September 28, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- The unrelenting diplomatic and geopolitical standoff between Iran and the United States is often blamed on the Iranian government for its "confrontational" foreign policies, or its "unwillingness" to enter into dialogue with the United States. Little known, however, is that during the past decade or so, Iran has offered a number of times to negotiate with the US without ever getting a positive response.
The best-known effort at dialogue, which came to be known as Iran's "grand bargain" proposal, was made in May 2003. The two-page proposal for a broad Iran-US understanding, covering all issues of mutual concern, was transmitted to the US State Department through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran. Not only did the State Department not respond to Iran's negotiating offer, but, as reporter Gareth Porter pointed out, it "rebuked the Swiss ambassador for having passed on the offer".
Since then, Iran has made a number of other efforts at negotiation, the latest of which was made by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad ahead of last week's trip to the United States to attend the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Regrettably, once again the US ignored Ahmadinejad's overture of meeting with President Barack Obama during his UN visit.
The question is why? Why have successive US administrations been reluctant to enter into a conflict-resolution dialogue with Iran, which could clearly be in the national interests of the United States?
The answer, in a nutshell, is that US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, is driven not so much by broad national interests as they are by narrow but powerful special interests - interests that seem to prefer war and militarism to peace and international understanding. These are the nefarious interests that are vested in military industries and related "security" businesses, notoriously known as the military-industrial complex. These beneficiaries of war dividends would not be able to justify their lion's share of our tax dollars without "external enemies" or "threats to our national interests."
Taking a large share of the national treasury was not a difficult act to perform during the Cold War era because the pretext for continued increases in military spending - the "communist threat" - seemed to lie conveniently at hand. Justification of increased military spending in the post-Cold War period, however, has prompted the military-security interests to be more creative in inventing (or manufacturing, if necessary) "new sources of danger to US interests".
When the collapse of the Soviet system and the subsequent discussions of "peace dividends" in the United States threatened the interests of the military-industrial conglomerates, their representatives invented "new threats to US interests" and successfully substituted them for the "threat of communism" of the Cold War. These "new, post-Cold War sources of threat" are said to stem from the so-called "rogue states", "global terrorism" and "Islamic fundamentalism." Demonization of Iran and/or Ahmadinejad can be better understood in this context.
Now, it may be argued that if beneficiaries of war-dividends need external enemies to justify their unfair share of national treasury, why Iran? Why of all places is Iran targeted as such an enemy? Isn't there something wrong with the Iranian government and/or Ahmadinejad's policies in challenging the world's superpower knowing that this would be a case of David challenging Goliath, that it would cause diplomatic pressure, military threats and economic sanctions on Iran?
These are the kind of questions that the "Greens" and other critics of Ahmadinejad's government ask, rhetorical questions that tend to blame Iran for the economic sanctions and military threats against that country - in effect, blaming the victim for the crimes of the perpetrator. Labeling Ahmadinejad's policies as "rash", "adventurous" and "confrontational," Mir Hossein Mousavi and other leaders of the "Greens" frequently blame those polices for external military and economic pressures on Iran.
Accordingly, they seek "understanding" and "accommodation" with the US and its allies, presumably including Israel, to achieve political and economic stability. While, prima facie, this sounds like a reasonable argument, it suffers from a number of shortcomings.
To begin with, it is a disingenuous and obfuscationist argument. Military threats and economic sanctions against Iran did not start with Ahmadinejad's presidency; they have been imposed on Iran for more than 30 years, essentially as punishment for its 1979 revolution that ended the imperial US influence over its economic, political and military affairs. It is true that the sanctions have been steadily escalated, significantly intensified in recent months. But that is not because Ahmadinejad occasionally lashes out at imperialist/Zionist policies in the region; it is rather because Iran has refused to give in to the imperialistic dictates of the US and its allies.