Thursday, March 29, 2007
Iranian rebuttal shown via BBC World
Any diplomat who has ever worked in Iran can tell you that negotiations rarely go your way once the issues become public.
The problem is that in a case like this one: where 15 British sailors were nabbed while boating in troubled waters, in front of 2 journalists, which pretty much meant that there was no way of keeping the event quiet. This also meant that there was no way to have a kind of low-key negotiation behind-the-scenes.
It is only normal that the British public would demand a show of strength from its government. Unfortunately, it is likely that this show is also jeopardizing the negotiations. As Keivan and I have learned in much, much lower stakes negotiating, any show of desperation or demand is met by stonewalling and backtracking. Many Iranians seem to have no concept of win-win negotiating, which makes them dangerous.
“If I am not screwing you, you must be screwing me,” is how many Iranians seem to think of the negotiating process.
I am sure that the British politicians and diplomats understand all this, but now they are stuck with a public “ratcheting up” that just may end up meaning a few months of detention for the British sailors. Hope I am wrong.