Failing To Find Peace

Excerpt from "A Single Roll of the Dice"


Failing To Find Peace
by Trita Parsi

Excerpted from Trita Parsi's A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University press). Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert with extensive Capitol Hill and United Nations experience, interviewed 70 high-ranking officials from the U.S., Iran, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil—including the top American and Iranian negotiators—for this book. Parsi uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama's early years as president, the calculations behind the two nations' dealings, and the real reasons for their current stalemate.

The 30-year-old U.S.-Iran enmity is no longer a phenomenon; it is an institution. For three decades, politicians and bureaucrats in both countries have made careers out of demonizing each other. Firebrands in Iran have won political points by adding an ideological dimension to an already rooted animosity. Shrewd politicians, in turn, have shamelessly used ideology to advance their political objec­tives. Neighboring states in the Persian Gulf and beyond have taken advantage of this estrangement, often kindling the flames of division.

Israel and some of its supporters in the United States, in particular, have feared that a thaw in U.S. relations with Iran would come at the expense of America's special friendship with the Jewish state.

But the strategic cost to the United States and Iran of this pro­longed feud has been staggering. Harming both and benefiting nei­ther, the U.S.-Iran estrangement has complicated Washington's efforts to advance the peace process between the Israelis and Palestin­ians in the 1990s, win the struggle against al-Qaeda, or defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and the insurgency in Iraq. Still, the strategic cost of this enmity has oftentimes been dwarfed by the domestic political cost to overcome it. In Washington, the political cost for attempting to resolve tensions with Iran has simply been too great and the political space too narrow to justify starting down a fraught and uncertain path to peace with Iran. Political divisions, in turn, have paralyzed Tehran at key intervals, with vying political factions not wishing to see their competitors define the outcome of a U.S.-Iran rapprochement or get credit for reducing tensions.

The hostility has been institutionalized because either too many forces on both sides calculate that they can better advance their own narrow interests by retaining the status quo, or the predictability of enmity is preferred to the unpredictability of peace making. Thus, over the years, this antipathy has survived -- and hardened -- because the cost of maintaining the status quo has not outweighed the risk of seeking peace -- until 2008, that is.

With the election of Barack Obama, the stars aligned for a radical shift in U.S.-Iran relations. Tensions between the United States and Iran had risen dramatically during the Bush administration, putting the two countries on the verge of war. While the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq put American troops on Iran's eastern and western borders, respectively, the defeat of the Taliban and the end of Saddam Hussein's reign also removed two of Iran's key regional rivals from the strategic chessboard. Freed from the burden of its long-standing enemies, Iran was now a fast-ascending power that astutely took advantage of America's inability to win the peace in the Middle East. At the same time, Iran's advancing nuclear program added more fuel to the fire. Increasingly, Iran's rise, combined with America's painful predicament in the region, rendered a continuation of the U.S.-Iran rift too costly. Iran and the United States were grav­itating toward a confrontation that neither could afford.

Meanwhile, the American public had turned against not only president George W. Bush's invasion of Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq, but also the ideological foundation of Bush's worldview. Previously, Beltway hawks maintained that negotiations and compro­mise were not mere tools of diplomacy, but rather rewards that should be granted only to states that deserved an opportunity to talk to the United States. Inspired by this philosophy, Bush refused to engage with Iran during his entire presidency, even on issues of such importance as Iraq and Afghanistan (with the exception of episodic instances of brief diplomatic outreach for tactical purposes). More­over, the neoconservative philosophy, viewing the United States as the source of legitimacy at home and abroad, dictated that talking to the autocratic rulers in Tehran would help legitimize Iran's theo­cratic and repressive government. But while refusing engagement with Iran upheld a sense of ideological purity for the Bush White House, it did nothing to address the growing challenge that Iran posed to the United States in the region. During the Bush presidency, Iran amassed more than 8,000 centrifuges for its nuclear program while expanding its influence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

This reality was widely acknowledged in the United States to­ward the end of the Bush administration. In March 2006 Congress appointed a bipartisan Iraq Study Group to assess the Iraq war and to make policy recommendations. One of the group's key endorse­ments was direct U.S. dialogue with Iran over Iraq and the situation in the Middle East--a stark refutation of the Bush White House ideology. And in September 2008, only two months before the U.S. presidential elections, five former secretaries of state -- Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Warren Christopher, Henry A. Kissinger, and James A. Baker III -- called on the United States to talk to Iran.

