Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 08, 2007

The Crucial Point on Iran According to Rice

Rice Denies Seeing Iranian Proposal in '03

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was pressed yesterday on whether the Bush administration missed an opportunity to improve relations with Iran in 2003, when Tehran issued a proposal calling for a broad dialogue with the United States, on matters including cooperation on nuclear safeguards, action against terrorists and possible recognition of Israel.

We interrupt the quote here to give readers a chance to guess why that opportunity was missed and to let you guess what the crucial point of U.S. foreign policy is.

Is it:

a. cooperation with Iran on nuclear safeguards
b. action against terrorists
c. recognition of Israel
d. something else

Thanks for your vote and here the report continues:

"I have read about this so-called proposal from Iran," Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, referring to reports in The Washington Post and other publications last year. "We had people who said, 'The Iranians want to talk to you,' lots of people who said, 'The Iranians want to talk to you.' But I think I would have noticed if the Iranians had said, 'We're ready to recognize Israel.' . . . I just don't remember ever seeing any such thing."

Oh, you had chosen d. something else. That is smart, but what exactly were you thinking of?

Posted by b on February 8, 2007 at 06:37 PM | Permalink


If her lips are moving...

Posted by: beq | Feb 8, 2007 7:16:56 PM | 1


Posted by: Peter VE | Feb 8, 2007 8:06:23 PM | 2

Does anyone know where the retracted op-ed described in note 28 can be found?

Retracted Op-ed

Posted by: A | Feb 8, 2007 8:19:29 PM | 3

When did the Saudis actually recognise Israel?

Just asking...

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Feb 8, 2007 8:20:08 PM | 4

Both Glenn Greenwald and Steve Clemons had blog posts about the redacted Op-Ed by Flynt Leverett, presuming that is the one you mean, and links to it. Check their archives for December 22, 2006.

Posted by: Bea | Feb 8, 2007 8:33:46 PM | 5

Bea, that's the one; thanks!

Posted by: A | Feb 8, 2007 8:34:55 PM | 6

A, here's the redacted op-ed.


Posted by: Ensley | Feb 8, 2007 8:48:11 PM | 7

For additional background context on this story, may I offer:

Vanity Fair: From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq: Politics and Power

Much of this we already know, but the story goes into depth and puts it all together in a nice package.

One bit (about Palestine, not Iran) was new to me:

Bush showed his willingness to depart from the neocon line a year ago, when he received an unusual proposition from Israeli officials together with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud "Abu Mazen" Abbas, and a top administration neoconservative, Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams. According to a Middle East expert, the Israelis and Abbas had determined that Hamas was positioned to fare strongly in the upcoming Palestinian elections, so they came to the administration with a plan to postpone them. "The Israelis and the Palestinians together had worked out a way to do it," says the expert. "The Israelis were going to say that Hamas candidates could not run in Jerusalem, which was under Israeli jurisdiction, because they did not recognize Israel's right to exist. And Abu Mazen was going to say if they can't run in Jerusalem, then we can't have an election now, [because] it wouldn't be fair to Hamas. It was all worked out."

There was just one problem: Bush, whose enthusiasm for spreading democracy had led him to actively lobby for the elections, didn't want to go along. "The president said no," the expert says. "He said elections will be good for Hamas. They would have to be responsible. They expected Hamas to do well, but not get a majority. Now they've become the government and it's a big mess." If anything, Bush had shown himself to be less pragmatic than his neocon advisers.

Reached via e-mail, a spokesperson for the National Security Council responded, "When the elections were rescheduled for January 2006, after earlier being postponed by the [Palestinian Authority], the United States took the position that they should be held and not postponed yet again We were advised during the campaign by some of our Palestinian interlocutors that Hamas would win. We do not believe in cancelling elections because we may not like the outcome."

Yeah, we don't cancel elections, we just starve the voters into submission once the results are in...

Posted by: Bea | Feb 8, 2007 8:58:34 PM | 8

naturally i guessed C.

last night i read the post, the asia times and vanity fair links, got in bed and buried my head under the covers!

i know it is insane when i start thinking all our problems could be solved if someone would just blow up one tiny country in the middle east. of course i don't really mean that.

no, this is not the theatre of the absurd, it is all real.

my brain.

