Iran's 2003 attempt at diplomacy

Remember back in 2003 when we scolded the Swiss for authenticating and passing on a diplomatic proposal from Iran? Gareth Porter helps us make some sense of the exchange.

Thanks to the Washington Post we finally have details on the contents of that entreaty for engagement.

Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

So they offered the same deal we're giving them now three years ago... Let's practice some of that highly prized objectivity here: Was that delay the right decision? Well, let's see, what's happened in the last three years that wouldn't have if we had sealed the deal? Oh, right! Enrichment, the only hard thing about making a bomb! (nuclear-material excluded). The Iranians wouldn't have learned how to enrich uranium at all were it not for the Bush Administration. Lemme see... Any other consequences? Well, there have been the years of record oil prices, and the consequent purchases made by those flush Persian devils from their Russian pals. A few years ago I would have given you some form of an unbelievable, but at this point I've the wisdom of my years.

So, once again the Bush Administration's swagger has doomed us all. By which, I mean that they have provided for yet another net loss in terms of the quality of our national security. It is as Dean says it is: You can't trust Republicans to defend you. Rather than negotiating in 2003 - shortly after the May 1, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" embarrasment and at the height of percieved American strength - we choose to negotiate now, when it's clear we have no teeth. Like so much else the Bush Adminsitration has done, it embarrasses me. How will I hold my head with a snooty air at my Parisian dinner parties now?

Let me try to return to objectivity: So, even though we didn't actually gain anything from the delay, what did they think they were going to gain that made them choose to spurn the offer? They were "convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse." But based on what?

Richard N. Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations said... "I did not share the assessment of many in the administration that the Iranian regime was on the brink."

Once again, the State Department was right while everyone else was wrong because the war proponents are princes of wishful thinking! They hoped that the Iranian regime would fall on its own because of the hypnotic power of democracy-spores flowing across their 650 mile border with Iraq. Just like they hoped that the war would be quick and easy. Just as they hoped to unite a people torn by religious/ethnic strife over one thousand years old - strife it had taken a dictator to contain. Just like they hoped the insurgency was in its last throes, or that the reconstruction would pay for itself, or that the result of the war would be a pro-Israel democracy! Pro-Isreal! They actually said that and people believed them. Unreal.

Of course, that's if you're willing to concede that they actually believed what they hoped, and they weren't just talking about their fantastic hopes because they had a private motivation that they couldn't sell as a reason for war. I can't believe that. For so many to have been so stupid and ignored so much evidence... I just can't see it. There's a much more likely explanation.

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