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You tell us
It looks bad for our cause.
The darkness gets deeper. The powers get less.
Now, after we worked for so many years
We are in a more difficult position than at the start.
But the enemy stands there, stronger than ever before.
His powers appear to have grown. He has taken on 
an aspect of invincibility.
We however have made mistakes; there is no denying it.
Our numbers are dwindling.
Our slogans are in disarray. The enemy has twisted
Part of our words beyond recognition.
 
What is now false of what we said:
Some or all?
Whom do we still count on? Are we just left over, thrown out
Of the living stream? Shall we remain behind
Understanding no one and understood by none?
 
Have we got to be lucky?
 
This you ask. Expect
No other answer than your own.

 

I think that today’s (Nov. 24, 2013) interim agreement in Geneva between the powers and Iran to “freeze” the advancement of Iran towards nuclear capability is another example of a culture-gap mutual mis-reading in bargaining – in particular the powers ascribing excess importance to the contracted-upon words as conveying their literal content, rather than viewing the meaning of the written agreement as only one thin layer of a complex and evolving communication and engagement between the parties.

At the same time, the agreement is in line with my suggestion here in the last paragraph of my post on Iran from two years ago:

  • A potentially better strategy would be to encourage Iran to follow its own interest by transparently staying only on the brink of military nuclear capability, and at the same time to admit Iran as a de facto member of the “nuclear club”. If, then, Iran nevertheless prefers to curtail transparency and renounce international recognition of its power, it will not only suffer the consequences of undermining its own interests, but might ignite an escalatory pace in which it is likely to suffer much more.

This strategy has, of course, its pros and cons as any other classical brinkmanship.

 – Aviad

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