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29 July 2008

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hassani

The Iranians sent a faxed offer of comprehensive negotiations in 2003 - and were snubbed. They have repeatedly offered to place additional restrictions on their nuclear program far beyond the legal requirements of the NPT -- offers that were endorsed by international and American experts as addressing even the hypothetical concerns of weapons proliferation -- but were ignored.

How much clearer does this have to be? The US DOES NOT WANT to resolve this issue with Iran. Rather, the US wants to keep this conflict alive as a pretext. No amount of Iranian concessions will therefore suffice.

William R. Cumming

Some Washington insiders are telling others that Gates appointment and in particular confirmation as SECDEF (overlooking past CIA screwups) was with the understanding he would oppose any war with Iran and resign rather than participate? Since this is a blog I pass on what I have heard. I am definitely not a Washington insider (live 145 miles away) but have heard same. Gates does seem to be highly realistic if not motivated completely by policy objectives to make sure that a depleted and overstretched DOD ground force organization is not faced with a major regional war. Not sure where or if the Navy and Air Force (the remote warfare types) stand? Once we go pilotless completely in next 50 years they will even be less restrained by the audit of war as Liddell Hart used to speak. The SECDEF is definitely experiencing that audit now even if the auditors have not reached the White House yet. In this case the auditors are the voters. Unless postponed audit now scheduled for the 4th of November.

J

Colonel,

there are many who worry that israelis will pose as iranians and strike at one of our floating flotilla so it will give bush/cheney/petraeus all the incentive to 'execute' the already in place strike plans. the israelis have been trying every which way to 'goad' our u.s. (from the white house on down to the congress on down to the jcs) with their parade of israeli govt. types (israeli def. min. barak is currently in d.c. trying to twist u.s. arms into doing israel's dirty work for them) keep trying to goad and goad and goad with their half-truths and concocted deliberate lies. israel and its govt. personas like barak could care less how many americans die to achieve their israeli aims, after all its u.s. mil personnel, not their precious idf bullies.

many do not put it past israel trying to pull a uss liberty part ii.

Patrick Lang

hassani

Send us some documentation on that offer in 2003. pl

peg

i have no idea if that 2003 fax about an Iran Peace Proposal is true, but here are some links (the pdf of the fax is in the PBS link)


Rice Denies Seeing Iranian Proposal in '03
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020702408.html

Iran the key in US change on Iraq
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK11Ak04.html

Iran Proposal to U.S. Offered Peace with Israel
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33348

The "Grand Bargain" Fax: A Missed Opportunity?
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/themes/grandbargain.html

Lysander

I would advise the Iranians to stall, lie, make promises, delay, distract and misdirect. Try to use Russia and China as a shield for as long as possible.

And all the while, enrich enrich, enrich. And in between enriching, enrich some more. As fast as possible. As much as possible.

Of course, do not give any overt excuse. Let the admin think things are ok in Iraq. Avoid bombastic talk and threats. Do not withdraw from the NPT. Always speak of your desire to negotiate, your willingness to befriend the U.S.

Then, when you are finished enriching, you can do whatever the *&%# you want.

The "giving your enemy everything he wants so he doesn't attack you" approach didn't work for Saddam and isn't likely to work for you.

OTOH, if the U.S. offers fully normalized relations in exchange for halting enrichment, you may want to consider it. I doubt such an offer will be forthcoming any time soon, however.

b

Offer in 2003, Kessler in WaPo:

In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue

Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity

Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.
...
Trita Parsi, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he obtained it from Iranian sources. The Washington Post confirmed its authenticity with Iranian and former U.S. officials.
...
The document lists a series of Iranian aims for the talks, such as ending sanctions, full access to peaceful nuclear technology and a recognition of its "legitimate security interests." Iran agreed to put a series of U.S. aims on the agenda, including full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, "decisive action" against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending "material support" for Palestinian militias and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document also laid out an agenda for negotiations, with possible steps to be achieved at a first meeting and the development of negotiating road maps on disarmament, terrorism and economic cooperation.

Cieran

Colonel:

Send us some documentation on that offer in 2003. pl

Google "Flynt Leverett" and you should be able to find plenty of documentation on the topic. The WaPo covered this story pretty well, and of course, there's Leverett's famous redacted op-ed piece from the NYT.

PBS's Frontline had some excellent coverage of this in one of their episodes on the run-up to the Iraq war. From their "Showdown with Iran" website:

A few weeks after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a strange document arrived in Washington. It came as a fax, on plain paper, from the Swiss ambassador in Tehran.

The fax laid out the terms for a "grand bargain" -- in essence a peace treaty between the U.S. and Iran. It put everything on the table: Iran's support for terrorism, its nuclear program, even its hostility towards Israel. In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, an end to sanctions and a promise never to push for regime change.

All of the Frontline episodes on the Middle East have been remarkably good. And they can be watched on-line at PBS's website. The "Showdown with Iran" episode's interview with Iranian VP Abtahi is especially poignant, given subsequent events.

