I’m in the midst of watching Frontline, which tonight focuses on the growing tensions between the United States and Iran. I’m continually amazed by the level of access and analysis they bring to their topics, and tonight’s is no exception. They’ve managed to get interviews with top American officials, as well as prominent members of the Iranian parliament. The whole piece is now online at their website, I highly recommend that you watch it.
One thing that struck me as especially staggering was a document known as the “grand bargain.” Soon after the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. received a document, apparently from moderates within the Iranian government, proposing negotiations over a set of basic issues. They asked that the U.S. stop trying to overthrow their regime, take Iran off the “Axis of Evil,” and agree to a set of security arrangements. In return, the Iranians would aid the U.S. in stabilizing Iraq, abandon all attempts to build nuclear weapons, and cease aid to terrorist groups in Lebanon and Palestine. The Bush Administration dismissed it without even bothering to reply.
Now, clearly there was serious disagreement as to how serious the offer was, the actual ability of the writers to follow through on it, and so forth, but how do you not pursue that? Worst case, it’s bullshit, in which case we’ve lost nothing. Best case, we put an end to 27 years of hostility and gain an incredibly valuable strategic partner in the Middle East. This is Diplomacy 101. Hell, it’s Art of War 101, winning your objectives without spilling blood.
I’m definitely going to have more to say on this later, but the combination of 3 am and detailed discussion of U.S.-Iranian relations rarely ends well. Come back tomorrow for politricks’ take on the events that got us where we are now.