Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
This morning I tried to put most of this material up as a comment reply to Pirouz's remarks/question but Typepad ate it. So I apologize for the delay. The links to the actual Iranian fax are below the post.
In 2003 the Iranians, through Swiss diplomatic channels, made an offer to largely cooperate with the US in exchange for normalization of relations. While there is no way to know if they were offering in good faith, or if the offer had been accepted if they would have then acted in good faith going forward, the major issue is that the Bush (43) Administration mishandled the offer. In fact the offer only came to light after Flynt Leverett, a senior director on the National Security Staff at the time, wrote a NY Times' op-ed about it and Trita Parsi, who had been a staffer for Congressman Ney (of Abromoff scandal fame), who had been one of the pass throughs for the offer as he both spoke Farsi and was highly interested and involved in matters pertaining to the Middle East, went public with the story as well. Secretary Rice denied ever having knowledge of Iran's offer, which is (partially) what led to Leverett's coming forward and a somewhat public spat between them.
It also raises some interesting questions about the why of exactly what Iran is doing with its nuclear energy program. Turn the sand table around in 2003 and what you have is an Iran that had successfully provided the US some cooperation immediately after 9-11, suddenly faced with US troops conducting combat operations to the East and West of them, with two nuclear armed states to the East that were either American allies or cooperating with the US, a regional competitor to the NW in Turkey, a regional religious and petro-economy competitor to the SW in Saudi Arabia, and an openly hostile (poorly kept secretly) armed Israel to the West. Facing rejection and therefore continued isolation, is it so surprising that not only would Iran want to develop a nuclear energy capacity to demonstrate national pride, but that some Iranians would want to pursue a nuclear deterrent? As we may never really know what the Iranians intended, only that the Bush (43) Administration rejected the overture in a rather perfunctory manner, we have an excellent example of how today's solutions can become tomorrow's problems, especially if you do not have a coherent strategy and plan for dealing with an ongoing problem. The whole point of isolating Iran - diplomatically and economically - was to bring them to the table. When it, coupled with the reality of the post 9-11 world, actually worked, the Bush Administration was like the dog that caught the car: it had no idea what to do with it. So it let go of the bumper.
The links to the actual fax offer are below:
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.