Friday, August 18


I must have missed this. Watching Hardball this afternoon, Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, Jr., one of the signatories of the "open letter" to Bush that his foreign policy has actually undermined U.S. security, referred to an offer from Iran delivered to the U.S. by the Swiss ambassador to negotiate a comprehensive agreement under which Iran would disarm Hezbollah and convert it to a social and political entity, that the Bush administration spurned. Gen. Gard said the Bushies expressed displeasure at the "audacity" of the Swiss.

So I Googled it.

The official, who saw the document, said it indicated that Iran wanted to negotiate a grand political bargain with the United States that would include everything from Iran's nuclear program to its support for groups that Washington regards as terrorist.

"The Iranians acknowledged that WMD and support for terror were serious causes of concern for us, and they were willing to negotiate," said Flynt Leverett, a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council who said he read the document. "The message had been approved by all the highest levels of authority. They wanted us to deal with sanctions, security guarantees, normalization of relations, and support for integration of Iran into the World Trade Organization."
But the Bush administration was in no mood for conversation or grand political bargains, the former officials said. According to Leverett, who left government in mid-2003, the administration rejected the Iranian probe and instead sent a complaint to Swiss Ambassador Tim Guldimann, saying he had overstepped his role as an intermediary by passing it on in the first place.

Critics, including the two former Bush administration officials, European diplomats, and policy experts, say the United States may have squandered an opportunity to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear program by not talking with Tehran. According to both Leverett and Pillar, the administration's priority was to avoid negotiations with the regime, out of concern it would imply acceptance of its continuation in office. Since then, Iran's government has become even more conservative, making the prospect of further negotiations more problematic.
"What we took was exactly the wrong approach," said one U.S. military official with extensive knowledge of U.S. relations with Iran. "Our military had made the point to everyone in the region. If Iran is ready to come to the table, then you come to the table. Do it with distrust but get them to the table and get them engaged. We wasted an opportunity."

Have these guys done ANYTHING right over the past six years? My stars, the generals and foreign policy experts are right. Bush has squandered opportunity after opportunity to ensure peace and security for America and the world with his cowboy tactics.

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