President Obama greets Brazil President Luiz Inácio

Lula da Silva at the White House: By all accounts, the

two leaders have a blossoming partnership.



Folha, Brazil

Iran Progress Shows Obama and Lula Made the Right Call


"Obama endorsed President Lula's intention to maintain a dialogue with Iran (on the nuclear issue), agreeing that because it would be counterproductive, not everyone on earth should put the ayatollah regime's back to the wall. ... In sum, it seems clear that 'engagement' has scored a solid point. But the game is not nearly over."


By Clóvis Rossi



Translated By Brandi Miller


October 23, 2009


Brazil - Folha - Original Article (Portuguese)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Clinton in Moscow, October 13. It seems that the Russians aren't yet on board for increased sanctions on Tehran.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: After talks with Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says pressuring Iran and threatening more sanctions over its nuclear program would be counter-productive, Oct. 16, 00:02:09 RealVideo

Let us recall the important elements of a dialogue on Iran between Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Barack Obama, based on Lula's account, conducted on the sidelines of the recent G20 Summit in Pittsburgh. One can believe the Brazilian president's version, based on the version of the encounter given by Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, of a previous conversation between the two presidents on the same topic in Italy.


So here we go. According to Lula, Obama endorsed his intention to maintain a dialogue with Iran (on the nuclear issue) agreeing that because it would be counterproductive, not everyone on earth should put the ayatollah regime's back to the wall.


One detail: this exchange took place on the same day that Obama, along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, expressed sharp criticism of Iran - accompanied by threats - after having just revealed the existence of a [second] nuclear reactor near the city of Qom, which is considered the Shiite Vatican.


In a notable show of unity and verbal resolve, President Obama, followed

by British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy, arrive to

make a statement on Iran's admission that it has built another uranium

enrichment facility, during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, Sept. 25.



All in all, Lula's position seems more correct than the "heavy-handed," considering the agreement between Iran and the major nuclear powers by which much of Iran's uranium will be enriched in Russia and perhaps France, which reduces the possibility and immediacy of fabricating The Bomb.


Of course, one must always qualify any such agreement: first, because it will have to be submitted to the supreme Iranian authorities. Second, because the remaining uranium can always be diverted for military purposes.


Given these caveats, now take note of a comment to British newspaper The Guardian, from Abbas Barzegar, a PhD candidate in religious studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.


The astute Juan Cole pointed out after the October 1 Geneva talks that Obama managed to get more out of Iran in seven-and-a-half hours than Cheney [Dick Cheney, vice president under George Walker Bush and the heaviest hand among heavy hands] did in seven-and-a-half years." Juan Cole is president of the Global Americana Institute, a research center that is obviously from the U.S.


Based on this interesting comparison, Barzegar points to this as a demonstration that "diplomatic engagement almost always works."  



Is this, in essence, the same thing that Lula told Obama and that Obama accepted?


But it's also worth mentioning that the assessment of this pre-agreement among analysts is far from linear or consensual. It depends a lot on who's doing the analyzing.




On the Israeli side, for example, Yossi Melman writes in Haaretz, which is arguably Israel's best newspaper, that the agreement "removes any justification for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities."



Around the world, the notion of an attack by Israel was the nightmare scenario - of course for the Israelis themselves, the nightmare is the acquisition by Iran of The Bomb.


In any case, it should be noted that diplomatic circles elsewhere are of the opinion that the problem with Iran is not verification or otherwise this pre-agreement, but the reliability of the regime of the ayatollahs.


This is a view very similar to that of Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, which he expressed to the Financial Times. According to Haas, it is the political character of the Iranian regime, not its capacity to manufacture The Bomb, that should define the international community's response to its nuclear ambitions.


In sum, it seems clear that "engagement," an essential principle of Obama's foreign policy, has scored a solid point. But the game is not nearly over.


Clovis Rossi is a special correspondent and member of the Folha editorial board, is a winner of the Maria Moors Cabot award (USA) and is a member of the Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism. His column appears on Thursdays and Sundays on page 2 and on Saturdays in the World Notebook section. He is the author, among other works, of Special Envoy: 25 Years Around the World and What is Journalism?











































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 5, 7:39pm]


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