--Reframing U.S.-Iran relations as peaceful scientific collaboration
Iranian domestic legitimacy rests partially on the option of developing nuclear capabilities. Iran's nuclear policy acts as a rallying point for internal cohesion. Reframe Iran-U.S. relations to one of peaceful scientific and health research collaboration, taking care to emphasize Iranian past and present contributions and collaborations with the U.S.
Give President Rouhani a fresh rallying point, highlighting Persian history and collective identity in its peaceful pursuits of science, engineering, technology, medicine and mathematics, and reduce reliance on Iranian nuclear policy for domestic legitimacy. Continuing negotiations would include these peaceful collaborations as additional bargaining points.
--Banking channels and medical supplies
Offer to provide third country banks a waiver against sanctions for facilitating transactions involved in medicines and medical supplies, and/or designate certain U.S. and Iranian financial institutions as open channels for humanitarian transactions. In exchange, Iran must allow consistent international monitoring of its medical enrichment facilities.
Most of these action items would be non-starters, right? President Obama would never initiate any of them because, after all, the minority of Congress would howl and call him a treasonous coward. Congressional hawks would light up, hair on fire, bullhorns set on sonic warp kill. Peace-loving people would fear the dripping scorn.
If we continue to see the pusillanimity more afraid of knee-jerks in Congress than of allowing Iran to either get nukes or get attacked, we will watch as helpless as June bugs on our backs while we drift into an ever-uglier world with more nuclear weapons in more hands -- or into a stupendously reckless war of grand bloodbath proportions with Iran, war that is completely avoidable.
You do not need to conduct a multivariate regression analysis to know that successful negotiation requires both carrots and sticks. Hardliners are stuck on sticks, both violent and economic, and even low and no-cost carrots drive them "round the bend." Fine. Let them go. Constructive conflict management is the new realpolitik.
Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and teaches in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.
Erin E. Niemela is PeaceVoice Research Director and a Master's Candidate of the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.