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Bush is like King Midas, only everything he touches turns to crap
June 18, 2006 8:41 PM   Subscribe

News Filter - In 2003 the Bush administration rejected an Iranian offer to recognize Israel, end support of Palestinian terror organizations, help out in Iraq, and talk about their nuclear program.
posted by sourbrew (66 comments total)

 
This was when they had the "reformer" president, correct?
posted by delmoi at 8:48 PM on June 18, 2006


Surel...
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:57 PM on June 18, 2006


This was when they had the "reformer" president, correct?

yeah, Mohammad Khatami
posted by sourbrew at 9:04 PM on June 18, 2006


This was when we were allied with Eurasia, correct?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2006


We have always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:12 PM on June 18, 2006


Doubleplustrue. What on earth was I thinking?

*looks around nervously
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:16 PM on June 18, 2006


Aw.. we've screwed up on this issue before, we'll screw up on it again.
posted by Balisong at 9:24 PM on June 18, 2006


Meanwhile...Iraq continues to worsen.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:26 PM on June 18, 2006


Iran has been using negotiations as a means of stalling. I think that the Bush administration decided it was not a genuine offer. By which I mean they decided that the Iranians would be willing to negotiate, but not willing to actually give anything away in the negotiations, or to actually make an agreement that the US would find satisfactory.

It is not a law of physics that negotiations are always fruitful or worthwhile.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:28 PM on June 18, 2006


My first thought was, "OK, so what's this link to? A single source, right? Well, let's go see who the source is."

The Jerusalem Post?

Wow ... the Likud is going to be pissed about this.
posted by Relay at 9:29 PM on June 18, 2006


The batshitinsane tag was made for this post.
posted by brundlefly at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2006


I knew this administration wouldn't recognize diplomacy if somebody threw it in their faces.
posted by baphomet at 9:47 PM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


They offered all that but they didn't say please OR thank you. Jerks.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 PM on June 18, 2006


I knew this administration wouldn't recognize diplomacy if somebody threw it in their faces.

If the President of the United States would actively prevent Ritter and the UN to complete their inspection work in Iraq, and if his predecessor would replace a democratically elected leader in Iran with a murderous CIA stooge, why would he recognize any positive gesture from modern-day Iran? Once a psycho, always a psycho.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 PM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see one shred of evidence that suggests than any peacable negotiations with the Iranians would have prevented them from going nuclear. See North Korea in the early 90s with Clinton. See the pathetic attempts in the 80s and 90s by the US, and the West, to coerce Pakistan and India with idle threats of trade embargos.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:04 PM on June 18, 2006


It is not a law of physics that negotiations are always fruitful or worthwhile.

Negotiations are generally better than no negotiations. I say generally only because there will be the odd time when the dramatic effect of breaking off negotiations is worthwhile.

I wonder, how many times in the last 26 years has Iran offered to recognise Israel?
posted by Chuckles at 10:08 PM on June 18, 2006


Newsfilter - In 2003, the Bush Administration squandered all of the good will that the world had towards post-911-USA by unilaterally starting a needless war against a country that didn't pose much of a threat to anybody.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:11 PM on June 18, 2006


USA by unilaterally starting a needless war against a country that didn't pose much of a threat to anybody.

And it's crap like this that ignites the fire in stay-at-home Republicans, those same Republicans that re-elect Bush and allow two, possibly three, far-right Supreme Court Justices to be placed in office for the next 10-20 years.

Keep lying, embellishing, and grandstanding. Or, here's a thought, just let the truth hang Bush instead of forcing the issue.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:18 PM on June 18, 2006


.
posted by russilwvong at 10:29 PM on June 18, 2006


So Iran offered all this and nothing in return? Not sure I believe that. But if it's true, you'd have to think they did it because they were afraid of getting pounded like their neighbors to the east and west.

Also, the comment above about negotiations being a stall tactic is exactly right. See North Korea - who we actually reached an agreement with only to see them renege on later. Or various arms deals with the USSR during the cold war. Or what the Iranians are doing now, or what Saddam did through the 90s.

That said, I'm sure being new best friends with Iran would have gone over reeeealy well with the Sunni terrorists we're fighting in Iraq today. Yeah.
posted by b_thinky at 10:31 PM on June 18, 2006


I'm sorry, SeizeTheDay, I'm confused as to whom you're angry with and why, exactly. Could you elaborate?
posted by joe lisboa at 10:35 PM on June 18, 2006


I'm sorry, SeizeTheDay, I'm confused as to whom you're angry with and why, exactly. Could you elaborate?
posted by joe lisboa at 10:35 PM on June 18, 2006


... you know, twice for good measure.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:35 PM on June 18, 2006


But...Iraq didn't pose a threat to much of anyone.

