Getting Sensible with Iran

While on the subject of negotiating with Iran (we were on the subject, right?), via Jason Sigger of Armchair Generalist comes this Zbig Brzezinski-William Odom WaPo op-ed titled “A Sensible Path on Iran.” Their approach is just that, sensible, even if it can be accused of being optimistic about the possibilities that a Grand Bargain could offer. It’s important not to be naive about the Iranians (Ali Larijani, for example, while a bitter domestic rival of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was nonetheless far from a cream puff when it came to EU and IAEA negotiations), something I emphasized yesterday on Sirius’ Blog Bunker program. But it’s also important not to be overly pessimistic. And the fact is that the possibilities mentioned by Brzezinski and Odom are only possible if we explore them through negotiations. Otherwise we end up where we started, which is to say a policy that is neither preventing Iran from advancing their nuclear program, nor providing us with reassurances about its ultimate ambitions. Eventually, negotiations require a leap of faith. Still, “Trust, but verify” actually demands less of a leap than “Don’t trust and don’t verify.”