Wednesday, February 18, 2009

talk to the people

Christopher Hitchens wants Obama to talk to the people of Iran, not the government. Hitchens properly castigates Bush Administration Iran policy, but misses the point. We already did talk to the Iranian people. We do so all the time at the UN, saying "we are not your enemy," etc. I lost count of the number of times I heard US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and various other US officials say this. But the people aren't the ones who are close to achieving the nuclear fuel cycle.

Hitchens warns that Iran will try to delay to achieve the fuel cycle. Probable. But this isn't a reason to negotiate. The same logic was used to not negotiate with Iran back in 2005. Three years have passed since then, during which time we probably could have negotiated Iran into a suspension. Iran has not stopped its centrifuges. Sanctions have had minimal effect. And we've wasted a lot of time.

The bottom line is, we should be talking to people right up to the point where we go to war. If we leave the situation to fester -- or just "speak to the people" without dealing with the regime -- it gets worse, not better.

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