First 100 Days: Obama, Iran and Richard Nixon

By Bernd Debusmann
January 22, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Here is a piece of advice for Barack Obama for dealing with Iran, one of the countries that will loom large in his presidency. Forget the way five of your predecessors dealt with the place. Take your cue from Richard Nixon and his 1972 breakthrough with China.

Just as Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, realized that a quarter of a century of isolating and weakening China had not served America’s interests, so Obama should acknowledge that 30 years of U.S. policy since the 1979 Iranian revolution has failed and that what is needed is a grand bargain, a shift as fundamental as the one Nixon achieved with China.

Those suggestions come from Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, a husband-and-wife team of independent experts who worked on Middle East policy on the National Security Council during George W. Bush’s first term in the White House.

A grand bargain would involve putting all the differences between the two countries on the table at the same time and resolve them as a package.

The list of differences is long. At the top of it is Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. suspects is geared to make nuclear weapons. (Iran denies this). Then there is Iranian support for Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, two groups classified as “terrorist” by the United States. Under the Bush administration, Washington threatened military strikes, talked of regime change and imposed economic sanctions.

How likely is it that Obama will make a dramatic Nixon-in-China overture? Not very. For one, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is no Kissinger. And while Obama ran on a platform of change in the presidential election campaign, the man tipped to take charge of dealings with Iran, Dennis Ross, is an old-established Clinton-era Middle East negotiator with a widespread reputation in the area as a man with a pronounced pro-Israeli bias.

Fears about the Iranian nuclear program are rooted not so much in the belief  that Iran, once it had the bomb, would use it against Israel — a suicidal move, given Israel’s nuclear arsenal and second-strike capability — but that it will kick off a nuclear arms race. Or that Iranian nuclear weapons would fall into the hands of Hamas or Hezbollah.

In the view of Trita Parsi, an Iran scholar and author of “Treacherous Alliance, the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S.”, this prospect is remote. “Israel has signaled that it would retaliate against any nuclear attack by hitting Iran — regardless of who attacked Israel – … if any of Iran’s proxies attacked Israel with a nuclear warhead, Israel would destroy Iran.”

Parsi believes, as do other Iran watchers, that Iran does not actually need — and says it doesn’t want — to build a nuclear bomb. Having the know-how to make a nuclear warhead is enough to act as a deterrent, shift the balance of power and whet the nuclear appetites of Arab states fearful of Iranian encroachment.


Their interest in acquiring nuclear capabilities was highlighted by a nuclear cooperation agreement signed on the last working day of the Bush administration by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayed al Nahayan. The deal, similar to a U.S. agreement with India, has to be approved by Congress. If it is, can Saudi Arabia be far behind. Or Egypt?

And the question often asked about the Iranian program — why does a country rich in oil and gas need nuclear energy? — can be asked of these countries, too. Unlike Iran, the UAE will not enrich its own uranium and have its program monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Still, mastering civilian nuclear know-how can be a first step to getting a bomb.

Being against nuclear non-proliferation is like being against motherhood but there are those who view the long-running debate over Iran’s nuclear program with a dash of skepticism. Take Immanuel Wallerstein, a senior researcher at Yale University who has written extensively about nuclear proliferation.

“Why should we consider it to be catastrophic if tomorrow Iran has nuclear weapons?” he said in an interview. “Today, there are nine countries known to possess nuclear weapons — the U.S., Britain, Russia, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea. What would change if Iran became the tenth? Whom would they bomb?”

Why would the fear of mutual destruction that kept the U.S. and the Soviet Union from going to war against each other not work equally well in the Middle East?

On Obama’s first working day, the White House reissued his campaign pledge of “tough and direct diplomacy without preconditions” — a break from the Bush administration’s insistence that there could be no talks unless Iran first suspended its uranium enrichment program.

But according to a brief policy outline on the White House website, Washington will push the same carrot-and-stick package Iran has rejected for the past four years. Old wine in new bottles?

You can contact the author at For previous columns, click here.


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I think that almost all the problems in Middle East originate in the same place, America.

It is the time for Americans to understand this and to pull American troops out from Middle East and to stop arming Israel, too. After a while it might be too late. American military power might get defeated there shortly. For Obama the best advice would be: stay home and pull your troops home. You have got enough problems at home.

