Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hagel on Iran

In the forthcoming Summer 2006 issue of the magazine, Chuck Hagel talks with us about a number of foreign policy issues. He is often quoted in sound-byte formats as favoring direct talks with Iran, and I thought readers of TWR might be interested in his longer response on the issue:

" I believe that the United States should deal directly with Iran. We should be talking directly with Iran about the entire framework of issues, including the nuclear issue. I do not know of any other way to deal with these kinds of complex dangerous issues than to talk. What do we have to lose, and what are we afraid of? We are the greatest power on earth. We are not negotiating with them in order to be giving anything away to them. But by refusing to talk—this is what leads to real dangerous predicaments when you isolate countries, when you don’t talk to countries, and you somehow think that you’re accomplishing something.

"I think the world is far more dangerous today in the Middle East than it’s ever been. And I think part of that is because our policies have been wrong.

"At first, the Bush Administration tried to opt out of the Middle East. For the first two years of the Bush Administration, we took a hands-off approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue: “When you’re ready for peace, come talk to us.” This latest issue is now, “We may talk to Iran, but that will only be in the context of Iraq.” Well, that doesn’t make any sense to me. What’s the point? Who are we penalizing here? We’ve got a mess in Iraq, we’ve got a mess in the Middle East, we’ve got a mess with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we’ve got a very dangerous situation in Iran. So how do we think we’re going to get out of it, and how are we going to put this all back together in some positive track that is rational and responsible?

The Indians, the Pakistanis, the global community of nations, they all want some resolution to the Iranian issues—but they also want the United States to demonstrate leadership. Yes, the United Nations is a framework and a forum; the iaea will play a critical role. But the United States cannot stand on the sidelines and outsource to the Europeans and say “We’re all together on this.” I still think it is critical that the United States talk directly to Iran."

Good, practical Midwest sensibilities--perhaps we need to move the capital to the middle of the country. Very much agree--you have to talk directly with your opposition and at least get their measure. Why are we trusting the Europeans with a major U.S. national security priority?
Iran has indicated a willingness (after 25 years) to publicly meet with US.

I do not believe the exhaused US government is capable of this.

Perhaps in 2009 when there are new governments in US,UK, and possibly Iran.

But the roll-back or delay in the Iranian nuclear program is a pipe-dream. The power to accomplish that does not exist.
We're very proud of Senator Hagel out here and hope he plans to run for the presidency, the White House needs a sensible Nebraskan.
we can't "talk" to Iran because they don't want to "talk" in any substantial way about the issues at hand--they want to use negotiations as a way to show their legitimacy.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a legitimate government; its form of government was approved through free referenda and successive elections in that country were not rigged; but the candidates’ list was restricted. Why then is IRI is less legitimate than the soft dictatorships of Morocco, Tunis, Egypt, and Jordan? We all know the answer to this.

Judging by the fact of the 2003 overture from Iran that was spurned by US and the lack of a reply to the letter of the Iranian President, one has to conclude that US is hell bent on a policy of regime change in Iran. That policy, of course, has 3 chances of success: fat, slim, and none.
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