Ahmadinejad Meets Queen Isabella
By Steve Schippert | September 14, 2006
Iran set forth beyond their borders a flurry of reasonable men equipped with reasonable messages, seeking to address the fears of the West while it debates Security Council sanctions that seem as near and elusive as the perpetual horizon. Intent on enabling critics of those who fear a nuclear Iran, the mullah regime set their statesmen to sea. Surely now the fearful may be labeled as the small-minded worriers who pleaded and warned Christopher Columbus that he would fall off the edge of the earth, taking with him his crew and Queen Isabella’s ships.
In route to Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, set to be handed the reigns of the Non-Aligned Movement’s ‘Group of 15,’ pronounced that indeed Iran was now prepared for serious negotiations. Speaking from Dakar, Senegal, another G-15 member, the Iranian president said, "We are partisan to dialogue and negotiation and we believe that we can resolve the problems in a context of dialogue and of justice together. I am announcing that we are available, we are ready for new conditions." With the unreasonable nature of the old conditions of the past three years, the fair-minded must concede that new conditions are certainly in order.
In Washington, arms flailed about as America’s statesmen continued down the path of alarm. "We've seen this game before from the Iranians. They want to stretch things out,” pleaded State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack. “They want to say well, we'll have a meeting on Thursday. No, let's have a meeting next Tuesday. And it keeps going on and on and on. And at some point, the world has to say look: we've given you the opportunity here and it's time to act. It's time to act through the Security Council, and it's time to impose sanctions on Iran."
But this passion can be counterproductive, dangerous and disruptive to process. Addressing such passion, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calmly tendered, "I don't believe there will be sanctions because there is no reason to have sanctions. It would be preferable for the U.S. officials not to speak in anger." Such vitriol surely has no place in international relations.
Already in Havana ahead of his president, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki assured the Non-Aligned Movement and the world of Iran’s “readiness to resume the negotiations without any preconditions with the interested countries to clarify outstanding issues with the purpose of increasing confidence and transparency." Dismissing the angry Americans, embracing the Non-Aligned Movement’s G-15 and extending a reasonable and diplomatic olive branch to all willing Europeans, Mottaki presented before them all the horizon.
But the adamant Americans seem unwilling and unprepared to be flexible. Speaking to the cancelled meeting scheduled for Thursday between Ali Larijani and the EU’s Javier Solana, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice bemoaned, "It is my understanding that -- perhaps not surprisingly -- they have canceled the meeting for now. That should tell us something." But what the American foreign policy leader fails to realize is that scheduling on Saturday a meeting for Thursday is precisely the kind of precondition that Mottaki is attempting to address.
And Mottaki’s Havana embrace was kindly returned, as Egypt stood beside the Iranian foreign minister and informed the world that indeed the NAM had received from Iran "very strong assurances that the objective is not nuclear weapons." Reminding all of Iran’s continued commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Egyptian foreign minister pointed out that it is certainly Iran’s right to have nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes. "We have to believe them until it is established otherwise," he said. After all, it’s the only reasonable approach to take.
But the Americans Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, is headed to Singapore seeking to persuade attendees of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to reconsider financial dealings with Iran. Unconvincingly, Levey attempted statesmanship to veil the typical American aggressiveness by assuring that "We're not here to make any specific requests of anyone." His department has already seen to it that sanctions were slapped on Iran’s Bank Saderat.
In the midst of his speaking tour in the United States, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami addressed Iranian domestic affairs in a speech at the Kennedy School of Government. One grave concern was that, despite the pleading objections of President Ahmadinejad, Iranian college professors are quitting in droves and simply walking away from Iranian students. "Iran is in dire need of as many university professors as it can get. I believe that Iran should extend its welcome to professors from different countries, even non-Islamic and secular countries," Khatami said, leaving open the possibility of a cultural exchange with Israel.
Even still, the Americans stand at the shores screaming their tired warnings in vain towards the Queen’s now distant fleet. But Isabella had long been convinced.
And alas, the horizon never once approached those sailing vessels. Only discovery and a successful quest that changed the nature of the world.