This was going to be another attempt at a serious analysis of what might happen at the talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Istanbul this coming Friday. I was going to cite Alan Cowell’s good piece for the NYT on Iran’s mixed signals, David Dayen’s analysis of those signals as well as the signal sent by sending a second US carrier group into the Gulf at this time, and Jonathan Schell’s excellent but depressing breakdown of how all the “options on the table” have been cleared off that table until we’re left with a binary choice, by Obama’s own words, of Iranian compromise or US-led force.
Then I read the first grafs of Trita Parsi’s latest, and they stopped me in my tracks:
If President Barack Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei do not compromise at the upcoming nuclear talks next Saturday, the region will — in the words of a diplomat involved in the matter — head towards “total war.” For the sake of world peace, both sides must compromise.
Yet, there are some indications that the next round of talks may differ little from previous failed discussions. Driven by limited political maneuverability at home, domestic pressure not to compromise, and a perception of strength that lures the parties to believe they can force on the other a fait accompli, the talks have often been about imposing terms of capitulation on the other.
It has never succeeded.
I think he’s right – that the chances this round of talks doesn’t bring any breakthrough are far higher than the chances of a deal. And that if there’s no deal, there’ll be war instead in very short order. The consequences could be far higher than anyone is willing to admit.
We’ve been a long time coming to this stage. I’ve been writing about Iran’s nuclear program and other accusations against it since about 2005, always trying to see behind the warmongers’ spin and help in any way I could to help head off another war. Over the years, I and others have written that there was about to be an attack on Iran if people didn’t pay attention and speak up in dissent almost as many times as the warmongers have declared Iran just months away from an actual nuke. In all that time, neither the war nor the nuke has come to pass. The number of claims either or both were imminent have become an in-joke among national security and international relations observers.
I don’t think we’re in that place any more.