From GLORIA, September 13, 2009, by By Barry Rubin, Director:
...By accepting the Iranian proposal for negotiations, the Obama Administration has just made ... a very bad mistake, a very bad one indeed.
True, the idea of engagement was a U.S. idea. The Iranian regime ignored it for months. And then at the very last moment, the Tehran government sent a five-page letter calling for talks. The letter didn’t even mention the nuclear program as a topic. Shouldn’t that be enough to reject it as insufficient?
Everyone should understand the timing of this letter. On one hand, it came after the most extreme government in two decades took over that country; after a stolen election; after the repression of peaceful demonstrations; after the show trials of reform-minded oppositionists, and after the appointment of a wanted terrorist as minister of defense.
Never have prospects for negotiations resolving U.S.-Iran differences, including the nuclear program, seemed poorer.
At the same time, the United States was finally on the verge of raising sanctions against Iran. True, the increase was insufficient and neither Russia nor China was on board. Yet this was going to be a major step.
Never have prospects for the Obama Administration making some real effort to confront Iran and press for ending the nuclear program seemed better.
Now this whole U.S. strategy has been swept away by no one other than the U.S. government itself.
Few people in the U.S. government think that the talks will lead anywhere. They will eat up months and months, as the Tehran regime consolidates control and surges forward in its nuclear program. The timing of sanctions will presumably be put off until “after” the talks are finished, meaning the Iranian regime will be able to string along America for as long as it wants.
Not to mention the fact that this is a repressive, extremist, anti-American, antisemitic, terrorist-sponsoring government which is going to remain so in every respect no matter how many sessions are held with U.S. delegates.
But it gets worse. After all, what does the Iranian offer, entitled “Cooperation, Peace and Justice,” say? Well, it calls for a reform of the UN to abolish the veto powers, a Middle East peace settlement without Israel’s existence, and universal nuclear disarmament, the last being another idea with which Obama saddled U.S. policy...
...How about this basic [alternative] concept: First, raise the sanctions and only then start the talks. Make it clear that the sanctions will continue as long as Iran doesn't change its behavior but that the United States is happy to negotiate from a position of strength rather than from one of weakness....