Bryan more or less beat me to the punch, but I'm going to publish my own take anyway. Pretty much the first thought through my head this morning when I heard the Condiliar pooh-pooh-ing the contents of the letter that Iranian President Ahmadinejad sent to Shrubya--the first direct communication between the U.S. and Iranian governments in nearly three decades--was "My, how times change."
Sixty-five years ago (or nearly so), the world was on the brink of another catastrophic outbreak of violence. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took much the same course as did President Ahmadinejad, and addressed a personal message to the Japanese emperor in an attempt to ward off what looked to be the outbreak of war in the Pacific (as in fact happened the day after the message was sent, with what results we all know).
Now, the Chicago Tribune, in reporting on the message, did note that it was "...unusual in the annual of the state department [sic] because the Japanese consider their ruler as a god ...and beyond ordinary channels of communication" ("F.D.R. sends note to Mikado as Japs move toward Thailand," December 6, 1941, page 1). But neither the Tribune nor the New York Times found it at all unusual that one head of state should contact another during a time of crisis between their two countries, and attempt to work out an amicable solution.
Fast-forward six and a half decades, and the Condiliar would seem to find it very strange indeed:
This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort. It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way.
For all that I think Condoleezza Rice is a poseur and a shill for the Worst. President. Ever., she's not that fundamentally stupid. No one in his or her right mind could possibly believe that one letter, the first of its kind in more than a generation, was going to solve all of the thorny problems confronting the U.S. and Iranian governments. For that matter, I have my concerns about both the sincerity and the reliability of Ahmadinejad, and I'm inclined to take everything he says with a couple of moles of sodium chloride. Nonetheless, Bryan was exactly right to say:
So now, Iran looks like a responsible country trying to resolve a dispute through diplomatic means and the US is a rude bully. That’s how it is going to look to the rest of the world and the US can kiss the UN resolution good-bye.
I doubt there was anything worthwhile in the letter, but after 27 years you don’t reject a diplomatic opening out of hand. Refusal to talk to other countries does not work.
Rice is right: there's nothing in the Iranian letter (at least the excerpts that I've seen from the AP, NPR, and other news outlets) that directly addresses our concerns about their uranium enrichment program. And, yeah, it does upbraid Commander Codpiece for, among other things, the Iraq war and the lies about WMD that he used to get it going. Big fat hairy fucking deal. Get over yourselves already, and keep this line of communications open! The Iranian president came to us and indicated a willingness at least to talk about the issue. That's more than we've gotten from them in decades, and, like a telephone, diplomacy only works if you've got two parties willing to talk. The Iranians have shown that they're willing. Now it's up to us to follow suit.