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Facing Obama, Iran Suddenly Hedges on Talks

You don't say.... From the Washington Post: Facing Obama, Iran Suddenly Hedges on Talks.

Since 2006, Iran's leaders have called for direct, unconditional talks with the United States to resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. But as an American administration open to such negotiations prepares to take power, Iran's political and military leaders are sounding suddenly wary of President-elect Barack Obama.

"People who put on a mask of friendship, but with the objective of betrayal, and who enter from the angle of negotiations without preconditions, are more dangerous," Hossein Taeb, deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Wednesday, according to the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.

"The power holders in the new American government are trying to regain their lost influence with a tactical change in their foreign diplomacy. They are shifting from a hard conflict to a soft attack," Taeb said.

Just in case it escaped anyone, our enemies still hate us and our European allies still insist on non-combat military roles in Afghanistan.

Obama's expressed desires to talk more and drop big sticks as incentives are interpreted as weakness, not benevolence. His willingness to talk means to Iran a willingness to bend, and they are now playing the game by the new perceived rules.


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Comments (35)

Actually I'm laughing my as... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Actually I'm laughing my ass off! The Democrats like to talk about "nuance". They haven't even begun to plumb the depths of that word, compared to the mullahs in sand land.

"The power holders... (Below threshold)
"The power holders in the new American government are trying to regain their lost influence with a tactical change in their foreign diplomacy. They are shifting from a hard conflict to a soft attack," Taeb said.

I don't know what he's balking out. Any garden-variety 3rd world thug worth his salt ought to be able to roll Professor Hopey McChange like a drunken wino.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for them to poke the Great Satan in the eye. They'll realize this soon enough, I think.

A) The leadership in Iran w... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

A) The leadership in Iran was crazy before Obama won and they're still crazy now;

B) British and Canadian troops continue to kill a lot of militants in Afghanistan.

What is it Obama should demand from Iran, Steve? How exactly would you expect an arrogant pack of religious fanatics to respond to any sort of demands or conditions? They cannot show any willingness to bend to foreigners and will use every opportunity to make themselves appear as equally or more powerful than their Western detractors. They're dicks, always have been, and there's precious little to be done about it. Maybe removing Mohammad Mossadeq from power in 1953 wasn't such a great idea...

Bomb thems to the stone age... (Below threshold)
Captain America:

Bomb thems to the stone age, now.

How exactly would ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
How exactly would you expect an arrogant pack of religious fanatics to respond to any sort of demands or conditions? They cannot show any willingness to bend to foreigners and will use every opportunity to make themselves appear as equally or more powerful than their Western detractors. They're dicks, always have been, and there's precious little to be done about it.

Good points. The same ones conservatives have been making since WW2 in regard to arrogant packs of fanatics, religious or otherwise. Strength is the only thing they respect and sometimes we have to be willing to use it. Glad to see you're embracing reality now that Obama is facing it.

Maybe removing Moh... (Below threshold)
Maybe removing Mohammad Mossadeq from power in 1953 wasn't such a great idea...

Yeah, this is the standard lefty myth: everything would have been unicorns and fluffy bunnies in Iran if we only had Mossadeq get away with nationalizing (read: steal) British oil holdings and pull the country into the Soviet sphere of influence.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Right, Cap'n, kill 'em all ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Right, Cap'n, kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out. I love that solution, it's not at all morally relativistic.

Mac--they will continue to be dicks whether or not Obama shakes his d*ck at him as everybody seems to want him to. He's not going to attack them unless provoked, and their taunting and buffoonery is not sufficient provocation for any sort of violence. If they attack Israel, they're f*cked, and they know it, so they won't. The past three decades have shown that the Ayatollahs aren't in a hurry to get their heavenly comeuppance.

Keep an eye on them, but don't dignify their petulant ponderances with serious responses. When they're ready to sit down to discuss the future of the Middle East as it relates to the Persian people, sit down and talk. If the conversation goes nowhere, there is nothing preventing anybody from leaving that discussion once it begins, right? All serious foreign policy people agree that the first step towards a realignment of American and Iranian relations should be one of words, not violence. It's actually ridiculous that this needs to be said on this blog.