Then-Senator Obama recognized that unprecedented political space had emerged for new foreign policy thinking. So rather than shying away from the issue of diplomacy with Iran, Obama took the unusual step of making engagement with U.S. adversaries a central part of his foreign policy platform during the 2008 presidential elec­tion--something that, under normal circumstances in Washington, would have been considered political suicide. In the televised presi­dential debates, Obama boldly declared that it was "critical" that we "talk to the Syrians and the Iranians," and that those saying that the United States "shouldn't be talking to them ignore our own history."

Finally, the persona of Barack Obama himself was an important factor. He was a most unlikely candidate--and the most difficult one for the Iranian leadership to dismiss or vilify. Born to a Kenyan Muslim father and a American Midwestern mother, Obama spent most of his childhood in Hawaii and, later, in Indonesia, after his mother was remarried to an Indonesian. Having been exposed to both the Muslim and Christian religions, having grown up in a Third World country shortly after it had won its independence from colo­nial powers, and having the middle name Hussein--the name of one of the most revered figures in Shia tradition--Obama simply did not fit the Iranian stereotype of American, "imperialist" leaders--arro­gant, ignorant, and incapable of empathizing with the grievances of Third World states against Western powers.

Clearly, Obama recognized the historic opportunity that lay be­fore him. Only twelve and a half minutes into his presidency, he sought to seize it by extending America's hand of friendship in the hope that Iran would unclench its fist.

A year and a half into his presidency, President Barack Obama was celebrating not the diplomatic victory he had been seeking, but rather the imposition of sanc­tions he had hoped to avoid. Despite extensive out­reach, clear strategic benefits, and an unprecedented opportunity for engagement, Obama found himself stuck in the same confrontational relationship with Iran as that of other American pres­idents before him. And, as many officials in his administration had suspected, while sanctions might have been politically imperative from a domestic standpoint and could make life more difficult for the Iranians, they were not a solution to the standoff with Iran. "While Iran's leaders are feeling the pressure, the sanctions have not yet produced a change in Iran's strategic thinking about its nuclear program," Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Robert Einhorn told an audience at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C., on March 9, 2011. Instead, under Obama's watch, the cycle of escalation and counterescalation continued with no sign of a solution in the offing.

While most of Obama's domestic critics opposed his pursuit of diplo­macy on the grounds that talking with Iran was useless and morally questionable, a few voices also disapproved of his engagement policy as being insincere and aimed only at paving the way for sanctions. Neither criticism is well grounded. Diplomacy was not only a strate­gic necessity, but also the least costly avenue to address the tensions with Iran. And rather than being a well-designed conspiracy, the president's vision for diplomacy was genuine, as was his initial out­reach. But faced with overwhelming resistance from Israel, Congress, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab allies, skeptics within his own admin­istration and, most importantly, the actions of the Iranian government itself, the president's vision and political space were continually com­promised. In the end, the diplomacy Obama pursued was only a shadow of the engagement he had envisioned.

Obama's vision for engagement met stiff resistance from the outset. The Iranians themselves, however, dealt the biggest blow to Obama. The election fraud and ensuing human rights violations strengthened the arguments of Obama's domestic critics and made the administration all the more reluctant to defend its engagement policy. These events also bolstered the critics of engagement within the administration who viewed the elec­tion fallout as vindication of their skepticism.

"You have the rigged elections of June 2009. Then the protests. And then, in a way, the moment was lost," David Miliband, then-foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, told me. The elections had a deep psychological impact on the administration. Though it stuck to its engagement policy and refused to come out in favor of the Green movement, its willingness to take bold steps on Iran essentially ended. Engagement started to become too risky and, with no immediate political benefits for the president domestically, the inclination was to revert to one's comfort zone. "When you don't know what's going on, and you don't feel like you have somebody you can communicate with on the other side of the table, you are going to revert back to what's safe," a State Department official explained. "And what's safe in the Iran context is demonization and just general negativity." By the time engagement finally could begin, in October 2009, Obama's room for maneuverability -- and his political will to fight for greater flexibility -- were almost nonexistent. He desperately needed a quick victory to create more time and space for diplomacy. But precisely because of his loss of maneuverability, he had little flexibility in negotiations and the discussions quickly turned into a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposi­tion -- the very approach that was doomed to fail.

