Let’s say you’re a high-ranking figure in the Iranian religious-political establishment.
For 30 years, you’ve used U.S. bellicosity as an excuse for social repression. “How can we relax restrictions on organizing and demonstrating? After all, the Great Satan schemes to destroy Iran!” is your battle cry against student activists and trade unions. To an international audience, you insist baroquely that the U.S. won’t take reasonable steps for discussion on issues of mutual concern.
But then all of a sudden, the U.S. elects a president who says he wants to negotiate without preconditions during his first year in office. You’re in a pretty serious bind now, aren’t you? So you start giving quotes like this one, picked up by The Washington Post:
“People who put on a mask of friendship, but with the objective of betrayal, and who enter from the angle of negotiations without preconditions, are more dangerous,” Hossein Taeb, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Wednesday, according to the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.
And you know what? You’re right! It is more dangerous. All of a sudden, you’re deprived of a method of demagoguery that’s aided your regime for a generation. And if you refuse to negotiate, you’ve just undermined everything you told the international community you wanted, and now appear unreasonable, erratic, and unattractive to foreign capitols. Amazing how the prospects for peace are more destabilizing to the Iranian establishment than any inevitably-counterproductive-and-destructive bombing campaign or war of internal subterfuge.