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The next president should negotiate directly with the Iranian president

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/31/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 742 times Debate No: 5216
Debate Rounds (3)
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Resolved: The next president should negotiate directly with the Iranian president.

Here's why:

1. Our willingness to meet and negotiate with the Iranian president would send a message to the large middle class of Iran that we respect them as a nation. Refusing to negotiate with their leader is an international humiliation that is felt by average Iranian citizens. Our best chance of moderating Iran is to begin to treat them as moderates.

2. Direct talks would be a leap of faith that would encourage Iran to make a similar concession.

3. We have no better alternative. Imposing sanctions radicalizes the Iranian people against America, which in turn gives the Iranian leadership license to demonize and antagonize America. Military action is probably not feasible, both for domestic political reasons and manpower limitations.

4. We need to show the world we still know how to talk out our problems with other nations. We need a huge diplomatic victory to help get us back on track in the eyes of our allies. We need to signal to other rogue states that there is a way forward and the United States can be a partner.

5. The risk would be minimal. If direct talks break down, or if an agreement is reached but later violated by the Iranians, we will have tried and failed. But we will be given credit for trying, and no failure is likely to jeopardize American interests any more than the status quo, in which diplomatic alienation allows Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions despite global condemnation.


I would like to thank my opponent for starting this interesting debate and should like to negate his proposal point by point as follows:

1. The US is an important world power, but is not the only world power. China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU are also major international players. Furthermore, Iran's neighbours should also play a central role in any negotiations. Any American president that regards himself as the world's policeman will inevitably be viewed as arrogant and presumptuous. That said, an informed Iranian should already be aware that the United States' differences with Iran are with the regime, not the people. The US Under Secretary for Political Affairs said "We want the Iranian people to see clearly how serious we are about reconciliation and helping them to develop their full potential - but also who's responsible for Iran's isolation" (1).

2. Direct talks on trade, for example, would be appropriate. However, political negotiations should be conducted through the conduit of international organisations such as the UN.

3. I agree that unilateral sanctions would further damage America's reputation with ordinary Iranians which is why the negotiations should take place within the framework the UN. Also, it may be true that starting a war with Iran may not win many votes at home, but the US certainly has the military capability and resources to decimate Iran's military and nuclear research facilities by employing long-range bombers and cruise missiles.

4. America is already a partner with rogue states. For example, by illegally occupying Palestine, Israel is in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (2) and also refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (3). Nevertheless, the US currently gives Israel $2.4 billion per annum in military aid and is planning a 25% increase in this amount (4). A diplomatic victory could be achieved by withholding these payments until Israel complies with her obligations under international law.

5. As I said, the US should be involved in negotiations, but under the auspices of the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, an agreement that thwarts Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons must also guarantee her national security. Israel already have the military capability and stated intention to attack Iran (5); (6); (7) and the international community must be able to demonstrate that they will act to protect Iran from any such attack.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks Brian. Here I respond to your points.

1. There is a major difference between policing the world and acting responsibly as a superpower. We cannot ignore the fact that rogue nations look to us, as well as their neighboring states, for diplomatic initiatives. By refusing to negotiate directly with Iran, we jeopardize the entire region as Iran gets closer to the nuclear threshold. Our strategy with Iran has been based in militarism: we have imposed sanctions, enforced by our military and intelligence agencies, and we have made threats. These are the acts of a presumptuous superpower, one who thinks possession of a giant hammer turns every rogue state into a nail. I think our decision to talk to the president of Iran would shock the world in its moderation and reasonability. Regarding our not having to worry about the "informed" Iranians, two points: First, even those who read the news can be misinformed if the media profits from an anti-American bias; second, it's the ill-informed that you have to watch out for, and they have a way of outnumbering the well-informed.

2. I strongly agree that reliance on the U.N. should be first, second, and third resort when dealing with rogue states. I also believe that, in the event that direct talks become necessary, as they have with Iran, the U.N. should play as large a role as possible in facilitating the talks, hosting them, and implementing whatever agreement is reached. However, you cannot force a rogue nation to use the U.N. The U.N. knows this, which is why it would likely not oppose direct talks at this point.

3. At this point in time, we do not possess the military strength to conventionally overpower Iran. It is twice the size of Iraq and has a much larger population. If we should have had 300,000 troops for invading Iraq, we would need at least a million for Iran. This would require a draft. As we both know, a draft is politically impossible absent an Iranian nuke detonating in an American city. Moreover, this would be the third Muslim nation America has invaded in less than 10 years. We would swell the ranks of terrorist groups around the globe as perception of a new crusade would be incredibly powerful. It would likely mean permanent war in the middle east, would cost us trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives. But here's the more important point: Your argument is precisely that of an arrogant superpower, one who would rather talk about the ease of war than the hard work and sacrifice of conversation and negotiation. The fact that we could simply blow them up is no excuse for skipping the intermediary steps.

4. I would not equate Israel with Iran. However, I am not looking for just *any* diplomatic "victory" - I am looking for a way to moderate Iran. Weakening Israel would just encourage Iranian militarism, at least in the short-term.

5. I agree that part of the negotiation should be such assurances. I believe they could be extracted from the US and Israel


With thanks to my opponent for his considered response, I should like to reply as follows.

1. Whilst I agree that the US's current belligerent and bellicose attitude towards Iran is counterproductive and that America should, instead, enter into positive and constructive negotiations with Iran, I still maintain that these discussions should be held on a multi-national basis so that any agreement reached would be legally binding and have the support of the wider international community. My opponent made a very salient point, however, when he outlined the dangers of anti-American bias in the Iranian media. I have absolutely no doubt that most Iranians are anti-American as a result of media bias, but how many mainstream American newspapers and television stations are pro-Iran? None. There is a great deal of anti-Islamic sentiment within the American public and this has been fuelled by the American mass media.

2. I welcome my opponent's acknowledgement of the importance of the United Nations in discussions but would remind him that Iran was one of the original members of the UN when it was first established in 1945. There is no reason to suppose that Iran would refuse to attend talks under it's auspices, provided the major world powers, perhaps most importantly America, made it clear in advance that the talks would be positive and in the long term interests of Iran.

3. I believe my opponent and I agree that a conventional military invasion and occupation of Iran would be a politically and logistically difficult operation, which is why I suggested that long range bombers and cruise missiles would be the US Government's method of neutralising any threat Iran might pose, should the military option be deemed necessary. My opponent then reiterated the desirability of negotiations over military action, which is something that I have not disputed in this debate.

4. The same guarantees against unprovoked military action should be given to both Israel and Iran so that neither country will require nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

5. Again, my opponent and I do not fundamentally disagree, but I would suggest that a United Nations Security Council Resolution should back up military assurances and that the International Atomic Energy Agency should monitor any nuclear facilities.
Debate Round No. 2


RogerOut forfeited this round.


Okay, let's put this one to bed!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Labrat228 9 years ago
I agree, con will win, i would have taken the debate.. but their was an age limit!
Posted by CiRrO 9 years ago
I predict a "Con" win.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:07