WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing Obama administration officials.
Iranian officials have insisted the talks not begin until after the November 6 U.S. election because they want to know which U.S. president they will be negotiating with, a senior administration official told the Times.
The Times said the agreement was the result of secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Barack Obama's term in 2009.
The White House declined to comment on the Times report when contacted by Reuters.
This cheap political stunt won't work because the Iranians will not play the game. This is the best the administration could do, so they dropped it on the public the day before the final debate on foreign affairs.
Waiting until after the elections is a smart move by the Iranians because it tells the world they are not as stupid as the Obama administration believes. They are not going to aid his re-election with this blatant political proposal.
It goes without saying that every US administration should be willing to talk with any other government if substantive issues are at stake. That's a given. But there must be reasonable terms at issue and some advantageous reason for the US to change its foreign policy initiatives.
Let's look at this story objectively and from the perspective of the three major players, Iran, Israel, and the USA to look for who might benefit and how:
From Iran's perspective, anything that takes the pressure off their continued development of nuclear weapons is a good thing. The Obama administration's overtures are just such a diversion. International sanctions are working against Iran as is evidenced by the increasing shortages and demands of the Iranian people that an end be put to these sanctions. In other words, the Iranian people are pressuring their government to have more consideration for their own well-being than their rabid desire to incinerate Israel. But so long as the Iranian government is confident it has strict authority over its people, there will be little to no incentive to halt development of its nuclear capability.
From Israel's perspective, this would be the worst possible time to even consider giving up sanctions that are having an effect in exchange for promises that can be withdrawn at a moment's notice. Let's say that US-Iranian "talks" resulted in an accord that required sanctions to be lifted in exchange for a freeze of the Iranian nuclear weapons project. Aside from the extreme difficulty of maintaining legitimate monitoring of Iranian nuclear weapon development, giving up effective international sanctions that were extremely difficult and time-consuming to enact in exchange for a promise that could be withdrawn at the whim of the Iranians (all they'd have to do is boot out any inspectors) amounts to a capitulation at best and an exercise of extreme naiveté at worst. Re-establishing sanctions, even if possible, would set back the impact of sanctions for months, possibly years after Iranians had stocked up on sanctioned items. The bottom line for Israel is that this approach offers no long term solution and might even make the long term outlook worse!
From the perspective of the US, what is to be gained other than the appearance of having done something to ease Iranian-Israeli tensions for a limited time? This is not a long-term or permanent solution to the problem. It does not offer any reasonable hope that the Iranian government will give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons and and effective delivery system. It removes the important effectiveness of sanctions against the Iranian government that has increased internal dissent in Iran. Is there anything, other than a possible bump in the President's poll numbers, that can be expected of this overture? Frankly, in terms of the interests of the people of the United States, anything that helps this President get re-elected works against the interests of the American people and our constitutional republic.
So from every perspective, as the proposal has been characterized, it is a naive effort to create an "October surprise" for the real purpose of enhancing Obama's chances for re-election. In reality, this is a failure and constitutes bad policy for each of the three key players.
Putting a temporary halt to the Iranian nuclear weapon development project simply punts the issue into the laps of the younger generations. Haven't we done enough to our younger generations through strapping them with unprecedented debt and social programs that are insolvent? Real leadership attacks problems and solves them so that younger generations have an opportunity for a better life. This administration simply heaps greater burdens on today's youth simply to curry favor with certain electoral demographics. This is Chicago-style politics at its worst.
If this proposal has no real benefit to any of the three key players, why, then, has the administration taken this approach for their pre-election "October surprise"?
Well, possibly because earlier reports might be true that the Benghazi tragedy may really have been the consequences of a pre-arranged plan with the Muslim Brotherhood to kidnap Ambassador Stevens that went terribly wrong. The purpose of that kidnapping? It would have provided a perfect "October surprise" as the President negotiated to release Stevens, possibly in exchange for the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman involved with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The rumor suggested a visit to the White House by members of the Muslim Brotherhood was used to make the arrangements for the kidnapping. This would also explain two other puzzling aspects of Benghazi-gate: (1) why there was no beefed up security in the compound where the ambassador was staying and, (2) why there was so much effort to divert attention to the video as the cause of the "protest" that was claimed to have gotten out of control (despite there being no protest at the time).
It is impossible to say that the above scenario is implausible because apparently there is no limit to what this administration will do to try to retain its power over the American people.
Bob Webster, a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s) is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.