Iran: Get the Gun Out of Our Face, and We’ll Negotiate

Both Nation reporter Robert Dreyfuss and Harvard professor Stephen Walt point today to a speech given by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he explains why America’s rhetoric about returning to negotiations are perceived as dishonest. Do read both of their articles.

Khamenei accurately cites a catalog of aggressive policies Washington has leveled against Iran, like “crippling” sanctions, surrounding Iran militarily, supporting Israel as it assassinates Iran’s civilian scientists, waging cyber-warfare, verbal threats of war, supporting Iran’s enemies in a deliberate attempt to undermine the regime, etc. etc. Then he says:

Now the Americans have raised the issue of negotiations again. They repeat that America is prepared to directly negotiate with Iran. This is not new. The Americans have repeatedly raised the issue of negotiations at every juncture. Now their newly appointed politicians repeat that we should negotiate. And they say that the ball is in Iran’s court.

It is you who should explain the meaning of negotiations that are accompanied by pressure and threats. Negotiations are for the sake of proving one’s goodwill. You commit tens of acts which show lack of goodwill and then you speak about negotiations. Do you expect the Iranian nation to believe that you have goodwill?… We do not see any goodwill.

Speaking a day earlier than Khamenei here, President Ahmadinejad summed it up more succinctly: “Take your guns out of the face of the Iranian nation and I myself will negotiate with you.”

And Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammed Khazaee, in a discussion with former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering this month, said: “As long as pressure is on Iran, as long as there is a sword on our neck to come to negotiations, this is not negotiations, therefore Iranians cannot accept that.”

It’s not just Iranians who perceive this underlying theme in the US-Iran relationship. American academics and officials, experts in US foreign policy, also recognize it. After the failed talks in 2009 and 2010, wherein Obama ended up rejecting the very deal he demanded the Iranians accept, as Walt has written, the Iranian leadership “has good grounds for viewing Obama as inherently untrustworthy.” Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar has concurred, arguing that Iran has “ample reason” to believe, “ultimately the main Western interest is in regime change.”

And Vali Nasr, former senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan and a leading Middle East expert writes in his new book that, for the Obama administration, “Pressure has become an end in itself.” They spoke of a dual track that consists of diplomacy and pressure, but, Nasr writes, it was “not even dual. It relied on one track, and that was pressure.”

“Engagement,” he adds, “was a cover for a coercive campaign of sabotage, economic pressure and cyberwarfare.”

Walt wonders out loud why the US seems unwilling to let up on the pressure:

So why do so many smart people keep embracing an approach to Iran that is internally contradictory and has consistently failed for more than a decade? I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has a lot to do with maintaining credibility inside Washington. Because Iran has been demonized for so long, and absurdly cast as the Greatest National Security Threat we face, it has become largely impossible for anyone to speak openly of a different approach without becoming marginalized. Instead, you have to sound tough and hawkish even if you are in favor of negotiations, because that’s the only way to be taken seriously in the funhouse world of official Washington (see under: the Armed Services Committee hearings on Chuck Hagel).

Yeah, it’s that. But it’s also that US grand strategy for a long time has been to maintain its own hegemony in the resource rich Middle East. Dominance, not diplomacy, is the goal.

20 thoughts on “Iran: Get the Gun Out of Our Face, and We’ll Negotiate”

  1. “I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has a lot to do with maintaining credibility inside Washington.”

    haha, right. i’m not entirely sure either, but i suspect it has a lot to do with aipac donations to congressional elections.

  2. America is at a crossroads: GUN CONTROL and rampant and unbridled MENTAL ILLNESS–all in the hands of pharmaceuticals and doctors who only care about medicating. Our foreign policy is an extension of our misguided belligerence: POINTING A GUN!

