While diplomacy necessarily involves talking to adversaries, Washington should not assume that the ayatollahs operate from the same set of ground rules. During his long exile in Najaf, Khomeini endorsed taqiya, religiously sanctioned dissembling. From his perspective and that of his followers, the ends justify the means. Hence, Khomeini saw nothing wrong when he told the Guardian newspaper, just months before his return to Iran, "I don't want to have the power of government in my hand; I am not interested in personal power." Tehran may still conduct diplomacy to fish for incentive and reward but, at its core, Iranian diplomacy is insincere. The Iranian leadership will say anything and do anything to buy the time necessary to acquire nuclear capability. That Foggy Bottom still advises against any strategy that might undercut the possibility of some illusionary breakthrough signals triumph not of realism but of negligence. Diplomacy cannot succeed if one side is playing for real and the other only for time.
Also NPR aired a piece this morning on how the Pentagon's "nefarious" Office of Special Plans, has taken over the Iran Directoriate. These guys, NPR says, had a direct pipeline to the President in the run up to the Iraq War. The theory being that now they're agitating for war against Iran.
We've been offering carrots to Iran for quite some time. Don't we at least have to have the threat of a stick for diplomacy to work?