The Problem with Talking to Iran

[Wall Street Journal] Amir Taheri - There is nothing wrong with wanting to talk to an adversary. Every U.S. administration in the past 30 years has tried to engage in dialogue with Iran's leaders. They've all failed. Just two years ago, Secretary of State Rice proffered an invitation to Iran for talks, backed by promises of what one of her advisers described as "juicy carrots" with not a shadow of a stick. Rice is still waiting for Iran's mullahs to accept her invitation. The Europeans negotiated with Tehran for more than two decades, achieving nothing. The Arabs, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have been negotiating with the mullahs for years, with nothing to show for it. Since 1993, the Russians have tried to achieve agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea through talks with Tehran, again without results. The reason is that Iran does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause? The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the "Hidden Imam." When Iran behaves as the embodiment of a revolutionary cause, no agreement is possible. The Islamic Republic might welcome unconditional talks, but only if the U.S. signals readiness for unconditional surrender.

2008-05-29 01:00:00

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