And If Iran Doesn't Want To Talk?

There are other means of pressure


And If Iran Doesn't Want To Talk?
by Michael Singh

Six weeks before Iran's descent into electoral chaos, the hardline Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami rebuked the United States in his Friday sermon, stating, "You do not want talks!"

Ayatollah Khatami (no relation to former president Mohammad Khatami) is clearly not a keen observer of the Washington scene. Given the persistence of American efforts to engage the Iranian regime in dialogue over the last 30 years, and the resilience of the Obama administration's own commitment to engagement, the one constant in American policy toward Iran seems to be that we do indeed want talks.

Hence, as the violence has subsided, attention has turned to whether President Obama still intends to talk to Iran, and if so how.

But this question misses the point. It is a bit like me wondering whether I should invite Angelina Jolie over for dinner: The question isn't really whether I should ask, but how on earth I would get her show up. When it comes to Iran, the question isn't so much whether to engage, but how to get Iran's leaders to want to engage earnestly with us.

While in the past the United States pursued engagement intermittently, in recent years the effort has gained new urgency as Iran has neared the nuclear threshold. It's worth remembering why the Iranian regime wants the bomb, despite all the trouble involved in getting one: Not primarily for prestige, and not primarily to achieve a balance of power with potential foes. Iran wants a nuclear weapon because the regime is insecure to the point of paranoia.

Understanding this insecurity helps to explain many of the regime's actions. Only a jittery regime would so transparently and clumsily rig an election contested only by candidates it had handpicked. And any opening to the U.S. is a threat, not a prize, to a regime that thrives on closure and whose ideology rests on anti-Americanism.

Also evident in the recent violence in Iran, however, was the inescapable fact that neither the United States nor any of its allies can provide the regime with meaningful "security guarantees," which are so often proffered as the key to unlocking a grand bargain with Tehran. No U.S. president would, or for that matter could, protect the regime against the greatest threat to its continued prosperity -- popular resentment.

If we cannot alleviate the pressure on the regime as a means to induce them to accept our offer to negotiate, the only path that remains is to add to that pressure. The free world should fully and speedily respond to Iranian dissidents' calls for support, but we should not aspire to supplant or direct their activities.

There are other means of pressure that are within our control, such as economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation targeted at regime heavyweights. These efforts have recently slowed both as a result of the sequential, engagement-first approach taken by President Obama as well as the dwindling enthusiasm of partners such as Russia and China.

The present crisis provides an opportunity to revive the latter by channeling international disgust with the regime's abuses into concerted action, and suggests a need to revisit the former. While engagement need not be abandoned, it should be pursued in parallel with pressure. The regime must come to see the president's outreach not merely as an invitation, but as an off-ramp from a road that leads to escalating penalties.

The Iranian regime has demonstrated that it is in no mood for compromise, and not particularly eager to win the world's regard. So serious U.S.-Iran engagement is more likely to be the product of a fundamental reorientation by Iran's leaders than to produce one.

Michael Singh, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, is the Ira Weiner fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.



One more point, "Ostaad"

by Sassan on

And lastly, just to educate you, whether you like it or not, Islam is a semetic religion also. Ishmael, as the bastard son of Abraham, gave rise to the Arabs, who gave us Islam. Abraham's legitimate son, Isaac, gave rise to the Israelites, which later on gave birth to Joseph and Jesus, etc.

As such, Arabs and Jews are half-brothers (same father, different mothers! So, Muslims are, in fact, semetic (or rather, Jewish) in blood and in religious philosophy as well, lest we not realize that the Quran was written by 3 JEWS and one of us, Salman Farsi, the first and most wicked traitor to rebel against the Persian culture. Just consider how much of Islam is a duplicate copy of the Jewish Torah (circumsicion, prohibition against pork, etc.) 

So, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but YOU, as Muslim, are the one who is Semetic, my Hezbollahi friend! In fact, you and the Israelies that you love to hate so much are half-brothers! Just think, you and Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimone Peres are bros!


"Ostaad," you missed the point...

by Sassan on

Please feel free to call them Jewish "terrorists" or "Zionists" or whatever you want to call Jews in Israel or whereever else -- I personally don't give a rat's ass! In fact, I don't care what the Jews in Israel do to the Palestinians -- that's my point! My main concern is Iran and only Iran! Let's fix our home first, before we worry about our neighbor's house! And most "true" Iranians would agree with me!

Your masters, the mullahs, have screwed and stolen so much from Iran over the last 30 years, that it will take decades for us to undo the damage done by your hereditary masters. Again, it bares repeating: I don't care about Israel -- as far as I care, Israel could go to hell and back and I wouldn't blink! And I don't care about the Palestinians and I don't care about the Lebanese or the Americans! F**k them all! I'm pretty confident they can take care of themselves!

Iran is the ONLY victim I care about!  Let the rich Arabs take care of fellow Arabs, whether they be Palestinian or Lebanese, lest you forget Yasser Arafat and what he once said during the Iran-Iraq war. Even though Arafat and the Palestinians greatly helped Khomeini overtake the revolution, when the war broke out, palestinians went to fight for Iraq against Iran! In response, Arafat famously said, "Iranians are our friends, but the Iraqis are our brothers!" 

So much for your Palestinians!

Furthermore, deceptive charlatans like you and the mullahs abuse the Palestinian crisis so as to have a reason to survive! In fact, without the existence of a crisis, this asinine, arabized regime would have been finished back in the early 1980's. But first it was the hostage crisis which gave the mullahs 444 days of total control over the political scene, then it was the Iran-Iraq war, which the mullahs prolonged UNNECESSARILY for 8 long years despite 8 offers of cease fire from Iraq (needlessly sacrificing hundreds of thousands of young Iranians), and then of course, there is the Palestinian cause, which is a gift that keeps on giving to the mullahs!

