At a news conference on Monday involving the President and European leaders, this exchange took place:
"Q: …[Y]our Secretary of State is going to a conference [on] Iraq where the Foreign Minister from Iran is going to be present. Do you expect her to have conversations with the Foreign Minister of Iran? What will she talk about? And if she does have a conversation, is there going to be a change of U.S. foreign policy?
"PRESIDENT BUSH: Should the Foreign Minister of Iran bump into Condi Rice, Condi won’t be rude. She’s not a rude person. I’m sure she’ll be polite.
"But she’ll also be firm in reminding this representative of the Iranian government that there’s a better way forward for the Iranian people than isolation… [I]f, in fact, there is a conversation, it will be one that says if the Iranian government wants to have a serious conversation with the United States and others, they ought to give up their enrichment program in a verifiable fashion. And we will sit down at the table with them, along with our European partners, and Russia, as well. That’s what she’ll tell them."
So that, as far as we know, is the full diplomatic component of the Bush administration’s Iran policy. Every nuance of that policy is regularly covered in the press. Take, for instance, a recent New York Times piece by Kirk Semple and Christine Hauser ("Iran to Attend Regional Conference"). It focused on Secretary of State Rice’s comments on her willingness to talk with the Iranians, should she happen to "bump into" them. ("I would not rule it out.") Included in the piece was a brief version of the American laundry list of complaints about Iranian interference in Iraq ("The American military has said that some elements in Shiite-dominated Iran have been giving Shiite militants in Iraq powerful Iranian-made roadside bombs, as well as training in their use…"). Also mentioned was a knotty issue between the two countries — the American kidnapping of five Iranian officials in Kurdish Iraq. ("…Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Tehran’s decision to attend the conference was not linked to any deal having to do with five Iranians who were detained in January by American troops in Irbil…").
But something was missing — as it is regularly from American reporting on the U.S./Iranian face-off. The Bush administration is, at this very moment, sending a third aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, to the Persian Gulf. Although the three carriers and their strike forces will add up to a staggering display of American military power off the Iranian coast, American journalists aren’t much impressed. Evidently, it’s not considered off the diplomatic page or particularly provocative to mass your carrier battle groups this way, despite the implicit threat to pulverize Iranian nuclear and other facilities. Journalistically speaking, this is both blindingly strange and the norm on our one-way planet. If Iranians send the materials to make some roadside bombs into Iraq (as the Bush administration, at least, continually claims is the case), it’s a huge deal, if not an act of war; but put the most powerful fleet in history off the Iranian coast. No sweat.
By the way, talk about a foreign policy based on standing on one massive foot (or rather one massive combat boot)!
Since our media seems to have more or less forgotten about the Nimitz and all those ships gathering in the Gulf, Tomdispatch.com asked Michael Klare to offer an update on the situation. He writes: "Rest assured, unlike us, the Iranians have noticed. After all, with the arrival of the Nimitz battle group, the Bush administration will be — for an unknown period of time — in an optimal position to strike Iran with a punishing array of bombs and missiles should the President decide to carry out his oft-repeated threat to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program through military action. ‘All options,’ as the administration loves to say, remain ominously ‘on the table.’"