Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The meeting that didn't need to happen because it had already happened

To show how far off track Iran policy has gone, I give you this quote from Secretary of State Condi Rice following a meeting with representatives of the Permanent 5 members of the Security Council, Germany, and the Arab League. Rice was asked if this meeting -- the first formal one of its kind -- would lead to more action on Iran in the Security Council or anywhere else.

There will need to be a way to finally incent Iran to make a different choice concerning its nuclear ambitions, but this was not an effort to develop a common strategy. It was really the first large meeting. We had an informal consultation in Sharm el Sheikh, but I think what really did come through here is that these are countries who have really deep interest in how this issue gets resolved, and they want to continue consultations with the P5+1 on how this is all going to come out.

Meanwhile, Iran had already come out with a statement rebutting Rice's "baseless allegations" and "put[ting] on display the ill-intended policies of the United States in distorting the realities about Iran's peaceful nuclear program" BEFORE Rice spoke at the microphone. Having dutifully listened to confirm that, yes, Rice said exactly what the Iranians thought she would say, the Iranian press officer cheerfully distributed his mission's response to the assembled journalists.

In other words, everyone said exactly what everyone knew they would say, then departed with no outcome. I believe this is what John Bolton refers to as "diplomacy for diplomacy's sake."

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