There Is No Good Reason To Give Up on Diplomacy With Iran

Opponents of diplomacy can pretend that this has something to do with standing on principle, but it is really just vanity.

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Hillary Clinton offers some bad advice:

The US should not be negotiating with Iran “on anything right now,” including a nuclear agreement, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

“I would not be negotiating with Iran on anything right now, including the nuclear agreement,” Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, adding that the horse is “out of the barn.”

Clinton is hardly alone in calling for an abandonment of diplomacy in response to Iran’s crackdown on protesters, so it may be worth spelling out why this sort of short-sighted posturing is harmful to U.S. interests and to the people of Iran. If the US is ever going to have success in negotiating with adversarial authoritarian governments to advance toward its policy goals, it cannot tie its hands by conditioning the negotiations themselves on other actions that those governments take in unrelated areas. The nuclear issue is one where the downsides of refusing to negotiate are potentially so great that it makes no sense to reject engagement unless one wants to create conditions for rising tension and conflict.

The aversion to negotiating stems in part from the idea that negotiating with an oppressive government is a reward for them and therefore one shouldn’t “reward” a government that is abusing its own people. That idea gets things as wrong as can be. Our government doesn’t negotiate with another government as a favor to their side, but as a means of securing our interests. If it is done well, diplomacy should produce mutually beneficial agreements, but then that means that refusing to negotiate amounts to denying yourself the potential benefits of an agreement out of spite. Opponents of diplomacy can pretend that this has something to do with standing on principle, but it is really just vanity. It is the position that people choose to take when they already wanted to oppose diplomacy but need a plausible excuse for it.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

25 thoughts on “There Is No Good Reason To Give Up on Diplomacy With Iran”

  1. Was this column written by a high school student? Vanity? Really? How about empire, geopolitics, and resources? The U.S. considers Iran an enemy in that part of the world for those reasons. Vanity has nothing to do with it.

    Additionally, supposedly progressive writers should not be calling other countries “authoritarian” and or “oppressive.” It’s been well-established that the U.S. is an oligarchy (see the 2014 Princeton study, for example), not a democracy, so quit being so damn hypocritical.

    1. I see no problem with Larison pointing out Iran’s authoritarian government as long as he’s also saying it has nothing to do with the nuke talks. His whole point is that none of their internal affairs have anything to do with the nuke talks. And if you read him regularly, he is also one of the staunchest opponents of our sanction wars and constantly calls for diplomacy.

      1. Fine, but comments like the ones I complained about just add to the U.S. propaganda. And if anyone in the U.S. complains about the Iranian government, they need to point out that it’s the result of the U.S. & its CIA. There was a socialist movement that had just as much traction as the religious fanatics at the time of the Shah’s removal, but of course the U.S./CIA sided with the religious fanatics. Not to mention that the Shah was put into power by the U.S. and U.K. after they deposed the democratically elected president.

        Sorry, but it really bugs me when Americans complain about other countries when the U.S. is the one really at fault and/or the U.S. does the same or worse. We live, pay taxes, and vote in the U.S., and our focus should be here, especially considering that the U.S. is the evil empire on this planet. This is not to say that the U.S. is the only evil on this planet, far from it. But Americans complaining about other countries just serves the interests of the evil empire in that it’s a total distraction.

        1. I get what you’re saying but I believe you are off on your opinion that this was a hypocritical article. Larison speaks out about our evil all the time. Even his mentioning of “authoritarian governments” was in the context that we should be leaving their internal affairs out of any negotiations that aren’t specific to them. And if you look up his body of work, I’m sure you would also find where he has given our history of f*cking with Iran. I just think Daniel Larison is one of the good ones.

          1. I didn’t say or mean that the column as a whole was hypocritical. What I said that is that those particular comments were hypocritical. I agree with the rest of the column. I have no opinion on the author one way or the other, never heard of him.