In Vienna, the Iranians dealt a second blow to Obama by refus­ing to accept the Russian-American swap proposal without any revi­sions. Though administration officials recognized that the primary reason for Iran's refusal was paralysis caused by political infighting at home, the impact was the same: Obama had nothing to show for his outreach. His own party was revolting against him in Congress on this issue; many in his administration felt uneasy about the portrayal of the White House as insensitive to the plight of Iranian pro-democ­racy protesters defying the Islamic Republic's repression; and the Israeli government was reportedly turning to high-level Democratic donors to exert additional pressure on Obama to forsake diplomacy in order to save the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm elections. Moreover, Iran's continued political paralysis made the potential for additional diplomacy unclear at best. Once the decision was made to activate the sanctions track, diplomacy had disappeared in all but name. That first became evident when Washington in­formed Tokyo that its efforts to mediate a solution were no longer welcome, and occurred again when Brazil and Turkey's successful bid to convince Tehran to agree to the Obama administration's terms for the fuel swap was brusquely rejected. Obama's open hand had turned into a clenched fist.

Throughout this period, despite the Iranian recognition of Obama's political dilemma at home, a combination of factors caused Tehran to refrain from helping create more space for engagement. On the one hand, doubts about Obama's intentions and abilities made an already risk-averse leadership in Tehran more disinclined to take a gamble for peace. "I don't think the Iranians quite knew what to make about the American outreach," Miliband said. "I think that it was such a change for them, that they didn't quite know how to handle it."

Even if the Iranians maintained the assumption that Obama genuinely wished to resolve the tensions between the two countries, they still doubted his ability to break with long-standing American policies on Iran in order to confront the forces of the status quo in Washington and beyond. Investing in an American president whose intentions and abilities were questionable was a tough sell in Tehran. The hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan called Obama "impotent" and asked rhetorically, "Who is wearing the trousers within the U.S. political hierarchy?" Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's insistence that Washington offer signs of real strategic change rather than just a change in tone was partly aimed at testing Obama's intentions and abilities for this very purpose. When I challenged one of Iran's nuclear negotiators on the Islamic Republic's deep skepticism of Obama and the unique oppor­tunities Tehran risked missing as a result, the official was unapolo­getic. "The U.S. should resolve its domestic political issues itself," he said. As time passed and Tehran increasingly perceived Obama as "no different from Bush in action," Iran's attitude hardened and the absence of action to help Obama turned into a desire to see him fail. Obama's opposition to war, it was said, was due not to a desire for peace but rather to America's lack of capability for war as a result of its engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to a former Iranian diplomat who maintains close contact with the leadership in Tehran, the Iranians still "regarded U.S. engagement as another means to get Iran to surrender." And after the failure in Vienna, where the Iranians concluded that accepting the fuel swap would not end the demand for Iran to suspend its enrichment ac­tivities, the Iranian takeaway message was that America's position on Iran had not changed much.

"What had been a precondition under Bush -- the suspension of enrichment -- had become a postcondition under Obama," said Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's ambassador to the UN. But rather than engaging in deliberate deception, the Obama administration simply had not settled on a desired endgame with Iran, on the nuclear issue or otherwise. For the Obama White House, the destination of diplomacy was simply a function of the journey. Still, the lack of clarity on the endgame was not just a point of criticism by Iran or by the president's domestic opponents. Even senior Obama administration officials were unclear on the strategy and the endgame, as evidenced by the leaked three-page memo, signed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, that warned of the

U.S. lack of a coherent, long-term plan to deal with Iran's steady progress toward a nuclear capability. The memo came to light in April 2010 but was penned in January of that year -- just as the U.S. was embarking on the sanctions track.

There is the question of whether the Iranian government actually desires a deal with the United States. A common school of thought in Washington states that enmity with America -- the "Great Satan" -- is one of the uncompromising pillars of the Islamic Re­public. As a result, Tehran cannot come to terms with Washington without risking an internal identity and legitimacy crisis. The state ideology of the regime requires enmity with the U.S., and without it the internal contradictions of the Islamic Republic would reach a breaking point. Iran's periodic reluctance to engage with the U.S. is grounded in this ideological rigidity rather than in internal divisions in Iran, mistrust of the U.S., or disinterest in the specific deals the U.S. has put on the table. The main obstacle to a diplomatic break­through is not the manner of the diplomacy or its extent or lack thereof, or the specifics of the deal, but rather the regime's DNA.

