Engaging Iran

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 17, 2010

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It would appear that the Obama Administration’s efforts to establish a dialogue with Iran have run aground. Instead of acknowledging that any efforts to engage have failed thus far, the Administration chooses instead to offer us rationales and excuses that make no sense whatsoever:

. . . administration officials say, the biggest benefit of Mr. Obama’s engagement policy now is not dialogue or understanding with adversaries, but simply a defusing of a worldwide view that the United States is part of the problem, a demonstration that the problem is Tehran’s intransigence, not Washington’s pique.

“What the president has achieved is that he has outed Iran,” a senior administration official said Friday. He said Iran, by refusing to respond positively, had exposed itself as uninterested in a better relationship with the United States.

That is now the central point of the new White House outlook on engagement, and it extends, administration officials say, to Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba as well. Mr. Obama, for instance, was criticized for shaking hands with Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, at a summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year, but White House officials say that gesture has helped with Latin American views of Mr. Chávez’s anti-American rhetoric.

I am astonished that anyone thinks it was necessary to “out” Iran, or for that matter, to “out” Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba. There really wasn’t anything left for these countries to do in order to “out” themselves as being outside of the mainstream of the international community. Everyone is well aware that these countries are pariahs, and quite frankly, those countries that publicly deny that Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba are outside of the mainstream of the international community will not be persuaded anytime soon–if ever–that they are wrong in their denials. Rather, they will go on maintaining what they wish to maintain, because it is in their interest to publicly do so. The Obama Administration’s sales jobs won’t change that fact.

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