OregonMuse: what were the circumstances under which the British constructed oil infrastructure in Iran? How did they treat the Persian people? Britain actually stole from them first--the history of "colonialism" is a history of theft--so insofar as BP had no legitimate claim on the natural resources of Iran, you have no argument. When people elected Mossadeq, the United States and Britain should have respected their sovereignty and f*cked off. Colonial imperialism was antithetical to democracy and the Iranian people should bear no responsibility in the ideological conflict between their authoritarian government and your democratic one. It's not their fault they are subject to tyranny.

Hyperbolist,I'm no... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Hyperbolist,

I'm not suggesting we invade Iran, but we shouldn't take the option off the table either. Let the leaders of Iran who like to rattle the cages of the world with their nuclear and missile programs live in fear that a U.S. predator might be flying overhead looking to take them out. Or that the U.S. will launch an air strike or even a full scale invasion. We don't need to meet with the leaders of Iran to send that message and the last thing we want to communicate to them is that they are safe. I'm sure they don't feel safe with Bush in office and it will be a big mistake if Obama makes them feel safe.

When Obama said he would meet with the leaders of nations like Iran and N.K. without preconditions, McCain said that was naive. We see now that McCain was right and Obama just got hit in the face with reality. Hopefully, he's a fast learner.

Mac, I think people exagger... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Mac, I think people exaggerate what "taking it off the table" means. There are any number of imaginable scenarios under which it would be necessary to attack another country, Iran or otherwise. To sit down without any preconditions does not occlude the possibility that an incredibly stupid action on the part of the Iranian government would jeopardize the personal safety of their leadership.

A full-scale invasion, though, is clearly off the table in the most literal sense in that anybody who understands the extent to which your armed forces are stretched in Iraq--not to the point of breaking, but stretched nonetheless--would surely understand the impossibility of invading and conquering a nation with a military that is far more capable and well-disciplined than Saddam's Iraqi army ever was.

the history of "co... (Below threshold)
the history of "colonialism" is a history of theft- so insofar as BP had no legitimate claim on the natural resources of Iran,

Bullshit. This is just more simplistic bullshit lefty mythology: "the British stole the people's oil, man!" Certainly I'm not going to defend everything that the AIOC (later BP) did in Iran, but did they did negotiate exploration rights with a succession of Iranian governments - they just didn't just move in with guns and armies and seize the oil reserves.

But my point is, the overthrow of Mossadeq is usually just thrown out there by lefty revisionists as if it was some unprovoked act of imperalistic aggression, but it didn't happen in a vacuum, and you can't just ignore the Cold War context as well as the long and complex history of AIOC and Iran.

Oh yeah, and blaming every subsequent crisis in involving Iran on the overthrow of Mossadeq? That's bullshit, too.

Hyperbolist,The po... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Hyperbolist,

The point is that not even the Iranians are willing to sit down without any preconditions. That's what made Obama's statement naive.

As for invading Iran, the degree of difficulty depends on the role. If we come as liberators, as we did in Iraq, then yes, we don't have the manpower or the money to do that. If we come as occupiers, well that's just as hard and doomed to eventually bankrupt us. However, if we come as destroyers we have more than enough power in the area to do the job.

So why would we come as destroyers? One reason is if they attacked our military forces in the gulf and blocked the strait of hormuz. We would destroy their military, their ports, bridges, powerplants and any other infrastructure we find. You know, like we did to Germany in WW2. Then capture or kill their leaders and leave the people to deal with the aftermath. Not the best plan, but the American people don't have the stomach nor the money to do another liberation like Iraq.

Hey Mac, you know it's funn... (Below threshold)

Hey Mac, you know it's funny how the lefties are now trying to leave the door open for Obama doing something necessarily unpleasant involving Iran, like maybe armed conflict. Funny how things change.

Bet you won't hear them say the words "cowboy", "reckless" or (my personal favorite), "blood for oil."

OregonMuse,Ah yes,... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

OregonMuse,

Ah yes, the old "blood for oil" refrain. Funny thing now that the election is over and oil prices are low the democrats are wanting to put their drilling bans back in place. When oil again hits record highs they will tell us there's no point drilling because it will tack ten years to produce any oil. Then if there's a threat to the oil supply that needs military intervention they'll be spouting no blood for oil, while ignoring the fact that doing nothing now makes it more likely we will have to spill blood to defend the oil supply.

