The Los Angeles Times had a major story today reporting that Iran “may be losing its long-standing reluctance to speak directly with the United States,” but that the Bush administration is rejecting Iran’s overtures.
The Times falsely paints this as a major shift in policy both for Iran (in favor of direct talks) and the United States (against direct talks). The title of the article, for instance, is “Iran May Finally Be Ready to Talk.”
Actually, as the Washington Post reported in 2004, Iranian officials have made at least three separate efforts to initiate direct talks with the Bush administration. Due to sheer incompetence, all three went nowhere:
Bush has struggled — thus far without success — to roll back significant nuclear advances in North Korea and Iran. … Bush demanded that Pyongyang and Tehran reverse course [away from nuclear weapons], but his national security team could not agree on policies to induce or compel those governments to submit. The stalemate left three secret overtures from Tehran unanswered and a presidential directive on Iran unsigned after 31 months of drafting attempts.
Beyond the “axis of evil” rhetoric, U.S. policy towards Iran has basically been paralyzed for five years. The L.A. Times should be exposing that history, not whitewashing it.