DEBATE OVER THE GULDIMANN MEMORANDUM
By Dr. Michael Rubin & Barbara Slavin
In a recent article, “The Guldimann Memorandum,” Weekly Standard, October 22, 2007, Dr. Michael Rubin, who was an Iran policy director at the Pentagon in 2003, exposed the incident as a myth, one sold by a free-lancing Swiss diplomat to credulous reporters. USA Today correspondent Barbara Slavin takes issue with this; she and Rubin debate the issue in the November 5, 2007, issue of the Weekly Standard. -- The MEF Staff.)
The agenda was not shot down by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, but by Bush administration indifference. In my book, I quote a senior U.S. diplomat then dealing with the Iran issue as saying that the overture was never seriously considered by the administration, then in a triumphalist mood over Iraq. The reference to Wolfowitz and Feith comes in a quote from Richard Armitage, then Deputy Secretary of State. Armitage said Wolfowitz and Feith blocked a swap of leaders of the Mujahedin e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group harbored by Saddam Hussein, for al-Qa'ida detainees in Iran. -- Barbara Slavin, Washington, D.C.
Real diplomatic correspondence is on official letterhead; the Iranian offer was not.
Governments do not send proposals with which they disagree; at his 2003 meetings, Guldimann said the proposal had the “80 percent” acceptance of the Iranian government. He did not know with which portions they disagreed.
Nor can Slavin explain why Guldimann would pass an Iranian offer to undersecretary-level American officials when British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was an established go-between with the Iranian Foreign Minister on sensitive American issues. There was already direct dialogue between the United States and Iran above Guldimann’s and Sadegh Kharrazi’s level; indeed, American and Iranian officials had met in Geneva the day before Guldimann unveiled his proposal.
Slavin has been misled by her sources. Former Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif represents the Islamic Republic’s interests. He lied when, a month prior to the Iraq war, he promised that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would remain outside Iraq. And, when he sees the opportunity to use credulous journalists to pour fuel on the political fires, he does not hesitate.
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Dr. Michael Rubin, a Ph.D. in History (Yale University) and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Islamic culture and Islamist ideology, is Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001) and is co-author, with Dr. Patrick Clawson, of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Rubin served as political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003-2004); staff advisor on Iran and Iraq in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002-2004); visiting lecturer in the Departments of History and International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001-2002); visiting lecturer at the Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan (2000-2001); Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1999-2000); and visiting lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University (1999-2000). He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leonard Davis Institute at Hebrew University, and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.
Barbara Slavin has been the senior foreign affairs reporter and analyst for USA Today since 1996. Ms. Slavin's 35-year career as a journalist began in 1772, after graduating from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Language and Literature. She has worked for The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Business Week, the United Press International, and the New York Times Week in Review. Slavin is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The foregoing debate between Michael Rubin and Barbara Slavin is to be published in the Weekly Standard, November 5, 2007, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat.
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