To enter into the world of the Iran-P5+1 nuclear negotiation is like scurrying down a rabbit hole and finding that words mean precisely what Iran’s enemies wish them to mean–nothing more or less. In other words, before the talks began the NYT’s James Risen could write that western intelligence was attempting to parse the “dense fog” of Ayatollah Khamenei’s utterances on the nuclear question. Meaning, of course that Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu have consistently been crystal clear in their every statement on the subject.
The fact that a subsequent second meeting has been scheduled for May means, again according to Erlanger’s anti-Iran perspective, that Iran passed a test that it engaged “seriously” in the first meeting:
A senior American official at the talks emphasized that this meeting was about testing Iran’s seriousness.
Not a hint of the possibility that it is Israel and the U.S. whose sincerity may be doubted or that they too have something to prove. It is objectionable to paint Iran as the sole bad guy. There is more than enough blame to go around.
I have written here for months, if not years, that as long as the onus is put solely on the Iranians, they are always the ones whose seriousness is doubted, or who have something to prove–talks will fail. Such notions are racist at their heart. For every claim of perfidy or backtracking we can blame Iran, we can find two such examples from Israel and the U.S. The notion that non-western wannabe nuclear states are always the ones who engage in fraud or deceit is offensive and false.
Risen offered, via that most notorious of sources, “some analysts,” who raise the offensive religious claim that Iran would use deliberate lies as an approved part of its Shiite theological tradition during negotiations. Such claims are worthy of Daniel Pipes but not of a serious newspaper. Especially since Erlanger doesn’t even bother to offer a source for this claim.
Israeli leaders and war hawk analysts repetitively warn of Iran’s lying and reneging on such commitments. To hear them tell it, Iran never met a negotiation it didn’t sabotage, and it is the most untrustworthy interlocutor known to the world today. While the motives and actions of the west, of course, are pure as the driven snow.
On a related matter, yesterday the Times reported that Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, who lives in exile and is no friend of the regime, attacked the notion that economic sanctions were either an effective or moral tool in their use to bring Iran to its knees and its senses regarding its nuclear program. She said the only people harmed by this would be the vulnerable common folk, certainly not the leadership.
Bob Mann says
You wrote that: “Erlanger even raises a claim offered by that most notorious of references, “some analysts,” who raise the offensive religious claim that Iran would use deliberate lies as an approved part of its Shiite theological tradition during negotiations.”
This claim, however, does not appear anywhere in the NY Times article by Steven Erlanger that you’ve linked to in your post, but rather in the article by James Risen that you cited in the first paragraph (Incidentally, several bloggers have taken Risen to task for those remarks).
I also noticed that you’ve wrongly attributed this claim to Erlanger rather than Risen in your twitter feed as well. I think it might be a good idea to issue a retraction/correction.
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks. I was working off 3 NYT articles when I wrote the post & 2 were by Erlanger, hence the error. But “retraction?” I think not. I’ve corrected the error & that will suffice.
I would give the US media a metascore of 50, equally balanced between pessimism and hope. Erlanger’s article is cautiously balanced in reporting the results of the Istanbul meeting, and where he diverges from reporting to opinion is spot on regarding the trouble Obama is going to endure should diplomacy fail.
One needs look no further than from the den’s of barking dogs to find screeds of condemnation and vitriol. DEBKA launches right out of the gates with headline denunciations of “cat and mouse games in Istanbul.” The day wasn’t even done before the usual suspects were driveling the usual fare of disinformation, lies and exaggeration.
Let us not forget the US rejection of the agreement that was negotiated by Turkey and Brazil two years ago – where was the intensive MSM questioning as to why a comprehensive deal that dealt with all the outstanding issues was rejected when the US itself asked Brazil and Turkey to attempt to negotiate that agreement?
“he United States missed an opportunity to ease concerns about Iran’s nuclear program nearly two years ago when it rejected a carefully negotiated deal that would have allowed Western powers to provide Iran uranium for its nuclear reactors, interviews and new research suggest.
The deal, known as the Tehran declaration, had been put together by the presidents of Brazil and Turkey, whose diplomats devoted enormous energies persuading power brokers in the Iranian government to accept it.”
“In a new book, Trita Parsi, a leading expert on Iran and former public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, writes that Washington “miscalculated the diplomatic skills of two up-and-coming states – Brazil and Turkey.”
In “A Single Roll of the Dice,” Parsi quotes an unnamed senior Obama administration official as saying, “We could not take yes for an answer.”
>>>In “A Single Roll of the Dice,” Parsi quotes an unnamed senior Obama administration official as saying, “We could not take yes for an answer.”<<<
As the games evolved the Americans and the Iranians can and probably will.
