Saturday, September 8, 2012

Post #332 - It Takes Two

The article below appeared on the website RT on May 5; it is still as relevant as it was then:

US and Iran both need to make concessions

Tensions between Iran and the US keep rising with political posturing and aggressive rhetoric.

Unless both sides are ready to make concessions there will be no solution to the crisis, Jamal Abdi from the National Iranian American Council, told RT.

Beefing up forces in the Middle East, Washington is trying to reassure its allies in the region that the US has their backs.

“Even as the United States appears to be pursuing a diplomatic resolution with Iran, they are also continuing to ramp up some of their contingency planning for potential military operations and [show] that the military option certainly remains on the table.”

It would be impossible to find way out of the crisis with both sides believing their own rhetoric and being spammed by their own propaganda, says Abdi.

“On [the] Iranian side they look at the increased enrichment, some of their increased capabilities as pressure on the United States to negotiate,” he says. “On the US and European side I think they view sanctions as pressure on the Iranians to negotiate.”

But the reality is that “only concession can get the two parties to actually negotiate and come to an agreement,” Abdi believes. “The parties need to actually realize that they have to give up some of these things that they’ve considered as leverage in order for there to be a resolution.”

If the US does not compromise on its sanctions against Iran, Tehran will be left with the impression that they will never be able to meet the US demands. “It does seem like the sanctions are really only aimed at making the regime capitulate,” Abdi remarks.

This is a disastrous policy, he claims, saying that there has never been a precedent for a sanctions regime actually toppling a government. In reality, the only step between sanctions and regime change is war, he concludes.

Western countries and Israel suspect Iran of trying to build a nuclear bomb and are pressuring it to stop enrichment of uranium. Tehran insists it is pursuing a civilian nuclear power program only, which it is entitled to do as a sovereign state.

The row escalated last year after the publication of a controversial report by UN’s nuclear watchdog, which Iran’s opponents used to justify issuing more sanctions.

The point Abdi was making is really quite a simple one -- as in most conflicts, there is more than one side to the dispute, and more than one side must take actions that can lead to a just and sustainable resolution. Narrowly seen, the impasse is all about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the degree of uncertainty surrounding them. From a broader perspective, the two countries have a long and complex history, in which Iran was the exploited or victimized party more often than not. It does no good to reserve our apologies for decades hence, like the acknowledgment of our sins in regard to Native occupants of the North American continent, or our infamous trade in human beings during the beginning centuries of our Republic. Now would be the time to come clean about what the United States has done to Iran in the name of freedom and democracy, but which had little to do with either. Iran, for its part, can benefit in the long run by admitting that there is a diverse world out there -- most of which does not adhere to its conservative Shi'e Muslim worldview, but which is willing to engage Iran as a trading partner, a collaborator in artistic and scientific endeavors and even as a regional power, once the hot-button issues have been set resolved.

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