Just what part of the word "no" don't we understand? Over the past month, the Obama administration's much-anticipated plans for detente with Iran have run up against some harsh realities. The tentative deal struck on October 1st in Geneva, under which Iran agreed to outsource a significant part of its uranium enrichment, has now officially collapsed, with Iran days ago formally rejecting the UN-sponsored plan to send its stockpile to Russia and France.
Official Washington, however, doesn't seem to have gotten the picture. The Obama White House, having been rebuffed in its diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions, now appears more eager than ever to embark upon more of the same. Reuters reports that the Administration, far from being discouraged, is now "willing to give Iran time to decide whether to accept a U.N. draft deal that is meant to defuse nuclear tensions with world powers." Washington, in other words, is not taking no for an answer.
All of which is reminiscent of an exchange that took place on an AFPC-sponsored visit to India in early 2007. As part of discussions in New Delhi, the delegation was granted an audience with Indian National Security Advisor MK Narayanan. When asked about India's approach toward Iran, Narayanan affirmed Delhi's commitment to "dialogue" to resolve the then-already-acute crisis over Iran's nuclear program. When pressed about the possibility that negotiations may not resolve the impasse with Tehran, Narayanan answered with conviction: "diplomacy cannot be allowed to fail."
The message was clear: back then, India didn't have a "Plan B" for dealing with Iran. Today, it's the United States that doesn't.