Head of State

Tehran Bureau | comment

It’s becoming ever more clear that U.S. Iran policy is destined to fail unless the conversation is quickly and dramatically restructured, which seems unlikely with Hillary Clinton assigned to serve as top diplomat. At the moment the United States is obstinate that under no circumstances can Iran become a nuclear power and Iran knows that nearly all direct American military threats to them made over the past thirty years have ultimately proven to be idle ones.

For America to achieve any level of compliance from Iran, the struggle should be re-framed to one of mutual respect. Whether real or perceived, Iran considers itself a major power, worthy of respect in a volatile part of the world. They simply will not submit to American demands; doing so would signify a crumbling of one of the regime’s main pillars.

In their eyes, they have their own set of demands, which are equally warranted and pressing, and ones that America continues to publicly ignore. I suspect that should the United States decide they are willing to negotiate with Iran, most of these wants have a price tag that could be paid in dollars.

Simply put, the two sides are having their separate conversations and it’s become a pattern of talking one another.

For this reason the dialogue must change from the present one, marked by a very confrontational tone, to one of symbioses and shared goals. It shocks me that the easiest ways to establish direct contact with Iran have been overlooked by nearly all American policy makers and commentators. It points to a complete lack of understanding of Iranian society and its values. It will all lead to more of the same.

The long overused mantra that “time is running out” for a satisfactory solution to Iran has become laughable. Well, to the Mullahs who have been hearing it for years, anyway.

The cartoon was first published on Truthdig.com.

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