Monday, May 28, 2007

Joshua Marshall on talking to Iran

The much-anticipated meeting between the United States and Iran, their "first high profile, face-to-face talks in nearly three decades," seems to have gone off smoothly in Baghdad today (though it certainly didn't produce any breakthroughs):

The meeting between Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker of the United States and Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi of Iran — held in the offices of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad — produced no agreements nor a promise of a follow-up meeting between the two nations, officials said.

But Mr. Crocker told a news conference that the talks “proceeded positively.”

As you may recall, I'm of the opinion that this meeting between the United States and Iran was long overdue:
I wholeheartedly approve this belated move. That isn't to say that I have much faith in the Iranian government; odds are that nothing much will come of this. It's just that if there is any possibility that the Iranians could be convinced/bribed to tone down their activities in Iraq, we should find out. Maybe the price would be too high; maybe they really are totally committed to creating chaos in Iraq. But the only way to know for sure is to talk to them.
So I will give grudging some praise to the administration for finally coming to their senses. Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo isn't in such a forgiving mood:

I don't disagree with the diplomatic decision, but it's worth noting that after years of saying talks with Iran would be reckless and irresponsible, the Bush gang is grudgingly accepting the reality that Dems have been pushing for quite a while.

Would it be rude to point out how often this has happened of late? Dems said Bush should talk directly to Syria; Bush said Dems were weak to even suggest it; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should talk to North Korea and use Clinton's Agreed Framework as a model for negotiations; Bush said this was out of the question; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should increase the size of the U.S. military; Bush said this was unnecessary; and Bush eventually came around.

And Dems said Bush should engage Iran in direct talks, particularly on Iraq. It took a while, but the president came around on this, too.

For years, all we've heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems' approach on most of the nation's major foreign policy challenges.

Now, if Bush could just bring himself to accept the Democratic line on Iraq, too, we'd really see some progress.

Bush may not be adopting the Democratic line on Iraq, but he is making noises about finally accepting the recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group. Given the President's track record of failures and reversals, it's simply astonishing how eagerly the Republican candidates for 2008 have embraced his foreign policy.

No comments: