So, this cartoon got me thinking:
This is a pretty accurate portrayal of the nature of the debate over the shape of future talks between Iran and the United States. But as I have mentioned in the past, if there are to be negotiations between the United States and Iran, the U.S. ought to welcome wide-ranging discussions over a number of issues, and should not just confine itself to talking about the state of Iran’s nuclear program. If the United States discusses issues like human rights, and puts pressure on the Islamic regime to conform to international standards concerning political and civil liberties, it will not only help save the lives and limbs of pro-democracy demonstrators, and other Iranians who are working for a more liberalized sociopolitical environment inside of Iran, but it will also create fissure points in the regime, points that can be exploited in the future to help bring about positive change in Iran. Just as talking about the shameful human rights record of the Soviet Union helped de-legitimize the Soviet regime, and the Warsaw Pact as a whole, shining a huge international spotlight on the human rights abuses going on in Iran can help de-legitimize the regime, further ostracize it, force it in uncomfortable negotiating positions, and help bring about change on the political scene in Iran.
The question, of course, is whether the Obama Administration will finally move to take advantage of the opportunity to put pressure on, and isolate the regime. Thus far, alas, it hasn’t.