Is Goldblog Becoming a Squish on Iran?

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Goldblog reader Larry Birnbaum writes, in reference to my Bloomberg View column this week (mentioned in this post):

I agree with you often; but you really are a terrible negotiator. The administration has made it amply clear, over several years, that the US prefers a negotiated resolution to end Iran's nuclear weapons program.  The Iranians know what the parameters of such a resolution would look like.  They have many channels for communicating a desire to reconsider their previous, multiple, decisions to forego serious negotiations.  Trying "one more time to reach out to the Iranian leadership in order to avoid a military confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program" would only change Iran's understanding of the situation in one way: it would reinforce the hand of those in the Iranian government who think we are bluffing.

This conflict can be ended at any time, by them.  But we all have to live with the fact that there may be no peaceful resolution, either because the Iranian government, for whatever reason, doesn't believe it's in their interests, or because they miscalculate.  Reaching out now can only increase the chances that they miscalculate.  So it seems to me pretty clear at this point the chances for a peaceful resolution are diminished, not enhanced, by further US squishiness.  The only way forward that has any chance of avoiding a war is to ramp up pressure maximally, and quickly, in order to remove ambiguity about our intentions.

In a related development, Eli Lake doesn't really believe I believe what I wrote: He tweets (@elilake) that "I feel like @Goldberg3000 doesn't really think a last chance outreach to the Mullahs will actually work here."

I believe that the Obama Administration should make a sincere effort to present to Iran an alternative path, but I think the chances are slight that Iran will go down the path.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as 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.

His 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. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. 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. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

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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