Posted by - hv | Report as abusive

This is in reply to ron_paulite.
Do you think without the explicit OK from the West and especially the USA the UN seat would pass from Taiwan to Communist China?
Do you think the Chinese industrial development as we know it would be possible without Western technology transfer and investment? Do you think the Chinese manufacturing would survive without the Western and especially the American market as the dumping ground for the cheap [expletive] made in China?
Do you think everything above would be possible without Nixon’s reversal of American policy on China?
What ignorance!

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

It is obvious that your knowledge of history on Middle East is only limited to a handful of Hollywood movies such as “300”. Supporting bias information is one think, but supporting imaginary or falsified history is another. It would be really appreciated if you would backup your knowledge of history with credible references for all to review.

Posted by Prove_it | Report as abusive

To Prove_It
My Dear, My words are not based on Holywood works at all. And the history you read is the falsified one because many parts of the real history kept hidden from people for a reason or another. I assume for example that you have never heard of the British Researcher and Historian LAWRENCE AUSTIN WADDELL. This great man spoke about his origin about the origin of Britons, Scots and AngloSaxons, but very few people in the world admit that Britannia was the New Phoenicia. And for your information I am from the MiddleEast and I know very well its history since the first human being until now. And I think if you do some reasearch on the Persian Empire and The Assyrians and all those bloody dynasties you will find that my words are 100 percent correct.
Those people keep working for such an empire and they terrorised me personally enough last year and so they did with many civilians in our country.

I am not saying that Americans didn’t commit mistakes but most of the attacks you named were an unblanced reaction to an attack carried out on Americans. And My call for an Attack on Iran should be praised by every free Iranian who is suffering from this dictator and extremist Regime. Those leaders you can’t talk to because the dates of their minds expired already with horrible beliefs they force people to agree with. Go and Speak your mind in Tehran. Can you???!! you will disappear in few seconds and so is the case in Russia Syria and China!!!!
I ma not defending a race or a color, I am defending Freedom and Knowledge against Slavery and Ignorance. I am supporting the Good against the Bad. and the Light against the Darkness.
And for your information I am not an American, because my Citizenship is a free good human being created by God to live on earth and to make my creator to b proud of me. How? By spreding Freedom and Knowledge, spreading Science and Discoveries, helping humanity to advance towards the best. And to achieve all of those duties I have to defeat every dark regime and ideology which destroy the civilisation and shut the mouthes and cut the tongues and force people to live one lifestyle.
God created colors to entertain us and to let our eyes enjoy the nature around us. Imagine the entire world in Black and white or it’s all green or Red!!! So plz no need to hide your eyes fom the truth, set people free and let every human being have some control on his life.

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

It would probably be good for us to do what we can diplomatically with Iran.

But you seem to think Nixon visited China simply to reap the benefits establishing a relationship between the US and the PRC.

Nixon was getting nowhere trying to talk to Brezhnev. He wanted to get a USA/USSR arms agreement. But when the whole world watched as Nixon and Mao had tea together Leonid was scared to death. The thought of the USSR’s bigest enemies becoming allies was frightening. Leonid Brezhnev was quick to come to the bargaining table and begin the process that would become the SALT and START treaties.

Nixon was a real mixed bag – he screwed up royally with watergate but was very effective with Super-K at his side.

Posted by john | Report as abusive

As to the remarks made by ‘poppy’, “They were the most barbarian Empire in the Ancient times”. Indeed! I guess you have not read much history have you? I guess the ruins and knowledge left behind by the Achmenid, Parthian and Sassanid Persians mean nothing to you. If it wasn’t for Khosru (Anushirwan), the barbaric west would not have known about the game called “Chess”. It was not Persians who created the “Shiat” sect. It was created by Arabs who revered Imam Ali. Sir, read your history first, before you get up on the soap box and expose yourself.

