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The Jehoshua Novels


New alliances form in Asia

As usual, Agonistas knew first:

Iran Isolation Attempts Backfire

Iran’s provocative missile tests ten days ago again fueled the debate on the likelihood of aerial strikes against Iran. Since last week’s thaw, however, an attack on Iran by the end of President Bush’s tenure no longer appears in the offing. Moreover, the narrow, exclusively military focus of the debate misses the broader picture. The overall U.S. strategy of containing Iran has failed in principle. And the attempt to impose a sanctions regime on Iran has led to an erosion of U.S. strategic influence in Asia and the Middle East. Over the long term, Washington’s shortsighted containment policy will only hurt Western business in the region. It will also play into the hands of China, drive crucial allies away, and render Iran untouchable.

At the eleventh hour, even the Bush administration seems to have realized, albeit in a limited way, the inherent failure of the containment approach. In an important about-face, the White House not only agreed to direct talks between U.S. and Iranian officials in Geneva this weekend but also held out the prospect of soon opening an American interest section in Tehran. This sea change suggests that the realists around Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates having finally gained the upper hand over the faction around Vice President Dick Cheney in the intra-administration feud. The reversal also acknowledges that the dual approach of sanctions and military threats have produced nothing but America’s own isolation. The far-reaching repercussions of these counterproductive sanctions against Iran and America’s increasing isolation in Asia are best illustrated by this month’s breakthrough on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.


Read on at Foreign Policy in Focus or at Common Dreams

8 comments to New alliances form in Asia

  • adrena

    SDEROT, Israel – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defended his proposal to negotiate with Iran Wednesday and said he would use “big sticks and big carrots” to persuade the country’s leaders not to develop nuclear weapons.

    “My whole goal in terms of having tough, serious direct diplomacy is not because I’m naive about the nature of any of these regimes. I’m not,” Obama said at a press conference. “It is because if we show ourselves willing to talk and to offer carrots and sticks in order to deal with these pressing problems, and if Iran then rejects any overtures of that sort, it puts us in a stronger position to mobilize the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Iran.”
    More


    “While not a Playboy reader, she invites a male acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Chagall, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” – not a Hugh Hefner quote

  • hvd

    Adrena, this illustrates exactly why Obama as a non-paradigm shifter is “better” than McCain but not nearly good enough to stop our slide into disaster. One uses carrots and sticks to force a reluctant ass to go where you want it to go. Iran is not a reluctant ass. It is an equal in the community of nations that has its own principals. That is not to say they are our friend.

    For real negotiations to happen you have to be willing to compromise. Not appease, compromise. Beating and bribing is not compromising.

    So we have a continuation of Bush policies only with some palaver proceeding the really big push to get them to do what we want them to do. But as Hannes article suggests, you should be smart enough to stop threatening the ass when there are a bunch of big asses around who don’t like your approach.

    If you go on using the language of threats, how do you compromise and not be accused of appeasement? The answer, of course, is you can’t.

    Obama just keeps painting himself deeper into the corner.

  • Escher Sketch

    although the rhetoric and the framing is flawed, I reckon he has to play the hand of cards he’s been dealt. The years of relentless Iran-bashing in the American public sphere mean that reality-based rhetoric on Iran will hurt him in November; he’s smart enough to know the words he has to use to sell himself to the American public as “credible on defense”. I’m hoping the real message is contained in the assertion of willingness to dialogue without precondition, and that smarter Iranian leaders would “get” that because they’re no slouches as politicians themselves.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • adrena

    say it far better than I do, but here’s my small contribution :)

    With all due respect hvd, I believe that judging Obama on his campaign rhetoric may lead to false presumptions about what he will do if he becomes president. The “carrots and sticks” metaphor speaks directly to the “looking for a strong commander-in-chief” voter. Since McCain continues to top Obama in Commander-in-Chief tests, I can understand Obama’s emphasis on threatening the ass rather than his primaries approach of using negotiated compromise. In the meantime, I keep waiting and hoping that he will turn out to be the change he promised.


    “While not a Playboy reader, she invites a male acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Chagall, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” – not a Hugh Hefner quote

  • hvd

    I guess its just a matter of faith-based voting. Its alright to fool some of the people some of the time. But who is getting fooled?

    Try dealing with my question as to how you compromise after taking this tack and not being accused (rhetorically correctly) of being an appeaser. Backed into a corner one way or the other. He is looking a lot less smart every day.

    Whether you like it or not November is decidedly not the point. January 20th and the four following years is.

    I’m sick of it all.

  • adrena

    Obama needs to win first before he can compromise. The Iranians and all the other major players are well aware of the difference between campaign rhetoric and the real deal. They’re hoping, like everyone else, that Obama’s approach will be the polar opposite of that of Bush.


    “While not a Playboy reader, she invites a male acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Chagall, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” – not a Hugh Hefner quote

  • Escher Sketch

    When is Obama most damaged by the accusation of being an appeaser (or for that matter a flip-flopper?)

    October 2008 or February 2009?


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Escher Sketch

    is a contrast to years of “stick only”.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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