Unfortunately, at whatever level of engagement we find our nation, in this future there will be the inevitable policy-come-lately's, still with the Kerry/Edwards sticker on the rusty Civics, who holler from the rooftops, and whine on the editorial pages, and carry signs on street corners lamenting our/Bush's failure to have dealt with Iran diplomatically back when we could have prevented the escalation.
What? The Bush White House IS trying to deal with Iran diplomatically?
Not only is the administration doing the right thing, it is again going it alone. So far there has been no effort on the part of Russia, China or India, to say nothing of the laughable UN, to mitigate Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.
The US shift puts the ball squarely back in Iran's court. In a sense, Ms Rice's statement was Washington's response to the open letter written last month by the country's hardline leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite the president's anti-western and anti-Israeli rhetoric, Iran has repeatedly offered to hold talks with the US. By conceding Iran's right to civilian nuclear energy and dangling a wide range of incentives, Ms Rice has called Mr Ahmadinejad's bluff.
If, after serious consideration, Iran formally rejects the offer and the accompanying carrots-and-sticks package to be finalised in Vienna today, the US will be able to say that it has tried its best. And western nations, plus Russia and China, will almost certainly agree. They will be much more likely to unite behind Washington in seeking coercive UN security council action against Tehran. Ms Rice will have achieved her "coalition of the willing".
More from the Washington Post:
(Iran) will try to dodge the choice it will be presented or reject it altogether. It will look for support to actors such as Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has publicly undercut the decisions of his own board and the Security Council by proposing that Iran be allowed to continue uranium reprocessing. Tehran also will count on the Bush administration's critics in Europe and Washington to decry the offer to negotiate as unworthy and to insist that the United States offer Iran unconditional bilateral negotiations on all issues.
Ms. Rice made it clear yesterday that no such "grand bargain" is on the table. Were the Bush administration to propose such a scheme, Iran would surely pocket the concession of de facto U.S. recognition while continuing to pursue its nuclear program. Fragile European support for sanctions would quickly give way to pressure on Washington to offer Tehran greater and greater concessions. If, on the other hand, Iran accepts the coming offer, it's possible that Iranian-U.S. talks could evolve into a larger discussion of security issues -- Iraq, Lebanon, global terrorism -- that would benefit both countries, though it's hard to imagine that happening under Iran's current government. For now, the administration has rightly put the focus on forcing Tehran -- not Washington -- to make a choice.