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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/11/12

The Unlikely Path to Peace With Iran

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Message Stephen Elsberry

Heaping supplemental punishments on Iran--such as the legislation passed last week--is redundant when the current crop of stifling sanctions are accomplishing their ends just fine-namely, preventing the price of oil from falling too much and prompting Iranian military exercises thereby affording the United States a chance to prepare for a clash that will never happen. All the sound and fury notwithstanding, Western military officials, according to Peter Apps, perceive Iran's "current saber-rattling" to be "more about moving markets and trying to give the West second thoughts over the ever-tightening oil sanctions." To Reva Bhalla of Stratfor "both sides are indulging in theater. They know what they are doing and they have too much to lose from an actual confrontation." Truly, we are witnessing political histrionics at their finest and one could be forgiven for thinking that the two sides could be colluding-especially knowing that the sanctions are bolstering Iran's state-run businesses to the detriment of its private sector.

Leaving aside speculation of any backstage chicanery, it's plain that the U.S. and Iran aren't exactly at daggers drawn and the star actors would willingly wrap up this sterling performance. Behind the arras, the players might be on the cusp of utterly burying the hatchet. In May Amir Oren hinted at an intriguing development in the diplomatic discussion indicating an overall thaw in hostilities-a "warming of relations alongside enrichment." The significance of this cannot be overstated since hitherto there was only the possibility of a deal affirming Iran's right to enrichment but without hope of a grander, far-reaching rapprochement. Regrettably, this latent breakthrough may fizzle because eager as Iran is to re-establish amicable ties with America, Washington is bent on waging Cold War against China. Crippling Iran is a vital part of that campaign which means peace is not in the offing so long as this moronic policy of global dominance prevails.

Another obstacle hindering the Obama administration from having a historical 'Nixon goes to China' moment is the kind of reconciliation Iran has in mind-a settlement of equals. Former Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Kharrazi in an interview provided insight into Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini's thinking on diplomatic realignment: "the Leadership has set the terms and conditions and [Khameini] is not against dà tente between Iran and any other country, even the U.S. What he opposes is resumption of ties based on pre-Revolution arrangements" Iran-U.S. relations should be based on mutual respect."

In other words, Tehran desires a relationship with the U.S. that isn't based on subservience as it was before 1979 when the puppet Shah Pahlavi reigned. Indeed, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's National Security Council, sees Washington as actively "trying to turn Tehran from an enemy into a supportive partner, and to achieve this, to change the current regime by whatever means." We all--including Patrushev himself--might assume this transformation to mean the overthrow of the Islamic Republic but through his wording Patrushev has unwittingly stumbled upon something else entirely. If Washington is resolved to get Iran on its side "by whatever means," perhaps what Washington cleverly intends to accomplish in all its clamoring for regime change is for voluntary change within the regime.

Why put on an encore of the 1953 coup against Iran's independent-minded Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh which engendered so much enmity and backlash when a much smoother route-one that appeals to both nations--presents itself? The course forward is to be found in Alireza Nader's prediction of progress in the P5+1 talks. Nader gathers that Khameini would gladly make concessions over the nuclear program if the negotiations also brought "an end to the long conflict with the West on the Islamic Republic's terms. This translates into recognition of Khamenei's regime as the legitimate government of Iran and acceptance of its role as the premier power in the Persian Gulf." Washington's politicos would undoubtedly balk at the latter of those terms per the Carter Doctrine. The requested recognition, on the other hand, isn't unthinkable if certain hawkish persons become enticed by effortlessly turning an enemy to a fast friend through the 'soft kill' option.

Thomas P.M. Bartnett envisions the fall of Iran's regime happening in the event of recognition, explaining thus: "To me, the soft-kill is the detente here, just like it was with the Soviets. Open up ties, admit the regime is valid, blow off the nuke pursuit (which grants Iran nothing in terms of leverage with anybody--including already nuked-up Israel), and let the connectivity that results do the rest in terms of regime delegitimizing from within leading to eventual democratization." This outcome doubtless would have hawks salivating as the regime they despise is replaced by a pliant client state. Yet the thing about the 'soft kill' is that the regime, new-found legitimacy in hand, would find plenty of incentive to moderate itself, reform from within, and remain all the same. Though it isn't what Bartnett imagined, this is the likeliest result of his plan, for even the Green movement opposition stops at toppling the ayatollahs.

Clearly, recognizing Iran's government, mending the fences, and adopting non-interventionism in their internal affairs thereafter is the most favorable path to take. It is up to the Iranians themselves to effect their political destiny. If the form of government they select is different than ours, it's not our concern and should it prove unsatisfactory Iranians alone are in the best position to alter or abolish it; anyone else attempting that would sow only chaos. America should lead by the example of liberty and change the outlook of other governments that way. So let's implement the 'soft kill', revel in the fellowship that's bound to follow, and laugh heartily to see yet another of the hawks' schemes explode in their faces as did all the rest of their imperial intrigues.





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Stephen Elsberry is an independent, freelance journalist from Connecticut.
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The Unlikely Path to Peace With Iran

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