Inside the Iran Talks

| Thu Aug. 11, 2005 1:34 PM EDT

Der Spiegel takes an inside look at the negotiations between the EU and Iran over the latter's nuclear program. At this point, the obstacles to progress are the same as they've always been: Europe's willing to hand out whole baskets full of carrots—and it has to, since it can't really wield any sort of stick—while Iran seems more interested in guarantees that Israel and the United States won't attack it. But the Bush administration has no interest in handing out any such guarantees. Why? In the New Republic this week, Michael Mazarr points out that a U.S. attack on Iran would likely provoke the letter to strike back, against oil fields, against U.S. military interests, against American civilians. Basically, no one would benefit from a conflict, and everyone would benefit from engagement. Now maybe Iran would, in fact, reject any sort of grand bargain with the United States, or any sort of engagement along the lines proposed by Kenneth Pollack. But that's no reason not to try. This whole Iran impasse is really one of the more inexplicable Bush administration actions over the past five years—and that's saying a lot.

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