Republicons just vote for Bush out of spite, not because they know what's going on.
posted by rougy at 10:36 PM on June 18, 2006


The article:
"At the time [2003], the Iranians were not spinning centrifuges, they were not enriching uranium," Leverett told the Post.
Wikipedia: Nuclear program of Iran since 2000:
In 1995, Iran signed a contract with Russia to resume work on the partially complete Bushehr plant, installing into the existing Bushehr I building a 915MWe VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor, with completion expected in 2007. There are no current plans to complete Bushehr II reactor.

In 1996, the U.S. tried, without success, to block China from selling to Tehran a conversion plant. China also provided Iran with gas needed to test the uranium enrichment process.

....On August 14, 2002, Alireza Jafarzadeh, a prominent Iranian dissident, revealed the existence of two unknown nuclear sites, a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz (part of which is underground) and a heavy water facility in Arak.
Regarding the last bit, the article does add that "...Iran allowed intrusive inspections of the facilities by the IAEA pursuant to the Additional Protocol, and the IAEA concluded that the facilities were not related to any secret nuclear weapons program." I wonder, though, if the IAEA would stand by these findings today, given their 27-3 vote to refer Iran to the UN Security Council last February.

Nuclear programs take decades; it is idiotic to assume Iran spun this program out of thin air since 2003.
posted by ori at 11:02 PM on June 18, 2006


Of course, Leverett might be right that "the Iranians were not spinning centrifuges, they were not enriching uranium" in 2003, but his phrasing suggests that the Iranian nuclear program emerged as a response to failed negotiations, which is patently not true.

Next, I find it extremely hard to believe that Iran would admit in writing their support of Palestinian terror organizations, which could easily be used to leverage sanctions against them, or at the very least strain Iran's relation with Europe.

It would've been a mistake to enter secret bilateral talks with Iran, because it would show that the US is willing to compromise its protocols to be given a bone by Iran. Whether you think Iran would provide something depends on how you view the regime, which is "poorly", in my case. What we can be reasonably sure the talks would accomplish is

(a) further alienate the US from its allies by demonstrating that the US is not interested in international consensus, and that it does not think this issue serious enough to merit international attention.

(b) show that the US will compromise its protocol when a carrot is dangled before it.

Much like Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush, this gesture, cleverly disguised as an overture, serves to tempt the US to enter into a war of words before the international community.

Condoleezza Rice is exactly right. This is about Iran, not the US.
What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who when Teheran faxed its proposal was serving as Bush's national security adviser. "Now it is Iran and the international community, and Iran has to answer to the international community. I think that's the strongest possible position to be in," Rice said.
posted by ori at 11:22 PM on June 18, 2006


SeizeTheDay - Oh, you're right. Iraq posed a huge threat to every country in the region, what with their huge piles of WMDs and all.

I'm not saying that they didn't *want* to be a threat. They just didn't have the means.

However, I don't wish to derail this discussion any further. The point of my comment was to show how the Bush Administration tosses aside goodwill and diplomacy every chance they get, in favor of war and aggression. I mean, they put John Bolton in charge of the UN, ferfuckssake. A man who doesn't even *believe* in the UN.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:26 PM on June 18, 2006


(minor correction - John Bolton is not in charge of the UN, he's our ambassador to the UN. You get my point.)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:27 PM on June 18, 2006


As long as Karl Rove is personally tracking Iran's WMD progams, I feel safe.
posted by homunculus at 12:01 AM on June 19, 2006


I find it extremely hard to believe that Iran would admit in writing their support of Palestinian terror organizations,

Such a thing is not mentioned in the article, I think you just made it up. Or, do you think a nation must admit material support before eschewing it?

It would've been a mistake to enter secret bilateral talks with Iran, because it would show that the US is willing to compromise its protocols to be given a bone by Iran.

Secret talks? I think you just made that up too.

Anyway, everyone is always willing to negotiate, to suggest otherwise is silly. Negotiations in secret, in the open, today, tomorrow, whatever; anything to forward your agenda.
posted by Chuckles at 1:26 AM on June 19, 2006


Chuckles, you're right, the word secret was chosen poorly. I meant to say private negotations, conducted away from the eyes of the international forum or the citizenry of either country. The article doesn't specify that, either, but I note that the offer is being publicized here three years after the fact, by sources within Washington. Iran did not go public with this offer, but instead chose to extend it furtively.

