It seems to me that this has been pretty clear for a while, but now it’s explicit — the Iranian government wants to engage in talks about the various US-Iranian issues, including Teheran’s nuclear program. If you’re concerned with things like America’s interests, not getting lots of people killed, and preventing Iran from going nuclear you’d take them up on the offer. I honestly don’t think this is even remotely a hard question. It might not work, of course, but even that would leave us better off than we are now as the weird kid sulking in the corner refusing to talk to Billy.
Nevertheless, there’s no mistaking the fact that just as Iran has been trying to at least set the stage for possibly ratcheting tensions with the United States down, there’s been a fairly concerted effort in the American press to ratchet things up. The folks doing the ratcheting have, it’s clear, some friends and some influence inside the administration.
People need to understand this and be clear with themselves. This is not a group of people primarily concerned with Iran’s nuclear program — anyone who thought that would be open to some negotiating. This is a group of people primarily concerned — for whatever reason, no doubt the reasons are mixed and vary somewhat — with continuing and intensifying US-Iranian conflict. It’s not clear how influential this faction is or will be in the president’s decision-making, but those of us on the outside are either with them or against them.
As recent posts from Ivo Daalder and Michael Levi indicate, there’s no reason to think Democrats have anything to fear from standing up for engagement rather than war. The real political risk is that staying silent lets the other side shape people’s understand of what’s happening so deeply that it becomes harder to speak up later. The odds that this whole situation somehow won’t come up in the midterms are low. Democrats are going to have to deal with it, and it’s better to start sooner than later.