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Bush's big Iran problem...the only way out..includes serious negotiations with Iran

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 09:44 AM
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Bush's big Iran problem...the only way out..includes serious negotiations with Iran /
Bush's big Iran problem

The White House is foolish not to recognize that the only way out of the Iraq mess now includes serious negotiations with Iran.

By Hooman Majd

July 16, 2007 | Whenever the issue of an exit strategy for Iraq becomes headline news, as it seems to often in this summer of discontent for George W. Bush, I am reminded of a story from my days in the music business. Legend had it that back in the glory days of payola and illegal and quasi-legal business practices in the 1960s, a young entrepreneur set up shop hoping to cash in on a terrain that seemed to be wide open, little regulated and required no specific skills. A well-known independent record promoter (indeed, it was still called the "record business" then) with ties to an unnamed Italian organization visited this upstart, and suggested that large sums of cash could be paid to ensure radio play for any act that the entrepreneur would market. "How can I be sure that if I pay you my records will get played?" the record promoter pressed. "You're asking yourself the wrong question," was the entrepreneur's reply. "You shouldn't wonder whether your records will get played if you pay me. You should ask yourself whether I can stop your records from being played if you don't." Needless to say, the executive paid, his records got played and he built a successful label.

George W. Bush may well have landed himself in a similar situation with his own entrepreneurial adventure in Iraq. Sure, he's got plenty of resources and muscle, but apparently he doesn't yet see that now he'll have to "pay to play" if he wants to succeed. The price of anything that could remotely be called a victory in Iraq at this point, or at least not a defeat, is negotiating with Iran. And that means being willing to give Iran some of what it wants from us, including, for example, assurance that we're not going to shock and awe Iranians if they simply don't do as they're told. It is foolish for the Bush administration not to negotiate seriously with Iran at this point, thanks to circumstances largely of its own making.

From the beginning of the Iraq war, it was clear that Iran would be a major beneficiary, even if unintentionally, of regime change in Baghdad. The evidence was right there in the open: Almost all the Iraqi opposition groups (nearly all Shia) -- including neocon favorite Ahmad Chalabi -- who would by definition be the heirs to Mesopotamia, were funded, armed and trained by, or spent years in exile in, (Shia) Iran. Iran's enemy to the east, the Taliban, had been vanquished; now her enemy to the west, Saddam, was meeting the same fate. What was there not to understand about Iran's ascendancy, and what would amount to a quiet and costless regional victory for her?

Three and a half years after the start of the war, the Iraq Study Group proposed (in its most "duh" moment) that the U.S. would need to engage Iran in order to stabilize Iraq and find a way out of a mess of its own creation. It was a belated idea that still the Bush administration rejected. A few months later, as it perhaps started to dawn on the White House that the ISG's James Baker and Lee Hamilton had a point, the U.S. agreed to a much ballyhooed meeting with Iran at the ambassadorial level in Baghdad. It was here that the U.S. had the opportunity to ask the right questions, but clearly did not. Instead it essentially reiterated a demand: that Iran stop interfering in, but also help stabilize, Iraq -- a demand undoubtedly fielded by an Iranian negotiating team struggling to suppress their guffaws.

Perhaps out of Persian politesse, or perhaps for more sinister strategic reasons, the Iranians didn't respond to the strong-arming promoters of the U.S. agenda in the way of the upstart entrepreneur. And perhaps they did not need to state the obvious: that the issue was not whether the Iranians could or would help stabilize Iraq, but whether they might choose to destabilize the country further, or sabotage a U.S. exit strategy, if the U.S. was not willing to deal with them and compromise on some key issues. Recently, the Iranians have indicated (with a nudge from the Iraqis, whose president seems to visit Iran as often as he smokes a cigar) that they are willing to sit down with the U.S. again in Baghdad to discuss ways to reduce the bloodshed in Iraq. But it will be a pointless exercise unless the Bush administration is willing to ask the right questions of itself and its adversary.

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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 09:50 AM
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1. Won't happen....not serious negotiations. imho n/t
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pocoloco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 09:53 AM
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2. * ain't got no fucking problem!
The People of the World have a problem.
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