But what do you mean, "such a thing is not mentioned in the article", regarding the admission of support in Palestinian terrorism?
The document itself was only recently obtained by the Post - reportedly from Iranian sources - and confirmed as genuine by both American and Iranian officials...The document details Iran's aims...Iran also agreed to discuss a number of US demands: full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, "decisive action" on terrorism, coordinated efforts in Iraq, cessation of "material support" for terror organizations, and accepting the 2002 Saudi solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
posted by ori at 2:11 AM on June 19, 2006


b_thinky: The Iranians would have been asking for an end to sanctions and normalisation of relations. This would be worth a great deal to the Iranians.

Iran also put similar proposals to Clinton. Repeated overtures have been made. Repeated US rejection of these offers is why the Iranians believe that they must get weapons or face eventual US invasion or intervention.
posted by sien at 2:12 AM on June 19, 2006


er, correction: by Iranian sources, not sources within Washington, and Iran did not go public with this offer at the time.
posted by ori at 2:12 AM on June 19, 2006


What part of "benign global hegemony" don't people understand? (Probably too many big words). The administration doesn't want peace, or security, or safety. It wants domination. All offers of peace will be rejected in favor of violent threats from other nations, which are great excuses to invade those other nations and take them over.

See: flying fake UN planes over Iraq, and the decision to let Zarqawi live because it would make the insurgency look less favorable.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:03 AM on June 19, 2006


The world lost a great opportunity in not working with Khatami when he was in power. Things were looking better for Iran then, now they are worse again. It makes me very sad.
posted by jb at 4:30 AM on June 19, 2006


I don't know if it would have worked - he faced a great deal of internal conservative opposition and was defeated on much of his attempts to reform, but it can't have helped to have had made overtures to the outside world but to have received no support.
posted by jb at 4:35 AM on June 19, 2006


I'd like to see one shred of evidence that suggests than any peacable negotiations with the Iranians would have prevented them from going nuclear.

Under the treaties created during the Eisernhower 'peaceful atom' timeframe, Iran is allowed to have nuclear power plants.

Are you saying that treaties arn't the law of the land?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:53 AM on June 19, 2006


it would show that the US is willing to compromise its protocols
posted by ori at 11:22 PM PST on June 18


Oh, yes. Thank Goodness the US Government would not take any actions that are different than what the verbal or written positions are!
posted by rough ashlar at 6:01 AM on June 19, 2006


I meant to say private negotations, conducted away from the eyes of the international forum or the citizenry of either country.
posted by ori at 2:11 AM PST


Please show an international treaty between 2 nations that was conducted with reporters/radio/TV/Internet webcams in the room where said negotations are happening.

I can't think of a negotation done in a non-private way. But please feel free to show one.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:07 AM on June 19, 2006


Even bad-faith negotiations are better than wars and bombing and invasion and occupation. Containment is always better than armed confrontation.

The Senate just voted down tougher sanctions on Iran--...Just as was true with Iraq, most hard-line Iran war agitators are completely uninterested in inducing Iran to disarm. What they really crave is a change of government as soon as possible, something which is attainable most effectively by war. They don't want to pursue diplomatic measures that could result in a cessation of Iran's nuclear activities because a non-nuclear Iran with no regime change does not even remotely satisfy their goals. Anything less than forcible regime change will be perceived by them as dangerous "appeasement." Exactly as they viewed the first Gulf War, achieving concrete goals while failing to use our military to get rid of governments we dislike is weak and misguided. Government-changing war is the only solution that works. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:42 AM on June 19, 2006


This was when they had the 'reformer' president, correct?

And then President Bush called Iran part of an Axis of Evil, which gave Iran incentive to elect the more confrontational Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The US isn't the only country that likes a tough-talking leader when it's threatened.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 AM on June 19, 2006


...Above all, of course, Iran possesses the world's second-largest reserves of petroleum - an estimated 132 billion barrels (11.1% of the world's known reservoirs); and also the second-largest reserves of natural gas - 971 trillion cubic feet (27.5 trillion cubic meters, or 15.3% of known reservoirs). The Iranians may possess less oil than the Saudis and less gas than the Russians, but no other country controls so much of both of these vital resources. Many states, including China, India, Japan and the European Union countries, already depend on Iran for significant shares of their petroleum supplies; and China and the others have been busy negotiating deals to develop, and then draw on, its mammoth natural-gas reserves. Iran will not only remain a major energy supplier, but also one of the few that has the capacity - with the right kind of investment - to boost its output substantially in the years ahead when many other sources of oil and gas will have gone into decline. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:30 AM on June 19, 2006