As I was saying back in July, it's not that the cost of oil is too high, it's that the cost of defending the oil supply is too high.

So the Iranians are as conf... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

So the Iranians are as confused as to what constitutes a precondition for "conversation" as American hawks? Fine. That also does not count as a reason for Obama or his SecState not to sit down and explain some things and try to figure out exactly what their ambitions are.

I like that both of you (OM & Mac) are very much onboard for investing massive amounts of money into the development of alternative fuel sources. Hydrogen, better batteries, more efficient solar etc. should be cheaper to develop than maintaining a constant supply of oil from the armpit of the world. Conservation + innovation = nobody has to pay attention or suck up to Saudis, Iranians, Chavez, Putin, or those smug Canadian bastards anymore. :)

Mac - "Not the ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Mac -

"Not the best plan, but the American people don't have the stomach nor the money to do another liberation like Iraq."

I... somewhat disagree on that. We would DO it, if it needed to be done, but the media would actually have to be WILLING to support the ENTIRE endeavor, with mo more twisting the story so WE are the bad guys. And there's have to be a pretty damn compelling reason to do so - 'kids starving in the Sudan' just plain wouldn't cut it. I'm thinking more on the order of losing a major city, and having a clear trail to who did it. (Hmmm. Which would be worse to lose - LA, New York, San Francisco, or Washington DC?) Either that, or Iran going "All your oil belong to us", closing the Straits up solid and firing missiles at Europe.

Of course, we might just look at a 100 year calendar and go "You know, we're not due to provide another free liberation for about, lessee, 60 years from start of the last big one, 1941 to 2003, that's 62, but the normal warranty period is 60, we'll give you credit for two years there...

"Yes, I know it was only about 15 to 25 years at one point - but that was before the advances in WW2 and the Cold War. Now the standard warranty period is 60...

"So, we'll call it 7 years since the Iraq war started... Warranty doesn't cover the next one for another 53 years. Call us back in 2061. Now, if you really need it before then you'll have to both pay up front and sign a full release of liability for damages before we do a damn thing... and THIS time you'll pay through the nose and then some."

Hate to sound all mercenary and such - but this habit we've gotten into of blowing a couple of trillion and mountains of lives on liberating countries from dictatorships or protecting them from their neighbors and then having the rest of the world behave like an abused wife when the cops come to arrest the husband beating up on 'em is getting expensive.

The problem is - if it has to be done there isn't another country out there that can do it. We have, unfortunately, become the world's unpaid, unwanted policeman - who nobody wants to admit is necessary, but they're damn glad to have around when it's THEIR country in trouble.

I like that both o... (Below threshold)
I like that both of you (OM & Mac) are very much onboard for investing massive amounts of money into the development of alternative fuel sources.

You bet. And not only that, we should be drilling offshore and in the ANWR like crazy, and also going full-bore on nuclear power. But, and I'm sure this will come as a complete shock to you, we've been prevented in the large part from doing any of these sensible things mainly because politicians on your side of the aisle have thwarted any efforts.

And now, with the plummeting price of oil, rumor has it that The Anointed One is itching to sign an executive order continuing the ban on offshore drilling. This, of course, will increase the chance that sometime in the future, one of his successors will be forced to contemplate some sort of bloody intervention somewhere in the Mideast. But in the current atmosphere of Hope! and Change!, I doubt that such inconvenient facts will even be noticed, let alone considered.

Aw, man, lost the italics a... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Aw, man, lost the italics after the first para. Dang!

yeah, you have to do the it... (Below threshold)

yeah, you have to do the italics tags on every paragraph

Hyperbolist.<blockquo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Hyperbolist.

Hydrogen, better batteries, more efficient solar etc. should be cheaper to develop than maintaining a constant supply of oil from the armpit of the world.

Given your tendency for verboseness I'm surprised you forgot wind. I'm all for all forms of energy, but until the technology and infrastructure is in place we need oil and natural gas to power our nation. Yes, cheap oil and NG stagnates development of wind, solar, geothermal (dry and wet), and even nuclear. Heck, it even stagnates development of more oil / NG fields and better low energy lighting such as LED screw in replacement bulbs. The oil sands mining in Canada is also at risk. However, cheap oil and NG is good for our troubled economy.

