Friday, September 20, 2013


"Three months ago, my platform of “prudence and hope” gained a broad, popular mandate. Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. I’m committed to fulfilling my promises to my people, including my pledge to engage in constructive interaction with the world.... We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.... The unilateral approach, which glorifies brute force and breeds violence, is clearly incapable of solving issues we all face, such as terrorism and extremism. I say all because nobody is immune to extremist-fueled violence, even though it might rage thousands of miles away. Americans woke up to this reality 12 years ago. My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East. At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program. To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved".
Hassan Rouhani, "Why Iran seeks constructive engagement." The Washington Post. 19 September 2013, in
"Iran is on course to develop a nuclear bomb within six months and time has run out for further negotiations, a senior Israeli minister said. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Iran still believed it had room for maneuver in dealing with world powers, and that unless it faced a credible threat of U.S. military action, it would not stop its nuclear activities. "There is no more time to hold negotiations," Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in an interview with the Israel Hayom daily published on Friday. The United States and its allies suspect Iran is working towards a nuclear weapons capability despite Tehran's insistence that its atomic program has only peaceful aims. During four years of international negotiations over its disputed nuclear program, during which U.N.-sponsored sanctions have hit Iran's economy hard, Steinitz said the Islamic Republic had only improved its capabilities. "If the Iranians continue to run, in another half a year they will have bomb capability," he said. Israel has dismissed overtures to the West by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and his pledge in an interview on U.S. television that Iran would never develop nuclear weapons. "One must not be fooled by the Iranian president's fraudulent words," Netanyahu's office said in a statement on Thursday. "The Iranians are spinning in the media so that the centrifuges can keep on spinning."'
Ari Rabinovitch & Alison Williams, "No time left for negotiations with Iran: Israeli minister." Reuters. 19 September 2013, in
The upcoming annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York next week opens up the possibility of their being direct, pourparler between the Americans and the Persian Presidents and one presumes their staffs. The chief topic of discussion being of course the ongoing and currently deadlocked negotiations about Persia's alleged nuclear weapons programme. Reading between the lines of the new Persian President's statement in the Washington Post, it would seem that the there now appears to be room for substantive negotiations between the Western Powers and Teheran. How plausible in fact is this supposition? Based upon the mots in the article in the Post, the answer would be: very plausible. The only problem is that if one carefully examines the language employed by the admittedly moderate new Persian leader, then a certain degree of ambiguity emerges. Especially once one gets into the fraught area of Persian 'identity' and 'dignity' as viz the following comments by the Persian President indicate:
"To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world 1."
As the always wise David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security states in an 'appeal' to the Persian leadership, and in particular the new Persian President:
"If President Rouhani wants the world to believe Iran will not build nuclear weapons in the future, the Iranian government should reconsider its blanket denials of ever seeking nuclear weapons in the past. As demonstrated by the South African experience, transparency regarding past nuclear weapons development is integral to solving the nonproliferation concerns related to the Iranian nuclear program and creating the level of confidence and cooperation necessary for the lifting of sanctions and the peaceful development of the Iranian nuclear program" 2.
Personally I hope that negotiations between either directly between the USA and Persia or between the Western Powers and Persia will produce results in the very near future. As the results of any Israeli solo military strike does not in the least inspire confidence of true success. And the diplomatic and other fallout of an American military strike on Persian leaves a great deal to be desired. Unfortunately, the past history of Persian mendacity in matters relating to these negotiations does not inspire a great deal of confidence that the necessary level of transparency and trust will emerge from the talks. Notwithstanding the evident good faith of the new Persian leader and the fact that the sanctions regime has caused x amount of economic pain to the Persian economy 3. As was noted by British diplomat sixty years ago:
"Although the Persians display a veneer of Western civilization, the character still derives from their long history of autocratic rule and from their Islamic background. Among those chief traits are an intense national pride, extending at times to overwhelming unabashed dishonesty; a fatalistic outlook on life and indifference to suffering; and a friendly and hospitable nature. The ordinary Persian is vain, unprincipled, eager to promise what he is incapable or had no intention of performing, wedded to procrastination and lacking in perseverance and energy. Above all he loves intrigue and readily employs prevarication and dishonesty whenever there is a even remote possibility of personal gain 4."
1. President Rouhani, op. cit.
2. David Albright & Christina Walrond, "An Appeal to Iran." Institute for Science and International Security. 19 September 2013, in p://
3. On the ills that the Persian economy is suffering from, see: Najmeh Bozorgmehr, "Iran's cabinet promises reforms to kick-start ailing economy." The Financial Times. 20 September 2013, in
4. Memorandum titled: "The Persian Character", is to be found in: Ervand Abrahamian. The Coup: 1953, The CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian [Persian] Relations. (2013), pp. 104-105.


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