The Myth of Diplomacy with Iran

Cyrus Safdari

Iran Affairs

June 21, 2008


There are many media-manufactured myths around the issue of Iran's nuclear program: for example, that Iran's nuclear program was a "secret" before it was exposed" in 2003. Some of these myths are being manufactured even right now. Prominent among them is the myth that "diplomacy" has been pursued in dealing with Iran. For example, the NY Times reports today:

Bush administration officials appear to have concluded that diplomatic efforts to rein in Iranís nuclear ambitions will not yield any breakthroughs this year... But European diplomats have been loath to acknowledge publicly that diplomacy on Iranís nuclear development is in a holding pattern..."

Ummm... what "diplomacy" or "diplomatic efforts" is the NY Times referring to? Since when does submitting an ultimatum which consists of nothing more than "Give in or else we'll bomb you" constitute "diplomacy"? Is this label of "diplomacy" attached to this policy justified?

This "myth of diplomacy" with Iran has two aspects: on the first, it frames the EU/US as being "reasonable" and "diplomatic' whilst it is Iran that is being "intransigent" - when in fact it is the EU/US who are being intransigent by illegally demanding that Iran give up a sovereign right to use her own natural resources and technology for her own benefit, and by ignoring repeated Iranian compromise offers -- such as multilateral enrichment on Iranian soil -- which would address any real concern of weapons proliferation and which have been widely endorsed even by IAEA officials.

The second aspect of this myth of diplomacy with Iran is that it frames the issue as a false choice: attacking Iran is presented as the only alternative to this sort of "diplomacy", thus laying the groundwork to justify such an attack in the public mind by ignoring other peaceful options.

The New York Times article does precisely this when it switches deftly between talk of diplomacy and military strikes on Iran. The message is basically meant to be this: "We tried diplomacy with Iran, our diplomacy was 'exhausted', and so now the only remaining option is to attack Iran."  Notice how perfectly reasonable ways out of this conflict such as simply recognizing Iran's right to having enrichment under IAEA monitoring and joint participation of foreign governments, is simply ignored.

That's not an accident, folks. This is pre-determined script that we're seeing played out. No amount of Iranian nuclear compromises will ever suffice, because the whole nuclear issue is simply a pretext for another policy entirely. So whenever someone tells you about "diplomacy" with Iran, give them a knowing look -- you know what the "diplomacy" code-word really means.