Christian Science Monitor reports:
WikiLeaks revelations that American officials were planning to raise pressure on Iran with more sanctions and a missile defense shield – even while President Obama was making high-profile public overtures to Iran – are being seen in Tehran as validation of deep skepticism from the start about Obama’s effort.
Iranians and analysts alike say the leaked diplomatic cables show a half-hearted attempt at engagement in which the US administration’s “dual track” policy of simultaneously applying pressure and negotiating was undermined by a singular focus on the pressure track and a growing assumption that engaging Iran was pointless.
“Although the [American] gestures sounded sincere and honest, according to these documents there was at least a parallel approach to keeping both options open, though they were 180 degrees apart,” says a veteran observer in Tehran who could not be named for security reasons. “WikiLeaks indicates that from the beginning [Obama] was very sharp on this issue, and some Iranian officials … were right [in their skepticism].”
Gary Sick adds:
The US undertook its engagement strategy with Iran with the clear conviction that it would fail. At the same time, it was preparing (and disseminating in private) an alternative pressure strategy. This is the most serious indictment of all.
According to the record, the Obama administration was briefing allies almost from the start — and before Iran had even had a chance to respond to offers of engagement — that we expected this initiative to fail and that we were actively preparing the pressure track that would immediately follow.
Iran could hardly have been unaware of all this, so the chance that they would respond favorably — even before the contested election in June 2009 and the brutal crackdown that followed — was essentially zero. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Obama was never sincere about his engagement strategy. It has yet to be tried.