Obama's deal is no deal

Striking a quick bargain of an undemocratic nature with the Iranian regime


Obama's deal is no deal
by Jalal Alavi

The first day of October was the day on which six world powers (P5+1) and Iran met in relation to the latter’s controversial nuclear program. Reports that have come out of that meeting depict the Islamic Republic as willing to concede on at least two grounds: negotiating the fate of its nuclear program with the P5+1 and holding direct high-level talks with the country the Islamic Republic has for years called the Great Satan (i.e., the United States).

What, of course, makes these concessions most intriguing is that they are being made not by the reformists in Iran, to whom better relations with Europe and a thaw in relations with the United States have always seemed prudent, but by those for whom the Islamic Republic has for years been the bastion of anti-Americanism. To be sure, Iran’s hardliners and the United States have always had a proclivity for limited strategic cooperation of often a covert nature [1].

However, the overt yet highly confidential 45-minute conversation between Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns, on the sidelines of the latest P5+1 meeting with Iran, can be considered a new development in the context of post-revolutionary Iran’s relations with the United States.

The fact that Burns and his European counterparts did not push the Iranian delegation to agree to a freeze on uranium enrichment is also quite intriguing, for such a demand on the part of the United States and its allies was supposed to form the basis for any future P5+1 negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

The above being the case, the question arises as to why the Iranian hardliners and the West led by the United States are all of a sudden showing so much flexibility when dealing with the nuclear stalemate? The answer is clear: the two sides are considering a rapprochement, a marriage of convenience, so to speak, that is supposed to address a number of issues, both domestic and international, facing the parties involved.

The hardliners in Iran, for example, are in dire need of improving their international image, so as to be able to annihilate the reformists who are rightfully challenging their rule; mend relations with Russia, which were badly damaged as a result of their recent disclosure of a second nuclear facility in Qom; and thus avoid the possibility of further UN sanctions, which could truly jeopardize their grip on power.

The West led by the United States, on the other hand, is in dire need of stability in the Middle East; Iran’s assistance with the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a steady flow of oil and gas. Thus, a “grand bargain” can be said to be in the making on the part of the parties involved in the negotiations, and, if the United States fails, in its present capacity as the leading promoter of peace [2], to introduce a balance between realpolitik and idealism into any future P5+1 negotiations with the incumbent regime in Iran, chances are it will end up doing more harm to the world than good.

In a sense, it all goes back to the Obama administration’s distorted policy of direct engagement with America’s adversaries, which relies heavily on a rather crude interpretation of the abstract principle of non-interference in international relations.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the above orientation has the dangerous tendency of undermining the very principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states by rewarding criminal state behavior so long as it suits the perceived interests of the United States or those of a particular administration.

Thus, the United States (and its European allies, for that matter) had to stay virtually “neutral”, for example, when the hardliners in Iran sounded the death knell for republicanism throughout the country by stealing the June 12 presidential election from Mir-Hossein Mousavi. To be sure, the Obama administration’s proclivity for direct engagement with US antagonists is anything but new in the diplomatic history of the United States. Former President Ronald Reagan, for example, also engaged America’s rivals, including revolutionary Iran, in more ways than one.

What is quite troubling at this point in time, however, is the fact that there is now a vibrant reform movement in Iran which is being totally undermined by a United States administration that is seemingly only interested in proving the efficacy of its direct engagement policy to the world by attempting to strike a quick bargain of an undemocratic nature with the Iranian regime over the latter’s nuclear program.

And nowhere is this self-serving orientation on the part of the Obama administration better reflected than in Obama’s speech of June 15 [3], in which he said that he is going to continue negotiating with the small clique of isolated individuals he calls Iran’s leaders, irrespective of their foul behavior both during and after the election.

Of course, the President must have forgotten on that day that his Inaugural Address promise of extending a hand to tyrannical regimes precludes those who refuse to “unclench their fist”, that is, hopefully those who refuse to treat their subject populations with respect. Here is what he said in his Inaugural Address [4]: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Alas, when it comes to taking sides in the battle between freedom and servitude, democracy and tyranny, at least as far as the situation in Iran is concerned, it seems Barack Obama does not mind ending up on the wrong side of history himself, so long as he can provide Congress with timely reports of a realpolitik nature. Opportunism, rooted in disregard for the plight of ordinary people, is the Achilles heel of the Obama presidency, therefore. Let us hope the President will get a handle on this before it is too late.

Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator based in Britain.

1.Consider, for example, the Islamic Republic’s involvement in what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, as well as its involvement in the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

2. President Barack Obama’s success in winning the Nobel Peace Prize this year can, in a sense, mean that the world is now expecting the United States to act as the leading promoter of peace in the world.

3. Listen to Obama’s June 15 speech via this link.

4. The full text of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address.


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trust is for suckers

by truthseeker on

obama is an actor. a hollywood prison bitch, sponsored by aipac nazi wannabe war criminals, whom themsleves by order of their endtime masters are setting him up just like jfk! with amerikkka being the devil in motion and creation, and the first rule with dealing with the devil - is you don't. iran muslims of the world wake the hell up! stand up and be counted! live up to the word and goodness of your prophet! (pbuh) seek the truth and seek total justice for all peoples of the world. start with your brothers in iraq and so on. help them not take revenge against the wicked nation rapists west!

don't let al-qaida win and take over lslam as just like nazism was set up and secretly backed by amerikkka and britain to destroyed the german people and steal their super science (rockets, magnetophon computer hard drive, cs guns, jet fighters and flying saucers and the bel) and set up israel in business. the arab world is being set up the same. as there is no al-qaida it's a false flag terrorists group like the i.r.a set up by your enemies to destroy you as a collective people! please wake up iran as your running out of time. with the doomsday clock set to t-minus five mins. wake up! and be ready!



Super Secret Agent

by vildemose on

also take your super secret technology that will soon make you the most advance nation on earth. (iranian gov you know what that is, good luck, make it work soon)

Truthseeker? Are you a Super Secret Agent of the Caliphate???


obama nation rapists wake up good people of iran!

by truthseeker on

just like actor/war criminal g.w bush obama is a joke a set up by amerikkka to fool the world once more, he's how they are planning (with hillary set to take over afterwards) to get to iran to steal your gas and oil wealth, rape your women, kids and even babies just like they have done is iraq. plus also take your super secret technology that will soon make you the most advance nation on earth. (iranian gov you know what that is, good luck, make it work soon) and then act like they invented it.

your the most strongest of all islamic peoples start acting like it iran. people of iran unite and stand together as one defiant people. don't let the indigenous people of the middle east go the way of the native americans as they trusted the wicked white west and their black slaves and look what happened to them! trust is for suckers and for people that call themselves amerikkkan's!


Oh yeah Hass, Iranians are prospering under IRI

by AMIR1973 on

  Something is GROWING in Iran (and it's not the "middle class"):    //www.payvand.com/news/09/oct/1142.html   BTW, can we invent a new word: "Hass-o-sher"? 

Terry McBride

Hass is a champion of Obfuscation of the facts

by Terry McBride on

I look at his posts and IGNORE THEM


Hass, do you work for the

by vildemose on

Hass, do you work for the Islamic Republic?? Are you Iranian?

The bulk of all your comments on dailykos or Huffingtonpost and lately on IC are  always dedicated to selective citations of language about all Iranian issue and always pro-IRI ... Your style of cherry-picking is nothing new in politicized science debates but to try to convince Iranians who actually don't need EA (Ervand Abrahamian) to tell them what has been going on in the medieval IRI in an Iranian site,  is remarkably ignorant and if you are Iranian indefensible.

I think you will have more success over at dailykos or HP in implementing your official propaganda-laden remarks.


I believe it is a deal.

by desi on

I believe it is a deal.  The previous administrations only made Iran dig the  it's heels deeper and act rebellious.  Now however Iran has struck a bargain.  It may not be the bargain we want.  It is however a compromise.  Enrichment will take place in Russia and hopefully sanctions will be lifted on safety mechanisms for Iranian plants and the IAEA will thus have an opportunity to monitor the situation.  Iran holds a 10 percent stake in Eurodif, the French Nuclear facility and is considered a sleeping partner.  These deals are much more convoluted than we think.  Iran has its hands and money in many international nuclear deals.  For the IAEA and the US to tell the IRI to cow tow is delusional.  These deals were set in motion decades ago by the US and Europe that created the stalemate we're in today.  We can't come crying now and expect Obama to fix and undo what's already been done.  We can only hope that Obama can help the situation from exacerbating.


