I’m not really sure I understand what policy goals are advanced by having the Secretary of State say in advance that she doesn’t think overtures to Iran will be successful. But this is clearly some sort of deliberate strategy since Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said more-or-less the same thing on Meet The Press yesterday. I appreciate that this is the view of some who served in the Clinton administration, but to be honest I really don’t understand it. The United States was cooperating with Iran in 2001 and 2002, and most indications are that throughout 2002 and 2003 the Iranians were actively seeking improved relations and, indeed, that their cooperation with us on Afghanistan was specifically motivated by a desire to improve the relationship. Unfortunately, that opportunity was lost. But it would be very nice to see a new opportunity created and seized.
Of course a peace effort might fail. But to me this reeks of an effort being set up for failure rather than embarked upon in earnest.