  3. This retoric directed against Iran should be applied against Israel and then it would sing just correct. Its Israel greatest violator of human rigths, engaging in terrorism without borders, not recognizing any internacional laws and basic norms…etc
    This pressure against Israel would be Humanity WAKE UP CALL, it would show The mankind is able to thing for itself. Biggest sponsor of terrorism on this planet, fanatical regime in Province of Palestine called Israel, with its illegal arsenal of WMD is the only truth danger for this Planet. Mankind will dearly regret the most embarising and tragig decision of UN vote in 1946…..
    These fanatics hiding behind Judaism is VISIBLE SATANISM and O N L Y End Days will mark UNITY in 4 corners against this Evil.
    //If there will be anybody left after last wars, then future generations will marvel on OUR DAYS and will not understand why mankind was so stupid not to see truth Evil when it was so clear//.
    Zionism simply mastered greatest and most destructive weapon of our time – PROPAGANDA.
    Goebless would have to be proud to see his live job so perfected….peter czech

  4. Legal drug dealers (Pharmaceuticals companies) and war industry is the machinery try to keep the economy just surviving.
    Mentally disturbed public because of the Legally obtain Pills & soldiers involving murdering innocent public and because of the guilt and suicide are side effects of this horrible violent policies: American's have huge collateral damages of both policies but : "they do not counts dead bodies" as a policies of Army.
    But still they need petrol so constantly threatening Iran become a national pass-time.
    Go Ahead Humeyni Make My Day.

  5. US government is the most dishonest regime there is.., relying on its militarism when it comes to being dishonest.., not admitting their policy failure is the nature of vulture capitalism.

  6. Stephen Walt writes: " I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has a lot to do with maintaining credibility inside Washington.". I am not so sure myself on this one. Remember Rambouillet Agreement and especially appendix B about which former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that:
    "The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.".

    It was I think first time after the fall pf USSR, that US elites believed that ANYTHING goes. They believed suddenly that they are smarter than anybody else and the mightiest in the whole world. I was in shock to see this attitude from my dream democratic ideal – USA, which I had been worshiping long years living under the communist yoke. Then came Afghanistan and Iraq. Then came Libya – the last successful cheat of so called "international community" led by USA. Although this "international community" is now trying hard to change the regime in Syria by same libretto, however they met stiff opposition from previously so docile world. They would probably meet even stiffer opposition to military attack on Iran. So they are trying to win this one by default – expecting hungry and dying Iran citizens from total sanctions to do it for them. It is not very successful either since Iranians blame their troubles more on US than their government. And rightly so!

    US and Israel bully everybody committing crimes against humanity on their way.

    1. The US has been waging war on Iraq for over 20 years.
      Iran is heading down that path.
      First come the demands. Then the sanctions. Then denying medical drugs. Then denying water treatment chemicals. Then the bombing of water treatment plants and power plants.

  7. I think americans themself don,t know what they are doing as threats and buykotts are counter productive. Regime change why? Let the people decide america on the one side will democracy only in theory and not in prcrice as they need puppet govt. the time has gone. America must realsie that every nation has it,s priorities and you can,t dictate the terms always or you don,t find like Musharraf who has destroyed pakistan for american interest as ISI knew who has blown WTC but supported american lies.
    Let the world be peaceful, talk to peace not the wars as america are no more in a position to have another war and with Iran will be desasterous for both.

    1. Americans are ruled by their masters in DC and the pentagon. These people don't care about anything but power. The only thing that is productive in their eyes is obeying their commands. If you don't they are going to make you suffer.

  8. Israel will be America's downfall. Two decades ago I thought our continued engagement with Israel would eventually bring Israel into the world community as a sane and fully functioning nation. Now I realize America has become more like Israel instead. God help us. . . .

  9. American peopke must fire all congress men and women from office who show their first loyalty to israel over their own countryto which they take oath of office. It will take time but clean up can hapoen if people are united behind this.

  10. Khamenei is wrong: America's rhetoric is not perceived as being dishonesty, it is dishonest, Tje US stand dishonesty at its most repugnant.
    Consequently, neither Iran nor any country should accept to even listen to US,
    The Red Indians right said that Pale Face speaks with a forked tongue and nothing has changed so far except for the worse.

  11. I think religion should not be a cause if war because everyone have different ways of thinking and we have to respect each other. We have to respect the right of free expression to conserve the diversity of cultures.

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