How NOT To Press The Advantage With Iran

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 30, 2009

Dan Drezner reads the Leveretts on Iranian-American relations so that the rest of us don’t have to. Like Drezner, I don’t know how the Leveretts were able to convince the editors at the New York Times that their proposals for negotiating with Iran are good ones. And like Drezner, I have no idea what makes the Leveretts think that a grand alliance between the United States and Iran could serve the same purpose that the grand alliance between the United States and China–opened by the Nixon Administration–did.

I will add anew my call–repeated again in the Arena–for talks with Iran that feature discussions on the state of human and political rights in Iran. As I state:

. . . At first blush, this would not seem to be a very realpolitik approach, but in fact, it is. Showing how Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and repeatedly emphasizing Iran’s human rights failures in public and during negotiations, would help demonstrate and highlight the fundamental illegitimacy of the Islamic regime, much as emphasizing the failures of the Soviet Union in the realm of human rights helped demonstrate the illegitimacy of the Soviet regime for the world to see. Illegitimate regimes that have been called out as such in public lose massive amounts of bargaining power in negotiations concerning a variety of topics, including human rights, and pressuring Iran on the issue of human rights will help undermine the Iranian negotiating strategy on the issue of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism worldwide, interference in Iraq, and other issues as well.

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