It seems you are trying to invent History for them. About CHESS The real origin of the Game is INDIAN.
Achmenid, Parthian and Sassanid Persians left KNOWLEDGE!! What a nice Joke It’s like you are saying AhmediNejad won a Nobel Peace Prize!
Go and read carefully in each period and every dynasty of those people and specially the last one u named SASSANID
The Sassanid dynasty was the first dynasty native to the Pars province since the Achaemenids; thus they saw themselves as the successors of Darius and Cyrus. They pursued an aggressive policy.
That’s all what the history remembers of the people you are defending. WAR LORDS. WARS and DICTATORSHIP are in their blood!!!
About SHIAA If you read carefully what I wrote, I didn’t say they invented it or created it. But I said they made their own rituals in it like (Wilayat AlFakih and other horrible ideas) They added their own powder to it to make it suitable for the Empire they r trying to rebuild!!!!
You are tying to find something that they added to the benefit of the humanity. But you simply couldn’t find any, so you brought to me a GAME – The CHESS (which is INDIAN).
What’s the Difference SRK between a world which knows the Chess and a world as you said have never heard of it!!!!????

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

This is reply to Anonyomous


Again what arrogance!

Do you think the capitalists of the West could resist the profits to be made from China should it decide to open up if Nixon hadn’t ‘invited’ it?

Posted by ron_paulite | Report as abusive

Poppy thinks Iran is the boogey man and that it is an intrinsic part of its nature… Ahmadinejad thinks in similar terms of Bush and his posse of neo-cons.
I wish the Ahmadinejads and the Poppy-think-alikes of this world will soon follow Bush to the dustbin of history.
We need another Khatami in Iran (or the same will do) and with Obama as president there will be dialogue and lasting peace.

Posted by cheporbik | Report as abusive

With Saddam gone, we can see Iran in a whole new favorable light. For this breakthrough, thanks to President Bush.

But Iraq was just Part A. Part B cab be President Obama establishing relations with Iran. (This could not have been contemplated without Saddam gone.)

Potential outcomes of relations with Iran: Iran’s renewed commitment to NPT, which will head off arms race in region (which race Iran itself does not want); US gets a major partner at the table to solve the Israel-Palestine problem; finally, US has a new partner in GWOT. This relationship could bring sustainable stability to the Middle East.

(After that, redefine the relationship with Russia along similar lines, mutatis mutandis.)

Potential “Obama Doctrine”: US will support regional hegemons who promote regional stability, which is now yoked to US strategy to promote inter/national security/stability.

Nixon never left the building.

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive

Dear All,
I am one of Iranian and we do not want any war in any place in the world and Mr. popy you do not know anything about Persian, they try to give peace to the world you can go back and read about Cyrus the Great, and read Saadi proverb at the United Nation gate. We are all one.

Posted by A | Report as abusive

Dear poppy,
It seems like you have no knowledge of persians what so ever. Iranians were the first if not only people who held a ceremony for people who lost thier life on September 11.

Posted by Kamal | Report as abusive

Mr A,
You are talking about the best man who led Persians in history. It happened once and there is always an exception. BUT
He promised not to force any person to change his religion and faith and guaranteed freedom for all. And that’s what your leaders doing now. RIGHT??!!! So go and do something, I doubt that you are in Iran now because if you were there, you wouldn’t be able to post your opinion!!!
And For you Information one of the shiaa staff that Iran Allamehs added as powder to rebuild their Empire is suggesting that the Qur’anic figure of Dhul-Qarnayn is Cyrus the Great. This theory was endorsed by Shiaa scholars Allameh Tabatabaei(in his Tafsir al-Mizan) and Makarem Shirazi.

Posted by To A | Report as abusive

Mr A,
You are talking about the best man who led Persians in history. It happened once and there is always an exception. BUT
He promised not to force any person to change his religion and faith and guaranteed freedom for all. And that’s what your leaders doing now. RIGHT??!!! So go and do something, I doubt that you are in Iran now because if you were there, you wouldn’t be able to post your opinion!!!
And For you Information one of the shiaa staff that Iran Allamehs added as powder to rebuild their Empire is suggesting that the Qur’anic figure of Dhul-Qarnayn is Cyrus the Great. This theory was endorsed by Shiaa scholars Allameh Tabatabaei(in his Tafsir al-Mizan) and Makarem Shirazi.

