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March 31, 2009
Iran offers to help reconstruct Afghanistan

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top foreign officials from more than 70 countries met at the Hague to discuss America’s new plan to stabilize Afghanistan.

At the conference on Tuesday, the United States and Iran took a small but important step toward improving three decades of tense, often bitter relations. Speaking at a news conference, Clinton said that the United States shares Iran’s concern about the flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan, and welcomed Iran’s offer to help with the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Clinton described the first known encounter between American and Iranian diplomats since the start of the Obama administration, a brief exchange between U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke and the head of the Iranian delegation. She also disclosed she had made an usually direct approach to the Islamic Republic by having a letter delivered to the Iranian delegation asking for help resolving the cases of three Americans missing or detained in Iran.

Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, joins Martin Savidge to discuss U.S. goals for the international conference, what role Iran could play in Afghanistan and the need for a more international coordinated approach to Pakistan.

A commenter at “Democratic Underground” praises the Obama administration and the news coming out of the conference:

If Obama can pull off a coup here and broker a deal that will enable the US and NATO to pull out of Afganistan (honorably), with the help of the Iranians no less, it will absolutely knock the socks off of this country and I think heads of state everywhere. And the location of the meeting, Moscow? Wow, he’s even got the Russian’s help. That in itself is quite impressive, at least it is to me.

He will, in my opinion, earn himself enough politcal capital that he will get a pass on practically everything else.

A blogger at the “Progressive Realist” argues that while this may not be a turning point for U.S.-Iran relations, it could prove important for Afghanistan:

Iran’s interests in Afghanistan are, well, obvious. Drug traffickers have destabilized the Aghan-Iranian border, and Tehran has no interest in a resurgent Taliban next door either. Remember that immediately following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, Iran was — quite literally — on the phone with Washington, offering its help. What happened next? George W. Bush included Iran in his “axis of evil” speech in January 2002. So long, cooperation.

Could this be a turning point in U.S.-Iran relations? Well, probably not yet. But it could be a turning point in terms of Afghanistan, and international relations with that country are just as, if not more, important.

Blogger “Richard” states that the U.S. will have to pay an as-yet-undetermined price for any cooperation with Iran:

My guess is that Iran, which has historically had great influence in Afghanistan and whose road network supplies the Afghan economy with consumer goods has been mollified in some way. The Iranians are likely to want concessions for any agreements they may enter into with the United States. There may be linkage with Hamas and Hezbollah and with Iranian nuclear weapons. But we don’t know what just yet. Exactly what price the US will pay for cooperation with the Iranian remains to be seen.

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I wondered in my first post on this story why Martin invites people like Lisa Curtis who seemed none too happy about the Obama overtures towards Iran. And I wrote:
“Martin, can’t you guys do a better job in screening these Bush left-overs who still think that Iran is the “enemy,” a country that would be better off bombed to smithereens?”

I meant of course, not that Iran should be bombed to smithereens, only that people from the Heritage Foundation seem to want it to happen.
The world has dodged a catastrophe when the U.S. government lost Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, et al.


Why is Lisa Curtis so negative on Barack Obama’s wonderful and promising overture to the Islamic Republic of Iran? Oh, I get it – she is a senior research fellow with that neo-con Heritage Foundation. Martin, can’t you guys do a better job in screening these Bush left-overs who still think that Iran is the “enemy,” a country that would be better off bombed to smithereens? We know that the Heritage Foundation is on the same wave length as AIPAC, who think the best thing would be to start a war with Iran. World Focus deserves better than Lisa Curtis as a guest “expert.”

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