John Shreffler

Col., here's a link to a PDF of the Iranian proposal as transmitted through the Swiss. Flynt Leverett, who saw the thing at the time while he was at State, has a big discussion of it at the CFR website.

jonst

hassani wrote: "How much clearer does this have to be? The US DOES NOT WANT to resolve this issue with Iran. Rather, the US wants to keep this conflict alive as a pretext. No amount of Iranian concessions will therefore suffice."

Perhaps it would be better to not mistake the "US" from a dying, and much (unprecedentedly so) disliked regime. And yes, "regime" is the right name for this bunch. Iran should know it does NOT have to make material, vital, concessions now. Though it may in the future. As the US may have to in the future. Iran, right now, has to stall for time. Till Bush is gone. You have a lot of people, the majority, I dare say, who, for various reasons, would oppose,strongly, an attack on Iran. You have a significant group of important people, who, all things equal, might be talked into attacking Iran. But not now. For selfish reasons. They know their forces are exhausted, and exposed. Which, I might add, should not be mistaken for lacking lethality.

This country is looking for every reason to turn its back a bit on the world, and turn inward with an eye towards healing its own festering issues.

There is plenty Iran can do, and perhaps is doing, to aid the forces in this country, and in the world, who do NOT side with Bush. And such things would not, I repeat, given the short time frame with for Bush, require material concessions.

Jon T.

Colonel, Do you know if The Pope has close personal advisors who can be emmissaries to the Israelis? To the Israeli power elite, and spiritual leaders both.
Pope Benedict, if I remember rightly, has surprised some by the "Middle Path" he has walked. I like your suggestion to the Iranians to approach The Pope. The more 'extreme' Israeli's and American's probably won't like or buy it. That will be their legacy entirely and not ours. Thank you.

Curious

The things that Iranian has to get:

1. they have to play global media game and public opinion. They can't just issue diplomatic statement and expect the world press to air their statement.

2. Even Obama administration cannot completely solve their global trade/fight with Israel. They simply have to do most of the hard work themselves (international relationship, trade, economic development, diplomacy, technological independence, etc)

3. Israel will continue to push to eliminate its geopolitical rivals one way or another. That's just their game. Iran simply has to face that fact and push back. US domestic politics will forever be pro-Israel.

basically, if Iran wants the world to hear their case and have their international relationship not dictated by Israel and corporate global media, they have to go out and play as well. They can't expect the world is fair.

The model would be UAE & South Korea. The oil/religious economic socialism experiment is over. It is not sustainable in the long run. National economy and technological independence dictate that global trade and diplomatic relationship are necessary.

Kieran

I believe that this is the relevant document re:2003 negotiations. It seems that a senior Swiss diplomat prepared, in close consultation with the top Iranian leadership, a proposal for comprehensive talks with the US, and then passed it on to the State Department.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/us_iran_1roadmap.pdf

The Iranians are playing a different game now. The core leadership wanted and still wants to reach a regional acommodation with the US. However, the price of that acommodation has gone up since 2003. The Iranians think they have played their cards well and the US has played badly, and that there are considerable regional rewards yet to accrue to their 'account'. Unlike in 2003, when things looked rather different, the Iranians have no interest in reaching an accord based on the present static when they believe US regional power is in a process of collapse.

So the Iranians are playing a waiting game. The neocons paint it as 'every day they get closer to a nuclear bomb' but it is mainly the end of the Bush administration, the US withdrawal from Iraq, and the collapse of other US regional projects they are waiting for. Once the Middle East reaches, after a year or two of US decline, what the Iranians consider the "new normal", they will deal.

They want to create a certain amount of bluster and defiance now because that will look impressive to domestic and regional opinion when and if the US backs down. 'Look how the Americans got scared of Iran's big rockets'.

This is their best case scenario and they are fixated on it. It seems they are treating the possibility of war with the US as an exogenous variable, dependent more on the presently unknowable truth or falsity of various esoteric readings of US politics than on their own actions.

Cloned Poster

PL, have a look here:

The fax laid out the terms for a "grand bargain" -- in essence a peace treaty between the U.S. and Iran. It put everything on the table: Iran's support for terrorism, its nuclear program, even its hostility towards Israel. In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, an end to sanctions and a promise never to push for regime change.

J

see:
http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001941.php

More on the Provenance of the Spring 2003 Iran Proposal for Comprehensive Negotiations with the U.S.

and

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/what-did-rove-do-with-200_b_41472.html

What Did Rove Do with 2003 Iranian Negotiations Offer after Bob Ney Sent to Him?

leonardo

Colonel,
Like everyone else hassani didn't see the actual fax, but it is confirmed by the Washington Post and the BBC.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/17/AR2006061700727.html

Bill Wade, NH

some background on the 2003 proposals:

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33348

A

Col.,
Here is some documentation of the offer, along with Bolton's contempt for the Swiss ambassador that relayed it.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/002528.php

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/11/17/bolton-peace-offer-from-iran-i-told-powell-to-have-the-messenger-fired/

jr786

I think it was Tariq Aziz who pointed out shortly before the US invasion that nothing that Iraq could do would alter American actions. Iran is in a similar situation.