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

Dear Poppy,

It’s not “most barbarian” – its “most barbaric”. Persians did not “embrace Islam” and “exchanged some science and theories” means that they had science and theories to begin with, if it could be “exchanged”. You are obviously an uneducated simpleton trying to feel better about your own shortcomings by insulting a well documented culture and history, which at times has indeed been bloody like every other civilization. Try to work on your Grammar and formulation instead of spending time insulting Iranians. This is a waste of your time because Zionist run Hollywood has (and is) doing a much better job. The moderate cultured Arabs you speak of have been sitting back and working on the size of their bellies whilst their Arab brothers are getting slaughtered in Gaza. Then they pledge dirty money to so called rebuilt Gaza. How can you rebuild traumatized children and lost lives! Iran and Iranians do not want war or to export some sort of fanatical ideology. Even the words “Israel will be wiped off the pages of history” is widely misrepresented because what it intends to say that the state of Israel will not continue to exist; but it does not say that Iran is per say going to attack or nuke Israel. The biggest threat to Israel is the oppressive and devious nature of its government. We know that the majority of Israeli’s want peace- it’s excuses, shortcomings and self interest of their politicians which has stopped the achievement of this objective!

Years of foreign intervention, including this current Islamic theocracy, have left Iran in a terrible shape and its inhabitants oppressed. We just want to be left alone so we can rebuild our country and live in peace just like our neighbors in Turkey. You are quick on the trigger in passing judgment and call for military action, with absolute disregard to suffering and loss of life. Have your head examined then maybe get an education!


Posted by Olaag | Report as abusive

Oh, now there is a BEST MAN who was an exception! You are making a fool of yourself with the garbage you post. You are mentally challenged!

Posted by Olaag | Report as abusive

To Olaag
Your words are full of hate and arrogance and very smiliar to the speech of the people you defend. For oyur Information I am dealing when typing my words with 5 jobs in the same time as I do speak Arabic, French, English, Italian and spanish. I for sure have no time to edit or reread what I write!!! And Who are you at the end to speak about my education. I am sure you barely speak Persian and English!!! I have 3 Masters Degrees in Archaelogy, IT and Multimedia in three diffeent languages and from 3 different countries. WHO ARE YOU Mr OLAAG!!!??? If you want to be left alone, Then stop intervening in Lebanon and Palestine. Go and Shave the beard of your NasrAllah!!!!!!

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

To Olaag
And Yes I forgot to ask you: who told you Mr The Educated Iranian that Barbaric is grammatically better than Barbarian!!!!???

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

I see you were refering to THE MOST Barbaric the whole sentence. ok . u r right!

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

Bla bla bla, master this master that. It is you who is full of hate! Bombing the ayatollahs in iran only makes them stronger and helps them stay in power longer to give more aid to your problem in Lebanon. You must deal with hizbollah internally and in your own capacity just like we must do the same in Iran. We have always thought of the Lebanese people as our brothers irrespective of their religion. You draw a line from hizbollah to the regime in iran and then the whole nation including non Persians and non Muslims

Posted by Olaag | Report as abusive

Olaag and poppy (sorry, I don’t want to put you in the same league by any measure)
Persians did not ’’embrace’’ Islam. They were all originally Zorastrians (with fire as a central religious theme), who were slaughtered by arabs, as is the typical case during Jihadi arab spread of Islam. Then a small number of jorastrians fled to western India and were allowed to immigrate and practice their religion by the then king. Kind of jewish exodus of Iranians if you will. They are called ‘Parsis’ after their language in India. These Indian Iranians are a relic of history. One Indian Iranian whose business house acquired a global fame is Tata. Jamshed ji (typical Iranian name) Tata started his business empire with steal industry. The point is none of the Iranians are aware of their ancestral cousins. Do you know why. Simple-a case of denial. They have to acknowledge the brutal crimes of jihadists (muslims spreading islam by murder). The present Iranians know them (their ancestors) as aathish (fire) parasthar(worshippers)

Past should teach the present for a better future.

The underlying problem here is that western economies are build on oil & gas for their energy. this is the real danger to our economies.

Middle eastern countries never have tried to establisch industrial economies, they fabricate for instance no cars, like china, japan, and india. Their economies are copletely reliant on supplying oil, nothing else, as far as I know. Now Oil and Gas are nearing their point of no return in production, which is allready known for decades under the term “peak oil”

After the oil crisis in the seventies, there were some efforts in “the west” to try to create alternative energy, but too little, in my opinion, and for now, too late.

Western countries most urgent goal should be the development of altenative energy supply, and being energy independent.

The remaining oil in middle eastern countries, should then being used by them to create compatetive economies to the west, the middle eastern “industrial revolution”so to speak.

This will also involve nuclear knowledge, and even atomic bombs, China, India, & Pakistan have already this kind of weapons.

Better is abandon this kind of weapons worldwide, but I realize that’s an utopia right now.

Posted by Gert | Report as abusive

It would be good if would the new administration would make an opening to Iran as Nixon did to China although I despair of it. Frankly, most of the conflict between the US and Iran can be laid at America’s doorstep. Starting with the American overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 whom we replaced with the autocrat Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the equivalent of overthrowing Mr. Obama and reinstalling GWB as king), the US has twizzled with Iran. Of course, this was back in the day when the US had the power and seemed to feel a need to insure that many countries needed a puppet dictator who would dance to the US’s tune (Is it actually a surprise to anybody that segments of the world actually harbor resentment towards the US for essentially hijacking their government?).

Iran’s real crime was kicking the US out when they had their revolution – it pissed us off. While the US rants about Hamas and Hezbollah, it conveniently forgets that it is also promoting, assisting, and probably arming groups seeking to overthrow the Iranian government. I would say that what is good for the goose is good for the gander except, of course, Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t interested in the US, they’re interested in Israel. The whole A bomb issue is pure red herring. The US doesn’t even have a credible case – even the CIA says that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon efforts a number of years ago. The real problem here is that the Iranians are doing something the US can’t control or easily spy on. The Iranians have consistently cooperated with us when we sought cooperation (as opposed to demanding) even after we shot down an Iran Air jetliner flying a published commercial route during the first Gulf war that resulted in the deaths of a good number of innocent Iranian civilians (bet you forgot about that one, didn’t ya?). I suspect that if the US offered rapprochement to Iran based on respecting Iranian sovereignty and national interests and without insisting that they accept our world view and agenda, friendly relations could easily be reestablished.

Oh. And Mr. Poppy? You are in serious need of getting a clue. Your knowledge of history is so piss poor you probably should not be allowed out in public unattended.

Posted by jeff | Report as abusive

Jeff or Olaag It’s funny when one person uses two nick names to defend his rubbish ideas. Better you name yourself with something sounds Iranian. But this is your level ,you always go under the belt to express your feeling because your mind seems located there and not in ur head!
Your last three lines, they show very well the location of your tongue!

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

The Jewish lobby won’t let Mr Obama do what Mr Nixon did with China.


Bush: take the war to the enemy. If not, you will have to do it here.
After 5 yrs of liberation, they keep killing one another. You want to believe its because of US troops being there. No. You come out, then for sure, annihilation of one group by the other takes place. The end result is it will be quieter after that, just to make Iraqis live under another dictatorship.

If we all can make this work and live in a democracy, that model can be replicated elsewhere, if needed.Iran is preventing the peaceful democracy to settlr/contnue in Iraq. In the long run, Iran will have to do away with clergy in the administration, with a cvil Iraq as its neighbour, which the clergy refuses to do.

This “Great Debate” which started with a suitably great article has more or less been reduced to posts that have good points but have more ad hominem attacks (at least that’s what stands out). Somehow I think people tend more towards the ad hominem attacks when they are dealing with web personas rather than, well, hominems. There seems to be a lot of perspectives and knowledge that come out in these posts, but, ultimately people just wind up pissing eachother off and not really getting anywhere. It’s like this at the Economist, too. And CNN is, not surprisingly, even worse. It seems to me that knowledge and perspectives are going to waste. And I’ve been guilty of it myself as well.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

You are right. I am sorry, but I had to defend myself because Olaag insulted me since his first comment!

