For Naught!

For Naught!

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

There is a cardinal rule in international diplomacy that states that Heads of States never meet to negotiate treaties or agreements, only to initial and sign them. All the bargaining is done at lower levels so no one is embarrassed when the final session breaks down.  Everyone must go home with a settlement not with an understanding to meet again. Such a concept exists as well, when the highest level of negotiators are the foreign ministers. 

When all the Western Foreign Ministers flew into Geneva on Thursday to the Iran talks, it is clear that their Heads of State had been led to believe that the Iranians had agreed to the P5+1 terms to the Iranian nuclear weapons-sanctions negotiations.  The fact that everyone was spinning like crazy as they flew out on Saturday night gives clear evidence that the Iranians had made total fools of the West.  Everyone had been led to believe that terms were on the table to justify all hands being on hand to sign the papers. They naively believed what the Iranians  probably never intended to concede but had assumed that once they had all the Foreign Ministers in a room they would agree to Iran’s wishes—whatever they might have been—rather than leave town with their tails between their collective legs.

While that style—needing to save face at all costs may be the modus operandi in the Levant– it clearly is not the way in the West. It is truly sad how little the West understands the mentality of negotiating in the Middle East.

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