The Obama administration has never seriously sought to engage the Iranians, and has deliberately dragged out the nuclear dispute with Iran because it serves merely as a convenient pretext for war and regime change. It is about time to challenge the false media narrative accusing Iran of being "intransigent", and justifying the sanctions as a response to Iran's nuclear program. This is propaganda, which is intended to ultimately justify a war on Iran.
There's a false narrative on Iran promoted by the media, which claims that the US sanctions on Iran have something to do with the nuclear program, and that the US has attempted to resolve the nuclear standoff through "diplomatic" means. That's simply not true and never was, as many Iran observers have noted.
For example, BusinessWeek today proclaims in a headline that "U.S. Joins EU Push to Embargo Iran Oil Over Nuclear Effort".
Really? The embargo is "over nuclear effort", is it? If that's the case then why has the US consistently ignored many, many Iranian nulcear compromise offers - even ones endorsed by American and international experts? Why not similar sanctions on other countries that are developing similar nuclear technology, and have a record of lying to the IAEA to cover-up weapons-related work?
See, the US policy with respect to Iran has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. It is about regime change. Nuclear weapons are just a pretext, just as WMDs in Iraq were a pretext for war. And the experts are starting to say so too, although for some this realization comes despite themselves, and belatedly.
Example of a late convert: Mark Hibbs at Arms Control Wonk, who in response to comments written on his posting on that site entitled "Who wants diplomacy on Iran", eventually sees the light:
When I re-read my blog post, it occured to me that “regime change” is the elephant in the room in this entire discussion. It would appear that the US administration has shifted its view on Iran to the point where it is not willing to really negotiate an outcome with this Iranian regime on terms that would permit Iran to keep its nuclear assets.
Yes, an elephant in the room that I've been yelling and pointing at for years now. Sheesh! Che Ajab! (trans: about time!)
Gary Sick concluded thus after reviewing the Wikileaks cables on the Obama administration's supposed outreach to Iran which was supposedly rejected by Iran:
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Obama was never sincere about his engagement strategy. It has yet to be tried.
Dr Sick later wrote me an email about this:
I particularly appreciate that someone is reading my year-old posts. I do believe you could have dated my reluctant awakening quite a bit earlier if you had wished. I think I pointed out in some detail what Dennis Ross's position was and what that meant to the Obama administration. And of course I never doubted that the Bush admin -- at least until the very end -- had absolutely no interest in real negotiations with Iran. And I was very critical of the Clinton admin for failing to act on Iran's offers. And I have said consistently, for as long as I have been writing on the subject, that our policy has been more interested in sanctions than in progress.
And if you're curious what was "Dennis Ross's position", the Leveretts pointed that out:
Dennis Ross had told us, before entering the Obama Administration, that he did not believe a U.S. strategy of “engagement with pressure” toward Iran would actually work to stimulate productive diplomacy, but would be necessary to lay the ground work for further sanctions and, eventually, military strikes against the Islamic Republic.
Of course, Ross later denied this.
Reza Marashi, a former State Department official, wrote about this too:
It should now be clear that U.S. policy has never been a true engagement policy. By definition, engagement entails a long-term approach that abandons "sticks" and reassures both sides that their respective fears are unfounded. We realized early on that the administration was unlikely to adopt this approach...
Former IAEA Director Elbaradei - who was labelled a "despicable person" and an "Iranian agent" by the Israelis - also pointed out that Iran was ready to make significant compromise offers that were ignored, leading to his conclusion:
I have seen the Iranians ready to accept putting a cap on their enrichment [program] in terms of tens of centrifuges, and then in terms of hundreds of centrifuges. But nobody even tried to engage them on these offers.
They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change – by any means necessary.
Paul Pillar, writing in the National Interest in an entry entitled "The Road Not Taken Toward Iran", noted that there are many possible compromise options that could be explored to meet the minimum requirements of both sides regarding the nuclear dispute between Iran and the US, which have never been explored despite all the talk about willingness by the US to resolve the issue peacefully:
The only way in which this approach would not make sense is if talk about peacefully resolving the impasse over the Iranian nuclear issue is preparation for later making a case for launching a war against Iran. Unfortunately, some in the United States (and in Israel) who comment a lot on this matter seem to be doing exactly that. And when those people come to say that war is necessary because peaceful means have been tried and failed, that statement—if the unexplored road stays unexplored—will be false.
And later, in another entry entitled "Sanctions that are designed to fail", Pillar critiqued the NeoCon propaganda line on Iran sanctions:
Their task for now is to prepare the propagandistic groundwork for a big push for a war after, they hope, a different president enters office in 2013. Repeating the canard that diplomatic alternatives have been exhausted is part of that preparation. Another part is making the case the sanctions are not sufficient—supplementing the case as necessary with proposals for sanctions that would have no chance for working even if they were adopted. And each phase of the preparation, based on the unproven assumption that the advent of an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a terrible development, further fosters the impression that—as will be argued vociferously when the time for a big push for war comes—such a development really would indeed be terrible and must be prevented at all costs, even if “all costs” means a disastrous war.
Six former European ambassadors also wrote about how the maximalist demands by the US on Iran have simply led to the continued standoff, despite the fact that Iran's nuclear program is not in breach of international law:
We often hear that Iran's refusal to negotiate seriously left our countries no other choice but to drag it in 2006 to the security council. Here too, things are not quite that clear. In 2005 Iran was ready to discuss an upper limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons. Tehran also expressed its readiness to allow intrusive inspections, even in non-declared sites. But at that time Europe and the US wanted to compel Iran to ditch its enrichment programme entirely.
Iranians assume that this is still the European and US goal, and that for this reason the security council insists on suspension of all Iranian enrichment activities. But the goal of "zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily" is unrealistic, and has contributed greatly to the present standoff.
I could go on and on, pointing out how the standard media narrative - that the US policy with respect to Iran actually has some relationship to the nuclear issue - is known to be quite false.
And what has this policy resulted in? Well, the Iranians have already reached the conclusion that the NeoCons controlling US policy are disingenuously using the nuclear issue as a pretext, and so they have further concluded - quite logically - that they should give up trying to compromise and negotiate with the US on the nuclear issue, as Farideh Farhi notes.
They even suspended enrichment entirely for 3 years and agreed to sign the Additional Protocol (which allows stricter, more intensive IAEA inspections) - though US allies have refused to do so - and yet their compromise offers were met with only greater hostility and raised demands.
In 2006, Simon Tisdall quoted anonymous Iranian officials and diplomats as saying:
“The U.S. is using the nuclear issue as a pretext for regime change,” a senior Iranian official said this week. “The issue is a diversion. The U.S. wants to weaken Iran. Even if the nuclear issue was solved, they would want another thing and another thing.” And, “The Americans are trying to create an environment so the U.S. can hit Iran,” one diplomat said.
And yet the media in the US insists on promoting the myth that the sanctions on Iran have something to do with Iran's nuclear issue, that Iran has been the "intransigent" party in the dispute which has refused to negotiate over the issue. These are are convenient lies, which are intended to portray the "fault" for the current standoff as laying with Iran, when in reality the US is responsible for the continued standoff.
The bottom line is that the current dispute between Iran and the US has nothing to do with any "nuclear threat" posed by Iran. That's just a pretext for regime change, through war if necessary. The US has no intention of allowing a peaceful resolution to this dispute while leaving the Iranian regime in power. And sanctions are merely intended to serve as stepping-stones towards a war, which at each step simply paints the US into a tighter corner in dealing with Iran.