An Afghan man sits by torn and defaced election posters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 24, 2010. Afghanistan's president has taken control of a formerly independent body that monitors election fraud, snarling U.S. efforts to erode Taliban support.
"The American Syndrome: Seeing the World as We Like It"
Op-Ed, The Huffington Post
March 10, 2010
Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
Last October, hearts jumped in the West. The Iranian delegation at Geneva agreed to ship out the bulk of its low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France, where it would be respectively enriched to 18.75 % and then turned into fuel rods for the manufacture of medical isotopes at Iran's research reactor at Tehran. The advantage for the West was that Iran's stock of uranium would be taken out of the play for about one year, during which time Iran would not be able to go to highly enriched uranium (HEU) at 90%, sufficient for a nuclear bomb.
But once the Iranian delegation got back to Tehran, the decision-makers apparently speculated that if they sent their uranium abroad, they might not get it back. They then counter-proposed that the uranium be sent out in tranches, with the second not to be sent until the product of the first came back.
At this point, the United States, as the lead on the Western side, decided that the Iran was just being tricky again,* because the counter proposal did not conform to the vision of getting most of Iran's uranium out of the country, thereby halting, for a time, the enrichment process. The alternative for the West would have been to continue the discussions with the Iranians, negotiating directly with them their new proposal. But this option was not chosen.
Correspondingly, in Afghanistan, the American vision is that of a "bottom up" approach in a negotiation with the overwhelmingly Pashtun Taliban, not a "top down" one....
* The Farsi tradition of takiya has it that dissimulation is a virtue when one is faced with a superior power.
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