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

Almost all of us have played a role in it at one time or another. There’s no point in blaming anyone. I know that I’ve done it too. It’s a systemic issue. I think that these “Comments” sections on web sites don’t bring out our better selves a lot of the time. But, since there are a lot of things of value that come out, I think that it might be possible to tweak the structure and/or format and create something a lot better with much less acrimony.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

Great article… you have to have peanut size brain to believe that world will be destroyed or Israel will be
Wiped out if Iran get nukes… Israel has over 300 nukes and three subs loaded with nukes war heads. Iranians are not stupid they know if they attack Israel or USA they will also get destroyed… Look Pakistan and India if Pakistan did not have the nukes India would have marched in few years ago so it helped Pakistan to keep India off their borders… You think twice before you do any thing against country with nukes. Iran wants the same respect out of fear and Israel to be on leash so it won’t continue the Plalistains genocide….

Posted by speakamerica | Report as abusive


You say that I insulted you while you start your post with “Persians have a bloody history. They were the most barbarian Empire in the Ancient times”. Then you accuse me of posting under Jeff’s posting. I said what I had to say, and unlike you I am not an ignorant, uneducated, racist, cowered who categorizes everyone with the same brand like the nazi’s did. You can verify that the postings came from different IP addresses in different geographical locations with Reuters, if it makes you feel better- Mr. IT Masters degree!! The universities were you got your degrees should have their license revoked! Now crawl back under the rock you came from if you don’t have anything to preach instead of war, destruction and loss of innocent civilian life.
Olaag means donkey in Farsi, you retard! You deserve to be insulted!!!

Posted by Olaag | Report as abusive

Olaag!!!It’s the best name which describes you!!!
Donkeys are innocent creatures. In this case you are right, they should not be killed.

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

The postings were signed off with you in mind, and in response to you:))))))))))))))))))))

Posted by Olaag | Report as abusive

This is reply to ron_paulite

Again what ignorance!

Ever heard that the White House can stop any sale involving American technology? Even if that technology is just a tiny bit of the package. Case in point – the sale of Israeli spy equipment to China scuttled because it had some US made components. And how many Western technologies are completely free of US tech, may I ask you?
And one more thing you probably never heard of. Any non-US bank can be shut out of American financial system (read – US$ operations) for dealings with clients Uncle Sam doesn’t approve of. What do you think, would’ve any bank ever financed any China-related business if there was the risk of running afoul Uncle Sam?
So, if the US kept treating PRC as a pariah state, how many Western investments would’ve found their way there? Especially during the Cold War when Europeans were much more attentive to the position of Washington than they’re now? My rough estimate is – zero.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

The US wants the oil and influence in the Middle East and there is nothing more we seek. The lives of the peoples in the Middle East and Iran in particular is secondary if that much. We backed Iraq to overthrow Iran during the bloody war between the two nations and a few years later whip up nationalism here and beat the drums of war and villainize all in the Middle East who won’t lie down and die for the whims of a former tin pot president here. Instead when you stand up for whatever you believe you are called terrorists and your religion is made out to be an extremist cult by many and then we expect you to capitulate for what? A pittance for your resources and still expect your own people to pay ten times the amount we do for the same product?
If peace is desired by all then it is time that we in the US come to grips with the realities of history, the Arabs and Persians set aside all our past aggressions and start anew. What has happened can never be undone, but we need not kill more innocent people in vain attempts at settling old scores that will only grow worse with time.
Bombs do not make peace, people make peace.

Posted by mram | Report as abusive

Poppy, if war is what you seek or violence is your lust hen simply move to a crime infested slum somewhere and walk outside and continue spouting your rhetoric there. I’m sure plenty of people there will bring a fight to you and will be more than happy to indulge you.
As for the rest of us I only assume we truly want peace and are tired of reading about death and carnage every day and many are tired of living it as well.
We could bomb Iran back to the stone age and then what? Do you honestly believe all other members of the Islamic faith will simply roll over and be happy with these kinds of policies? If anything we would make ten times the enemies we have now and we wouldn’t get one drop of oil in the process.
Even though I’m no holy roller nor a religious man of any type I will still thank God Almighty that you hold zero power in this world and probably never will.

Posted by mram | Report as abusive

Imagine a world without Israel !!!