The calculations of the Iranian hard-liners are, however, not so mysterious and incomprehensible that analysts have to resort to ge­netics to make sense of them. Part of the reluctance of hard-liners in Iran to negotiate with the U.S. has been rooted not necessarily in these ideological factors but in the fear that any relationship with the U.S. would force Iran to adopt policies in the region that are aligned with those of Washington and, to a certain extent, Israel. Iran would lose its independence and, much like Egypt after the Camp David agreement, its bid for leadership in the region. Moreover, by aligning with the U.S., Iran would be forced to invest in the survival of pro-American Arab dictatorships rather than pursuing policies that would win it soft power on the Arab street. Because the Iranian hard-liners have calcu­lated that the Arab street will ultimately overthrow the monarchial and pro-American regimes in the region, Iran's long-term security would be best achieved by aligning itself with the populace. Consequently, agreeing to any engagement with Washington -- on its terms and de­signed to rehabilitate Iran as a compliant U.S. ally -- would contradict Iran's long-term security interests in the region.

Likely cementing the hard-liners' view of the U.S. as an increasingly irrelevant power inca­pable of adjusting to the new realities of the region are the continued decline of the U.S. in the Middle East, the Arab spring of 2011, and the downfall of the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and beyond. Any realiza­tion that an opportunity was lost with Obama in 2009 probably has yet to sink in. "What happened is clearly proving what our officials including Supreme Leader said," Soltanieh said. "The Americans come sometimes with the good words but in practice they might have a knife to [stick] in your back."

Iran's suspicions and mistrust, whether justified or not, were paralyzing. What the Iranians failed to appreciate was that Obama's ability to drive the policy and "wear the pants" within the U.S. government was partly a function of how willing Iran was to take the same risk for peace that it had grown accustomed to taking for a continuation of the long-standing "no-war, no-peace" stalemate. In retrospect, once George W. Bush took office in 2001 and adopted a confrontational approach to Iran, reformists in former president Mohammad Khatami's circle came to regret their failure to recipro­cate President Bill Clinton's outreach. The unprecedented willing­ness of the Obama administration to reach out to Iran and embark on a cautious reconciliation process, even if inadequate, is unlikely to be re-created by any later U.S. administration for some time. Likewise, the opportunity Iran had with Obama in the first months of his presidency will likely not be fully appreciated by the decision makers in Tehran until much later.

Seeking to pin the failure on either side does not offer a better understanding of the complexity of the conflict. At times, both sides showed goodwill, but at other times both were overtaken by their suspicions and fears. Both sides miscalculated and made mistakes, and both sides felt that the other side was taking a smaller share of the risk for peacemaking. Both sides were interested at different times in some sort of a deal; the question was and remains whether they have been seeking the same deal. Only through sustained, persistent, and patient diplo­macy can that question be answered.

Ultimately, the failure of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran came down to insufficient political will and the atmosphere of mis­trust that granted neither side any margin for error. The proposals put on the table may have been flawed; at different points either side may have played for time or sought to delay talks; and goodwill measures may not have been reciprocated. But these phenomena do not make U.S.-Iran talks unique; they are common features in almost all negotiations. Talks that succeed do not do so because the pro­posals are flawless and because both sides play fair. Rather, they succeed because the many flaws associated with the talks are over­come by the political will to reach a solution.

The will for a diplomatic solution must be strong enough to overcome every last hurdle. In the case of the U.S. and Iran, diplo­macy was in effect abandoned at the first hurdle. And though the desire for diplomacy was genuine, the administration's lack of confi­dence in its chances of succeeding -- several high-level officials in the Obama administration told me separately that they did not believe diplomacy would work -- raises the question as to whether the White House would fully invest in a policy it believed would fail. Lack of political will also plagued the bureaucracy. After the June election in Iran, in particular, a combination of fear and "old think" -- sticking to old patterns because they were comfortable and less risky -- set in and helped reduce the will to see diplomacy through.

"People are just afraid of their own shadows," a senior State Department official said. "You propose something and people all scurry for cover. ... There is a collective inability to break the patterns of the past and the principles of the past. I mean, thirty years of doing something in a certain way is pretty powerful." This "collective inability," which is also present on the Iranian side but not necessarily for the same reasons, is what makes U.S.-Iranian tensions more than just an an­tagonistic relationship. It is an institutionalized enmity.


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by Abarmard on



As predicted... same old

by vildemose on

As predicted... same old cliche, non-sequitur canned response by all the regime's defenders. Yawnnnnnnnnnn.

 Basiji et al defenders usually upon hearing arguments unorthodox to their narrow worldview, put their  blinders up, the memorized  soundbites (masquerading as rhetoric) and the defensiveness surface. I pick those battles carefully, it at all.

 A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.



by vildemose on


Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Iraj Khan

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


You are mixing things up. I grant you 97 % are opposed to war. Does that mean a "diplomatic solution". Well first define the problem to be solved! American and Iranians might have two different ideas of the "problem".

America views the problem as nuclear and oil. Iranians may view the problem as gaining freedom; democracy and so on. Most Iranians don't mind nuclear stuff. America does not give a *** about Iranian democracy.

Therefore what diplomacy are you talking about. Why should one make the other happy. I see no reason that a mild overlap but noting more. The only thing that makes both happy is a removal of Islamic Republic. At least that is what I see.



by Abarmard on

What most of us do is “racial” profiling, by assuming or hearing what we like to hear. I posted a quote from Mr. Naficy's article to present why that maybe. In our case, we politically profile one and instead of truly hearing them, just yell to cut them off.

If those who preach democracy and freedom, hatefully reject what doesn't match what they know or are comfortable with, then they are lost. Resorting to violence or censorship does not always start with bad people, they start with people like us who once get what they want, grab it to protect it. To protect it, they justify their wrong doing. Try not to be that. Be an example of what you want as a society.


iraj khan

The %97

by iraj khan on

of Iranian Americans much prefer a diplomatic solution between Iran and USA and don't want to see people being murdered and blown up daily as it happened again in Iraq:

"Baghdad (CNN) -- At least 17 people were killed Thursday in bomb attacks in a city near Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, police officials said.

Police in Baghdad said 10 people were killed, including two women and three children, when insurgents placed bombs around a house in Musayyeb, a city about 43 miles (70 kilometers) south of the capital."


Why is it so hard for the %3 Pro War, Pro Terror crowd who have occupied IC to understand this truth?

I'm just saying,



Mr. Rahmanian

by Abarmard on

The argument here is not whether the Iranian regime is good or bad, it's about the current situation with specific strategies on both sides to prolong this level of animosity. The article blames Iran as well as the US by describing both factions on both sides, having opportunities to change the political landscape during past history and why they failed.

The objective of these kinds of information gathering and historical reminder is to present the realities of political situation in regard to internal and external factors. The reason this is important is that understanding the realities of parties involved and obstacles in the way allows those in charge in making better and more realistic roadmap in going forward.

If one believes that these kinds of approach, to recount the events that led to current dilemma, is useless then there is no argument and even to categorically disagree and promote continuation of forceful actions and whether that’s a correct approach still doesn’t take away the important information in recounting events.

You may read this and argue that based on what you have seen the current policies are right on target and should be followed and that’s not in the scope of this article. Therefore putting arguments beyond what is being presented here is undemocratic, in shutting down any piece that fails to directly point to specific ideas that you see fit your political agenda. The conclusion is yours to make and one has a right to her opinion.

The important takeaway from this piece is that Iran and US relation (or lack of it) is now institutionalized and breaking the trend is a very difficult task. Given Iranian and American vision as how they are perceived if they were to actually sit behind a table and discuss their differences. Gathering from your input I am under the assumption that this is what you want, the continuation of the current policies, or maybe harsher. Well, you should be happy and by reading this you should know that there is no dialogue in the horizon. This article confirms this thought process as established culture in Iranian politics and the US. That's all it is saying.

Hope this makes more sense now.


Abarmard: For the umpteen

by vildemose on

Abarmard: For the umpteen times: Your social and memetic evolution paradigm for Iran might be probable but it is not possible given the nature of the regime that has contingency plans to counter all evolutions. For your kind of evolution to occur in Iran, we have to wait another 100 years and that even won't guarantee any transmission of progressive knowledge and mentality (information, behavioral, and cognitive  pattern held in a collective culture). You have not laid out well-reasoned substantiated by factual evidence that your model can be successful vs. other models.

Do you even know the mechanism and the logistic of your "social evolution model within the context of existing IRI?? Please spell them out in specific details...all the objective and dynamic of your model please.

