Just to put something behind the comments in my previous post about Iran, here's a link to Doug Bandow's excellent review of the new book, "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S., by Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and a professor at Johns Hopkins. Relations between Iran and the U.S. and Iran abd Israel look pretty grim and confrontational right now, but that hasn't always been the case, Israel and Iran, as non-Arab countries in the Middle East, have more in common than one might think, and they have done all kinds of deals, not just during the time of the shah but after the coming of the ayatollahs. The U.S. has also established back channels to Iran in the recent past (think Iran-Contra, but there has been more) and there are reasons to work together.
Here's a paragraph from Mr. Parsi's book that will surprise many Americans. After the death of Saddam:
"The Iranians offered to end their support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad – Iran's ideological brethren in the struggle against the Jewish State – and pressure them to cease attacks on Israel. On Hezbollah, Iran's own brainchild and its most reliable partner in the Arab world, the clerics offered to support the disarmament of the Lebanese militia and transform it into a purely political party. On the nuclear issue, intrusive international inspections in order to alleviate any fears of Iranian weaponization. The Iranians would sign the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and they also offered extensive American involvement in the program as a further guarantee and goodwill gesture. On terrorism, Tehran offered full cooperation against all terrorist organizations – above all, al-Qaeda. On Iraq, Iran would work actively with the United states to support political stabilization and establishment of democratic institutions and – most importantly – a nonreligious government."
But the Bush administration, flush in the moment of apparent victory, seemed to think it could get costless regime change in Iran and rebuffed the offer. Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.