The Corner

Talking to Iran

In an interview in the FT a week or so ago, which (to my shame) I’ve only recently seen, here’s what Henry Kissinger had to say:

“I have advocated that the United States have comprehensive negotiations with Iran … We need to have an open discussion of all differences.”

This, in his mind, requires Iran to decide “whether it is a nation or a cause. If Iran thinks of itself as a nation or can be brought to do so, it can be accorded a respected place in the international system.”

The distinction between “nation” and “cause” is key here. My belief is that, at its core, Iran is the former, not the latter, and the more that that fact (if it is such) can be used as something to destabilize rather than reinforce the dictatorship the better.

Meanwhile, here’s Gallup:

Large majorities of Democrats and independents, and even half of Republicans, believe the president of the United States should meet with the leaders of countries that are considered enemies of the United States. Overall, 67% of Americans say this kind of diplomacy is a good idea. This is according to a Gallup Panel survey of a representative national sample of 1,013 Americans, conducted May 19-21.Although separate Gallup polling shows that few Americans view Iran favorably, and that Iran leads Americans’ list of top U.S. enemies in the world, the new Gallup survey also finds high public support for presidential-level meetings between the United States and Iran, specifically. About 6 in 10 Americans (59%) think it would be a good idea for the president of the United States to meet with the president of Iran. This includes about half of Republicans, a majority of independents, and most Democrats.

I have a hunch that if the arrangements were handled properly (i.e. without mumbled cap-in-hand apologies, sackcloth-and-ashes Carterian “humility,” or, clearly, acceptance of any preconditions set by the Iranian dictatorship), the mullahs would relish the arrival of a confident, open, American president to Teheran about as much as Poland’s Communists enjoyed the newly enthroned Pope John Paul’s first trip to that country.

Sure it’s only a hunch, but fortune, sometimes, favors the bold.

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