THE SPINE JUNE 29, 2009
Now, the president is proud that the United States "has gone out of its way not to interfere..." It's a strange fact of which to be proud. If, that is, it is a fact at all. But several reliable analysts make the point that we couldn't intrude even if we wanted to. Maybe yes, maybe no.
In any case, Barack Obama has assured us that America would continue its negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. But I actually wondered what he meant by "continue." I do not believe that there are any negotiations at present between Tehran and Washington.
Here, however, are President Obama's exact words in suggesting that, as Saturday's FT put it, "US-Iran dialogue faces postponement in wake of Tehran crackdown":
We have a continuing set of national security interests that are going to have to be dealt with because the clock is ticking...
There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks and we don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside Iran.
I am all but certain that Tehran is puzzling over exactly what the president means. And so is everyone else. This is a bit odd for someone like Obama who usually knows how to make himself quite clear.
The FT which usually adores everything Obama says and does in the Middle East--especially about the Israel-Palestinian dispute on which the president had made his feelings perfectly obvious--searched for some way to characterize his position on Iran. This is how the paper put it in a subhead: "President's firmer view mirrors Russian stance."