US-Iran Initiative: Big Consequences if it Fails


My quote in today’s Financial Times article by Geoff Dyer on the latest in US-Iran relations:

It is not getting carried away to say this is an extraordinary moment because rapprochement with Iran would be the biggest positive shift in global affairs since the end of the Cold War and the normalisation of relations with China,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “But if the US does not take this opportunity, it would be the biggest strategic error since the Iraq invasion.

More on this soon. Have been posting many of my reactions to comments made by Iran President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Twitter at @SCClemons.


4 comments on “US-Iran Initiative: Big Consequences if it Fails

  1. Jim says:

    I hope this deal with Iran comes to fruition. I think it would be a great start to stabilizing the Middle East. Stiff necked supporters of Israel, like Rep. Eliot Engle, need to chill and give this agreement time to work.


  2. Mike says:

    Right wing Jews have final say when it comes to American foreign policy in the Middle East. I expect they will work behind the scenes and scuttle American rapprochement with Iran as they have done in the past. It’s unfortunate that these people can’t see how dangerous nuclear weapons are in general. Climate studies are showing that even detonating 100 weapons the size of the Hiroshima in large cities drops temperatures 1.5 Celsius worldwide and a decline of about 15-20% in food production. An exchange between Russia and the U.S. of about 1000 nukes means about a decade of twilight and most likely no food production anywhere on the globe. One can only imagine the number of species that would go extinct after that many years without food. It appears Carl Sagan was right. The eggheads in Washington (if there are any) really ought to look into this and move to drastically reduce everyone’s nukes. That would include Israel as well since it’s well known they have several hundred.


  3. Solon says:

    1. Holocaust has nothing to do with the matter at hand. It has become a matter of dogma, i.e. of religious belief, and in the American system, it is a violation of fundamental freedoms to require anyone to subscribe to a particular religious belief or dogma. Period. Full stop.

    2. Mind-reading so often looks like projection; it is a fool’s game. Civilized states craft and agree to rules in order to avoid gambling over hunches and spider-web suspicions, often as not tinged with deeper agendas.

    Nuclear technology is and has been regulated by a regime of rules for over 40 years. Iran has agreed to be bound by these rules and has complied– see, for example, the assessments of NPT expert Prof. Dan Joyner here —

    The USA has undermined the vitality of the NPT by applying “warped and [legally] incorrect” interpretations of the “grand bargain,” Joyner argues. He further states, “The United States needs to stop having its policy on Iran dictated to it by Israel and by pro-Israel political interests.”

    It is breathtaking that a state that has acquired nuclear weapons illicitly, concealed them from inspection even on the few occasions when cursory monitoring was agreed to, and brandished nuclear weapons to gain military and political advantage, is afforded any credibility in the global community to even participate in the discussion: Israel has not payed the price of admission to be party to this conversation. When Israel divests of its biological and chemical weapons; ratifies the chem-biological weapons treaty; declares legitimate international borders; and ceases violations of human rights of non-Jews in Palestine, THEN it may have a seat at the table. Until then, Israel is just a cartoon figure shouting reckless rhetoric.


  4. Con George-Kotzabasis says:

    It will have even bigger consequences if it succeeds on wishful thinking. Rapprochement in itself is meaningless unless there is clear and unambiguous understanding and agreement between the parties about the conditions of such rapprochement. It would be a mistake to deduce from the rhetorically conciliatory statements of President Rouhani that Iran has abandoned its desire to acquire nuclear weapons. And to differentiate himself from the holocaustian statements of his predecessor, Ahmadinejad, is hardly an indication that the new regime is repudiating its clandestine goal to develop a nuclear weapon. Only if Rouhani allows open and rigorous inspections in all areas of Iran where Western intelligence cogently suspects the secret development of a nuclear weapon will the experts be convinced that Iran has changed tack in regard to its nuclear arsenal.

    It is more probable, because Rouhani perceives a weak president in the United States, he will be exploiting that weakness to achieve Iran’s historic and Islamic aim to enter the nuclear club by persuading Obama about the peaceful purpose of Iran’s nuclear build-up. Rouhani is aware that Obama needs and desires a suspension of tensions so he will have the excuse to take all options off the table and thus as an incompetent and effete president tranquilize himself by false hopes. And Rouhani and his advisors know, that this détente can be achieved on promissory notes that will never be cashed. Thus by providing Obama the confidence that he can come to a reasonable agreement with Iran, Rouhani achieves two diplomatic goals. (1) He paralyses the USA’s responsibility from resolving speedily and decisively the issue of nuclear weapons by creating the euphoria that this matter can be resolved by prolonged negotiations, a dilatoriness that Obama is most happy to accept as he desires to push the hard options, if they are needed, in the future ahead, and which also suits Rouhani perfectly as it will give Iran more time to achieve its strategic goal to build the bomb. And (2) weakening Israel’s resolve to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear installations, if other Western states are found to be wanting in stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear armaments, by isolating Israel from its major ally, the USA, and from other Western nations, and thus making it more difficult for Israel to strike.

    It is for this reason that Clemons should be more restrained in his optimism of the opportunity of reaching a rapprochement with Iran when a more sinister and malign opportunity could be hidden behind the apparently benign talk of Rouhani.


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