Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Seditious Conversations in Iran

Today, Iranian state television is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would consider an American request to open a diplomatic office in Tehran.  Iran’s officials have been debating whether to allow such an outpost in part because the Washington Post in late June broke the story that U.S. diplomats were thinking of making a request to establish an interest section there.  Iran currently has its own interest section in Washington, run out of the Pakistani embassy.

Will the State Department preempt the fierce McCain-Obama debate on talking with the mullahs by going out on its own and setting up an office in Iran?  And why open a channel when we severed relations in 1979 after Iranians took over our embassy and held our diplomats hostage?

It’s all about regime change.  “We’re always looking for ways to be able to reach out to the Iranian people,” said Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, last month.  Arthur Waldron suggests we open our door, offer pistachios (with a little whisky for those so inclined), and listen to Iranians who want to talk.  This, he argues persuasively, will drive the country’s theocrats nuts.  Most Iranians have a good image of the United States, notes Time‘s Azadeh Moaveni.  Why?  There are various reasons, but perhaps the most interesting is that they detest their leaders and their leaders detest us.

Washington has used its interest section in Havana to reach out to Cubans, even installing a Times Square-like moving electronic sign that aggravated Fidel Castro to no end.  Why shouldn’t we also do all we can to irritate the ayatollahs through an office in their capital?

Of course, talking to the common folk in Tehran will not by itself bring down the theocracy.  Yet it could be one of our most effective tools in undermining a government that considers us an enemy.  In any event, an American interest section in Tehran will be one more thing for the country’s insecure leaders to worry about.  And who knows, maybe even a few of them will end up in line to get a Scotch-and perhaps to defect to the greatest nation on earth.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.