Thursday, July 17, 2008


Has anyone noticed the price of oil over the last few days? It has dropped about $20 per barrel. And it is not the market's vagaries that explain oil's decline. Rather, it corresponds with news on the diplomatic front that the Bush administration is sending a high-ranking diplomat to participate in talks between the EU and Iran's foreign minister on Iran's nuclear development project.

Elaine Sciolino and Steven Lee Myers write in today's The New York Times that Washington is doing an about-face on its willingness to participate in the talks with Iran.

"The Bush administration’s decision to send a senior American official to participate in international talks with Iran this weekend reflects a double policy shift in the struggle to resolve the impasse over the country’s nuclear program.

"First, the Bush administration has decided to abandon its longstanding position that it would meet face to face with Iran only after the country suspended its uranium enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council.

"Second, an American partner at the table injects new importance to the negotiating track of the six global powers confronting Iran — France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — even though their official stance is that no substantive talks can begin until uranium enrichment stops.

As I wrote on more than one occasion, the price of oil has risen day-by-day as tensions between Washington and Teheran increase. Every time that Bush or Cheney or Rice threatened Iran with "all options on the table," the price of oil went up.

Now oil is under $130, down from its high a few days ago of over $145. The signal from Rice that the U.S. is now willing to talk with Iran as opposed to bombing Iranian cities surely is the key to this drop. Imagine what would happen to the price of oil and gasoline if Bush seriously made an effort to sit down with the Iranians and discuss their concerns!

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