In November 2007, Barack Obama said that as President of the United States, he would personally negotiate with Iran, offering economic incentives and a chance for peaceful relations if Iranian leaders would forego pursuit of nuclear weapons and support of terrorists. In an interview with the New York Times, he said that Iran could possibly be ‘rewarded’ with membership in the World Trade Organization and other economic benefits if the country shows ‘changes in behavior’.

Most recently, an Obama adviser reiterated the Illinois Senator’s call to ‘sit down’ with Iranian leaders without conditions in order to resolve the issue of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. A Washington Post headline, “U.S. Talks with Iran Exemplify Bush’s New Approaches” confirms that this strategy is consistent with Bush’s approach as well.

But is negotiation really possible with a nation like Iran?

A negotiation is a dialogue intended to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action. Negotiations are proper in situations where two parties have somewhat different goals but cannot agree on the exact terms of the transaction, and are conducted between parties who have a mutual interest or want to share a value. Consider the example of a professional being interviewed for a job. The professional expects a certain salary which he feels is warranted by his expertise. The potential employer may disagree about the actual amount and may, in turn, offer the candidate other incentives to join. Ultimately, the two parties either reach a mutually acceptable resolution or the professional seeks an alternative position. This kind of cooperative negotiation is based on a win-win mentality designed to ensure mutual gain.

Cooperative negotiation is based on reasonable and open communication stemming from a belief that common interests, benefits and needs exist.

Is this the kind of negotiation Obama seeks with Iran? If it is, then the Senator has failed to grasp the preconditions of successful negotiation. Iran’s President Ahmedinejad has regularly called for America’s annihilation in national radio addresses. He has consistently maintained his desire to destroy Israel, a staunch US ally. His government has, since the beginning of the Iraq war, murdered US soldiers on a daily basis through the arming of Shiite insurgents and the aggressions of the Mahdi army. For several years, his despotic regime has been responsible for the deaths of countless Americans by means of its direct support and financing of the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Iran has revealed over and over again, in words and in actions, that its goal is the destruction of America. How does Obama expect to negotiate with a party whose goal is American destruction? The consequences of ‘negotiating’ with Iran would be similar to what would happen to a storekeeper if he agreed to pay ‘protection money’ to a local thug. The criminal, having identified his weak spot and reluctance to fight, would regularly increase the amount demanded under the threat of physical harm. ‘Sitting down’ with Iran and ‘rewarding’ it with membership to the World Trade Organization along with other economic incentives if it demonstrated a ‘change in behavior’ would be like attempting to placate a local thug with gifts so that he does not kidnap our kids when they return from school.

The self-inflicted blindness of Senator Obama and others who want to ‘negotiate’ with Iran, despite its transparent intentions, is baffling. The absurd hope that one’s friendly gestures will change the temperament of a murderous thug is suicidal.

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