Without crisis this regime is doomed! And you know it! And don't tell me you and your ilk cares one damn bit about the Palestinians! You don't! But that's beside the point. My real point is this -- at this time of turmoil and conflict in Iran when the regime thugs are brutally killing and torturing the people of Iran, it's take a monumental measure of gall and obfuscation to bring up "the plight of the Palestianians" and "Jewish terrorists!" Interesting, I've never heard you once bring up the "Iranian terrorists" (Basijis) and their treatment of the innoncent people of Iran!

In short, what I care about is Iran and ONLY Iran. Can you say the same thing? I bet for you, your first priority is the protection of Islam, isn't that true? Iran for you Arabized souls is just a vehicle, to get you to the corner of Hell that you crave. Arabized souls like you would protect Islam first, and Iran second (if at all). You will use and abuse Iran, as if it were a prostitute, and when she's broken, you will take your gains and go off to Karbala or Najaf, or maybe Paris or New York. After all, you're all a bunch of hypocrites!


Sassan, sorry my use of...

by Ostaad on

the term "Jewish terrorists" put such a big kak in your shalvaar. OK, I won't use that term again so non-Arabized traitors, maybe Semitized would be more suitable, like you won't get all bent out of shape. Jeez, I had no idea I would hurt your feelings by putting "Jewish" and "terrorist" in one sentence! But in case you missed the movie, there ARE Jewish terrorists in this world some of them are even in the current government in Israel.

OK, no "Jewish terrorists" from now on. How about Jewish killers and land grabbers? Happy now?


It is actually really

by alimostofi on

It is actually really subtle. The Seyyeds must present themselves as a suitable threat for the US to keep them in charge of Iran.

Think outside the box.

As Queen said, "to avoid complications, she never kept the same address". How weird is that. I just heard that tune as I was writing this (on SkyArtsHD).

Ali Mostofi




Ostaad the IRI spin master

by Sassan on

Interesting (and all too familiar and sad) that YET AGAIN, the loudest IRI voice box on, other than Jaleho, this Ostaad person brings up "Israel's policies of occupation, Apartheid and expansion of illegal colonies inhabited by Jewish terrorists."

This is such bullshit, and such a redherring at this time in Iran's history! No one -- that is, no "real" Iranian -- gives two shits about Israel's "occupation" of Palestine, because presently, we're trying to get rid of our own "terroristic" occupiers in Iran! In point of fact, Iran has been occupied by Islamists or Arabized terrorists for 30 years now! 

Let us deal with Iran's troubles for now and let's leave Palestinian troubles to the Palestinians, who by the way were responsible for setting Cinema Rex on fire in August 1978, who also fired shots at the Iranian army in Jaleh Square in September 1978, prompting the army to return fire and killing innocent people! It is also Palestinian thugs who are torturing and beating up innocent Iranian people on the streets of Iran TODAY! I would not be surpised one bit if it was a Palestinian terrorist who shot the bullet that killed Neda!

This "Ostaad" character has the onions to come out at this time and talk about "Iran's enemies" and "Jewish terrorists" when it is "Ostaad" and HIS/HER ilk (the mullahs) who are the NUMBER ONE enemy of Iran-zamin! These Arabized traitors don't give a damn about Iran! All they care about is their power base and their precious Islam! As Khomeini famously once said, "We don't care if Iran goes up in smoke, so long as Islam survives."

"Ostaad" belongs in this category of people who don't give a damn about Iran and the plight of Iranian people. If he/she did give a damn, then he or she would not ALWAYS support the IRI in EVERY ONE of his ridiculous posts.

Mr. Singh, keep up  the good work!



by hass on

This is utter rubbish.

First of all, there's no evidence that Iran "wants the bomb" and in fact there is evidence to the contrary ie: Iran has offered to place additional restrictions on its nuclear program that go well beyond its legal obligations, to address even the hypothetical concern about secretly building bombs --- such as opening the program to multinational participation. These offers have been ignored, when in fact they were endorsed by the IAEA and several US experts as a potential solution to the dispute. Why were the Iranian offers ignored? Because the whole conflict is not about nuclear weapons -- that's just a pretext to deny Iran (and other developing nations) the ability to make nuclear fuel, thereby guaranteeing an energy monopoly for the US and friends. 

Secondly, it is widely known that the US offer to "negotiate" crafted by the proIsraeli Dennis Ross is merely intended as a formality, and the negotiations are meant to fail, thus giving the US the claim that it had "tried diplomacy". The offer of negotiations by the US is insincere and pretextual.


Iran's enemies are desperate to find any excuse to start a war,

by Ostaad on

I am not sure if the author is aware that akhond Katami as a member of Majles-e-khebrehgaan has no executive or policy setting power. The author is dead wrong by claiming "The Iranian regime has demonstrated that it is in no mood for compromise..." On the contrary all announcements from Khamenie and Ahamdinejad so far have been positive. Ahamdinejad's most recent appointment of Salehi as the Iran Atomic Organization coupled with Clinton's assertion that the main issue facing the US and other Western negotiators is the military aspect of Iran's nuclear program, all point to the direction of negotiations and compromise.

Unfortunately some of die-hard Iran haters have no goosheh shenavaa. Iran's enemies will continue to stick to their own spins and false claims in order to create tension and ultimately war in the ME. All of this to divert attention from the real source of instability in the ME which are Israel's policies of occupation, Apartheid and expansion of illegal colonies inhabited by Jewish terrorists.