Seems to me that the Iranians are more than willing to make peace, rather than negotiate away the one thing that might ensure that possibility for them. It may shock some people to know that they are actually acting like fairly righteous Muslims in this whole business, including Ahmedinajad's heartfelt personal letter to Bush, dismissed out of hand and Condiscendingly by La Rice. They're looking for peace, while Bush and his Israeli advisers are looking for more war and regime change - the fi sabiallah of the Zioncons.

arbogast

I think that one has to calculate the price of gasoline after an attack on Iran.

What has become clear in the past few weeks is that the plutocrat mafia that controls the Bush Administration is very adept at convincing the public that they aren't stealing from the tax payer to pay their buddies when, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing. Hence, the so-called "financial crisis" is being turned into a nothing burger in the national press at the same time that the national treasury is being robbed blind.

What is left? The price of gasoline. The plutocrats are having a much harder time with that. And it has hurt them badly. About the only real hurt they have ever gotten during the Bush years.

The Bush Administration recently prevented Congress from opening the strategic reserve to help control the price of gasoline. They undoubtedly did that so that the first thing they could do after an attack on Iran would be to open the reserve.

But will it be enough?

I personally don't think so. And I think it is the only thing holding them back.

Dana Jones

"So the Iranians are playing a waiting game. The neocons paint it as 'every day they get closer to a nuclear bomb' but it is mainly the end of the Bush administration, the US withdrawal from Iraq, and the collapse of other US regional projects they are waiting for. " Kieran.

WEll, the Iranians have been given a Saturday deadline. Lets see if they can bluff through that. I feel that the NeoKlowns will want to make one last grand finale before Bush leaves office, and they don't want to leave this particular piece of business unfinished.
There has been much talk about a strike on Iran as somehow being a good thing for the McSame campaign, or in the alternative it will somehow weaken the Obama campaign. True, it could cause the base to rally around McSame and give him a boost towards the election, but only if things turn out well. In the alternative, if things turn out badly (lots of US casualties, carriers sunk, etc), it could turn the American people so against the Republican party that they will be out of the picture for decades.
Either way, I really don't think that the Neo's care how it turns out, as long as it turns out ok for israel. Can we just call it treason? Will these idiots ever be held accountable? Will there ever be war crimes trials for the top dogs of this administration? I would hope so, but I won't get my hopes up too high. I have a very sad feeling that they will get off scott free and history will ponder long and hard just how these criminals could get away with the crimes they have committed, and no one seemingly caring.
It will be a long, sad chapter in our history.

Jose

IMHO,

Iran will take the Colonels advise and play the game until after the election in America.

North Korea has made fools of the Americans so many times that Iran knows only when the nation has a nuclear weapon, will "Dumbya" negotiated in good faith.

China will not finance our war to democratize Iran so I doubt "Dumbya" will be able to attack.

The Israeli's know that Iran will get even with them one way or another, sometime in the future so they will not attack.

The Jacobins, have boxed themselves into a mess because an attack will hurt America more than Iran.

Think about it very carefully and remember we still don't have a clue where the enrichment is actually taking place.

arbogast

Well, I would love to be able to have a background chat with Colonel Lang, because there is a cognitive divide between:

If President Bush orders operations in Iran, the armed forces of the United States will not ask for a legal opinion as to whether or not he has the legal right. They will obey orders and let the lawyers and Congress sort out the niceties of constitutional authority after the fact.

and what I believe is actually happening. It seems to be becoming clearer every day that the American military, who this Administration has used shamefully to advance its feculent agenda, is pushing back and pushing back rather hard:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-fg-usisrael30-2008jul30,0,2250194.story

Buff52

The President of Iran has indicated in his cryptic letters to the President of the United States that he expects a "chaotic" event to occur soon that will bring back the "Mahdi." This implies a war situation.

If the Israeli's were going to do something, they would have done it already.
There are no General Moshe Dayans and Prime Minister Menachem Begins left in Israel.

Curious

several things:

1. all aircraft carriers are out of the gulf now (is it true?) Most likely to bring down oil price.

2. Russia will supply Iran with S-300. Operational before november election. (Bush is rumored to bomb Iran after election, his last window)

3. Russia appoint their Iranian negotiator as ambassador to the US. (now that's sending a signal)

4. Iran has a chance to seat in security council next round. (not sure if the odd is closing or not)

5. If Rice can't back up her 2 weeks bluff, her entire Iran diplomacy is pretty much collapsing. Iran will simply wait out until OB enter office instead of dealing with Rice/Bush crew.

6. Russia is not very happy with Rice in Georgia. I really don't think Rice understand what she is getting herself into.

7. Iran centrifuge technology seems to be maturing. Tho' they are going rather deliberate instead of as fast as possible.

8. Iran is installing radar in Lebanon.

9. Iran has been practicing with Turkish force (they have F-16) and Israel best route was Syria-turkey-Iran.

---------------

I believe what we see now is the shape of eurasian geopolitical landscape.

Russians will defend their interest. China seems to be cautious. Iran will definitely be an active player from now on.

nuclear middle east within a decade. Israel will turn completely hysterical.

I believe Palestine will flip to Iran in less than 5 yrs. Lebanon will be under Hezbollah control.

Iraq is still a question mark. But oil price and budget deficit are expensive to finance.

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