No Preconditions

Andrew Sullivan writes that “No Recognition Of Ahmadinejad” must be considered “the first and absolute requirement of all Western governments.”

In my New Atlanticist post “Negotiating with Iran without Preconditions,” I recall this famous exchange from the July 24, 2007 CNN/YouTube debate:

More commentary and analysis at the link.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    Note of clarification: Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the leader of Iran. If we are going to negotiate with the leader of Iran, I hope we don’t embarrass ourselves by knocking on the wrong door.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the leader of Iran. If we are going to negotiate with the leader of Iran, I hope we don’t embarrass ourselves by knocking on the wrong door.

    Khamenei and the mullahs are the ultimate decision-makers but Ahmadinejad is the diplomatic face of Iran. He’s the one that travels to meet foreign heads of state and the guys foreign heads of state come to see.

  3. Furhead says:

    Ahmadinejad is still a thug and his legitimacy as a representative of Iran’s people is still in question.

    As someone commenting at the link mentioned, in what way was he potentially illegitimate before this election? Was there some controversy surrounding his original election that I am forgetting? Or are we just saying he was never legitimate because Iran doesn’t have a Western-style democracy?

  4. James Joyner says:

    in what way was he potentially illegitimate before this election? Was there some controversy surrounding his original election that I am forgetting?

    Yes. See my June 2005 post Iran’s Sham Democracy.

    Or are we just saying he was never legitimate because Iran doesn’t have a Western-style democracy?

    It’s not that they don’t have our form of democracy but that they don’t have democracy. The people’s vote does not determine who makes public policy decisions.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Under what conditions should we recognize an Iranian president?

  6. James Joyner says:

    Under what conditions should we recognize an Iranian president?

    I’m with Obama on this one: We recognize whomever the mullahs say is president and act accordingly. Ahmadinejah is no less legit that the Saudi princes or various other dictators we treat as legitimate heads of state.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If the President of a country had control of the media and could filter the information the titular head of state could be greatly influenced by what he or she was allowed to hear, read and see. The real head of state would have become a puppet. Ahmadinejad seems to exercise control over those parts of government which distribute information. The revolutionary guard reports to him. After all Khamenei is not Khomeini. Excuse any spelling errors in the Iranian names please.

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Maybe some of these people should have said the same about Bush’s first term. You know, just for consistency.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    OK, my initial comment about who leads Iran was a bit smart alecky.

    I look at the Iranian Constitution, and past practices, and see that the Supreme Leader ultimately dictates foreign policy, national security and control of the terrorists Qods forces. The President is running the office for him and his role on the world stage, organizing conferences on such things as “Holocaust, fact or fiction?,” appear to be the tradition role of powerless heads of state, like Prince Charles.

    I think it both makes sense for the negotiations to occur between individuals with like positions, and coextensive authority to make binding decisions.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    Under what conditions should we recognize an Iranian president?

    I think it’s reasonable to recognize that a dispute is being negotiated internally at this point. I believe there might even be a process still ongoing to ratify the results. At some point though, the reality must be recognized, which is that the Supreme Leader decides.