Late in our show What John Murtha Wrought, Chris asked the question “What would your ideal President do now in Iraq?” Anatol Lieven, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, suggested that Bush, like Nixon to China, approach Iran.
Iran, intransigently nuclear-bound and newly lippy about Israel, is not going to go away, and it does not seem, so far, to have been put off by our democracy-building project in Iraq. Some are suggesting (see our show Steven Vincent, Basra and Iran) that the war in Iraq has allowed Iran to do precisely what it always wanted to do: make real its natural inclinations toward the Iraqi Shiite majority.
But that majority is the anchor of our own policy in Iraq. So is the friend of our friend our friend? Even if that friend-of-a-friend is a member of the axis of evil? Then, on November 29, Juan Cole noted some ideological drift:
US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad is going to start direct talks with the Iranians. Say what? Wasn’t Scott Ritter saying only last winter that a Bush military attack on Iran was in the offing? What has changed?
Juan Cole, Khalilzad to talk to Iranians Monday, Informed Comment
Iran is oil-rich and ancient, and its power and influence in the Middle East aren’t going to evaporate just because we dislike them. Are the realists winning? Are we about to start talking to Iran? Is this a good idea?
- Served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan.Principal White House aide on Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.Author, All Fall Down: America’s Fateful Encounter with Iran and October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan.
- Professor of psychology and codirector of the Program in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Boston College, where he also teaches a course on the history of modern Iran.