Saturday, September 12, 2009


At last we get some intelligent and sane approach to foreign policy. High-level representatives of the U.S. are to meet with their Iranian counterparts face-to-face. After eight years of a dangerous rejection by George Bush of talks with the Iranians, they are finally about to happen.

David E. Sanger and Mark Landler report in today's The New York Times:

"The Obama administration said Friday that the United States would accept Iran’s offer to meet, fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to hold unconditional talks despite the Iranian government’s insistence that it would not negotiate over the future of its nuclear program.

"The decision to engage directly with Iran would put a senior representative of the Obama administration at the bargaining table, along with emissaries from five other nations, for the first time since Mr. Obama took office."

Talks with the Iranians are far superior to the direction that Bush and Dick Cheney wanted to go: all-out war with Iran, bombing Iranian installations, perhaps even invading and occupying Teheran with hopes of downing the Islamic government.

And American involvement with Iranian leaders around a discussion table do a lot towards stopping Israel and the Netanyahu government from taking unilateral military action against Iran.

Up till now, it has been Russia led by Putin/Medvedev which has cautioned against military action. Witness the rumored secret trip of Netanyahu to Moscow this past Monday, reportedly to demand action against supplying Iran with defensive missile systems. Putin came out and warned against any attack against Iran.

Juan Cole in his Informed Comment has an interesting observation:

"Meanwhile, Russian PM Vladimir Putin warned against any attack on Iran, which he called "unacceptable" and said it would produce an explosion of terrorism. (Note: Russia is very close to Iran in the Caucasus). He even went so far as to reject any tightening of sanctions on Iran. These are the strongest words I've seen from Russia on the issue of an Israeli or American attack on Iran. I take it Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu's recent secret visit to Moscow went badly."

Some of the stalwart Bushian supporters are sure to rant and weep at U.S. talks with Iran. They will say that President Ahmadinejad is a dictator and ruthless in putting down peaceful Iranian protesters. And that the Supreme Leader Khamenei has no concept of individual liberty in a modern state like Iran. This is all no doubt true.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government must deal with whoever is in charge, and that means Ahmadi and Khamenei. The alternative - war - would result in at least 500 years of animosity and hostilities between Iran and the West, resulting in tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost. This must not be allowed to happen.

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