In related news, over the weekend, I rejected an offer by a chocolate donut, in which I was to recognize it as a sovereign entity, and begin disarmament talks. Instead I chose to unilaterally declare the donut "delicious" and invaded its borders with my 32 of my finest dentite soldiers. The fighting ended quickly, with all the enemy combatants either dead or safely locked away in a military detention center, located somewhere in the vicinity of my stomach. We are unable to say at what point the prisoners will be released; though it is expected to be soon, once all of their chocolatey secrets have been obtained. Allegations of physical abuse, namely torture via the use of highly concentrated acids applied directly to the inmates are unsubstantiated rumors.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:38 AM on June 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Condoleezza Rice is exactly right. - ori

On what world? Certainly never in the reality based one.

Just wanted to preserve that statement as a credibility check for comparison against future input from source.
posted by nofundy at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2006


Not to defend our current administration but what country uses a fax to open negotiations? What happened to the days when countries had face to face meetings to hash out disagreements? I would have a hard time taking a fax seriously. I am not a diplomat but it seems like this was a joke attempt if anything.
posted by JJ86 at 8:16 AM on June 19, 2006


nofundy, even a stopped clock is accurate twice a day.
posted by ori at 8:22 AM on June 19, 2006


Nuclear programs take decades; it is idiotic to assume Iran spun this program out of thin air since 2003.

Perhaps if Israel didn't have a secret nuclear program, Iran wouldn't feel compelled to develop one on (what it sees as) threats from the United States/Israel. Just sayin'
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:23 AM on June 19, 2006


Blazecock Pileon, while Israel was developing its nuclear program (and up until 1979), it was best of friends with Iran; so friendly were the relations, in fact, that Israel and Iran discussed the possibility of developing a missile together. The President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, was born and raised in Yazd and Tehran, Iran, and speaks fluent persian; until recently, so did the minister of defense. So what changed in 1979? "After the second phase of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which witnessed the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iran withdrew its recognition of the state of Israel and cut off all official relations." [1]

Israel did not develop nuclear weapons to threaten Iran, and would like nothing better to restore peaceful relations. This has been a bit difficult since Ayatollah Khomeini declared israel an "enemy of Islam" [ibid]. Just sayin'.
posted by ori at 9:39 AM on June 19, 2006


Not to defend our current administration but what country uses a fax to open negotiations?

What do you suggest when there are no diplomatic relations?

Via http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5314.htm

U.S.-IRANIAN RELATIONS
On November 4, 1979, militant Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Tehran with the support of Ayatollah Khomeini. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days. On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran, and on April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Tehran. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the Government of Pakistan.


Normally it would be via the embassy. Such does not exist in the US of A. So, if you don't have an ambassador, what do you suggest? An e-mail?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:41 AM on June 19, 2006


even a stopped clock is accurate twice a day.
posted by ori at 8:22 AM PST


And how does that work with a digital clock?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:42 AM on June 19, 2006


It is still right twice a day, but exclusively at 12:00.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:51 AM on June 19, 2006


amberglow: Even bad-faith negotiations are better than wars and bombing and invasion and occupation. Containment is always better than armed confrontation.

I agree absolutely, amberglow. I wish the US gov't pushed for a public discussion of Iran's nuclear ambitions in the UN much earlier. It shouldn't have ignored the offer outright; it should've acknowledged it and politely directed it to a more global forum. But I don't think sub rosa between Iran and the US alone would have accomplished anything.
posted by ori at 9:53 AM on June 19, 2006


[...] regarding the admission of support in Palestinian terrorism?
cessation of "material support" for terror organizations,
I see your point..

By saying "from now on I won't do it", one can agree to cease an activity without admitting participation. On the other hand, saying "I will stop doing it" would be an admission. Diplomatic language is very subtle, and I'm not going to claim any expertise. However, I think if an admission was a core part of the offer tabled, the article would have mentioned it explicitly.
posted by Chuckles at 9:56 AM on June 19, 2006


Crap for you is billions of dollars for them. Everything is going exactly as planned as far as they are concerned. There's no money in it for their benefactors if there were peace in the plamiddle east. If you were Halliburton, Bechtel, KBR or Blackwater would you rather have peace or what we have right now? Those are the guys who put these so-called schmucks in office. They are laughing at us while we piss on about Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly.
posted by any major dude at 9:59 AM on June 19, 2006


ori (via Wikipedia): ....On August 14, 2002, Alireza Jafarzadeh, a prominent Iranian dissident, revealed the existence of two unknown nuclear sites, a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz (part of which is underground) and a heavy water facility in Arak.