When the stupidest man in the universe gave the battle order on 19 March 2003 to attack Iraq, whether it would take 5, 10 or more years, the results of serial blundering and strategic disasters plural would eventually result in outcomes warhawks and Islamophobes are going to rue to their graves.
Piotr Berman says
The animosity of Israel and USA predates nuclear program and has very tangential relation to that program, except as a diplomatic cudgel. Anything that helps increasing international or multilateral sanctions of Iran is good.
Given that, it is given that USA will not accept “yes”.
Suppose that Iran would ask a simple question: what would make the West to drop all sanctions? The response would be prepared in this fashion
Generically, I should have added that “denunciations…screeds of condemnation and vitriol” would also find its mark here, a powerful magnet for senseless and stupid remarks.
The current leader in the race for the crown of ‘stupidest man in the universe’ (Bush has vacated the title when he ceased being POTUS) has finally opened his mouth.
Netanyahu: Iran received gift from world powers with further nuclear talks
The two personalities of vital importance regarding a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear program are of course Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Barak Obama. Netanyahu is grieving from the sidelines over the possibility of a deal between Iran and the P5+1 states that he fears Obama may endorse. Bibi is wasting no time in working to thwart that possibility.
I find this whole discussion weird. Thanks to sanctions, both sides are negotiating and so far seem serious about it. The NYT coverage has been weird as noted, but does include an illuminating op-Ed by iran’s former negotiator that lays out logically what each side should do. USA media has also noted baggage that the West brings to the table — old history of sloppy security and CIA penetration of IAEA inspection teams.
Seems like talking might actually work…
Richard Silverstein says
It remains to be seen whether sanctions are “working” as you claim. There are MILES to go before this negotiation sleeps.
RE: “Israeli Minister Meridor Concedes Iran’s Leaders Have Never Called for Israel’s Destruction” ~ R.S.
MY COMMENT: Will wonders never cease?
FROM WIKIPEDIA [ Foreign policy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ]:
SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_policy_of_Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad#.22Wiped_Off_the_Map.22
P.S. Back in 20078 when there was a big push to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” (Norman Podhoretz was just a prayin’, and a prayin’, and a prayin’*), our genius of a president (who saw his job as being responsible for “catapulting the propaganda”) repeatedly said one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Namely, that “you have to take a man at his word”. The “man” at that time being the all-purpose boogeyman Ahmadinejad, and “the word” being that “Israel should be wiped off the map”. Consequently, taking “the man” at “his [mistranslated] word” meant that Iran was an “existential threat” to Israel that needed to be eliminated.
NOW, NOTICE HOW THE HASBARA HANDBOOK (pages 24-25) SUGGESTS USING QUOTES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT:
SOURCE, “HASBARA HANDBOOK: Promoting Israel on Campus”, published by the World Union of Jewish Students, March 2002 – http://www.scribd.com/doc/53789685/Hasbara-Handbook-Promoting-Israel-on-Campus
* IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER FOR THE RENOWNED PHONOLOGIST ADAM HOLLAND: The dropping of the ‘g’ at the end of the word ‘praying’ is not meant to allude to, denigrate, or offend, any racial, ethnic or socioeconomic group. Cross my heart and hope to die!
SEE “ADAM HOLLAND: NEGRO’S GREATEST FRIEND” – https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2011/08/20/adam-holland-negros-greatest-friend/
Richard Silverstein says
Is it even possible that I’m starting to feel a bit of pity for poor Adam getting kicked around like this? Nah. But very funny nonetheless.
RE: “Israeli leaders and war hawk analysts repetitively warn of Iran’s lying and reneging on such commitments. To hear them tell it, Iran never met a negotiation it didn’t sabotage…” ~ R.S.
MY COMMENT: It seems to be Israel that has worked to sabotage the negotiations. Perhaps this is yet another example of psychological projection on the part of Israelis.
GIVE THIS A LISTEN: Scott Horton Interviews Gareth Porter (AUDIO, 19:58), Antiwar .com, 01/19/12
Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses the Israeli Mossad’s false flag operation that made the CIA appear responsible for terrorist attacks inside Iran; using Jundullah to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists to provoke a military response – not set back their nuclear program; how terrorist attacks [creating mayhem] marginalize Iranian political moderates and make diplomatic negotiations with the US impossible; and the predictable nationalistic “blowback” response of Iranian students, who are defiantly switching majors to nuclear science.
TO LISTEN (AUDIO, 19:58) – http://antiwar.com/radio/2012/01/19/gareth-porter-141/