Government needs to fund R&D for alternative energy and set in place policies that trigger both taxes and incentives in relation to economic performance. The better the economy is doing the more alternative energy we can afford. At some point alternative energy will become competitive with oil and NG and can stand on their own. Now if democrats could just quit kowtowing to the environmental lobby and do what's right for the American people we could make some progress.

Obama has called the Irania... (Below threshold)
vuduchld:

Obama has called the Iranians bluff and now they are on the defensive. I laugh when I hear the "peace through strength" crowd, frankly, that was 30 years ago and Iran is more dangerous now than it has ever been. What Obama has done is to plant a seed. In fact, he has backed them into a corner, either enlist talks with us or whatever mileage you got out of us being the "bad guys" are gone and their global credability shot. This is a chess game and the Iranians have been checked early.

Mac I'm confused. There are... (Below threshold)
Tom:

Mac I'm confused. There are incentives- achieve this goal or that and receive compensation from the feds, that is unacceptable. TAX incentives- Tax breaks for companies who are actively working for renewable energy (Take less so they reinvest in R&D) so forth. Any company developing plausible technology will reap huge benifits in the market expanding the tax base exponentially. That is the solution. Give them the tax break yes, but no cash. The taxpayer is picking up the tab for too much now.

Spin all you want: what it ... (Below threshold)
ELSID:

Spin all you want: what it is is Iran backing out of talks that would put them on the hot seat. They would have to talk. It's doing exactly the opposite of what you're saying it's doing.

This may be a bit simple bu... (Below threshold)
Xaos777:

This may be a bit simple but... Iranian foreign policy = stall, stall, sound really crazy, stall some more. What are they stalling for? The Bomb, and when they get it say bye bye Tel Aviv. I know a couple of Iranians who left before the revolution. It sucks the regime and religious zealotry the Iranians have been subjected to. Unfortunately we wasted our reasouces and time in Iraq. It was Iran we really needed to free! No Iranian regime would mean... no Hezbollah, a defanged Syria, and no material support for the sort of insurgency we are fighting now.

You may not know this but o... (Below threshold)
Ronald:

You may not know this but one of the major components of conditioning a racist is in the use of language - like nigger - even if you are half-black ... which actually makes it worse especially since conditioning impacted blacks in many ways more than whites. In esssence to hear a Black person use the term nigger shows that you are really impacted by that conditioning and actually have continued to adopt the mindset of your former master. You must really feel bad about yourself to promote that term and to insinuate that a black isn't ppreapred simply because they are black. You are very sad.

Good night, Jonny Q. You a... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:

Good night, Jonny Q. You are also half-baked.

Note to genius level commenters:

Throw around racial epithets and I will ban you on sight. No explanations made, none heard.

Got it?

Good.

Out.

vuduchil - You hav... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:

vuduchil -

You have no idea how much I genuinely wish you were correct.

Unfortunately, I fear you have had one too many Dixie Blackened Voodoo's (an excellent beer made in New Orleans.)

We are not dealing with a rational regime with visions of survival. Not all, but many, of them are messianic and fatalistic in the pursuit of 'paving the way for the 12th Imam.'

Oddly, the most rational (traditional power-seeking preservationists) are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, home of the Quds Force. While 'true believers' generally, they have militaristic designs, while most of the Ayatollah's and Ahmadinejad & his fellow-followers of Mezbah Yazdi (a real gem, that one) have pure religious aims with a passion not dissimilar to that of suicide bombers.

Trust me here, Obama's got no check on the chessboard before him. Or us.

So, what, preemptive strike... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

So, what, preemptive strikes? Threatening them with preemptive strikes? Dropping the words "preemptive strikes" while chatting with Putin in front of a bunch of reporters?

Steve, the game hasn't changed since Obama was crowned Supreme Heavenly Commander of the People's Republic of America. The Iranians might take his thoughtfulness and measured tone as weakness but McCain's Bush-esque brashness (e.g. not ruling out a strong stance vs. Spain) and pretense towards a disdain of diplomacy would not have been any more effective at defusing the Ayatollahs. So long as things remain at a status quo--and they remain likely to do so--they will be able to maintain control over their population. A stalemate with America is a victory by any other name, and thus do they demonstrate their relative strength to those Iranian citizens who might otherwise be tempted to subvert the will of the Ayatollahs. They can spin "America doesn't attack us because there is no clear strategic purpose or goalposts for success" into "America doesn't attack us because they are afraid of our mighty armies!"

