Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Phrases like ‘They have to change their behavior' -- this kind of preachy sermonizing, do not create much confidence..."

FP/ here

"... "Here's the problem," Limbert said. "For 30 years, careers were made both here and in Tehran by how nasty you could be to the other side and how creative you could be in being nasty to the other side. So if you're going to change that, what happens if it doesn't get some immediate result? It's very easy to slip back into what you always have been doing."

Limbert says he worked hard during his tenure to tone down the language U.S. officials employed in talking about Iran during George W. Bush's administration.

"Phrases like ‘They have to change their behavior' -- this kind of preachy sermonizing," he said, referring to a phrase often used by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, "do not create much confidence." Limbert said he sought to "make things less judgmental, more professional." As a result, "We are perhaps doing less yelling at each other. That's a pretty small step but compared to what's gone on over the last 30 years, maybe it's more important."

Still, it's hard not to view Limbert's departure as a turning point and yet another missed opportunity in U.S.-Iran relations. A number of players with more skeptical views about the prospect of rapprochement with Tehran -- such as White House aide Dennis Ross and nonproliferation experts like Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore -- appear to be driving U.S. policy now, and the president himself blames the Iranian government for failing to respond to his outreach...."

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