What does Iran want?
The conversation is nearly always focused on the USA and its allies when it comes to Iran. The big question is, what does Iran want?
Iran is a religious state run by a President that seems to be the Iranian version of George W. Bush, a smart-mouthed provocative cowboy.
The USA will never fully accept a religious state, though it may tolerate it. The USA will never accept a nation that sublimates or undermines individual freedom. The USA will never accept a nuclear armed Iran.
Does Iran aim to become a superpower in its region by leveraging its weapons capability as a threat to Europe? Does Iran aim to spread its brand of government to neighboring states?
Is Iran content to have its way within its borders, isolated from the rest of the world?
What does Iran offer to the global economy for which they are superior?
Does Iran see its role as a supplier of weapons to neighboring insurgents and groups that the free world calls terrorists?
If we can understand what Iran wants, then we can determine whether it is acceptable and what can be done to reach peaceful agreement.
There are so many things that the USA and the rest of the world find unacceptable that it is difficult to contemplate what Iran is aiming for, but it is worth listening to hear the answer, if one is provided.
“President Obama and Iran
Published: August 6, 2010
Mr. Bush, however, was never really that serious about the carrots, and he spent so much time alienating America’s friends that he was never able to win broad support for the sticks: credible international sanctions.
Mr. Obama has done considerably better on the sanctions front — at the United Nations and from the European Union, Canada and Australia. But the other piece of a credible strategy — serious engagement — seemed to be getting lost. So it was encouraging that he made the effort this week to reassert his commitment to talks with Tehran. Meeting with journalists from The Times and other publications on Wednesday, he said his pledge to change the United States-Iran relationship after 30 years of animosity “continues to be entirely sincere.”
Mr. Obama reaffirmed his interest in bilateral talks within an existing framework for dealing with the nuclear program that involves Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. And he endorsed separate talks on issues like Afghanistan, drug trafficking and regional stability.
He also stressed the need to outline a clear “pathway” of steps that Iran could take to convince the world that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program. “They should know what they can say yes to,” he said.
We agree. So we were surprised that Mr. Obama would not provide specifics on what the “pathway” might entail. That’s the kind of detail that Iranian leaders need to know now when they appear to be debating whether to engage Washington. If Mr. Obama didn’t want to share the information publicly with journalists, we hope he is sharing it privately with Tehran.
The United States and its allies should also present a vision of what normalized relations would look like if Tehran heeds repeated demands from the United Nations Security Council to curb its nuclear program. A package of inducements first proposed in 2006 — diplomatic ties, trade, nuclear energy technology — needs to be on the table so Iran fully understands its choices. Otherwise, Mr. Obama’s talk of an open door for Tehran will be almost as hollow as Mr. Bush’s.
Mr. Obama and his team deserve credit for a fourth round of Security Council sanctions and even tougher national sanctions — adopted by the United States, the European Union, Canada and Australia — that aim to restrict business with Iranian banks and oil and gas enterprises. The European Union’s penalties were strong and could make it impossible for Tehran to do business in euros. Western leaders need to make sure they are enforced. German compliance is a particular concern.
The administration has had some success getting Russia, Iran’s longtime enabler, to implement sanctions. But it seems to be losing ground with China. A vice premier said on Friday that Beijing would continue investing in Iran’s oil wealth despite voting for the United Nations penalties. Washington also must persuade Japan, South Korea, Turkey and India to make maximum effort.
President Obama says he hears “rumblings” that sanctions are beginning to bite. Aides believe that technical problems with Iran’s nuclear program have bought at least a year for sanctions and diplomacy to work.
The Iranian government continues to churn out nuclear fuel and block international inspections. There’s no guarantee it will ever agree to curb its nuclear program. But Washington and its partners are creating a plan that might have a chance of affecting Iran’s calculations.”