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Belmont Club

Decent interval

June 28th, 2009 - 3:15 pm

On a day when the EU warned Iran after it arrested locals working at the British Embassy and as many as 20,000 Iranians demonstrated against the regime, the administration once again offered to talk to Teheran on the subject of nuclear weapons. VOA says that “Top Obama administration officials say the door remains open for nuclear talks with Iran. They are discounting the latest anti-American rhetoric from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. … He was asked if the tough talk over the weekend by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be enough to put diplomacy on hold. ‘Understand that he is not the decision maker when it comes to foreign policy and defense policy in Iran,” he said. “His comments are meant for domestic political content.’”

Three questions come to mind. First, how is the administration’s position different from the statement that “no matter how much you insult me, I will talk to you?” Second and more importantly, how can any proper dialogue exist between a party that doesn’t mean what it says, i.e. “his comments are meant for domestic political content” and a party which reserves the right to assign a contrary meaning to a spoken expression? i.e. “They are discounting the latest anti-American rhetoric from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”. At what point is the literal word of Teheran to be literally understood? Tomorrow? On the day they sign the Grand Bargain? There is something surreal about the administration’s version of the Cretan Paradox. What truth value would you assign to the statement, “We can strike a lasting bargain with them because I know they are lying when they say they won’t”? The third question is why the Administration should send a conciliatory message at time when the Iranian street and even the EU are talking tough?


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