I’ve received a number of comments about a post in which I expressed reservations about the U.S. holding talks with Iran regarding Iraq. The essence of the commentary is that, contrary to what I suggested, the “talks” will amount to little more than the delivery of an ultimatum by our government. Our friend Dafydd ab Hugh makes this point on his blog.
I doubt that an ultimatum is what the administration has in mind. One does not need “talks” to deliver an ultimatum. Nor is it good practice deliver an ultimatum after first agreeing to hold talks. Doing so makes it much more difficult for the other guy to comply with the ultimatum without unnecessary loss of face. Moreover, David Igantius notes that “an influential paper” by three Stanford professors is “making the rounds in the Bush administration.” The professors argue that “the only viable strategy . . . is a new U.S. policy on Iran that combines negotiations in the short run with a principled long-term quest for peaceful regime change.”
Dafydd relies on President Bush’s track record of being “Texan.” However, under the stewardship of Secretary of State Rice, the foreign policy of the second Bush administration hasn’t seemed all that Texan to me.
By the way, while I agree with Ignatius that we’re looking at negotiations not an ultimatum, I think Ignatius’s defense of negotiating with Iran is flawed. I hope to explain why later today.