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Recent detention of several Iranian-Americans with ties to various think tanks here in the United States by the Iranian Ministry of Information comes at a time when the negative publicity has emboldened those pressing for forceful regime change and will undoubtedly strengthen the Western case for passing yet another set of debilitating sanctions against Iran for refusing to give up its legal right to Uranium enrichment at the U.N. Security Council.

Whether those detained are guilty of the serious charges leveled against them is beyond the scope of this writing. Latest reports seem to indicate that the arrests were probably unwarranted. But in order to do an objective analysis and make any sense of this latest episode, one has to consider the entire chain of contributing factors that have consistently raised the pressure on both sides to engage in such ‘bad behavior’ and react in ways that unfortunately leads down the slippery and ever precarious path of confrontation.

Those keen and unbiased observers closely following the developments between the two sides are quick to realize that the declared policy of regime change [1] is the common denominator at the core of all these events. Neo-Conservatives within the Bush administration led by V.P. Dick Cheney buoyed by their quick success toppling Saddam’s regime in 2003, missed a major opportunity by rebuffing an initiative from Tehran for a wide-ranging dialogue. As a direct result of that failure and the subsequent descent of Iraq into civil war, those hawks not already running for cover from a barrage of misconduct charges leveled against them, are scrambling to find other means to reestablish that U.S. leverage under far less favorable circumstances via less transparent covert actions [2].

Top among the priorities of any regime anywhere on the planet including the United States is self-preservation. If the government in China were to declare regime change as official foreign policy toward the United States, you could probably expect some Chinese-American scholars traveling between the two countries be subject to detentions and interrogation, especially if they worked with government supported think tanks and policy institutes in China.

Coercive diplomacy is not achieved through economic sanctions and threats of military action when the ultimate objective is seen as regime change. It is time that Washington gave up this unwise policy and showed some willingness to take yes for an answer. Only when the diplomacy of gun-slinging and the rhetoric of regime change are taken off the table can we truly expect a change of behavior from the other side.

[1] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/13504792-68cf-11d9-9183-00000e2511c8.html

[2] http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/bush_authorizes.html

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Daniel M Pourkesali is an Engineer with an Aerospace company in Northern Virginia specializing in development and manufacturing of flight dynamics, engineering and control systems.

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