Not really. But if Robin Wright is right in asserting that the Iranians were trying to make the point that they prefer negotiation to confrontation, then that would be excellent news, indeed…if we lived in a world where the U.S. government preferred negotiation to confrontation. Too bad we don’t.
At the very least, the happy resolution of this Iranian outrage shows the value of diplomatic recognition. The fact that the Brits have an embassy and an active diplomatic presence in Tehran made the negotiations easier, no doubt. (As did the fact that Tony Blair didn’t send a carrier battle group–or whatever the Brits have afloat that might be menacing–into the Persian gulf.) I know, I know: I can be boring and repititious about the stupidity of the U.S. policy of diplomatic non-recognition…but it is as deeply dimwitted regarding Iran as it is regarding Cuba (and North Korea, for that matter), as most professional dips acknowledge privately.
Nothing would freak out the mullahs more than if we peremptorily said, “OK Persian buddies, we don’t want to be the Great Satan anymore. We want to be friends! We recognize you! We’re sending an ambassador. We’d like to open the old embassy. We want to buy lots and lots of your pistachios and rugs and, uh, oil. We don’t like a lot of your policies. We’ll still take military action against any Al Quds operatives we find in Iraq. But, hey, we don’t like a lot of China’s policies, either. And we’re happy to talk about the stuff we don’t like….Your move!”
Final point of optimism: If this was a case where the Revolutionary Guards or some other radical Ahmedinejadian entity grabbed the sailors and then were overruled by non-fascist conservatives like Ali Larijani, that is a particularly good sign…a sign that the Iranians don’t want to be isolated, that the U.N. sanctions are working and that the Iranians may even be open to nuclear negotiations. (And if there was a secret deal to release some Iranians in exchange for the Brits, that’s not so terrible, either–once again, it means Iran will deal.)
oops: Editorless, I indulged in a bit of irrational exuberance: I wouldn’t start buying those pistachios until the U.N. economic sanctions are lifted.