Giving Peace With Iran Another Chance

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You may say I'm a dreamer, but I think it's important for the Obama Administration, despite the obvious electoral difficulties this might pose, to try one more time to reach out to the Iranian leadership in order to avoid a military confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program. Yes, the chances are slim that Iran would respond positively to the Administration's request for an unfettered dialogue that could lead to a) the end of Iran's diplomatic and economic isolation, and b) the end of Iran's nuclear program (or at least its military component).

An American attack on Iran could be disastrous. I'm not nearly so optimistic about its chances as is Matthew Kroenig, the Council on Foreign Relations nuclear expert whose recent, much-discussed, article in Foreign Affairs calls on the U.S. to attack Iran's nuclear sites. I'll look at the Kroenig piece later in some detail, but suffice it to say, as I write in my Bloomberg View column this week, that advocates of an attack on Iran today would be exchanging a theoretical nightmare -- an Iran with nukes -- for an actual nightmare, a potentially out-of-control conventional war raging across the Middle East that could cost the lives of thousands Iranians, Israelis, Gulf Arabs and even American servicemen. Now that sanctions seem to be biting -- in other words, now that Iran's leaders understand the President's seriousness on the issue -- the Iranians just might be willing to pay more attention to proposals about an alternative course. I recognize all the difficulties inherent in reaching out again to an Iranian leadership uninterested in American friendship. But the stakes are high enough to warrant another attempt. 

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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