August 10, 2007


Book Reveals Details of Iran’s Diplomatic Outreach to Israel (Marc Perelman, Aug 08, 2007, The Forward)

A soon to be released book details previously unknown backroom contacts between Iran and Israel in 2003, when Tehran was pushing the Bush administration into entering comprehensive diplomatic negotiations.

In “Treacherous Alliance,” Trita Parsi, an adjunct professor at John Hopkins University and president of the National Iranian American Council, contends that shortly after Iran proposed a “grand bargain” to the United States four years ago, Tehran made a similar offer to Israel during an academic meeting in Athens.

The terms of Iran’s offer to the United States — which included stabilizing Iraq, curbing support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and addressing concerns over its nuclear program, in exchange for an end to sanctions against Iran and the disbanding of an anti-Iranian militant group — have been known for some time. But as Washington and Tehran now hold official talks for the first time in more than a quarter-century, the book’s revelation of alleged Iranian outreach to Israel opens a revealing window on the last serious attempt at diplomatic reconciliation with the Islamic Republic.

This is one of several areas where the Administration deserves to be criticized for its conduct of the WoT, nearly all of which stem from a failure to comprehend the sides in the fight. The others include the subsequent decision to urge reformers to boycott the Iranian elections; attempt to avoid casualties in the combat phase of the Iraq War--when the goal should have been to kill as many of the troops fighting to preserve Sunni domination as possible; the failure to immediately establish a sovereign Iraqi government (approved by Ali Sistani) and announce a withdrawal in Summer 2003; the failure to effect regime change in Syria; and the refusal to recognize and work with Hamas after its victory in Palestinian elections as well as with Hezbollah--both of which would have been easier with Iranian assistance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2007 10:34 AM

I think the concern about Iran comes from the belief that it is not really a democracy. Final decisions are made by the Guardian Council, which is not subject to any electoral discipline. You have indicated a belief that the Council follows the elections, but that is not one that is widely shared.

Posted by: Brandon at August 10, 2007 12:54 PM

I really want to read this book. There seems to be much going on behind the scenes, and having read Parsi's other articles, he has tremendous credibility and is the right person to write about this.

Posted by: Julia Schwartz at August 10, 2007 2:13 PM

So a terror-supporting state and sworn enemy of the US makes us an oddly generous offer, and you think we missed out on something? What makes you think they'd have kept their promises? When has the Islamic Republic ever shown itself to be any more trustworthy than the USSR was? Sorry, this just seems naive to me....

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 10, 2007 4:00 PM

Papaya wrote: So a terror-supporting state and sworn enemy of the US makes us an oddly generous offer, and you think we missed out on something?


Were you describing the Saudis there? Iran is better situated to reform and lead than the Saudis any day of the week. The clincher for the Administration should have been that Iran's people admire the US.

For my part, I think I've drunk enough of OJs KoolAid about how Bush is some sort of clever genius pulling all the right strings.

I'm beginning to believe he's just another boot-licker (like his incompetent father) salivating over his Saudi oil masters' black gold. The arms deal with the Saudis can't be explained any other way

If Iraq and the WORI (War on Radical Islam) turn out well, it will be providence, and not the Bush Administration. Their legacy looks to be having blown every decent issue that was handed to them.

Posted by: Bruno at August 10, 2007 4:31 PM

Of course he doesn't, that's why he quashed Ahmedinejad, putting Rafsanjani, Larinjani and the like in position to herd him.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2007 5:28 PM

I must say, the phrase "the last serious attempt at diplomatic reconciliation" between Israel and the Islamic Republic is reminiscent of Soviet disinformation.

We all know various Iranian officials (including Khatami, Rafsanjani, Larijani, and a host of 'defense' bureaucrats) have called for fire from heaven on Israel since the late 1980s. Legitimate diplomats don't do that.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2007 6:46 PM

Except that Israeli and US leaders routinely claim they'll do the same to Iran. Your guy good, theirs bad.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2007 7:18 PM

The Iranians have always been rather meek towards us, especially since we shot down a passenger jet just to scare them. If you can't separate the rhetoric from the reality it is naivete.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2007 7:21 PM

Of course, the bizarre notion that they should ignore stuff like this is a reflection of the belief that they are subhuman:

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2007 7:27 PM

Quite wrong - the US and Israel merely say that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, not that we will turn them into cinders. A vast difference, especially since neither we nor Israel has ever referred to Iran as the "Shi'a dogpound" or the "thuggish turbaned territory" or the "home of the infidel". You know, rhetoric, Tehran style (which precedes Mad Mahmoud by 20+ years).

The Vincennes fired because the Navy was jumpy after being hit by an Exocet (from Iraq). Even if it was malicious, that doesn't explain away Iran's state policy of assassination and murder, exercised all over the world since 1979.

If you ignore the rhetoric AND the reality, then you are carrying a torch for a political class that doesn't exist.

And the current Iranian leadership (from Ahmadinejad to Khameini to the Guard to the Basij to the private religious armies to the military gangs) are anti-human. I shouldn't have to tell you that they treat their own people as subhuman, and they have done so for almost 30 years.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2007 10:23 PM

Bruno: I'm no fan of the Saudis, but Iran being "better situated to reform" still doesn't make them trustworthy right now. Neither does being Shia or "Abrahamic."

OJ: The Vincennes incident is well-established as an accident, and makes no sense as a political gesture from our point of view.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 11, 2007 2:05 AM

The shootdown, like bombing Qaddafi, worked.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2007 5:52 AM

Are you implying it's time for another 'accident'?

Posted by: ratbert at August 11, 2007 10:48 AM

Why? The last one still has them cowed. It's time to take down a Chicom plane.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2007 8:15 PM