CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 31, 2015 – When Barack Obama told the world during his first campaign for president that he would negotiate with Iran, considering the alternatives, it sounded like a sensible idea to many people.
Unfortunately, anyone with an ounce of understanding about the way the Islamic world “negotiates” is well aware that “talking” is nothing more than a strategy in the Middle East. Given the considerable amount of time that has been spent on making a deal with Iran over their nuclear weapons program, that should be obvious by now.
Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department who was born in the same year the Iranian hostage crisis under Jimmy Carter came to an end, told reporters, “The 31st, we have said, is a deadline. All of us said the goal was to reach a political understanding by the end of March.”
Considering the manner in which the Obama administration conducts foreign policy, that statement sounds very much like negotiators will come to an agreement one way or another before the deadline passes. In which case, the end result is more likely to be a conciliatory agreement that heavily favors the Iranian position.
As one source said, “The Iranians seem to be successfully capitalizing on the fact that the Administration is in dire desperation mode to get a deal. Even the president’s most loyal Democrats in Congress are finding it near-impossible to defend what appears to be a worse deal than anyone ever imagined.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued similar warnings about the inbalance in the agreement in favor of Iran.
It appears the primary “sticking point” at the moment is that the West wants Iran to export its stockpiles of enriched uranium to Russia, an issue on which Iran refuses to compromise and totally rejects.
What should be clear is that, were it not for this particular item on the negotiation list, there would be another in its place. Talking is a primary tactic in Middle Eastern negotiations.
Israel and Palestine have been “talking” for decades and nothing has changed. In the Islamic world, discussion is simply another means of “kicking the can down the road.”
The Washington Free Beacon writes that a source familiar with the talks claims “the Obama administration had been promising members of Congress that Iran would consent to export its uranium.”
“Administration officials told lawmakers they’d get the Iranians to make a concession, then the Iranians refused to make that concession, and now the State Department is pretending they never expected anything anyway,” the source told the Free Beacon.
In a partial defense of the administration, it is probably true that U.S. officials believed they had indeed did have the concessions. Where they made their mistake is taking Iran at its word.
Former Secretary of State Jim Baker under George H.W. Bush frequently tells the story of negotiating a deal in the morning in the Middle East only to learn hours later that the fine points of the agreement bore no resemblance to what had been agreed upon just hours before.
Given that the Islamic world has been waging their jihad against non-believers for 14 centuries, there should be no illusions about their patience in an effort to achieve their goals. Islamists know all to well that eventually the West will give up in frustration and often yield to their wishes in order to get an agreement and bring negotiations to an end.
Buying time is all part of the plan. The Free Beacon’s source added, “Iran is a menacing country with an aging extremist supreme leader who is sure to be followed by one as extreme if not more so. Don’t forget that the election for head of the body that chooses the next supreme leader, the Guardian Council, went decisively for the most extreme cleric possible, rejecting the ‘moderate’ choice.”
Stalling until a new leader who is even more extreme is merely a way for Tehran to ensure its path to nuclear weapons.
In a theoretical world talk is always better than military action. The problem lies in the fact that both sides must take the talks seriously rather than having one party use them as a means of leverage.
Sadly, it appears the Obama administration does not appear to understand that. If it does, then the U.S. is playing a dangerous game using other Western nations as its pawns. As the saying goes, “talk is cheap.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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