We have down this road before and you have always resorted to regurgitating fallacious genralities without factoring in the context in which your model is suppose to miraculously work.

I will not reply to you because your arguments are always circular and your goal is not really to debate...but to spew thinly veiled pseudo-intellectual, IRI-serving objectives.

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Regime's warmongering

by vildemose on

Regime's warmongering declarations accompanied by its interventionist policies have been more devastating for Iran and Iranians than any policy by other states.

Dear GR: Trita proves your point indirectly. Thank you Terita.

 "Israel's vision in holding the sole super power and military might in the same region. Saudi is worried about growing Shia influence vs. Sunnis, especially in Iraq."

So What  is Terita trying to tacitly convery here?  That IRI wants to be second superpower? First superpower?? What is the difference between IRI's expansionist policies than say the US or Israel?? Does IRI expect Israel and US give the region to incompetent IRI on a silver platter?? Is that realistic??? 

Shia influence?? Doubt that very much...IRI's number one allia, Syria, is crumbling because the Syrian Sunnis to a great degree wanted to stop Bashar Al-Asad's Shiaziation of Syria...In Lebanon, also the Shia have lost power because Hezballha is not popular as they used to be among the Sunnis, etc...

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

G. Rahmanian


by G. Rahmanian on

The article is misleading, to say the least.

Even Trita Parsi knows it would be ludicrous not to say a thing or two about IR's policies that are not helping the situation created by IR warmongers to begin with.

The issue is not striking a balance in a book which will eventually help Mr. Parsi in promoting his own career.

For Iranians the major issue is how to deal with the tyranny at home.

Let's go further back in the history of  post-'79 Iran.

As soon as the mullahs established their tyrannical rule, they declared their intention to export their revolution to the whole world.

Regime's warmongering declarations accompanied by its interventionist policies have been more devastating for Iran and Iranians than any policy by other states.

I say this because I strongly believe even the war with Iraq could have been avoided. A war that was provoked and prolonged by the regime.


Mr. Rahmanian

by Abarmard on

Perhaps the article believes that the benefit that some countries in the region gain based on continuation of hostel policies is sufficient enough that encourages those parties to push Washington on its current path.

Based on many reports published from past two years, the strategic pack between Saudi Arabia and Israel has grown. This is partially from Iranian behavior in the region and partially related to the Israel's vision in holding the sole super power and military might in the same region. Saudi is worried about growing Shia influence vs. Sunnis, especially in Iraq. Most probably with this pretext Mr. Parsi writes:

"But faced with overwhelming resistance from Israel, Congress, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab allies, skeptics within his own admin¬istration and, most importantly, the actions of the Iranian government itself, the president's vision and political space were continually com¬promised. In the end, the diplomacy Obama pursued was only a shadow of the engagement he had envisioned. "

The Iranian fault is not ignored in this article.


G. Rahmanian

Puerile Rationale!

by G. Rahmanian on

"Israel and some of its supporters in the United States, in particular, have feared that a thaw in U.S. relations with Iran would come at the expense of America's special friendship with the Jewish state."

It is indeed disappointingly infantile to reduce one of the most significant issues that has necessitated mobilization of so many nations to the mere fear of Israel with regards to an unlikely "thaw in US relation with Iran."

Mr. Parsi is on record (in his interview with Ms. Shohreh Assemi) stating that Iran is not even interested in having military to military contacts with the US in order to prevent an accidental war. And this is when regime's apologists are accusing Neocons in the US of wanting to unleash a war on Iran.

If the Iranian side isn't interested in having such limited bilateral contacts, based on what facts does Mr. Parsi think a "thaw" is possible? And why should Israelis be fearful in such event? 

G. Rahmanian

منظورتان تخريب خراب آباد جمهوري اسلاميست؟

G. Rahmanian

Amusing! Someone should have his head examined.

"Oppressed groups?" This is as bad as, if not worse than what Ahmadinejad said in June of 2009. He called tens of millions of Iranians, "dirt."

What we saw was a whole nation rising against Islamists' tyranny.


Excellent recount of events-edited comment

by Abarmard on

For all of us would be a better experience and learning tool if disagreements were point to specifics with proper quotations and analysis. Debates are better for those who want to hear and investigate further. If flaws found, bring those in to the attention of the readers and author.

