See, We Tried
Some may be pleasantly surprised by the news that Bush is sending the #3 at the State Department for talks with the Iranians on their nuclear program (Coverage in WaPo and NYT), but I'm not. This looks to me like a fig leaf so the Administration can say "see, we tried to talk to them." For the moment it validates Obama's position on negotiation, but the envoy will not be authorized to offer anything to Iran and the upshot will be that they can't be trusted and Obama is naive to think otherwise.
I mean, look at the early reporting:
The Bush administration will send a senior envoy to international talks this weekend with Iran about its nuclear program, in what U.S. officials described as a "one-time deal," designed to demonstrate a serious desire to resolve the impasse over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
In a significant departure from longstanding policy, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns will join a scheduled meeting in Geneva between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, according to a senior State Department official.
Burns will not negotiate with the Iranians nor hold separate meetings, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. Instead, he will advance the White House's position that serious negotiations can only begin after Iran suspends its enrichment of uranium.
That's no different than the message they've been saying through the media for years. That is the opposite of demonstrating a serious desire to end the impasse.
It'll be fun to watch neocon heads explode for a day or two, because just being in the same room as an Iranian envoy is enough to get them sputtering "Chamberlain! Appeaser! Democracy Whisky Sexy!" But this seems like a setup to me, designed to be the "last straw" before the bomb bay doors open.