Saturday, April 5, 2008
Getting real about Iran
What was the point of the secretary of defense traveling to the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman to assure its leader that the United States would continue to use diplomacy with Iran? Secretary Robert Gates was in Muscat, Oman's capital, today to affirm the U.S. commitment to negotiations to resolve disputes with Iran. "Although we keep all options open with regards to Iran, we remain committed to a diplomatic solution," Gates told Sultan Qaboos bin Said, according to a U.S. official who was with reporters on the flight home to Washington, the Reuters international news service reported. Oman, a U.S. ally, has expressed concern about the dangers of war with nearby Iran, a regional powerhouse. The United States is behind efforts by the United Nations to stop Iran's nuclear program and to block Iranian assistance to groups opposed to U.S. policy in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. But why would the United States want to negotiate now, rather than plunging into war as in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe Washington, which has toned down its saber rattling, is afraid that Iran won't be as easy to beat as Iraq and Aghanistan, where U.S. occupations already are five years old and face increasing criticism at home.