Iran 2013: Making Diplomacy Work featuring Zbigniew Brzezenski

2 January 2013 - By

The conference is be available to watch anytime in C-SPAN’s archives.

Brzezinski: US Should Not Follow Israel on Iran Like a “Stupid Mule”

Washington, DC – “I don’t think there is an implicit obligation for the United States to follow like a stupid mule whatever the Israelis do,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski. “If they decide to start a war, simply on the assumption that we’ll automatically be drawn into it, I think it is the obligation of friendship to say, ‘you’re not going to be making national decision for us.’ I think that the United States has the right to have its own national security policy.”

Speaking before a conference sponsored jointly by the Arms Control Association and the National Iranian American Council, Brzezinski effectively ruled out a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran as “an act of utter irresponsibility” that would mean “the region would literally be set aflame.” He warned that a policy based on such unrealistic options ultimately undermined U.S. credibility.

Panelists at the event argued that the timing is right for a renewed diplomatic initiative with Iran. “Right now is the right time, right after the American elections, and right before the Iranian elections,” observed Professor Ahmad Sadri of Lake Forest College. “Remember back to 2008 when we were in the same point in the cycle, except right now on the ground the situation is much worse. There’s more fissile material, and there’s less optimism.”

However, at the same time, Sadri noted that Iran’s soft and hard power in the Middle East has declined. “If I was an American negotiator, I’d say this is exactly the right time to go into [negotiations].”

Nuclear specialist Jim Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argued that both sides needed to be prepared for compromise and to expand their existing offers. “You’re not going to have success if you simply continue to repeat the things you did before that didn’t work.”

“Content-wise, both sides have presented proposals where they are asking a lot and offering very little,” Walsh observed. “This is classic, everyone does this, but in this particular instance where nobody trusts one another, they take that proposal as evidence, ‘Ah ha! The other side isn’t serious.’”

The panelists agreed that the lack of trust was a major obstacle for successful talks…

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