HASS, Yes I'm "Stomping my feet and pulling my Hair"....

by Khar on

so are the other Millions of "Growing Middle Class" Iranians on the streets of Iran! Has it ever occur to you that this "Growing Middle Class" Iran is lacking basic Human Rights, Freedom and Democracy and is being squeezed by repression & on-going Economic Depression. Please unload your nonsense somewhere else.

Freedom and Democracy for Iran


Iranians better off under this regime

by hass on

Sorry to break the news to you but Iran has a GROWING middle class.


This is simply a fact. You can stomp your feet and pull your hair, but it remains a fact. Get used to it.


I support Obama approach,

by benross on

I support Obama approach, for the lack of alternative. Intensifying antagonism between U.S. and IRI in current situation, and actively supporting the green movement inside Iran, will result to a class based antagonism inside Iran, since green movement had not enough time and perhaps nor capability to spread its message across the social spectrum and the current political power in Iran not only controls the social infrastructure, but also has a substantial social base support. Time is not ripe for intensifying the antagonism in my view.

Brian Appleton

riding on the horns of a dilemma

by Brian Appleton on

Brian H. Appleton


Rasool Aryadust

I think that many moderates voted this time in Iran rather than bouycotting the elections because they naively believed the hardline regime might be replaced by one that was more moderate. I think the hardline regime naively thought it could get away with the election fraud and did not anticipate the level of protest it caused hence their panic reaction of brutality. Unfortunately what their reacation  showed the whole world is that they have not changed in the past 30 years.

This has put me personally into a very awkward position because until this post election brutality I thought that dialogue between the US government and the IRI was preferable to the war and economic sanctions which never accomplish what they intend to and only punish the people. I was a columnist for CASMII. It seemed that under Bush war was inevitable and the US regime of that day only wanted to restore Iran to a colony. The xenophobia in Iran is historically justified as is the preoccupation with national soveriegnty and identity. Also anyone who suffered incarceration and torture by Savak under the Pahlavis knows that there were good reasons for the revolution of 1979. Unfortunately the more equitable distribution of wealth has not really taken place but rather a new wealthy class formed of an unholy alliance between clerics and merchants.

I believed that Obama's dialogue approach was preferable to war and conquest but now that the regime has revealed its infinite capacity to abuse its own citizens and dissent, I am not so sure. I tend to agree with the author that to deal with this regime is to abandone our democratic principles and ideals not to mention abandone the moderates in Iran.

So what is the solution? To arm the dissidents overtly or covertly as the regime is today accusing us of, is to lead to a bloody civil war. To deal with the regime is to legitimize and keep them in power. In fact it can be argued that they have survived 30 years because of deals made with the EU, Russia, China, Japan and even Canada.

So what is the answer? I am out of ideas?



What Hass is proposing is to

by vildemose on

What Hass is proposing is to ask a blind man to see or a Parepalegic to run a marathon by improving their finances....The IRGC and Velayte Vaghih's systematic objective is and has always been to prevent the Iranian society to have a viable middle class.

Terry McBride

US sanctions are irrevelant at this time

by Terry McBride on

Because the Iranian government is demonstrating to the world that they do not care about it's own people...

The IRI is only interested in POWER and how it will share the power among the INSIDERS of the IRI...


Sure go ahead and bring up the past abuses of the CIA et al concerning how it imposed the Shah's rule but did that not end in 1979???


Fast forward 30+ years and you have these dictators who PRETEND to follow Islam but in reality they are only upholding THEIR OWN PERSONAL EGO'S!!!!  


Why would mollahs, Pasdaran, and Basij allow democratic change?

by AMIR1973 on

The IRI will not allow any evolution or peaceful transition to democracy. The institutions of velayet-e faqih, Assembly of Experts, Council of Guardians, etc are fundamentally undemocratic. We have seen how the IRI and its enforcers (e.g. Pasdaran and Basij) have been dealing with opposition and dissent for the past 30 years.


Democracy comes with improved standards of living

by hass on

30 years of  US emnity of Iran has NOT promoted democracy, just as 50 years of sanctions and emnity with Cuba have done exactly nothing to promote democracy there. "Democracy" is not something that is going to come from Obama. either. You people who are whining about "democracy" are really simply opposed to any improvement in US-Iran relations, and see "democracy" or "human rights" as a good excuse to hamper or prevent that.

 The fact is that democracy and respect for human rights comes from improved standards of living that can result from an improved US-Iran relations, not from the continuation of the same old policies that have thus far proven to be not only totally ineffective but also counter-productive.