Iran's critique of confidence-building

2013 Presidency of The Islamic Republic of Iran, official photographer

Iran President Rouhani hosts a cabinet meeting on October 30, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • There is growing reason to doubt that Khamenei’s “heroic flexibility” includes a willingness to resolve the nuclear impasse.

    Tweet This

  • Iran does negotiate and it has in the past struck deals and stood by them, even after long periods of ideological antipathy.

    Tweet This

  • The norms of diplomacy as understood by the West and those envisioned by Iran often have very different philosophical bases.

    Tweet This

Since his August 2013 inauguration, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has waged a diplomatic campaign that has renewed hope that Tehran may be serious about negotiating resolution to the international dispute regarding its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement and its uranium enrichment. That Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seemingly blessed Rouhani’s outreach by speaking of Iran’s “heroic flexibility” has underscored the importance of Rouhani’s diplomatic offensive. However, there is growing reason to doubt that Khamenei’s “heroic flexibility” includes a willingness to resolve the nuclear impasse. Immediately following his mention of “heroic flexibility,” several aides to and associates of the Supreme Leader clarified that Khamenei blessed a change in tactics but not in policy.

The excerpted article in Kayhan provides more cause for concern regarding just how flexible Iran might be in nuclear negotiations. Kayhan is important for Iran-watchers because the Supreme Leader appoints its editor. Therefore, many believe it reflects the thinking of Khamenei more than other regime outlets. The following excerpts from a lengthy Kayhan column criticize the notion of confidence-building, which is a cornerstone of Western diplomacy. Generally speaking, the author equates confidence-building with compromise and perhaps acknowledgement of previous malfeasance. This, he suggests, means that Iran should refuse any concessions toward the West in forthcoming nuclear negotiations.

Iran does negotiate and it has in the past struck deals and stood by them, even after long periods of ideological antipathy. For example, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini agreed to and abided by a ceasefire ending the Iran-Iraq War even after swearing for years that Iran would not stop until its armies passed through Iraq and liberated Jerusalem. Yet columns such as those appearing in Kayhan should remind us that the norms of diplomacy as understood by the West and those envisioned by Iran often have very different philosophical bases.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin


  • Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.


    Follow Michael Rubin on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5851
    Email: mrubin@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Ahmad Majidyar
    Phone: 202-862-5845
    Email: ahmad.majidyar@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.