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

I hope those readers who dare to publish their dogmatic dark thoughts like POPPY, go to the libraries and read the history of a nation before preaching their NAZI views. Persians can not be judged through motion pictures like 300, or other crazy productions of some idiots who call themselves directors of HOLYWOOD. A man MUST think before talk.

Posted by Ehsan | Report as abusive

Anonymous January 25th, 2009 5:51 pm GMT

“So, if the US kept treating PRC as a pariah state, how many Western investments would’ve found their way there?”

A lot since it’s mainly the Taiwanese who did invest there in the beginning. Foxconn, the maker of DELLs and Apples computers among others have some 450,000 employees in China. All thanks to Taiwan, where the company is headquarted and started.

Besides other western countries regularly invest in or trade with countries hostile to the US. They don’t care. Not all countries did abide to the restricts the west had against the Comecon for example (the communist countries trade bloc). They can’t effectively block the resell of american tech and gods. Your allies Taiwan even have offices for selling computers in Iran even though it’s illegal to sell US software to Iran. And you know what the US don’t make (manufacture) many of the parts containing US tech anyways. Your economies are too intertwined for you to do anything about it anyway.

I don’t know why you dream back to the times of the cold war and sanctions against your opponents. It didn’t really work, and you where free to make and did make direct investments in Comecon countries then. You have never had that support from western countries your talking about either.

Posted by Petter | Report as abusive

“Why would the fear of mutual destruction that kept the U.S. and the Soviet Union from going to war against each other not work equally well in the Middle East?”
What sort of moron could write that about a country that sponsors suicide bombers?

Posted by Colin | Report as abusive

This is reply to Anonymous

Again what arrogance.

” And how many Western technologies are completely free of US tech, may I ask you? ”

Do you know majority of components and precision parts of the US satellites and space shuttles are actually designed and made in Japan?

Do you think that the USA has a monopoly or hegemony on technologies? Yes, most of the fundamental scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century were by the USA — but the USA does not have absolute control over the technologies that arose from these breakthrough — due to the open nature of the US system and capitalism.

Yes, even up to this day, the US bans export for breeding edge technologies to China. But China does not need these breeding edge technologies to prosper.

Also, China does not need to purchase technologies directly from the USA.

And for your information, most of the space and military technologies in China come from Russia.

Have you been to China? I bet no.

“Any non-US bank can be shut out of American financial system (read – US$ operations) for dealings with clients Uncle Sam doesn’t approve of. ”

Yes, I am aware of this. If Nixon hadn’t invited China to join the world financial system, do you think that if China (after Mao) wanted to join, the US could refuse it?

Posted by ron_paulite | Report as abusive

to answer poppy. there is nothing more barbaric that some barbaric thought like pretending to have a brain and trying to play the historical proof card: Iranians are no more barbaric that both Israelis and long before Americans. The formers killed, Palestinian people, turned them into refugees in other countries and their own land and destroyed their livelihood, identity and history. the lattes did the same to native Americans long before! the Mid-east crises are a collective responsibility and that ONLY mature, responsible and well-informed individuals should talk about. Get over your racism and hatred please.

Posted by Answer To Poppy | Report as abusive

To Spooky
Thank you Spooky. I agree with you 100%. And I congratulate you for using your words in a more polite way than the one I used.

To the ones who attacked me and my comment:
I started my comments mentioning the bloody history of Persians, The problem as I can read now is that I am declared now as RACIST and NAZI. The problem is that most of you have paranoid thining and you will never know how to respect the Freedom of Speech. You say that every civilisation had bloody period in its history! But I can say that my ancestors had no bloody history. Phoenicians taught you how to speak (the AlPHABET), They were the first Explorers, the nicest traders and they were the Best Architects as they built Solomon’s Temple. They were the first who discovered Britain and USA as well. Cartage in Tunisia was the first New York.
And above all they were the first to worship one God without having prophets and messengers, and so Akhenaton who was the best Pharaoh in the Ancient Egypt took the Monotheism from his uncles (His mum was Phoenician).
The Falsified history right now mentions only the Canaanite Gods as Phoenician ones.
However your GREAT MAN CYRUS invaded ou land and so much of the Phoenician creative population migrated to Carthage and then to Britain, Americas and other colonies following the Persian conquest.
Now it’s time to win back our home. So
You Iranians, Tell your leaders to Stop destroying our land.
We have no problem with a Democratic Neighbour, they were our neighbours throughout history. Take your Hizbollah and your Revolutionary Guards out of our land. If you have problems with the West and Israel then deal with this from another place not from our country.
Give us peace and then receive from us what astounds the world. We will prove to you in the future, that we have far more than ZERO in the world score. We will play the biggest role in creating the NEW WORLD and the GOLDEN AGE, the era where your children and ours can live in peace and harmony.
But until then, He is a fool the one who think that talks with Tehran’s Regime will bring lasting peace to our region.

