Earlier this week Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of Iran in World Politics: The Question of the Islamic Republic and the forthcoming A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism, wrote an op-ed in Open Democracy calling for the United States and Europe to adopt a policy of “positive diplomacy” with Iran.
He argues that the current policy of “gunboat diplomacy” with its threats of a military option has clearly not worked and that multilateral diplomacy, as has already been suggested by Obama in theory, should be put into practice with Iran. In particular, Adib-Moghaddam suggests that the United States “make more effectively use of the amicable relations that Brazil, Japan and Turkey have with Iran.” These nations have retained their independence from the dominant Western discourse on Iran and can be seen as more honest brokers in the peace process.
Adib-Moghaddam also counters the view of many that the United States and Europe must wait until the domestic leadership in Iran changes before engaging in more positive diplomacy. Instead, he argues that a long-term perspective like the one taken by Nixon in his opening with China should be adopted for Iran.
If the same approach were conducted today, it would surely start with the acknowledgment of a fundamental geo-strategic reality: that there is no military solution to the nuclear issue. Iran, by virtue of its size and history, is fundamentally embedded in the region, with influence in all its major points of tension (and others further afield). The implication is that the time to begin exploring the road to a future “grand opening” with Iran is now.
These larger factors suggest that the case for peace is well-founded – and that the leading politicians just need to seize it. A policy of engagement that replaces rhetoric with positive diplomacy in the interest even of a “cold peace” would be of immeasurable benefit to both sides. In 2010, peace with Iran is the single most important challenge facing the world community. Everyone has a stake in achieving this goal. The alternative scenario is death, destruction, and unimaginable mayhem, for “them” and for “us”.