            We don’t have to bow to the empire by insulting countries and their leaders that the U.S. considers enemies every time we discuss things like this. Just don’t mention that stuff in a column like this, there’s no legitimate reason for it.

          2. I agree, the obligatory labeling should stop. Like ‘brutal dictator’ being in front of Assad any time he is mentioned. Again though, I think part of Larison’s point is we should be doing diplomacy with those types of governments regardless of their internal affairs. So, his use of the word “authoritarian” was necessary to make that point. I just happen to like this particular writer so I’m defending him more than I am disagreeing with your points.

        1. Israel is evil and is a huge problem in that part of the world, but how is that relevant to this discussion?

          1. It’s relevant because it shows the hypocrisy in U.S. foreign policy. WE sanction Iran for doing the same thing that Israel does while we support Israel with money and weapons.

    2. A lot of antiwar community are not “progressive,” I doubt Daniel would label himself as such. All “progressives” in Congress anyways are absolute frauds and are every bit as hawkish as the rest. Being antiwar is one of those things that unites the true left (not “progressives”) and the right, mainly in the Libertarians but also some conservatives as well. I lean left, but I would very much vote for a Libertarian any day over a fake “progressive” that serve the MIC.

      I think it’s reasonable to call Iran authoritarian, but also call our system truthfully as well, which is as you described, an oligarchy beholden to the MIC.

      1. There’s no legitimate reason to say things like that about Iran in a column like this. If the column were about the Iranian government, then fine, but as an American I would expect a good deal about how the U.S. is not a democracy either. I don’t know of this author, so I don’t know what his political leanings are. I agree with the rest of your comments here.

  2. This unwillingness to negotiate with Iran has nothing to do with “vanity” and everything to do with Israel. Be it Clinton, Biden, or Trump, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Ominously, the same evil cabal that brought us both world wars and all the Middle East wars of this century is also angling for a catastrophic war with Iran and Russia. It will be the end of the USA, Iran, and Russia. Remember, Zionism is a suicidal death cult.

    1. The main thrust by our leerless feeders is to “bleed” Russia, kick it aside, in order to go after China. Problem. It is forging better ties between China and Russia. The other day there was a joint flight of Russian and Chinese heavy bombers. China and Russia get it, that we are still angling for a uni-polar world, and they are in the way.

    1. She’s a psychopathic war criminal who should be imprisoned for life for what she did to Libya alone.

  3. She is very hawkish. I don’t like Trump but I do kinda believe that if Clinton had been elected we would have had more war then we got with Trump

    1. No doubt. Clinton’s insane insistence on creating a no-fly zone over Syria would have required the U.S. shooting down Russian planes and could have resulted in nuclear war. As I responded to old bear above, she should be imprisoned, she’s a danger to the entire planet. Trump only cares about money and his ego, which is bad enough, but nowhere near as dangerous as Clinton.

      1. It got worse when she kinda said we would only shoot down russian planes if they wanted to get shot down or something weird like that. See was trying to wiggle out of the plain import of her words.

  4. The only reason that the U.S. is so hostile towards Iran, a country that does not threaten our national interests, is because Israel and its wealthy pro-Israel lobby control our government and our Middle East foreign policy.

  5. Clinton is for war with Iran because she is married to Bill and they regret the fact that he protested the Vietnam War and negotiated with Arafat and Rabin over a peace plan and that they are unpopular with the military although nothing they do will change that.
    She urged Obama to intervene in Libya and she and Obama lied about there being genocide there and bragged about killing Gadhafi. She said Russia would install Gabbard as POTUS, after Trump became POTUS, the Democrats said Russia rigged the election in his favor.

    1. I don’t think Hillary Clinton needs an additional reason to want war with Iran. She’s a psychopathic war monger who fully supports the U.S. empire, that’s reason enough.

      1. She doesn’t need an additional reason for any wars but she is for wars for the reasons I mentioned. Yes, she is a psychopathic warmonger that supports the US Empire and Israeli Empire and will soon support a Ukrainian Empire.

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