Who said Senators aren't diplomats? More talking about talking with Iran
On the topic of James Baker and Lee Hamilton's suggestion that we talk to Iran and Syria about helping us out in Iraq, I'd say a person would have to be either abysmally stupid, mindbogglingly ignorant, or stark raving mad (or perhaps some combination of all three) to think it might be a good idea. And that's the polite version of what I think.
Victor Davis Hanson calls such a suggestion "surreal." I'm with him, as well.
But Senators--ah, Senators!--are much more refined in questioning whether the ISG's suggestion to turn to Iran for help in Iraq is really the wisest possible course. For example, ISG head James Baker and member Lee Hamilton were quizzed Thursday by Joe Lieberman thusly:
I'm skeptical that it's realistic to think that Iran wants to help the United States succeed in Iraq. They are, after all, supporting (the Islamist militant group) Hezbollah, which gathers people in the square in Beirut to shout "Death to America."
Not to mention that's this is not a recent occurrence: for thirty-five years Iran has been actively working and praying (loudly) for our destruction. Color me "skeptical" about whether the proposal is "realistic," as well.
John McCain's statement on the topic was a bit more to my liking:
I don't believe that a peace conference with people who are dedicated to your extinction has much short-term gain.
Or long term gain, I might add.
But here's Baker on the subject:
What do we lose by saying, "we're getting all of Iraq's neighbors together, we want you to come, and if they say no, we show the world what they're all about?"
That actually is an interesting question that seems reasonable on the face of it. I'll take a stab at an answer: the world already knows exactly what Iran's about, and the world doesn't much care, as long as Iran's not directly affecting them at this moment in any dramatic way. The world is relying on the US to do something about Iran, when/if it should ever become necessary, because "the world" never will. And then, when/if the US ever does act against Iran, "the world" can criticize whatever that action might be. If "the world" doesn't have enough information about Iran's goals and nature by now, then "the world" is willfully ignoring the truth, and has motivations to continue to do so.
What's more, making obeisance to Iran by asking them for "help" (the way such talks have been framed) makes us look both foolish and weak. It's not a winning combination to convey. If I were one of the mullahs, I'd be flabbergasted at the amount of foolish naivete such an act indicated--flabbergasted and pleased.
I've always thought it's usually not good to communicate desperation to one's enemies. But maybe that's just me.
One more thing: many of Iran's people would like to overthrow their government. They look to the US for a sign that we would support them in such an endeavor. I would wager, from what they're seeing of our current behavior re Iraq, they're not getting a lot of assurance that we'd be there for them when the chips are down. But talking with Iran would be just as bad as the message of our possibly abandoning Iraq; it would tell the people who would like to topple the mullahs that we are dangerously out of touch with reality, and willing to bargain with our enemies and sell out our principles in order to do so.
[CORRECTION: Iran, of course, has been working for our destruction since 1979: twenty-seven years, not thirty-five.]