Iran to negotiate with US?

Before we get to the inevitable, let’s just get the major news out of the way, shall we? (Though I’ll simply mention that the link in question comes from the New York Times.)

The United States and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know which American president they would be negotiating with.

News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and a day before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

I feel duty bound, as an American, to say that we should all hope that this startling revelation represents a long awaited, overdue breakthrough in relations with Tehran. And if Iran is ready to come to the table to calm the tensions running rampant in that part of the world, we should all embrace…

OK…. that’s all I could manage.

COME ON! It’s less than three weeks before the election and barely 24 hours before the foreign policy debate between the candidates. Are we supposed to be finding this just a happy circumstance?

The interesting bit here is the notion that there could be unilateral negotiations between the United States and Iran. This opens the door to any number of possibilities, not all of which are good. Why would Iran want to enter into negotiations which didn’t involve France and Germany, long time clients who might provide a bit of a firewall?

To be clear, I’m not claiming that this is some sort of “October surprise” cooked up by the Obama administration. I don’t even know if that would be possible. But the flip side of that coin is that we all know Iran watches the news in general and US politics in particular. If you were in charge of their already troubled nation, would you want to spend the next four years talking to Obama or dealing with Mitt Romney? Putting an offer like this on the table actually gives Iran a number of options. They can always walk away from them, just as they have done in the past. Plus, if they can hand the President a new arrow in his quiver for the foreign policy debate – “Hey! Look at what I’m doing with Iran already! – then they create their own opportunity to influence the US election is a way which might prove beneficial to them down the road.

Far too soon to tell, and I’ll wait with the rest of you to see what Ed and AP have to say on this, but the entire story seems a bit too… er… how did Joe Weisenthal put it on Twitter?

So this seems like nice timing.

Indeed it does.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on March 27, 2023