This would be a remarkable headline even if it were one from, say, Counterpunch. That the headline and accompanying story comes from Rupert Murdoch's London Times is simply amazing:
Jimmy Carter offers best hope of dialogue with the old enemyOf course, the right hates the idea simply because they have a knee-jerk reaction to the name "Jimmy Carter" and the Times gives room to one rightwing blogger to say so. One thing is for sure, Bill Frist isn't interested in a negotiated settlement, even though he admits that Iran has become more polarized in favor of Ahmadinejad, which would surely argue against regime-change:
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor
THE former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is due to arrive in America shortly at the start of a two-week visit that could open a diplomatic channel between Washington and Tehran, just as the two old enemies are set to lock horns over the controversial Iranian nuclear programme.
The softly-spoken reformist will become the most senior Iranian to visit America in nearly three decades. He is expected to attend the United Nations Dialogue of Civilisations conference in New York next Tuesday, address an inter-faith meeting at the National Cathedral in Washington on Thursday and give a speech to an Islamic group in Chicago.
The highlight could be a meeting with Jimmy Carter, the former American President who heads the Carter Centre in Atlanta, a conflict-resolution organisation.
Iranian and American officials insist that the visit by Mr Khatami and his entourage of aides and family members is purely private. No meetings are planned with members of the Bush Administration and he will not be representing President Ahmadinejad, his hardline successor.
But experts on the region hope that the visit could open a channel between America and Iran, who have no diplomatic ties and whose dialogue is usually confined to public threats and insults.
...While the outlook appears stark, diplomats involved in negotiations with Iran are convinced that a deal is still possible between Washington and Tehran that could settle all outstanding issues stretching back to the Iranian revolution in 1979, which swept the Islamic regime into power.
By a twist of fate a key figure in mediation efforts could be Mr Carter. He lost his presidential re-election attempt in 1980 in part because of the Iranian hostage crisis, when militant students seized 52 American diplomats and held them for 444 days. Since then he has dedicated his career to conflict resolution and now stands ready to meet Mr Khatami.
"before Ahmadinejad came in, there was an undercurrent among the young people, with satellite dishes and college campus type activity. And now he?s captured the elite, so we don?t have enough intelligence to answer the question [on support for democratic change]. The question is how much his leadership has penetrated down into the groups that we thought would foment discussion and debate and change from below."Question: if the guy is such a nut-job dicator reviled by all then why is there less support for regime change now than there used to be - why is this evil man "capturing the elite"? Frist doesn't mean that in the sense of "locking them up". Could it be anything to do with common Iranians feeling themselves to be targets for a rampant American aggression, thus pushing them towards a more extreme position?
You have the "Islamofascist" locution jumping from the fever swamps of rightwing punditry into the mouth of the President of the United States. You have the Secretary of Defense issuing dire warnings of another Munich. These things are being done by the exact same people who, four years ago, were utterly dismissive of claims that invading Iraq was likely to serve Iranian interests better than American ones. Indeed, you have the exact same people who two years ago were assuring us that it made sense to commit American blood and treasure to fight Sunni insurgents on behalf of Iranian-backed Shiite militias now saying we need to commit more blood and treasure in Iraq to stop . . . Iranian-backed Shiite militias.The common Iranian people have good reason to feel like the hammer is about to fall - yet they don't seem to be showing it much.
You have Richard Cohen, who backed the Iraq War and came to regret it, turning around and saying it's time to party like it's 1938. Meanwhile, this entire view of the world has, as best I can tell, no relationship whatsoever to reality.
With a Thursday deadline looming on the nuclear issue, you might expect that Tehran would feel like a garrison town. But it's surprisingly relaxed, and I think that's because most Iranians expect the crisis will be defused somehow. The regime has been putting on a show of defiance as the U.N. deadline approaches, shooting off new missiles in Persian Gulf war games, opening a new heavy-water reactor and festooning downtown streets with banners of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah. But this isn't a militarized country, and it certainly isn't eager for confrontation with America.Will Jimmy Carter, so hated by the ultra-right, become Iran's favorite American politician? I hope so. For all our sakes.
....Perhaps the most interesting fact of life in Tehran this week is that you can't find anyone who is opposed in principle to dialogue with the United States. Even a few months ago, that topic was almost taboo, but now here's Ahmadinejad himself calling for a public debate with Bush. "The golden key to being popular here is to normalize relations with the U.S.," says Shahriar Khateri, a former member of the Revolutionary Guards who is now a doctor and a participant in a joint project with American scientists to study the effects of chemical weapons.