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Farhi: What is George Bush Smoking?

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Farideh Farhi makes some excellent points about Bush’s press conference where he tried to blame the souring of US-Iran relations on Ahmadinejad’s presidency:

BUSH: “People say, would you ever talk to Iran? For you veterans here, for those who have been following this administration for a while, you might remember that I have consistently said that we will be at the table with the EU-3 if Iran would verifiably suspend their program — and the offer still stands. What changed was the change of leadership in Iran. We had a diplomatic track going, and Ahmadinejad came along and took a different tone. [Emphasis added] And the Iranian people must understand that the tone and actions of their government are that which is isolating them. There’s a better way forward for Iran. There’s a better way forward for the Iranian people than one in which they find themselves isolated in the world. Their economy can be stronger. But their leadership is going to have to understand that defiance, and hiding programs and defying IAEA is not the way forward. And my hope is, is that the Iranian regime takes a look at their policies and changes their policies back to where we were prior to the election of Ahmadinejad, which was a hopeful period. They had suspended their program, they were at the table. The United States had made some very positive gestures to convince them that there was a better way forward. And hopefully we can get back to that day.”

Farhi responds:

This goes even beyond deception and reaches the level of unreal. The man must either think that no one is watching or he must have really convinced himself that prior to Ahmadinejad things were going all swell with Iran.

Just for the record, it is important to remember that the inclusion of Iran as a standing member of axis of evil came in May 2002 when the reformist Mohammad Khatami was president and after Iran and the United States had cooperated in Afghanistan.

It was also during the Khatami presidency, in 2003 and beyond, that the Bush Administration reportedly ignored Iran’s offer of a deal and continuously complained about the European track to negotiate with Iran. In fact, as late as spring and summer of 2005, until the last days of Khatami’s presidency, the Bush Administration refused to allow the Europeans to entertain any scenario that would permit Iran to contemplate engagement in any enrichment-related activity even in the future.

As I discuss here in 2005, it was this intransigence that ultimately led Iran to bring its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan out of suspension during the last days of the Khatami Administration.

Update: Read Juan Cole’s comments on the matter here, and international reaction to the NIE by the OSC here.

The USG Open Source Center surveys Iranian, German, French, and Israeli reactions to the US National Intelligence Estimate that holds that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. One is struck by the Israeli reactions, on both sides of the aisle. Former Labor prime minister Ehud Barak dismissed the report.

Irancove @ December 5, 2007

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