On the first page of, Mr. Naficy writes about a ideological character of a group:

"مفهوم تفکر آرمانشهر (اتوپیایی) نشان دهنده ی کشفی متضاد در مبارزه ی سیاسی است، یعنی این که گروه های تحت ستم معینی از لحاظ فکری چنان سخت علاقمند به تخریب و تغییر شرائط اجتماعی هستند که آنها ناخواسته تنها آن عناصری را در موقعیت می بینند که گرایش به نفی آن دارد. اندیشه ی آنها ناتوان از تشخیص شرائط موجود جامعه است. آنها به هیچ عنوان متوجه ی آنچه واقعاً وجود دارد نیستند، بلکه در اندیشه شان پیشاپیش در جستجوی تغییر موقعیتی که وجود دارد برآمده اند. فکر آنها هرگز در پی تشخیص موقعیت نیست، و تنها می تواند در جهت عمل به کار گرفته شود." (ص26)

I find it very interesting.




by shushtari on

no offense, but I could care less whether you impressed or not- I have read your comments recently, and you seem to want to 'lecture' everyone on how to opppose the mullahs- and I am not impressed either.

as far as removing the akhoonds, the first step to point out falsehoods spread by the cronies living in the 'great satan'- that's how they came to power- on the back of a bunch of lies and made up propaganda

Hopefully now you get it 

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Not a constructive answer

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

You see VPK, this is why I think you're being disingenuous.

You claimed that the author said Iranians and Israelis have animosity toward each other, and when I ask you to prove it you tell me that Parsi has been going head to head with AIPAC.

Clearly you can see how faulty your argument is.

And I'm fine with going after AIPAC so long as there's a reasonable chance for success, because they have been a destructive force for American policy. If I'm not mistaken, Parsi's group has worked along side other Jewish groups, but obviously it would make no sense to side with a pro-war group like AIPAC.

I will just say once more that I'm not singling you out, but I also have not seen anyone else here that makes as many claims as you do without any proof. Even worse, you don't even respond to points made against you and you go off and talk about something else. If you did that less I don't think you'd be singled out for criticism this much.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

I didn't say picking on me

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I said obsession! Anyway me thinks me should take off my pants and do a nude on IC. 

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Parsi has been

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


going head to head with AIPAC for a long time. I don't need you to tell me what I see myself. I am too old for this kind of games that was played in 1979. You call me liar all you want; it show desperation.

The business about playing with words and hiding motives is over. People will decide for themselves who has what motive. It takes more than games now to fool people. It used to work in 1979 but that is long past and gone.

Yes I am a moderate. Wait until people get the upper hand and you will see. Mollahs will beg people as me to help because I am for law not revenge.

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Confusing means with ends

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

VPK, I think everyone wants those things. But that's the end goal. We all know what the end goal should be, the question is how do we get there.

I haven't heard you say anything about that.

In response to your earlier post, I'm not picking on you and believe me it is nothing personal. I simply get frustrated when people talk without evidence so I have to call them out on it, otherwise that kind of behavior continues. The only reason you were singled out is because you're about the only person that posts during the same hours that I post.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Better Solution

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Is for VF to step down and for "council of experts" to dissolve. Allow anyone who wants to run for office to do so. All the power in hands of elected officials. Then allow people to have a secular constitution.

Guaranteed rights for all people including to religion of choice or none. Stop toruture and killing people. Stop interferring with business of other nations. 

Sadegh Bozorgmehr


by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

Where did he say that there is animosity between the people of Iran and Israel? If he said that, then he is out of his mind.

On talking with Iran, you can say you think it's a bad idea, and Parsi may think it's a good idea, and that's a legitimate difference of opinion. But what you first said was different. You said he is supporting IRI. If talking with Iran means you support the regime, then the Democrats and majorities/pluralities of Iranians are IRI supporters. Since that's not the case, your claim seems fairly ridiculous.

Regarding your last sentence, I suppose we can add your claim that I take the Saudi and Taliban side to your already long list of lies which is growing every day.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Why are you obsessed with me? I have not posted nude photos now have I? Do you know my history and that I argue for NIAC and Parsi in the past. I am not writing for you so I don't need to prove anything to you.

You jump in the middle of something. Then act as if you know the whole. I am dealing with other people. But if you want to ask me something do the research first. I don't have time to teach you everything. It is all in previous posts.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Parsi is wrong about relations

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


of Iran and Israel and the imaginary animosity between us. There is no animosity between Iranian people and Israel. I already explained it many times. Parsi and his picking fights with Israel is wrong.

