How Not to Conduct Diplomacy with Iran

March 10 2015

Although the Obama administration considers its negotiations with Iran a bold new strategy of engagement, every presidential administration since Jimmy Carter has had its own diplomatic initiative with the Islamic Republic—and these have consistently failed. Perhaps, write Michael Rubin, something should be learned from prior experience:

Too many American diplomats . . . are committed to the belief that talking is a cost-free, risk-free strategy. . . . But [this is] to project American values onto others. Americans may not see willingness to talk as weakness, but other cultures do. . . .

Only twice in history has the Islamic Republic reversed course after swearing to a course of no compromises. The first time was about what it would take to release the American hostages [of 1979], and the second about what it would take to end the Iran-Iraq war. After the hostages were released on the first day of the Reagan presidency, Carter’s associates credited the persistence of diplomacy. This is nonsense; . . . Iraq’s invasion of Iran had rendered Tehran’s isolation untenable. Khomeini needed to release the hostages or his country would have crumbled. Likewise, Khomeini considered ending the Iran-Iraq war in 1982, but the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps pushed him to continue it until “the liberation of Jerusalem.” After six years of stalemate and another half-million deaths, Khomeini reconsidered.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iranian nuclear program, Jimmy Carter, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan

President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process