17 March, 2006

Negotiations With Iran

Strange as it may seem amidst an escalating 27-year war of words and weapons, it looks like Iran and the U.S. will sit down to talks on Iraq. Putting our hawk hat on for a moment, we can't escape a hinky feeling of deja vu with the Paris peace talks with North Vietnam in the '70s. So very much is different here that we'll put that concern in the closet for now. But it's there. Knocking. Loudly.

Chester has a rant on how the AP and MSM are twisting the news - wanting desperately to see an Iraqi civil war that isn't there while painting Iran as the wise, aloof, peace-loving Swiss. Which is ludicrous of course.

The talks will be limited to Iraq, with nukes specifically off the table at the U.S.'s request. We're not sure how that's possible - unless there are other nuke talks already going on that aren't public. Stratfor is opining (sorry, no deep links available to non-subscribers) that talks with Iran were probably already going on through back channels and that Iraq was the only issue Iran was ever really concerned with all along - their shell-game nuclear weapons program and apocalyptic rhetoric being simply bargaining chips. Even if the nukes-as-bargaining chip idea were true (which we doubt), it doesn't address the little wiping Israel off the map thing, nor counter concerns that Iran is in control of the timing. Nor put a stop to their nuke development.

Stratfor further observes that negotiations with Iran will likely center on the shape of a future Iraqi military - one small enough to prevent menace to Iran yet large enough to defend itself from attack and keep insurgencies in check. Not easy. Operation Swarmer helps immensely in convincing us (and hopefully the Iranians) that the U.S. is in the driver's seat here.

Talk is cheap. We do not trust the current Iranian leadership - on anything. We question why the U.S. is agreeing so readily to one-on-one talks in an apparent departure from its stance on North Korea. The answer lies, we suspect in effectively sharing a border with Iran via what's now a semi-owned client state (Iraq) and having no other good options on Iran that don't lead to Armageddon.

The talks could buy time in which internal opposition could organize within Iran. Unfortunately, it also buys time for the nukes program. Western intelligence on Iran's state of nuclear readiness (ranging from now to ten years out) is beyond ridiculous. It's worse than guessing. Not even as good as intelligence on Saddam's Iraqi WMD programs, which was better than many give credit for after a decade of UN inspections. We just don't know... and that gives Iran the advantage.