Saturday, October 07, 2006

Baker going to Iran?

I'm late to get the pretty huge news that James Baker has been authorized to speak with the Iranians. I was directed to that link by way of the page of Trita Parsi, a real Iran expert at Johns Hopkins.

It is tempting to believe we are now watching an adjustment in US policy. The US cannot be a bumbling power whose worldview is entirely divorced from the real world forever.

Much was made of Ahmadinejad's meeting with the US Council of Foreign relations, and the State Department's decription of the meeting as a bad idea.

At the same time though, Bush authorized James Baker to speak directly with the Iranians. James Baker's continues to have close ties with the Bush administration. A meeting would open a direct channel of communication that while unofficial would be essentially as reliable as official communication.

Could this lead to a resolution of either the enrichment program or the dispute between the US and Iran over the legitimacy of Israel? It is hard to say yes to that because the positions are nearly irreconcilable.

Israel wants, and in fact needs, to be able to impose a unilateral resolution on the Palestinians if it is to continue as a Zionist state. There is no possible arrangement that the Palestinians would accept willingly that would leave the Palestinians either unwilling or unable to press Israel for further concessions, ending with the concession that the refugees return to outvote the Zionists.

Iran cannot, as a self-defined Islamic republic, go along with any arrangement that leaves Israel free to impose a unilateral resolution on the Palestinians. At best, this irreconcilable conflict could be resolved with a truce, putting off the end of Zionism for some amount of years with the understanding that after that period there will be rapid change if the Palestinians still want it. "Some amount of years" definitely would not mean 100 years, but something Iran's leaders can expect to see. Thirty years on the outside.

On enrichment, Iran would probably suspend temporarily for a significant improvement in its access to capital, which access is restricted now only by US unilateral sanctions.

The US cannot relax its restrictions given Iran's opposition to Israel because those restrictions are the only tools the US has to both pressure a change in Iran's anti-Israel policies or prevent Iran from becoming a dominant economic power in the region. Iran as a dominant economic power in the region is an equal or greater threat to Zionism than Iran as a nuclear capable military power. Iran though, seems to want to be both.

But Baker is going to Iran, which means the US is effectively ending its policy of non-negotiation with Iran.

The reality is that Iran cannot at this point be stopped from becoming a regional power. Iran also cannot be stopped from protecting the Palestinians from any resolution Israel tries to impose on the Palestinians unilaterally. This means that the Palestinians, if they want to, can expect to be able to end Zionism as an active political movement before the end of this century,

It is good news for the US that it appears to at least understand that reality even though it is most likely that the US has not decided how to deal with this reality.

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