He is also wrong to think or claim to think it is possible to reason with IRI. There is no way to reason with this bunch. 

One last thing Sadegh khan. You jump up and down calling me a liar. It is only your buddies who will repeat what you say. I am happy with the  people who side with me. I said before: you take Saudi; and Taliban. I take USA.

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

VPK, on what planet are u considered "middle of the road"?

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

Without evidence, you have accused others here of being Islamists. Now, you say the same of Parsi.

You've been caught lying several times.

Parsi could very easily be wrong and obviously you think he is, so why won't you say what he's wrong about?

I read what's above, and I don't agree on a couple of things but what in his piece shows him supporting IRI?

This reminds me of the time you dismissed a scientific study because its conclusion was that most Iranians aren't Aryan.

If you have better solutions and can refute Parsi, have the intellectual strength to do it.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Dear Shushtari and RG you are both right. The only thing validated is that Parsi is off base. He is now completely on the side of IRI and its supporters. Just see who is supporting him.

I gave Parsi more than a fair chance and he failed on all accounts. I argued that we must give him a chance and took sh*** for it from others. This went on over a year. At last I had to admit I was wrong; Parsi is full of it.

It gives me no pleasure to give up on a person I had hopes for. But you got to face reality. Unlike many people I do not stick to a position no matter how wrong. When he loses middle of the road people he loses the deal. 


I apreciate the work done

by Khebedin on

I apreciate the work done by Trita, and value very much what he says, what he thinks and his approach.

God thinking and good work, like always, Mr Parsi

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Good post shushtari

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

Not because your comments were very impressive, but because you validated what I said in my previous post.

I'm with you on most if not all the points you made, but emotionally reciting stuff we all know doesn't contribute to what is a serious discussion.

We need a solution to remove IRI and also prevent war and suffering for Iranians. That's what has to be discussed, because a solution isn't going to come from venting hate out of your system (although it probably does feel good to do so).


I completely agree with fred....

by shushtari on

this parsi character always makes a feeble attempt to legitimize the murdering thieves in iran with the rest of the world....

get it through your head, the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the mullahs- a bunch of no good, lying, ruthless, and gutless thieves who have kept iran and its people hostage for 33 years....let's examine a short list of crimes of the akhoonds:

-cinema rex burned with 450 innocent iranians- bs propaganda placed blame on savak

-tens of thousands of imperial army officers murdered in cold blood on bs charge of -'mofsed felarz'- warring against god!!!

-hundreds of patriots- including dr bakhtiar, murdered in cold blood outside of iran by mercenaries of the akhoonds, and psychopaths like khalkhali.

-creation of hezbollah in lebanon, kidnapping and murder of western diplomats, and missionaries....

-murder of 350 marines in beirut.

-prolonging the iraq war on purpose- while sending the children of iran to die on mines and on a promise to go 'to heaven'- more than 500k young iranians dead!

-5000 or more 'political' prisoners murdered in mass in 1988 on a single order of psychopath khomeini.

-countless lies of 'free electricity, water, hejab is not mandatory....yada yada...

-not an ounce of transparency or fairness in elections- complete sham of hand picked 'candidates' by a looney who claims he talks to god!!! 

and on top of all the death and oppression, trillions stolen by the mafia akhoonds and their khale zanak families and stashed away in europe, s africa, canada, etc. all the while the iranian economy which was 4 times the size of s korea in 1979, is going down the toilet....lowest valuation of rial in history, etc etc......

NOW, WHY WOULD SUCH A GUTLESS, AND RUTHLESS DISASTER OF A'GOVERNMENT' BE given an ounce of respect or dignity, parsi??? please answer this question!!!! 

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Breath of Fresh Air

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

Whatever one makes of the varying points in the analysis, one cannot argue that this is the level our discourse should be at.

The Iran debate is too often dominated by slogans and glib statements that inevitably end up about Mohammad's wives or warmongering American oil companies.   This injects some sanity and nuance <-----DESPERATELY needed I found the article reasonable, placing blame on both sides, and most importantly factual. 

G. Rahmanian

Dear Vildemose:

by G. Rahmanian on

It is funny that every politician, when talking about Washington, pretends as though he/she is not or does not want to be part of the prevalent monstrous highway robbery.