USAT flags what seems to be a bit of little-appreciated history: Three years ago, Iran proposed wide-ranging negotiations, including over the nuclear issue. The Bush administration, according to one national-security official involved at the time, refused to talk.I can't find the flagging in the three stories USAToday currently has on their website, but the link from Umansky leads to Council on Foreign Relations Interview with Brookings Scholar (and CIA and Bush II National Security Council Veteran) Flynt L. Leverett. The letter referenced was sent over as an unclassified fax (!) via the Swiss government in 2003 from the much more reformist President Khatami, and it seems to have been basically ignored. This chunk from the Leverett interview got me thinking:
Ultimately the president is, on this issue, very, very resistant to the idea of doing a deal, even a deal that would solve the nuclear problem. You don’t do a deal that would effectively legitimate this regime that he considers fundamentally illegitimate. I think that’s the real issue.
And he considers it illegitimate because of what? Because it overthrew the Shah in 1979?
No, in the president’s view you have this unelected set of clerical authorities, epitomized by the supreme leader, who are thwarting the clearly expressed will of the Iranian people for a more open, participatory political system, for more political, social, intellectual, and cultural freedom—all this kind of thing. And so it’s a system that in Bush’s mind is fundamentally illegitimate. It’s a system that needs to change, and he is not going to do a deal that lets this regime off the hook, even if that deal would solve our problem with them over the nuclear issue. [bold emphases mine; italics = interviewer's question.]
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen