IRAN: DIPLOMACY AND RISKS AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Harry C. Blaney III
There has been some debate in Europe about the direction of the Iranian nuclear negotiations and the recent session which ended without a final agreement but with much progress. One element in these negotiation has been the push back by Israel,and the neo-con right wing that got us into the Iraq war on lies and stupidity and the Republicans hawks.
In the aftermath of not finishing the “deal” the attacks have intensified but so has the support for a “diplomatic” option and major new effort over the dangerous alternatives which point to war and utter disaster for the entire Middle East region and beyond.
The International Edition of the New York Times, (better known to most of us, with sadness for the name change, as the International Herald-Tribune), here in London published a Roger Cohen’s column “A doable Iran deal” which argued for continued negotiations and outlining the many reasons for an agreement with the Iran’s new leaders. But the basic points, which I frankly share, is that Israel would be better protected by a strong and verifiable agreement than a unilateral attack which in Cohen’s words would “ absent an agreement, Israel faces the scenario least in its strategic interest: Iranian centrifuges still spinning, the united States still war adverse, with the possibility of having to go it alone in a military strike that might dent but would not stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions and would without doubt ignite regional turmoil.”
The French have put in a dissent to the current agreement text and now a lower level meeting is planned later this month. France seems to ask for stronger wording on assurances. It has an aversion to Iran’s nuclear program, has an defense agreement with the anti-Iran United Arab Emirates, and believes Iran is behind some terrorists acts in Paris in the past. Yet any agreement by the “ 6 plus 1″ group on nuclear issues could lead to a broader “settlement” with Iran on other strategic, economic and on issues like Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, and a wider regional understanding that would promote a more stable and peaceful region in what is now a very volatile landscape. All of this may not happen but it is worth a try.
This is the same conclusion that a group of eminent former diplomats, experts, and other former officials, have indicated in a letter sent to president Obama on November 7th. The letter was short and direct:
“We applaud your decision to use diplomacy vigorously in an effort to reach agreements with Iran, particularly given President Hassan Rouhani’s apparent openness to greater transparency and internationally-accepted and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program. The hard work of diplomacy begins now. Decades of distrust and lack of contact between the two countries will complicate the task of reaching agreements that will provide us the assurance we require that Iran’s nuclear program will be used only for peaceful purposes.
You will undoubtedly face opposition to your decision to engage Iran. We support this new policy and pledge to help our fellow Americans appreciate the ambitious and transformative course you have chosen to build a more peaceful and more cooperative environment in the Middle East.”
The diplomatic option is the right one at this time in view of the initiatives taken by the Iranian government that were made possible in part by your past policies. We wish you well in this constructive and important new undertaking.”
It was singed by some of the smartest and most experienced diplomats and experts I have known of our times and I fully agree with its views. There is no assurance that this effort will work but there is assurance that the alternatives are more dangerous for all sides and an agreement could change the strategic environment in such a way as to make possible a major realignment of forces towards reconciliation along with the still underway Middle East peace negotiations and perhaps even Syria, which also are key to making the region less a killing field and unlimited intra-communal strife and economic decline.
We welcome your comments!