Much is being made about Richard Holbrooke shaking the hand of the deputy foreign minister of Iran.
Joe Klein's article writing for 'Swampland' blog: 'Meeting the Iranians' on the Time website certainly has.
"The handshake is a big deal. In 2000, Madeleine Albright had choreographed a casual handshake between Bill Clinton and Iranian president Khatami at the United Nations--and Khatami pulled out, under orders, one presumes, at the last minute. It was only a deputy foreign minister this time, but he showed."The unfortunate thing is the handshake and what Joe Klein has made of it is more revealing of Klein's changing 'colors' and his penchant for exaggeration than offering any real substantive diplomatic sign.
Observing the Iranians strategy of late, its easy to see this as simply a continuation of Iran's attempt at drawing out and extending the timetable of diplomatic wrangling over their 'rumoured' nuclear agenda.
Jonathon Tobin from Contentions blog part of the commentarymagazine.com stable is a lot more sceptical of the real gains to be made with friendly gestures towards 'the mullahs'
"Communication with Iran about the conflict in Afghanistan, as well as the fate of two Americans who are currently missing in Iran, is understandable. What appears to be missing from the administration’s agenda with Iran is conveying to Tehran just how seriously Washington takes their ongoing push for nuclear weapons. There are a lot of things on Obama’s plate right now including economic disaster and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But as much as he seems to want to pretend Iranian nukes are not a pressing problem, they are now potentially even more dangerous and destabilizing."If the Israeli intelligence timetable is to be believed rather than the US timetable then days, weeks, months could count in Iran's on going march towards nuclear weaponry.
I actually believe that the Iranians are running ahead of what even the Israeli's intelligence services will publicly acknowledge.
Strategically Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announcement the previous year of having 3,000 cascades online must indicate just how serious the Iranians are in regards to enrichment of nuclear fuel, how much enrichment of uranium they have actually achieved is the real question, how much of their enrichment processes are 'transparent' and how much of it is clandestine. Iran has a history of lying about is nuclear progress.
The US is stuck between a very hard place, trying to keep the Russians on side, maintaining diplomatic gestures towards Iran in an attempt to shore up their need for a more compliant Iran in regards to Iraq, and even more importantly to neutralise their influence in Afghanistan at this critical juncture.
The sad fact is Obama thinks his diplomatic overtures towards Iran are helping match the US's 'global agenda', the real truth is Iran is quickly finding just how easily they can adopt their adroit 'puppet mastery' skills towards the US's foreign policy.
Seems the Russians might just be taking advantage of Obama's new diplomacy learning curve as well, Obama is slated to meet the Russians with regards nuclear disarmament and proliferation.
Cold War Flashback: The U.S. Talks Nukes With Russia
Lets hope that the US's foreign policy back flip in that "it would not recognize South Ossetia as an independent country" doesn't set the scene for another 'expendable ally' in the middle east.
If Obama is under estimating the Iranians progress in Nuclear technology then we will soon be seeing a lot more Iranian hand shaking, and they will not be in gestures of friendship.