A History of Failed Rapprochement

Worth a read from Foreign Policy:  From Washington to Tehran: A Legacy of Failure.

If this deal holds it is a very, very big deal.

FILED UNDER: National Security, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Mikey says:

    Interesting article. Hopefully both the Obama administration and the Iranian leadership have learned from studying these past failures and are able to produce something successful this time. Iran’s young, Western-oriented, generally pro-American populace has always seemed to me the potential foundation of an important alliance.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Absolutely agree. This is a potentially game-changing alliance, and we should have no hesitation about making it clear to the Iranian people that Americans would welcome a free Iran into the wider world. The regime holds onto its reflexive hatred of all things western, but the people do not, and that is a schism we should exploit.

  3. Matt says:

    @michael reynolds: Tehran is a very modern city much like those here in the states. Iran just like the USA also has issues with rural religious extremists.

  4. Tyrell says:

    One problem in Iran is that that extremist leaders have wound up running the show. This Ayatollah Khomeini was the very image of evil incarnate. This guy looks like he came sraight out of some “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” movie. One has to wonder how many innocent people that he had murdered.

    “Ayatollah Assaholah” : popular bumper sticker of the early 80’s

  5. @Tyrell:

    “This guy looks like he came sraight out of some “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” movie.” is hardly an appropriate basis for making foreign policy determinations.

    Also, even if you want to link it to Khomeini, note that he died in 1989. That was a a while ago.

  6. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “This Ayatollah Khomeini was the very image of evil incarnate. This guy looks like he came sraight out of some “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” movie.”

    Shorter Tyrell: We should go to war with Iran because a leader who’s been for a quarter century looked like my stereotype of a bad guy based on watching bad movies.

    Actually, that’s pretty much the shorter on all his posts. Wouldn’t it be said if he turned out not to be a troll, but really thought what he posted?

  7. JKB says:

    Except there is no deal. Nothing has been signed. And the Iranians are already on the record with a completely different perspective on the “parameters” than Obama or Kerry.

    The Iranian take on the “parameters” is quite different from the line peddled by Obama and Kerry. While Obama seeks to give the impression that these “parameters” have been agreed, the Iranian position is that, basically, these “parameters” establish the topics that will be discussed over the following weeks and months, except, of course, for one. The Iranians claim that sanctions must be lifted immediately or there is no further “progress.” In addition, of course, the Iranians get to keep their nuclear program. A minor detail.

    Maybe something comes of this, but right now, they’ve basically just agreed, in a fashion, on what to talk about in the next couple months.

  8. @JKB: Yes, things can still fall apart. The bottom line is, however, this is a substantial step forward.

    Since things can always fall apart observing such does not take a lot of analytic prowess.

  9. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, call it what it is. It is an agreement to have talks in which both sides are characterizing the agreement in near diametrical terms. In essence, nothing.

    Perhaps they can make something from nothing but right now all we have is false marketing campaign by the Obama administration. A cynic might think they are hoping, and probably will have success, that Congress will sour any deal so that Obama can claim he was thwarted since going forward would pretty much memorialize his being rolled.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    Your characterization…and the one you copied from that right-wing nut-job site…is diametrically opposed to reality. If you read the statements they are actually not that far apart. Both are aimed at a certain audience…no doubt.
    Netanyahu said the Interim Deal that lead to this framework wouldn’t hold. He was wrong. Again.
    And you, as we all know, are always wrong about whatever you choose to opine on. Records matter.
    Bottom line…you want war…man-up and say it.

  11. JKB says:

    Let’s look at the translations from someone who is actually fluent in Farsi and English, shall we:

    The Iranian text opens by insisting that it has absolutely no “legal aspect” and is intended only as “a guideline for drafting future accords.”

    The American text claims that Iran has agreed to do this or that, for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

    The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to . . .” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished.

    Hmm, that sounds like perhaps there is not really so much as an agreement but rather near diametrical views?

    Or here

    The American text claims Tehran has agreed to take measures to reassure the international community on military aspects of its nuclear project, an oblique reference to Iran’s development, with help from North Korea, of missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. There is absolutely no echo of that in the Iranian and other non-American texts.

    Oops, not even the European press releases are backing up the Obama propaganda.

    And the alternative to an agreement is not war, there is always the continuation of the UN sanctions and proximity pressures. If they weren’t important, then why is Iran so excited that they’ve got Obama’s agreement to immediately lift them?

  12. C. Clavin says:

    The NY f’ing Post? Now there is a bastion of truth.
    There are some differences in emphasis…but no real apparent conflicts.
    Some of it is good, some of it is bad, and some things are yet unknowable.
    Is it better than the results of the previous 3 decades? Yup.
    Will it satisfy you chicken-hawks? Nope. Nothing short of wasting more blood and gold will.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    At least Bill “I’m Never Right” Kristol has the balls to say what he wants:

    We opponents of the deal disdain to conceal our views and aims. We urge Congress to stop this bad deal. We urge Congress to kill it. We believe sanctions, sabotage, and the threat of military force can better constrain the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program than this bad deal. But we will also say openly that, if it comes to it, airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal that lets it go forward.

    Apparently the blunder in Iraq he helped engineer, complete with the blood of 4000 troops, the deaths of over a hundred thousand civilians, and over $2T in wasted money isn’t enough for him. He won’t be happy until he sees something, and other peoples kids, go boom from the safety of his DC mansion.