Is Iran sincere? Is the U.S.?

Perhaps to everyone's surprise, Iran's President Rouhani sounds like he wants to make a deal. President Obama seems like he is willing to talk about it. But as Stephen Walt points out there will be naysayers on all sides if anything comes of these friendly gestures. He underlines the fact that the sanctions put into place to bring Iran around seem to be having their intended effect, and that the U.S. would be foolish to retreat before its own strategy.

Walt writes: "Does this mean a deal is in the offing? I don't know. I think one can be confident that this is a genuine opportunity: Iran's current leaders are sincere in wanting a deal, and they aren't just pretending to be nice in order to hoodwink us. But they aren't pushovers either, and a willingness to bargain in good faith doesn't mean they won't bargain hard. The United States and Iran may begin direct discussions and explore lots of options, yet ultimately end up unable to cut a deal. That effort will be complicated by the opposition from hard-liners on both sides...."

"My guess is that Rouhani will have an easier time than Obama will, in part because Obama will face potent opposition from Israel, its supporters in the United States, and countries like Saudi Arabia. These actors would rather keep Washington and Tehran at odds forever, and it's a safe bet that they will do everything they can to run out the clock and thwart this latest attempt to turn a corner in the troubled U.S. relationship with Iran. Obama ignored them in the recent Syrian affair, but it took a Hail Mary from Russia to get him out of the box he had been painted into...."  [MOS: I presume Walt means a Hail Mary Pass.]

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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