“Living in the Islamic Republic,” wrote Azar Nafisi in her book Reading Lolita in Tehran in 2003, “is like having sex with a man you loathe.” This verdict has gathered extra force and pungency as the succeeding years have elapsed and as more women have been stoned, hanged, beaten, raped, and silenced. Lately has come the news that Iranian men in prison are being raped, too, for trying to exercise their right to vote. And now the U.S. government has come to a point where it must ask itself: What is it like to enter negotiations with a man who loathes you and who every Friday holds public prayers that call for your death?
Last Friday brought the news that the Obama administration had accepted an offer from Tehran, delivered the preceding Wednesday, for the holding of what the New York Times called “unconditional talks.” It was further reported that the administration had spent “less than 48 hours” deliberating whether to respond to the invitation, which yields the interesting if minor detail that this must have been the most significant decision taken by Obama’s people on or about the eighth anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11.
Hitchens goes on to state his concerns about Iran and its uranium-enrichment program and its theocracy’s hatred of the West.
First, it has become ever clearer that Iran’s uranium-enrichment and centrifuge program has put it within measurable distance of the ability to weaponize its nuclear capacity. Second, it has become obscenely obvious that the theocracy is prepared to govern by force alone and to employ the most appalling measures to remain in power without a mandate.
While Hitchens says he is all for talks without preconditions, he presents these two questions:
Do we seriously expect the Islamic Republic to be negotiating in good faith about its nuclear program?
What do we know about the effect of these proposed talks on the morale and the leadership of the Iranian opposition?
Read on and then share what you think about what Hitchens has to say.