< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: Continued Progress

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Continued Progress

Khalilzad is moving exactly as I had hoped, and predicted. The latest signs show him engaging Iran directly. I disagree though with making that public. Perhaps they had to in order to get cooperation, but behind the scenes would have been much more effective. That said, this is a huge step forward.

Here's what we need to be worried about now. The biggest obstacle to such talks will be that either side is hijacked by their own hawks (or the hawks of interested third parties). The latest news out of Iraq makes it appear that this is not the case. The clean war crowd is finally calling some plays. And of course Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others are not in any position to make demands at this point. However, this is extremely high stakes stuff which could easily be sabotaged from within or without.

This goes for both the US and Iran. Iran is slightly more complicated since their hawks are probably not feeling the same degree political isolation as those in the US. No doubt the Iranians will see this as a trap, to get them into a position where we can pin the blame on them. But that is why we should be ultra-confident here. By leaving, and by having Shia militias and death squads ready to go, we can ensure Iran will see civil war in at least its bordering regions. We hold all the leverage right now. Plus, extreme confidence often wards off would be hijackers.

Next step is making sure Turkey is there, and making sure Iran's hawks know they can play this as a great victory over the "arrogant US" to their domestic audience, shoring up support (bribing them with power). Also, even more leverage can be exerted on Turkey, especially in concert with our EU allies. Things are definitely moving, at least the bet has been placed.