Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff at PostGlobal

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. He overseas the fund's policy programs. He was previously the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly, Die Zeit. Close.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. more »

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More Lessons: Iran Showed True Colors

Here are some lessons that I draw from the outcome of the Iran-Britain standoff.

1. There are reasons to have diplomatic relations, including with enemies. Without a diplomatic relationship Britain would have had to work through an intermediary, like Switzerland. How likely is a rapid resolution to a crisis if all communication must go through an intermediary? If direct negotiation is impossible, the only means at a country's disposal is escalation.

2. Tony Blair has shown that negotiation does not equal capitulation.

3. Iran has shown that, in the end, it is a country that can be negotiated with.

4. Taking citizens of other countries into custody in a crisis situation is sure to arouse national passions, whatever the alleged reasons for arrest. That is true when Iranians seize a British ship. It is also true when Americans detain Iranian officials in Iraq.

5. The Bush administration upped the ante earlier this year when it arrested the Iranians, accused Teheran of meddling in Iraq and sent an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf. Iran has now retaliated. It believes it has done so in kind. All sides understand that they can do each other harm. It seems like this might be a good time to talk.

6. I don't agree with my PostGlobal colleague Hossein Derakhshan that Iran has won this round of the PR war. While Iran has proven to be more flexible than some had anticipated, the incident has also shown what Iran is capable of doing. The small staged farewell between President Ahmadinejad and the British sailors comes right out of Stalin’s playbook. People around the world will understand that. This episode will not help the Iranian nuclear case.

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