Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Condi's Cultural Short Circuit?

Ahmadinejad's 18-page letter to President Bush touched only indirectly on the hottest dispute between the two countries - Iran's nuclear program. Instead, it focuses on a long list of grievances against the United States and seeks to build on a shared faith in God to resolve them.
Rice told The Associated Press the letter "isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

If this is for real, there may never have been such a missed opportunity to truly communicate because of the US State Department's "tunnel vission" and the United States "cultural myopia" in modern history. I admit the entire idea of sending such a letter is probably just a good public relations move on the Iranian's side! But like Churchill is quoted as saying, its better to "Jaw, jaw than war, war".

What someone in the State Department (or higher) seems to miss, is that business isn't done the same way in Iran (or the Middle East) the way it is done in Foggy Bottom. Here there is an entire "courtship ritual" of smoke and mirrors, pretenses and platitudes which are obligatory before anything of consequence can be discussed - and even then more likely in the most oblique fashion, to avoid either side from loosing face if a concensus can't be reached.

I'm the last one to be a fan of Ahmadinejad, but Condoleezza blew it this time.