Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said
that she doesn't remember if she saw a fax detailing an Iranian diplomatic overture in 2003. Today, Michael Hirsch of Newsweek has something that should jog her memory: the fax itself
Through a Swiss intermediary, the Iranian regime proposed the basis for comprehensive discussions. If accepted, it would have meant the Iranians would have put on the table ending its support for Palestinian terrorist groups; "action" on transforming Hezbollah into a "mere political organization within Lebanon"; "transparency" that Iran isn't trying to develop WMD; and "enhanced action against Al Qaida members in Iran." In return, the U.S. would ultimately lift all sanctions on Iran; ensure "full access" to nuclear technology (!); and provide, in general, a "halt in hostile U.S. behavior," to include action against "anti-Iranian" terrorist groups.
It's of course worth noting that the sincerity of the offer is not something to accept at face value. But that would have been the point: to create a diplomatic mechanism to find out how serious the Iranians actually were about reaching a modus vivendi with the U.S., and to determine if the price for that was acceptable. (Giving Iran access to nuclear technology, for instance, sounds like a pretty bad idea.) The alternative path, however, appears to be clear: an escalating series of tensions with an Iran that's only grown more anti-American in the intervening three and a half years. If yesterday's hearing is any indication, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intends to explore this question in the days ahead -- and maybe now Secretary Rice will have a clearer memory.