Let them revel in their sad little theocratic backwater, and if you can spare a second or two, feel sorry for the people who have to live there.

The Iranians might... (Below threshold)
The Iranians might take his thoughtfulness and measured tone as weakness

More likely they're looking at Obama like a Rottweiler eying a pork chop.

"Since 2006, Iran's lead... (Below threshold)

"Since 2006, Iran's leaders have called for direct, unconditional talks with the United States to resolve international concerns over their nuclear program. But as an American administration open to such negotiations prepares to take power, Iran's political and military leaders are sounding suddenly wary of President-elect Barack Obama."

Well, of course. They made demands for something they knew they weren't going to get with the Bush admin, so it's easy to just shoot off their mouths. It's what they do. But let it become a possibility and suddenly it's, "Yeah, but...."

OregonMuse, for you to beli... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

OregonMuse, for you to believe that, you would have to consider Iran to be a serious threat. No serious person should have any reason to think that.

"[Y]ou would have ... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:
"[Y]ou would have to consider Iran to be a serious threat. No serious person should have any reason to think that."

Oh my. Where do we start, hyperbolist?

I want to go on, but have zero time. But I cannot believe you just said that (and I have no idea what you were responding to, to be fair).

Tom,Mac I... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Tom,

Mac I'm confused. There are incentives- achieve this goal or that and receive compensation from the feds, that is unacceptable. TAX incentives- Tax breaks for companies who are actively working for renewable energy (Take less so they reinvest in R&D) so forth.

The problem for moving forward with new sources of energy is that right now oil and NG are becoming cheap again. It's one thing to invest in alternative energy when oil is $100/bl, but it's quite another when it's $60 and dropping. So how does the government stimulate development of new sources of energy when oil a NG are cheap? Obama has talked about a carbon cap and trade scheme that makes using coal, oil and NG much more expensive and transfers that money to energy produced from sources like wind and solar. The problem is that such a scheme can't be implemented when the economy is in trouble. Yet we still need to move forward with renewable energy development because oil and gas won't be cheap or even available forever. Thus, there needs to be programs in place that shift back and forth depending on the state of the economy. When the economy is strong we would have carbon cap and trade, but when it's week we would have to some kind government credits for renewable energy development. The shifts could be gradual.

So here's another problem with carbon cap and trade schemes. Assume the U.S. implements such a scheme. Likely we'll pay more for energy overall and as renewable sources are developed the demand for oil drops and so does it's global price. That's not a problem within the U.S., but if nations like China and India don't have similar carbon cap and trade schemes in place they gain a cheap energy advantage in addition to their cheap labor advantage. How then will any energy intensive U.S. company compete with competitors in China? The carbon cap and trade scheme must also be applied to products imported into the U.S. Money collected on products coming in is used to lower the price of similar products being exported. Implementing such a scheme requires international agreement and that could be a tough sell to China and India. Nevertheless, that needs to be in place before we implement a U.S. carbon cap and trade scheme. Otherwise, the U.S. will shed jobs at an even higher rate that in the past.

They pose a threat to the U... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

They pose a threat to the United States how, Steve? Once the troops in Iraq are withdrawn over the next few years they will have no Americans to shoot at. Their government is stable and interested in self-preservation.

The radicals in Pakistan are surely more worrisome than the Ayatollahs in Iran.

OregonMuse, for yo... (Below threshold)
OregonMuse, for you to believe that, you would have to consider Iran to be a serious threat. No serious person should have any reason to think that.

I'll assume you're not being deliberately obtuse and clarify:

Or, if that's not obvious enough for you, try this: "in any negotiations between Iran and the United States, Iran's thug-in-chief will roll Obama like a drunken wino."

oops, try again:<bloc... (Below threshold)

oops, try again:

OregonMuse, for you to believe that, you would have to consider Iran to be a serious threat. No serious person should have any reason to think that.

I'll assume you're not being deliberately obtuse and clarify:

"in any negotiations between Iran and the United States, Iran's thug-in-chief will be looking at Obama like a Rottweiler eying a pork chop."

Or, if that's not obvious enough for you, try this: "in any negotiations between Iran and the United States, Iran's thug-in-chief will roll Obama like a drunken wino."




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