Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sensible appraisal of Obama's Iran policy by Nicholas Burns

"The most confounding aspect of our public debate is that we are considering war with a dangerous adversary about whom we know very little. No senior American official has even met Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. There has been virtually no contact between the two governments in 30 years. As undersecretary of state working on Iran policy during President Bush’s second term, I and my colleagues were not permitted to talk to Iranian officials. It went against an elementary lesson I learned as a diplomat - no matter how distasteful, we must talk to governments we don’t like if we want to outsmart them and avoid war. For that very reason, an earlier and much wiser Israeli leader, Yitzhak Rabin, warned memorably, “You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.’’
"Obama’s critics would do well to recall two hard facts. First, diplomacy takes time. If Iran doesn’t capitulate within a few weeks, predictable voices will call for war instead. We have time to negotiate before Iran gets perilously close to a nuclear weapons capability. Obama should take that time to figure out if Iran is serious. That is how diplomacy works on an issue as complicated and potentially deadly as this."

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