Pressure and engagement go together in dealing with Tehran

I’ve been hesitating to comment on what the diploleaks tell us about Iran, or more accurately about U.S. efforts to block Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons.

But Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett have provoked me into it. They essentially want engagement without pressure.  This is the flip side of the neoconservative approach, which is pressure without engagement.  Both are wrong.

We can argue about the right proportions, but Matt Duss is correct in concluding that the leaked cables tell us there really is a concerted diplomatic effort underway, one that depends both on pressure and ultimately on willingness to engage. The question is whether targeted assassinations are part of the pressure, or an independent, parallel effort by Israel.  Hard to believe there is not a wink and a nod from Washington.  Certainly Arab leaders are unlikely to protest much, given what they had to say about Iran and nuclear weapons in the leaked cables.

The engagement part will have its next moment Monday in Geneva, when and where the P5 plus Germany, led by the EU’s Catherine Ashton, will meet with Iran. It seems unlikely in the current atmosphere, but I can’t help but wonder if Lady Ashton will be empowered to open up the possibility that Iran might get acknowledgment of its “right” to enrichment while agreeing to limit its quantity and extent.

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