Sometime ago I mentioned at a conference in Rome that there’s a similarity between the Iranian nuclear crisis and the writings of Paul Auster. Of course by that similarity I don’t intend to compare one of America’s finest novelists to a brutal dictatorship, but what I mean is this: In most of his great novels Auster has a unique pattern to mystify his readers. At the last page of his writings you’re left with about a million questions. Then a year or two passes and a new novel by this truly outstanding author is published and again you find yourself as a reader to be glued to the end of this new story. Left again with many questions about details and characters. And left with your own fantasy about answering them. It is among the many reasons why I’ve become a dedicated reader of his literary work since my college days. There’s an exception to this pattern in Auster’s work and that’s his novel “The Brooklyn Follies”. Every single question readers might have is met with an answer as the plot unfolds leaving us on the very last page with a complete ending. On that early morning the main character believes for a brief moment that everything is going to be fine. It is the morning of 11th September 2001.
Now, I read Auster’s novels in my rare free time and maybe it is only me who sees that similarity, but here’s how this is related to our current Iran conflict: For many years the Iranian regime has come to nuclear negotiations – not knowing the masterful work of Paul Auster – with such a pattern. They have left the international community with a million questions about Teheran’s nuclear program and yet again talks continued over and over again. And for many years the international community has been glued to these negotiations to finally receive some answers in this crisis. It never happened.
Nothing hints that this time around the Islamic Republic has answered the serious concerns of the P 5+1. The fact that talks were held in English and the participants were able to communicate in the same language might look sweet, but the harsh reality is that 19 000 centrifuges spinning in Iran and a plutonium reactor about to be finished in 2014 speak a very different language.
So serious cautiousness is necessary here and it is about high time for the international community to reach their Paul Auster moment in Iran policy. Meaning not to fall into the charm trap of this regime. Meaning to continue its sanctions policy of bringing the Iranian regime to its knees. And meaning that nothing good will ever come out of continued talks for the Iranian people – so why continue them? The international community has come a long way to realize that our major issue in this conflict is with the nature of this regime – a regime that has already been a nightmare without nuclear weapons. Therefore every player in this game knows that nothing will be fine with this regime still in power – not even for a brief moment. By now everyone also knows that the Islamic Republic doesn’t represent the national interest of the Iranian people, that this dictatorship is ideologically bankrupt and on the verge of financial bankruptcy.
There are several things in life you just have to accept. For example that the Nobel Prize for Literature hasn’t been awarded to Paul Auster who tremendously deserves it. Well, I can kind of make my peace with that. At least I can try.
But there are other things one simply cannot accept and that is letting the Iranian people down. And there’ll be never a moment that I can make peace with that for far too long Iranians have been deprived of their legitimate human rights and democratic values. Nothing short of securing democracy for Iran’s civil society and securing that Iran stays a country free of nuclear weapons should be the major goal of the international community. This is a deal that can only be reached with the Iranian people and not with an Iranian dictatorship. And only that kind of a deal is a good one.