hard to say.

P
 
So are you saying that the Bushies might not have been serious in their rhetoric and that the Iranians might not have been serious in their offer?
 
Hey Porter, I think I should have added 'and believed/acted on'. The axis of evil characterization was perhaps more damaging in how it made an administration that actually believed it act, or not act as the case may be. In the Iran offer case, believing Iran was 'evil' precluded serious negotiations right from the start - hence the Cheney rejection.
 
plus, that comment significantly marginalised pro-western Iranian moderates who had been important voices in countering Islamic fundamentalism.
 
davod quotes Captain's Quarters: "An unsigned note means little. The official Iranian position had not changed, nor would it have after we had normalized relations."

Huh? If the United States had agreed to negotiations, and the negotiations had resulted in an agreement, then the "offical Iranian position" would be whatever Iran had agreed to. In the absense of such an agreement, why would the United States normalize relations?

My guess is that the letter was unsigned because the writers wanted to be able to distance themselves from the proposals in the letter if the United States turned them down cold. If the letter had lead to successful negotiations with the United States, the letter would be easy to justify. But as matters stand, the writers of the letter can be accused of making unilateral concessions to the United States and getting nothing in return.
 
"the writers of the letter can be accused of making unilateral concessions to the United States and getting nothing in return."

No they can't. It was an unsigned note.

And there was no offer in the anonymous note of unilateral concessions - just, as stated above, an unverifiable promise to reduce terror funding if the Iranian nuclear weapons program (and long range missle program) is green-lighted by the west.

I'm still waiting for someone to argue that was too good a deal to pass up, as Taylor's original post implies.
 
That's easy.

If we've negotiated with North Korea and continue to negotiate with them, if we've successfully negotiated with Libya, Vietnam, the Soviet Union ..., and if this was Iran's opening gambit, then yes, then negotiating with Iran was too good a deal to pass up.

Iran is a much better adversary than Libya, Vietnam and the Soviet Union ever were. So the burden remains with you as to why we shouldn't have negotiated Iran while we would negotiate with them.

Keep in mind that neither Iran nor Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. Saudi Arabia had plenty to do with 9/11.
 
"plus, that comment significantly marginalised pro-western Iranian moderates who had been important voices in countering Islamic fundamentalism."

How were they countering Islamic fundamentalism? Is this a joke?

It probably won't be seen as the worst statement ever made by a POTUS because axis of evil works for people like Saddam and Kim Jung Il. Iran is just a nasty islamic regime looking to reclaim a lost empire.

anon said: "It was a cynical misdirection from our real enemy, al Qaeda, towards Bush's enemies."

Only al-queda or islamic terrorists in general?
 
"Hezbollah inflicted significant
military losses on the major US
ally in the region, Israel, in
the 2006 conflict"

Huh?

They managed to kill more cows
than Israelis. The most recent
figures published is that a total
of TWO (2) Merkavas were destroyed
in the war. Which is, actually,
200% of the total destroyed by
Hamas in Gaza District between
2001 and 2005. And COS Halutz
did, in fact, resign.

So those, I suppose, comprise the
"significant" military losses.
 
The Captain's Quarters people are just making this sh*t up. They have no clue, and have never had a clue, how foreign policy works. Just ignore them. You'll be better informed for it.
 
Re: Owen:

Hey Porter, I think I should have added 'and believed/acted on'. The axis of evil characterization was perhaps more damaging in how it made an administration that actually believed it act, or not act as the case may be. In the Iran offer case, believing Iran was 'evil' precluded serious negotiations right from the start - hence the Cheney rejection.

Note anonymous:

If we've negotiated with North Korea and continue to negotiate with them,

Yes, another member of the "Axis of Evil." Two datapoints, one consistent with the hypo, one inconsistent.

Clearly, if there's a followthrough on not negotiating with members of the Axis of Evil, that followthrough has been extremely inconsistent. It's pat but unconvincing to connect the VP's office's refusal to negotiate on terms proposed by Iran in 2003 on a hypothetical policy of not negotiating with members of the "Axis of Evil," when in fact the government have done so quite consistently (albeit in the multilateral six-party framework). I don't think you can blame President's turn of phrase here.
 
I know this probably to late to be read but Anon's Captain's Quarters comment is to good to pass up.

Anon's plaintive plea to disrergard the post

It sounds as if Anon is rattled by the info from Captain's Quarters.

Of course anonymous deserves to be listened to becaause of what? Maybe his anonymousness is caused by his desire not be discovered as a highly positioned anonymous State Department source!

Either that or he workd for the Iranians or Democrats.
 
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