Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Happens When You Have No Influence?

My colleague Ray Takeyh, who last year was guardedly optimistic that a deal might be struck between the West and Iran's pragmatic conservatives, is becoming much more pessimistic.

He's quoted in the Guardian as saying that the new president of Iran is "largely indifferent" to global opinion. Today he published an op-ed in the Financial Times, saying in part:

"After nearly three decades of acrimony and tension, Iran’s reactionaries perceive that conflict with the US is inevitable and that the only manner of preserving the regime’s security and Iran’s territorial integrity is through possession of the “strategic weapon”. Although, today, the US may seem entangled in an Iraqi quagmire that tempers its ambitions, for Iran’s rulers, it is still an aggressive state whose power cannot be discounted and whose intentions must not be trusted.


"For the new masters of Tehran, the negotiations are valuable in terms of potentially fracturing western unity and preventing Iran’s nuclear portfolio from being referred to the UN Security Council. However, it is the process not the results of diplomacy that appeals to Mr Ahmadi-Nejad and his cohort.

In the coming months, diplomats will debate and international organisations will issue their periodic rebukes and contemplate their sanctions. And, all along, Iran will inexorably edge closer to the nuclear threshold."

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