Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, August 13, 2007

An outdated paradigm sustained by mutual mistrust and heavy historical baggage

Opinion Craft, credulity, and reason Hamid Ansari The Hindu Monday, May 28, 2007
COQUETRY HAS a place in life, and in politics. It has an element of intrigue and caprice. Nations indulge in it. The signals emanating from the current postures of the United States and Iran are truly fascinating. Lord Byron credited the ancient Persians with three skills: to draw the bow, to ride, and to speak the truth. Time and experience may have modulated some of these, transmuted others; the end product remains formidable.
American administrations, legislators, opinion-makers have themselves to blame for their myopic vision and frigid policies. They erred in 1979 and in subsequent decades added to follies in geometrical proportions. Isolation, containment, demonology, and outright hostility failed to produce the desired results. Iraq broke the camel's back. Today, more and more Americans are coming round to the view that Iran remains "the ultimate test" of American leadership in a new world. The New York Times spoke for most when, on May 22, it opined editorially of "a grand bargain" that would include offer of full diplomatic relations and security guarantees "should Iran agree to verifiably contain its nuclear ambitions."
And yet, this is precisely what was offered by Tehran in the spring of 2003, and rejected out of hand. So have other Iranian offers, including an external share in the ownership of the Iranian nuclear facilities. These are testified to by western commentators. Now, the outgoing Iranian Permanent Representative to the U.N. in New York, Javed Zarif (whose crucial role in the success of the 2001 Bonn conference on Afghanistan was acknowledged by American negotiators), has written a detailed account in the spring-summer issue of the Journal of International Affairs.
"The interests of Iran and the United States," writes Mr. Zarif, "have long been hostage to an outdated paradigm sustained by mutual mistrust and heavy historical baggage, and nurtured with facts or fiction generated by those benefiting from confrontation and war. Iran has a national security interest in restoring regional stability and preserving and strengthening disarmament and non-proliferation. But, preventing the manufactured `Iran threat' from becoming the next global nightmare requires a drastic change in the U.S. approach — an approach that until now has impeded a genuine search for alternatives."
If American arrogance lost the opportunity in 2003, the credit for rejecting a U.S. overture in 2005 goes to Iran. On both occasions, control of the high ground in Iraq provided the impulse. Iran has the satisfaction of having judged the evolving situation in Iraq correctly; hence the American anxiety at Sharm al Sheikh, matched by Iranian coyness in equal measure. Both were reflective of the ground reality, graphically reflected by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in The Guardian on May 19: "You can't move far in Basra without bumping into some evidence of the Iranian influence on the city" — from the market place to the militias...
A new paradigm of regional security is indeed imperative. It cannot be developed without the U.S.; by the same token, it would not be adequate until all regional states — and all others having a stake in the security and stability of the Gulf region — are supportive. India, as a proximate neighbour, has a vital stake in the matter. (The writer is a former Permanent Representative of India to the U.N.)

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