Friday, December 07, 2007

Iran Is Making A Big Mistake

By Cernig

In all I've written about the new NIE on Iran's nuclear program in the past few days, I realise I've not written a thing about how dumb I think the Iranians are being. Very dumb.

The NIE forced the warmongers in the U.S. to show their hand - and it was a busted flush. Unfortunately, Iran still thinks it is in the first stage (outrageous claims) of haggling with Bush the Decider, who is vocally sticking to his course, rather than playing poker with America and the world as a whole. That, for me, has been the whole problem all along - you can't play poker with a haggler, or vice versa.

A case in point:
Iran decided at the last moment Friday not to attend a regional Mideast security conference where Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to deliver the keynote address, organizers said.

The apparent snub comes amid ongoing hostility between the two powers despite recent U.S. claims that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had been scheduled to attend the conference, which opens Friday night, but the Iranians changed their mind and sent no one to the gathering in Bahrain's capital.

The Iranians refused to provide a reason for their last minute decision, but U.S. officials in Washington said Gates planned to address America's standoff with Iran in his speech to the conference on Saturday.

The conference, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, welcomed delegates from Persian Gulf nations, the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, Australia and other countries.
Right now, the Iranians think they have the upper hand in the haggle, and can get away with outrageous statements in the face of what they see as a retreat by America from their original tough haggle.
HARRY THE HAGGLER: Haggle properly. This isn't worth nineteen.
BRIAN: Well, you just said it was worth twenty.
HARRY THE HAGGLER: Ohh, dear. Ohh, dear. Come on. Haggle.
BRIAN: Huh. All right. I'll give you ten.
HARRY THE HAGGLER: That's more like it. Ten?! Are you trying to insult me?! Me, with a poor dying grandmother?! Ten?!
Listening poker-faced to Gates would have cost the Iranian leadership nothing and shown the world a willingness to engage. It might even have afforded an opportunity to politely but firmly rebut anything they didn't agree with in a major diplomatic forum and before the whole world. It was a gift of a PR opportunity.

Instead, they come off as just as pouty-paranoid as the neocons who want the NIE revised to give them their war after all (which, to be honest, they quite probably are).

But just suppose Gates stands up and says the NIE has changed everything, including the administration's course? It would be a smart move for the administration given that the Russians have derailed that course anyway. How stupid and recalcitrant would the Iranians look then? Not that Bush is going to do that, of course. Pigs will fly sooner.

As I say, very dumb.

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