Statement by Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council
Diplomacy with Iran has not even been tried yet
President Bush's address to the nation on Iraq yesterday contains a danger that should not be overlooked. Though the speech focused mostly on Iraq, the plan seems more geared towards preparing for a new war with Iran than towards winning the existing war in Iraq.
As such, it blatantly contradicts the bipartisan advice of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) and the wish of the American people as expressed in the November elections.
Sending more troops to Iraq, selling more arms to the Persian Gulf Arab states and talking less with Iraq's neighbors is a decisive step towards escalating tensions within Iraq -- and between Iraq's neighbors.
In this troubled region, America needs to be a uniter, not a divider. It needs to build bridges through clever diplomacy rather than solidify walls of hostility by developing coalitions to perpetuate the cycle of violence.
The Persian Gulf is already one of the world's most militarized regions. Small Arab nations such as Kuwait with a population of roughly 2 million are spending as much on arms as Iran, a nation of roughly 70 million. Selling even more arms to these Arab states will neither stabilize the region nor have any positive impact on the situation in Iraq.
Despite President Bush's failure, American leadership is needed more than ever before. In order to prevent the civil war in Iraq from spilling over into a regional conflict, the President should follow the ISG recommendation of setting up an Iraq Contact Group to facilitate multilateral dialogue and cooperation in the region.
Contrary to the White House's contention, diplomacy with Iran has not been exhausted. It hasn't even been tried because the Bush Administration has again and again refused to engage Tehran without preconditions.
Dividing the region and building coalitions to confront Iran - rather than talking to Tehran - is a sure ticket towards expanding the war rather than ending it.
... Payvand News - 1/12/07 ... --