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Posted by on May 14, 2007 in At TMV | 21 comments

USA & Iran: Crazy Diplomacy?

iran_foreign_minister_and_rice.JPG

While the US administration is openly seeking Iran’s support to sort out the bloody mess in Iraq, it also keeps throwing mysterious spanners that may yet again stall the delicate diplomatic moves that are afoot to make any progress.

Nasser Karimi of the Associated Press writes: “The U.S. and Iran said Sunday they will hold upcoming talks in Baghdad about improving Iraq’s security — a historic political turnabout for the two countries with the most influence over Iraq’s future.

“Expectations of progress remain low, however, with tough issues at stake and mutual suspicions running high. Even as it announced the talks, Iran lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney’s weekend warnings about its nuclear program, saying it would retaliate if the U.S. attacked it.

“Yet the two sides said they were setting aside such differences to focus on a narrow issue — Iraq’s continued violence and sharp political deterioration.

” ‘The purpose is to try to make sure that the Iranians play a productive role in Iraq,’ said Gordon Johndroe, the White House’s National Security Council spokesman.

“There had been speculation of a Cabinet-level meeting at that Egypt conference, but neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nor Iran’s foreign minister wanted to make the initial move, passing up what would have been the first high-level, face-to-face talks since the U.S. broke off relations with Tehran after the 1979 hostage crisis.

“Until this spring, the Bush administration had dismissed calls for both outreach to Iran and Syria. At the Egyptian conference, Rice did sit down for a talk with Syria’s top diplomat…”

For more read here…

Funny…Why a few days ago at Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt Iran’s foreign minister boycotted a dinner of diplomats where he was to be seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The rumour mill has it that this happened because a female violinist entertaining the gathering was “dressed too revealingly.”

Shows that American diplomats are either missing out on a great opportunity to engage Iran at this delicate stage, or are just being flippant.

According to another report: “ ‘I don’t know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.”

“Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met earlier at a lunch Thursday but exchanged only pleasantries. Neither appeared ready to make the first move for a real meeting.

“ ‘You can ask him why he didn’t make an effort,’ Rice told reporters Friday. ‘I’m not given to chasing anyone’.”

How silly can one be!!! Are American foreign affairs being conducted by such people who do not even know the basic nuances of diplomacy. Are sartorial preferences of an inconsequential violinist going to govern the US-Iran talks/relationship so crucial now to sort out the Iraqi mess?

Meanwhile the MSNBC reports: “Condoleezza Rice, the ­secretary of state, calls her Iran strategy ‘rebalancing’ – a concerted and comprehensive effort to push back against Tehran’s advances in the region and in its nuclear programme.”
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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Why a few days ago at Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt Iran’s foreign minister boycotted a dinner of diplomats where he was to be seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The rumour mill has it that this happened because a female violinist entertaining the gathering was “dressed too revealingly.”

    Shows that American diplomats are either missing out on a great opportunity to engage Iran at this delicate stage, or are just being flippant.

    To blame the United States when Iran’s foreign minister uses a transparent and ridiculous excuse to avoid a meeting is completely unreasonable.

  • Entropy

    In total agreement with Jason. I had to read that passage 3 times to make sure it said what I thought it did. The Iranian FM boycotts a dinner of diplomats and it’s the US’ fault? WTF?

  • AustinRoth

    Swaraaj – OK, you are unable to see the fact of your bias, so this post is another example of it.

  • DLS

    > it’s the US’ fault? WTF?

    Typical Swaraaj.

  • domajot

    There is this, however.

    ” ‘The purpose is to try to make sure that the Iranians play a productive role in Iraq,’ said Gordon Johndroe, ”

    It would do lot of good if US officicials learned the basics of diplomatic speech.
    This kind of preachiness and all the “Iran should”s produce only one thing: a stiffening of Iran’s back and retaliation.
    Psst. You don;t have to say everything you’re thinking.

    How about: “We aim to discuss productive measures to…..”

  • ” ‘The purpose is to try to make sure that the Iranians play a productive role in Iraq,’ said Gordon Johndroe, ”

    It would do lot of good if US officicials learned the basics of diplomatic speech.
    This kind of preachiness and all the “Iran should”s produce only one thing: a stiffening of Iran’s back and retaliation.

    I can agree with this. But I would also note that no one who criticizes the U.S. for being tone-deaf diplomatically ever seems to complain when other people say the exact same kinds of things about the United States.

    And I detest double standards.

  • domajot

    Jason S-

    I haven’t kept score of criticism for US or other diplomatic missteps.
    When my administration speaks, though, it speaks for me, and it implicates me by
    virtue of association. When a foreigner speaks foolishly, it doesn’t reflect on me; he’s just a nincompoop from another country.

