Advantage Rice

Condi Rice’s announcement that the United States will speak to Iran if it suspends enrichment is a major, although not complete, victory for her and the State Department. It is also a sensible move that makes it far more likely that the Western coalition will hold together as European worries that America is rushing to ...

608473_Rice6.jpg
608473_Rice6.jpg

Condi Rice’s announcement that the United States will speak to Iran if it suspends enrichment is a major, although not complete, victory for her and the State Department. It is also a sensible move that makes it far more likely that the Western coalition will hold together as European worries that America is rushing to war will be assuaged.

If there is no Western split, Putin is going to be far more cautious about being obstreperous. Although, it does seem extremely odd that Bush didn’t speak to the other troublesome Permanent Member of the Security Council before the announcement—he spoke to the Japanese for crying out loud, but not the Chinese? The NSC, though, tells us that they expect there to be a call between Bush and Hu this afternoon.

I really don’t see the downside to talking to Tehran. And don't bet on the Iranians stopping enrichment, so all this could be academic. As long as the United States makes clear that it still wants to see democratic change in Iran and that it has not forgotten people like Ramin Jahanbegloo, just talking won’t legitimize the regime. Indeed, talks actually give America a chance to get across to the Iranian people that their beef is with the regime - not the people - and that they don’t object to Iran having nuclear power, but nuclear weapons. Also what Rice outlined today doesn’t take the military option off the table.

Condi Rice’s announcement that the United States will speak to Iran if it suspends enrichment is a major, although not complete, victory for her and the State Department. It is also a sensible move that makes it far more likely that the Western coalition will hold together as European worries that America is rushing to war will be assuaged.

If there is no Western split, Putin is going to be far more cautious about being obstreperous. Although, it does seem extremely odd that Bush didn’t speak to the other troublesome Permanent Member of the Security Council before the announcement—he spoke to the Japanese for crying out loud, but not the Chinese? The NSC, though, tells us that they expect there to be a call between Bush and Hu this afternoon.

I really don’t see the downside to talking to Tehran. And don’t bet on the Iranians stopping enrichment, so all this could be academic. As long as the United States makes clear that it still wants to see democratic change in Iran and that it has not forgotten people like Ramin Jahanbegloo, just talking won’t legitimize the regime. Indeed, talks actually give America a chance to get across to the Iranian people that their beef is with the regime – not the people – and that they don’t object to Iran having nuclear power, but nuclear weapons. Also what Rice outlined today doesn’t take the military option off the table.

To finish on a totally flippant note, has anyone else noticed how “allies” is to Rice as “nuclear” is to Bush?

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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