Posted by: annie | Feb 9, 2007 7:44:45 AM | 9

Iran to U.S.: We Will Raze the Region if You Dare Attack Us

TEHRAN - A top Iranian cleric said Friday the United States was within Iran's "firing range", a day after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to hit back at US interests worldwide if attacked.

"Americans have surrounded us but it works to our advantage. They are within our firing range in the east, west and elsewhere," Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said in his Friday prayer sermon carried live on state radio.

He was referring to the US military presence in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the Gulf waters off southern Iran.

"Would you dare to violate Iranian borders? See what harm will be done to you then," said Jananti, who heads the hardline electoral watchdog the Guardians Council.

Khamenei on Thursday warned that Iran would hit back at American interests worldwide if the United States attacked the Islamic republic to thwart its nuclear programme.

In response to Khamenei's comments the White House said it has no plans to invade Iran, and downplayed the significance of reinforcing the US military presence in the Gulf region.

A commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Friday: "The entire Persian Gulf is within the Guards' missile range and if foreign forces are to carry out any operations they are the ones to be most hurt".

"In the worst situations we are able to turn the region into burning hell and take the possibility of using the Persian Gulf away from them forever," Rear Admiral Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani said, quoted by semi-official Mehr news agency.

His comments came after the Guards held a new round of war games in the strategic Gulf, where they test-fired land-to-sea missile with a range of 350 kilometres (210 miles) and a new Russian-made air defence missile.

Sorry annie... I know it's not going to help you sleep any better...

Posted by: Bea | Feb 9, 2007 10:02:06 AM | 10

In 2003 and before that, Iran and the US held semi secret talks in Geneva. It was all over the press.>USAtoday,2933,86616,00.html>Fox

The US has no embassy / ambassador in Iran, it is represented by the Swiss Ambassador. (Who thus gets called onto the Persian carpet and has to take flack from the mullahs - by all accounts he is genial, unconcerned, urbane, as well he might be...; the last occasion was a few days ago.) It is rumored that the intrepid Micheline (Calmy Rey, the present President of Switz.) had her hand in these arrangements, but I doubt that is true, that is the Swiss competing with - the Norwegians! (In the diplomatic peace keeping arena.) But I digress.

As per usual, the Iranians got nothing for their offers and pains.>Antiwar

Syria also collaborated in the ‘war on terror.’ Not only that, subsequently they met with Israel many times, 04-06.>Yahoo

But the most striking is perhaps Russia. Yeltsin and Putin watched the ‘West’ bomb the shit out of Yugo and Putin (I suppose) concluded that similarly bombing Chechnya would be fine. After 9/11 the Chechnya matter was filed under the rubric of the ‘war on terrorism’ and Bush and Blair rushed to congratulate him and Bush even peeked into the soul of Vlad.

In December 01, the US scrapped the ABM treaty.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 9, 2007 2:04:24 PM | 11

Sec Def Robert Gates on Iran:

...Speaking with reporters in Seville, Spain, on Friday before traveling to Munich, Gates told reporters that markings on explosives provide “pretty good” evidence that Iranians are supplying either weapons or technology for Iraqi extremists.

“I think there’s some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found” that point to Iran, he said.....He acknowledged the Iranian weapons are not a large percentage of the roadside bombs used in Iraq, but he said, “They’re extremely lethal.”

Wow, Gates thinks that there may be some markings on some of the projectiles that point to Iran as supplier, which aren't a large precentage of the IED used anyway. Surely a case for war.

Posted by: | Feb 10, 2007 4:00:38 AM | 12

speaking of serial numbers, remember this story?

The latest release from Bowen's office is just the kind of inspections that supporters fear will be lost. Monday's report found that the U.S. military failed to track hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces or account for spare parts, operating manuals or maintenance personnel for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis.

The report did not speculate on where the weapons may have ended up, but said that the American military did not record serial numbers on the 370,000 weapons purchased with U.S. taxpayer funds, and therefore they can't be readily traced now.

The weapons range from semi-automatic pistols and assault rifles to heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The United States plans to provide equipment for more than 325,000 trained Iraqi security force personnel

Posted by: annie | Feb 10, 2007 5:44:59 AM | 13

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