Google the name "Alireza Jafarzadeh" sometime. He is a part of the Iranian exile "left" (by which I mean, he was part of one of the various communist groups before the Iranian Revolution) who makes a living peddling bullshit about Iran to Western countries. His name has continually been attached to reports about Iranian nuclear programs that never bore fruit. The fact that a Wikipedian saw fit to quote Jafarzadeh is not proof that the man is not lying. Quoting him is about as reliable as quoting Ahmed Chalabi.
posted by graymouser at 10:07 AM on June 19, 2006


graymouser: The fact that a Wikipedian saw fit to quote Jafarzadeh is not proof that the man is not lying. Quoting him is about as reliable as quoting Ahmed Chalabi.

Only they do exist.

Natanz:
this once secret site was one of the two exposed by Alireza Jafarzadeh in 2002. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei visited the site on 21 February 2003 and reported that 160 centrifuges were complete and ready for operation, with 1000 more under construction at the site [1]
Arak:
Dr. Howells: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Dr. Mohammed El Baradei confirmed in his November 2005 report that the Agency had carried out a design information verification visit to Arak and noted that the civil engineering construction of the reactor building was continuing. In declarations to the IAEA, the Iranian government has stated that the facility should be ready for commissioning in 2014. We are not aware of any change to this timescale.
We have made clear to the Iranians our concerns that this reactor design is not best suited to their declared research needs, but presents significant proliferation concerns in respect of its suitability for the production of weapons grade plutonium. This is why we have suggested to Iran for some time that it should acquire instead a research reactor moderated by light water. We made clear in our comprehensive proposal presented on 5 August 2005 that we would support them in doing this. [House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 16 Jan 2006]
posted by ori at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2006


rough ashlar said: What do you suggest when there are no diplomatic relations?

So because there are no embassies in either countries you can't have diplomatic relations? I hate to say it, but that reasoning makes you perfectly suited for government work. What did countries do before embassies? Or for that matter how could countries at war actually negotiate a truce? Email my ass. You send an emissary or a prime minister in person to the opposing country. This is the first thing you learn in Diplomacy 101, my friend.
posted by JJ86 at 11:01 AM on June 19, 2006


JJ86 you are quite mistaken. If you send a person to establish diplomatic relations you have risked a great deal. If you send a fax or a letter, the only person who has to know the offer was sent is the swiss diplomat you use to provide authentication or legitimacy. If you absolutely must have deniability, you make ready to arrest and execute the Iranian official who contacted the Swiss for treason or similar offences.

You Promise things you don't intend to do and demand things you don't believe you will get. This provides a beginning for negotiation.

That's Diplomacy 201!
posted by Megafly at 12:16 PM on June 19, 2006


Unfortunately, Megafly, as you've learned from this example, faxes don't have diplomatic authentication or legitimacy. They never have and doubtless they never will. You get a C for trying, though.
posted by JJ86 at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2006


Don't we have a UN so that none of that is needed anyway? A place where this guy can talk to that guy in person without games or publicity or losing face, etc? Where people from all over the world have offices next to each other, or at least in the same building?
posted by amberglow at 1:03 PM on June 19, 2006


Why is it that in political conversation or debate on the issues/people, those on the left are called 'left wing' or 'liberal' and those on the right always seem to be called 'Far Right Wing', or 'Right Wing Radical', 'Extremist Conservative' or some derivative of those terms?

Seems odd that one side uses a simple label and the other goes a little farther in their choice of words...

Just an observation.
posted by Leenie at 1:28 PM on June 19, 2006


Don't we have a UN so that none of that is needed anyway? A place where this guy can talk to that guy in person without games or publicity or losing face, etc?

That sounds really good, but I wonder. You hear about lots of surveillance going on in the UN (often by Americans, I think). Also, sometimes the individuals who make up a nations UN contingent can be marginalised (I presume) or too radical (John Bolton), so they may not be worth the effort.
posted by Chuckles at 2:20 PM on June 19, 2006


More on Iran's offer from the Washington Post and American Prospect.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:16 PM on June 19, 2006


Just an observation.

Not a very accurate one. Conservatives use demonizing language constantly. They're really good at it... much better than the other side.
posted by brundlefly at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2006


Not to mention that "liberal" is now nothing more than a smear to everyone on the right who speaks it, and carries with it an implicit "fringe" or "radical" label.
posted by nevercalm at 2:15 AM on June 20, 2006


Khatami had no backing from the mullahs. He could have promised Bush anything he liked, including the moon, and Iran would never have delivered.

It's possible that someone in State actually realized this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:47 PM on June 20, 2006


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