Backtracking a bit: It seemed to us like Iran’s official representatives and sympathizers smothered the east coast of the US, particularly, in a public opinion assault surrounding the Almaty encounter. The media generally went along with the exercise – instead of exposing it – but we’re not so sure the Iranian view won hearts and minds.
Here’s the evidence, for readers’ consideration.
As far as we can tell, two public appearances by Iran’s ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaee were supposed to be the highlight of this effort. The first, right before Almaty, was hosted by the Asia Society
which claimed that “Unprecendented Conversation Yields Proposals for US-Iran Negotiations.” No more, no less. The negotiators? Surprise, surprise: the Iranian’s interlocutor was none other than the ubiquitous Thomas Pickering. We’ve referred to him before
– Pickering strongly advocates the need for US concessions to Tehran.
The event (which a couple of hundred apparently paid a small fee to attend) was greeted by a few interesting media reactions. Right before, Forbes ran an oped
pointing out that
Documents filed in two U.S. federal court cases suggest Khazaee has also exploited his diplomatic post in Manhattan to provide help, and even guidance, for activities violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
It’s always useful when officials answer questions in a public forum, and I suspect that many in the audience came away encouraged that progress can be made in the negotiations. But Khazaee is a diplomat, and as his boss, the supreme leader, said bluntly in his statement last week: “I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary.”
They say that diplomats are honest men sent abroad to lie for the good of their homeland.
The truth is that they aren’t all honest men. Last night, when the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Khazaee spoke at the Asia Society, was ample evidence of this fact. Khazaee did his best impression of an enlightened diplomat. He wore a crisp suit. He spoke crisp English. He sounded reasonable.
He is not reasonable. The government he represents is not reasonable.
Diplomacy to the extreme?
The ambassador wasn’t alone; he also received ground support. For example, ABC’s David Muir was allowed to visit Iran (we assume that Khazaee himself approved the visa) for a series of reports
which can basically summed up thusly: sanctions bite, Iran is proud, no Twitter, women still have a way to go. Like American journalists who preceded him in such visits, Muir reserved mention of the unpleasant aspects of Tehran’s nuclear behavior mostly for the live spots.
Moving away from New York City, the Boston area’s think tanks and media – such as the Belfer Center and the Christian Science Monitor – were apparently also targets of this PR effort. But there it looked much more like a threat than a charm offensive (ie the world must cave in, Iran is a regional power etc).
Finally, we also ran into an interesting event at Penn State organized by the Leveretts (who else?) placing the onus on the US (what else?). Nothing new here – still haven’t figured out just why RealClearWorld insists on pushing their opeds in your face.
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett’s “Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms With the Islamic Republic of Iran” is a long and elaborate promotional brochure designed to sell Americans on the mullahs and their nuclear program.
Apropos charm offensive. Members of the media, please take note.