Ya Gotta Have 'Em
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Featured Stories | Foreign Affairs — Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
So . . .
Let's say that you are a major player in the Islamic regime in Iran. Whatever your country's disagreements--and they are serious--with the United States, your country and the United States have some very important security issues to resolve; Iraq, regional security in general, terrorism in general, nuclear development . . . you know, the good stuff.
Furthermore, if your country actually gets to parlay with the world's sole superpower and the greatest democracy the world has ever known, it's a major prestige boost. Right?
Which makes this nothing short of inexplicable.
Read on . . .
Iran's foreign minister walked out of a dinner of diplomats where he was seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the pretext that the female violinist entertaining the gathering was dressed too revealingly.
"I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday, regarding the actions of Iran's Manouchehr Mottaki.
Rice herself was questioned by reporters about the lack of a direct conversation with Mottaki, even though it appeared she was "chasing" him.
"Uh, well, you could ask him why he didn't make an effort," she replied. Then she laughed. "Look, I'm not given to chasing anyone."
Doubtless, if the Secretary did give chase, she would have been accused of being a hegemonic neocon. Or something.
Look, I understand that there are different social mores in different parts of the world. Given that my family is from Iran, I especially understand Iranian social mores. At the same time, I understand as well that the vast majority of Iranians are pragmatic people who look at the behavior of outliers like Mottaki and wonder something along the lines of "Quoi? What was he thinking?"
And well they should. How America will gain from negotiations with Iran depends on the nature of those negotiations. But Iran will surely gain something from being able to face the United States across a bargaining table. It is more than a little puzzling as to why they allowed the dress of a femal violinist--which was, I am certain, perfectly and completely within the bounds of propriety--to interfere with that diplomatic opportunity.