If you try, you just might find that you get what you need.

As I understand it, conservatives think that it is silly to talk with Iran until Iran A) stops supporting Hammas B) gives up it’s nuclear ambition C) stops repressing its own people. Doing anything about point C) would violate the priciples of the treaty of Westphalia, so I assume this is mere saber rattling.

As for the rest: my understanding is that these are the points to be negotiated. Which means setting them as preconditions indicates that certain parts of our governing class really do not wish to meet at all– outside the field of honor. This, of course, makes them wildly out of touch with most Americans:


Seems like talking with people we don’t like in an attempt to settle our differences is a political winner. Who knew?


6 Responses to “If you try, you just might find that you get what you need.”

  1. I was not aware that the US or Iran had ratified the Treaty of Westphalia.

  2. I’d like some clarification on your reference to the Treaty of Westphalia. While I generally agree with what you’re saying (my support of Obama wouldn’t make much sense otherwise), I’m really not sure that this treaty is relevant.

  3. I would like clarification on your reference to the Treaty of Westphalia. While I generally agree with your point in this post, that we should indeed talk to Iran at this point without precondition, I can’t see how the tenants of an ancient peace treaty between Spain and the Holy Roman Empire applies to diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran.

  4. I was being cute. The treaty of Westphalia codified the principles of sovereignty– which is the extent of my point.

    By saying “principles” of Westphalia, I am getting around the whole “treaty” aspect of it. We may not have signed the right paperwork, but for 500 years it’s been a basic idea that dictating the behavior of a government vis a vii it’s own population is a very unfriendly act.

  5. I see Westphalian sovereignty as practical rule of thumb, not as a binding legal or moral principle. There are binding moral principles that restrict interferance in the internal affairs of other countries (most notably the principle of self-governance), but Westphalian sovereignty goes further than that and implies that if a group of thugs seize power in a country they have the right to do whatever they want to that country, a conclusion I find troubling.

  6. I see it as a binding moral principle precisely because I do not trust a government to tell the difference between “I do not like those foreign leaders” and “those foreign leaders have resources I want”.

    While I tend to agree with you that I _hate_ to see a group of thugs running a country, I think history is pretty clear that leaders looking for a fight have an easy time magnifying Saddam into Hitler– and then the war drums start.

    A decent respect for Westphalian sovereignty would have kept us out of Iraq– and many countries out of much trouble. Ways of dealing with thugs in a manner that doesn’t invite contempt require a new framework– not a tossing of the old. And that conversation might be worth another post entirely…

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