President Donald Trump has talked extremely tough and postured strongly against rogue regimes throughout the world. He is not different from past presidents in that regard, but Trump has conversely shown the willingness to talk with leaders commonly believed to be enemies of the US agenda.
“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics,” Trump said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
Trump has made great strides with Russia and North Korea and is even engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan. He is working on Iran, now a frequent target of his ire, as he renegotiates a deal after having junked the one negotiated by Obama. It is apparently working as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is ready to come to the negotiating table.
“I don’t have preconditions. If the US government is willing, let’s start right now,” Rouhani said during an interview airing on state television yesterday. “If there is sincerity, Iran has always welcomed dialogue and negotiations,” Rouhani said.
Right now, the Iranian currency is in a “classic death spiral” and their economy is falling apart as a result. This has caused widespread discontent as murmurs of regime change are music to the ears of Trump’s hawkish national security advisor John Bolton. He believes that Rouhani’s wish to talk is “propaganda.”
“If the Iranians are really willing to come and talk about all of their malign behavior in the region and around the world, I think they’d find the President willing to do it,” Bolton said.
Perhaps Bolton has a point. Rouhani began to change his tune after it was announced that Trump would be levying heavy sanctions on the Iranians.
“You cannot expect to talk to a person after you stab him and leave the knife in his body,” Rouhani said.
“If there is trust, Iran always welcomes negotiations,” he said. “But negotiations don’t make sense while we are under sanctions.”
Rouhani may not have any choice but to sit down and talk with Trump as their economy rapidly crumbles. The Trump administration has issued an ultimatum of sorts to Iran: they can either fortify their crumbling regime or continue with their nuclear ambitions, but not both.
“It is America’s hope that our labors toward peace and security will bear fruit for the long-suffering people of Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
The negotiations are expected to last several months, as the Islamic Republic of Iran tries to hang onto power after nearly four decades in control. It is difficult to imagine the regime having any leverage against President Trump in their current unenviable position.