Posted by Poppy | Report as abusive

This is one of the more interesting analysis of the us/iran relationship. Nuclear technology is not a exclusive club. More and more countries are going to join because it works and because they can and because it guaranties there will be no attack on their soil. Ask US to get rid of hers and see if they would do it. I am not comparing us to Iran. US is a democracy. Iran is not. However if Iran gets the bomb, it is for self defense and not selfdestruction. Mutual deterence does work. Israel should focus its guns against europeans that for 2000 year have hurt the jews to make the world a better place. Palestinians did not have nothing to do with that.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

I wouldn’t say that I disagree with you completely. One problem, however, is that our ally India has also not honored the NPT. Obviously, they have gone much futher than Iran. The treaty is problematic in the way that it is applied. More consistency here would be difficult for the US, but it would help the situation.

Also, the term “terrorism” has no real empirical meaning. No one agrees on what it means. The US is especially unclear here. Until such a definition is arrived at, it is merely propaganda.

As to the repressiveness of the regime, we have allies that are just as repressive, so I suspect we could get over that if we wanted to.

Your statement about double standards being how the world works seems to assume that the current situation is working. Do you think that it is?

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

Reply to Winchester73:

Comparing Iran with India is not correct. And it is not true what said about India not honouring NPT because India NEVER signed NPT. Same for Israel and Pakistan. So, there is no violation of treaty if one has not signed up for it.

Posted by Bristol | Report as abusive

Israel, India and Pakistan have not ratified the NPT. Though they are under pressure from the UN, they are not formally bound by its rules or requirements.

These nations did not sign the treaty, because it would have hindered their ability to gain nuclear weapons, something they presumably saw as a matter of survival.

Pakistan and India balance one another out. They are unlikely to wipe each other off the map. Nor are they likely to take a shot at Europe.

But if Iran gets a nuclear bomb, there are two possibilities. The first is that Iran uses it, which would cause all kinds of grief. The second is Iran now posesses a deterrent, which then allows them to begin a conventional war with impunity.

Either will be very bad for the Gulf. This is why Iran is getting a lot of (arguably unfair) treatment.

As for terrorism, I think the basic definition is the use of stateless entities to commit warfare in breach of the Laws of War. As Iran is (allegedly) financing Hamas, Hizbulla and Iraq insurgencies, this could be interpreted as covert military operations against the West if true.

As for the system working? I suppose we will need to see how it eventually resolves. We are merely the observers, after all…

Posted by Spooky | Report as abusive

Spooky and Bristol,

I agree that I was wrong in comparing Iran with India since India did not sign the NPT.

Still, the definition you volunteer for “terrorism” is not generally accepted. If we call “covert military actions” terrorism that creates a problem because most countries have done that at one time or another. The problem with the lowest common denominator definition that tends to prevail, i.e. significant violence perpetrated upon a civilian population by an organized group for political ends, is also problematic because the US and Israel have both done that in the past.

Also, I think we need to give Iran a pass on their repressive treatment of their own people. We support other countries that do this. And it really isn’t any of our business.

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

If Iran send a bomb to Isreal then Isreal will see it on their radas and demolish Iran before the bomb reaches. Iran wouldn’t have the rnge anyway

Posted by 11 year old | Report as abusive

“Why would the fear of mutual destruction that kept the U.S. and the Soviet Union from going to war against each other not work equally well in the Middle East?”

How many suicide bombers do you see coming out of Russia?

Posted by builderbob | Report as abusive