PRETENDING TO NEGOTIATE….It looks like Michael O’Hanlon has now swallowed the neoconservative Kool-Aid whole and isn’t bothering to try to hide it anymore. In the Washington Times today, he maps out the only reason that he supports negotiations with Iran:
U.S. diplomatic contact with Iran, the sooner the better, still makes sense — not because it will likely produce any breakthroughs, but because what Professor Victor Cha calls “hawkish engagement” can set the U.S. up more effectively to galvanize the kind of growing international pressure on Iran that is probably our only long-term hope of producing better behavior from Teheran….Only by patiently trying to work with Iran, and consistently failing to make progress, will we gradually convince Bush-haters and U.S. doubters around the world that the real problem does not lie in Washington.
….While George Bush has not handled Iran or Iraq well during most of his administration, to equate his mistakes with those of Mr. Ahmadinejad, or forgive what Iran has been trying to do in the region based on U.S. transgressions and mistakes, would be badly wrong. Yet many do just that. Until they change their minds, all we can do is be patient, keep fighting in Iraq, keep gathering intelligence throughout the region — and keep trying to prove we are the reasonable ones.
There you have it. Our only option is to “keep fighting in Iraq” until we manage to prove to the world that we’re the reasonable ones. This leads Matt Yglesias to observe that O’Hanlon probably figures that “his bridges to the Democratic Party are sufficiently burned that he’s now looking for a post in the McCain administration.”
I guess. He sure seems to now be firmly invested in the conservative/neoconservative tradition that says treaties are just scraps of paper and you should never negotiate or try to coexist with an enemy, and that puts him firmly in McCain territory.
Anyway, for a somewhat broader view of the possibilities with Iran, try this Jeffrey Fleishman piece in the LA Times today. Rapprochement with Iran would certainly be neither easy nor quick — and in the end might turn out to be impossible — but good faith efforts are hardly doomed to fail. Somebody willing to consider the possibility of changing the game might very well change the game.