Only days after American Vice President Joe Biden made a very public and tantalizing offer of bilateral talks between the US and Iran, there then follows another round of punitive trade sanctions imposed by Washington on Iran’s vital oil industry.
What to make of this seemingly contradictory US position? Some commentators say that the above anomalous attitude reflects a carrot-and-stick policy in Washington, by which incentives dangled in front of Iran are quickly followed by a blow of hardship, with the objective of forcing an end result.
The supposed end result in this case is that the Americans and their Western allies want Iran to demonstrate definitively to the rest of the world that it will never develop capability for nuclear weapons. This demonstration would be achieved, according to Washington, if Iran were to somehow give a cast-iron guarantee that it has circumscribed its nuclear technology and the crucial uranium-enrichment process.
So, this argument goes, if Iran were to comply with this desired objective by severely limiting its nuclear research and industry, then certain “carrots” will follow: a lifting of the crippling economic sanctions and a normalization of diplomatic relations.
That is the charitable view of the US position, a view that has been bolstered by the expectation that President Barack Obama in his second and final term in the White House is edging towards a more reasoned, less-hawkish and less Zionist-pandering foreign policy in the Middle East.
But there is another way of interpreting the US position towards Iran. Borrowing a phrase coined by the Native Americans who were continually deceived and dispossessed, it is more plausible that Washington is simply “speaking with a forked tongue” with regard to Iran. From this perspective, there are no intended concessions forthcoming from the US to Iran, in contradistinction to what Biden suggests, but rather all that will follow are unremitting hardships.
In this scenario of the US position, any concessions that might be made by Iran, in a reasonable expectation of reciprocation, will be cynically pocketed by Washington and its Western allies with nothing in return except more punitive demands.
How do we judge whether the US is adopting the more benign carrot-and-stick position or the pernicious forked-tongue approach to Iran?
History. Decades of American aggression and malfeasance towards Iran point to a beast that cannot simply change its predatory and nefarious habits over night. Last weekend, Iranian leaders responded to Biden’s words with the magnanimous caution that actions must speak louder than rhetoric.
While Biden arrogantly demanded that Iran has to show “good faith” for any putative negotiations to take place, the reality is that the onus is preponderantly on the US to decommission its arsenal of policies and practices of aggression towards Iran in order for the latter to treat any offer from Washington as being remotely sincere and worthy of respect.
The precedents do not bode well. Recall that in his first inaugural address in January 2009, Obama made a big play of rhetorical reconciliation towards Iran, promising that America would “extend a hand of friendship” if others would “unclench their fist”. What followed in practice was hardly a series of goodwill gestures, when American death squads assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists.
Under Obama moreover, the US has unleashed three rounds of savage economic sanctions on Iran – on top of the decades-long embargoes that were already in place. Washington has press-ganged Europe and the rest of the world to comply with its crippling sanctions that have placed millions of Iranian lives at risk from shortage of essential medicines and other basic goods.
Obama has also overseen the increased use of surveillance drones over Iranian territory and the deployment of cyber warfare on Iranian society. The Stuxnet and Flame virus attacks on Iran that Washington launched in collusion with Israel can be seen as merely the first shots in a bigger onslaught with the declaration last week that the Obama administration intends to wage cyber war “preemptively”.
This history of overt and covert war of aggression on Iran by Washington – all of which is criminal – is the context in which the recent overtures for talks between the two countries must be evaluated. How is one expected to talk rationally with a demented, barbarous criminal who insists on a self-righteous right to attack the other party, including with the use of nuclear weapons?
To enter into such a framework of negotiations is delusional and indeed by doing so sets up a dangerous dynamic of one-sided concessions that will serve to embolden the aggressor.
The only proper framework for negotiations to take place between the US and Iran is for Washington to immediately halt all aggression towards the people of Iran. Primarily, this requires the reversal of all sanctions, American and European, imposed on Iran. Then, and only then, should Iran consider negotiations as being conducted with a modicum of good faith.
However, it is doubtful that such a reasonable criterion for talks will be met. This is because the problem that Washington and its Western allies have with Iran is not its alleged nuclear program. The real problem for these imperialist powers is Iran itself.
The Americans and their European puppets cannot abide the mere fact of an independent Iran – a country that believes in harnessing its resources for the development and benefit of the Iranian people, as opposed to the exploitation by Western capital and the Western-dominated global banking system; a country that is critical of Western militarism in the Middle East and Africa and other impoverished parts of the world; a country which defends the rights of Palestinian people who are being subjected to slow-motion genocide by the Western-backed Zionist regime.
These are some of the real issues why Washington is trying to defeat the Islamic Republic of Iran, the current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). And Washington is using the spurious concern over Iran’s alleged “nuclear ambitions” as the pretext for what is, in plain truth, criminal imperialist aggression.
This is another reason why the carrot-and-stick characterization of US policy towards Iran is flawed. That concept is based on the false premise that Washington’s desired end result is the surrender of Iran’s right to nuclear technology. Not true. In reality, Washington wants the surrender of Iran as an independent country. That’s why America speaks to Iran with forked tongue.
Despite this seemingly bleak – albeit realistic – scenario in US-Iranian relations, there is nevertheless a positive note. Every effort to demonise Iran has backfired to elevate that country in the eyes of the world, while US standing has degenerated to gutter status. The unanimous support for Iran from more than 120 nations at the NAM summit in Tehran last August is symptomatic of the shift in international perceptions. Iran is building partnerships on every continent while the US is incinerating bridges.
Furthermore, as the surge in oil prices over the latest Washington sanctions on Iran portend, the American policy of aggression to vanquish Iran will more likely end up rebounding to wipe out what’s left of the imploding American and European economies. Iran should therefore resist any supposed overtures from the US. The empire, with its venomous forked tongue, is destroying itself. Let it writhe and wriggle all it wants.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.
This article was originally posted at Press TV