The most clear-cut case I’ve heard for engagement with Iran…

…comes from the mouth of Nick Burns, who was once effectively paid by the U.S. government not to talk to Iran.  Speaking at a fascinating panel discussion currently going on at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Burns, in his own words, was in the “incredibly awkward position” of being the point person for Iran from 2005 to 2008, a period during which he “never met an Iranian government official.”

When your lead Iran diplomat (who’s a very good one, by the way) does not even speak with a single government official from Iran, that it not diplomacy, and that is not progress.  And Burns is not an unrestrained “talk with your enemies” kind of guy; he doesn’t think the Obama Administration should give any undue legitimacy to the Ahmadinejad government by engaging on the nuclear or any other issue as long as there is still any hope for the opposition.  But that someone who sees this kind of realpolitik angle still expresses shock that he was tasked with dealing with Iran without communicating with them only further proves how nonsensical a policy of estrangement and isolation really is.  Iran will not be the same after these most recent elections, and neither, hopefully, will the United States’ undiplomatic Iran “diplomacy.

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