    I haven’t noticed a shortage of criticism for Chavez, Putin, Ahmedejan, or others, though.

  • Iranian minister leaves because the entertainment’s dressed too revealingly.

    US Sec State’s reaction: “ ‘You can ask him why he didn’t make an effort,’ Rice told reporters Friday. ‘I’m not given to chasing anyone’.”

    Don’t both of these actions strike you as childish?

    Be that as it may, the news about the upcoming Baghdad talks strikes me as most welcome, so much so that I’ll forego much of my usual BDS inspired snark and just say: about time some grownups got involved.

  • When my administration speaks, though, it speaks for me, and it implicates me by virtue of association. When a foreigner speaks foolishly, it doesn’t reflect on me; he’s just a nincompoop from another country.

    I’ve heard this response before when I question the way in which the U.S. seems held to standards that the rest of the world is exempt from. My problem with it is this: When we’re talking about causes of world tensions, we can’t exclusively focus on that subset of causes with which we are personally implicated. To do so means missing much of the picture AND it means holding U.S. officials to unreasonable expectations in light of the broader global political context.

    I think we need to note all sources of tension. That means noting when the U.S. is the aggrieved party as well as when the U.S. is the bad actor.

  • Iranian minister leaves because the entertainment’s dressed too revealingly.

    US Sec State’s reaction: “ ‘You can ask him why he didn’t make an effort,’ Rice told reporters Friday. ‘I’m not given to chasing anyone’.”

    Don’t both of these actions strike you as childish?

    Not really. I don’t expect U.S. diplomats to run down the hallway begging the Iranian foreign minister to please, please, please come back.

  • All right…all right folks, don’t get hysterical. I must explain why I am criticising the present diplomatic blunder.

    But that would be in a new post…soon!

    My inspiration comes from the important and sensible comment made by Citizen Kang.

  • Swaraaj, thanks for the kind words, I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    Jason, I totally recant my comments on just who’s being childish.

    😉

  • kritter

    Shouldn’t we be leading by example, instead of talking about a double standard? I agree with Doma- I can criticize what other governments do, but what my government does matters the most to me as they represent all of us. We are the leader of the free world, and should set the standard.

  • Shouldn’t we be leading by example, instead of talking about a double standard?

    I see no reason not to do both.

  • kritter

    I guess if you worry about every little slight or faux pas, it becomes justification for inaction. In this particular case, I don’t fault Rice, however. There are other cases where we apply a double standard- ie – we complain about human rights abuses yet torture detainees and hold them indefinitely without access to the evidence against them. Bush put Wolfowitz in charge of the WB to combat corruption, yet he now has been found to be corrupt himself. Yet the US still supports him.

  • Hey Kritter watch out! Whatever sensible points you make could soon be drowned by flag waiving commenters who see such views as “biased” against America. But they may pardon you if you happen to be an American!

    I wasn’t… A commenter had this to say in this post (forgetting that the TMV blog policy prohibits personal attacks or use of invectives):

    When a foreigner speaks foolishly, it doesn’t reflect on me; he’s just a nincompoop from another country.

  • AustinRoth

    Gee Swaraaj, I read that post, and I didn’t think it was directed at you.

    This is, though. You are one thin-skinned reporter.

  • domajot

    “I don’t expect U.S. diplomats to run down the hallway begging the Iranian foreign minister to please, please, please come back.”

    Again, it’s about the language.

    Rice could have simply said she regretted that so-and-so chose to tleave, thus ruining an opportunkty to discuss Iraq, which is important to both countries.

    This was a missed opportunkty for contrasting Iranian petulance with US atatesmanship.

  • domajot

    Swaraaj-

    For Pete’s sake, you take a small part from a long exchange about bad diplomacy , and you apply it to yourself?
    You are not a diplomat, much less a diplomat talking with his foodt in his mouth.
    It’s beyond me to understand why you thought this had anything to do with you or foreigners in general.

    BTW, I’m foreign-born myself. So, I’m not likely to be insulting that class of people.

  • kritter

    In my mind it is like raising children. Your own children represent your family and values and you are only in control of their behavior around others. If they get in a fight with the neighbors, you blame them not the neighbors kids-even if the neighbors kids are also in the wrong. Because your kids have to learn to make the best of any situation and adapt. Somehow a lot of Americans seem to be looking at the last slight instead of thinking of the smartest way to get their own goals met. Remember “Freedom Fries’? Bill’o just removed the embargo against the French , because they elected a conservative that he thought would support US policy more. That is the kind of ubernationalist thinking, that seems to harm us in the long run. Love your country but be a good neighbor.

  • This was a missed opportunkty for contrasting Iranian petulance with US atatesmanship.

    That much I can agree with.

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