The Foreign Service Journal - March 2017
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MARCH 2017



American side did not give up. They prac-

ticed the best of diplomacy: they listened,

they waited, they remained patient and


Solomon’s very readable account

would have benefited from some edit-

ing. At one place (p. 6) the author tells us

that the 2012 officials’ meeting in Oman

was “the first direct meeting between the

United States and Iran on the nuclear issue

since the revolution in 1979.”

In fact, U.S. Under Secretary of State

for Political Affairs WilliamBurns and

Iranian National Security Council Chief

Ali Jalili had held a bilateral meeting on

the same subject three years earlier in

Geneva, where they reached an (aborted)

agreement about removing Iranian low-

enriched uranium and fueling the Tehran

University research reactor.

In another place (p. 242) we read, in

a passage worthy of Sarah Palin, that in

2011 when Secretary of State John Kerry

met Omani Sultan Qabus at the latter’s

palace inMuscat, “the vast whitewashed

facility overlooked the Persian Gulf’s azure

waters.” It didn’t (and doesn’t).

Solomon provides us with a useful

guide to a rogue’s gallery of American

Iran-bashers. He follows Harold Rhode,

Michael Ledeen, Douglas Feith, Larry

Franklin and others who continued to beat

their anti-Iran chests despite the evidence

that their long efforts to paint Iran as the

source of all evil were yielding no results

except sore chests.

The greatest virtue of the book is that,

despite his biases and occasional errors,

Solomon remains cautious. He is aware of

Americans’ poor record of understanding

Iranian events. He acknowledges that well-

qualified analysts in and out of govern-

ment were wrong about the Shah; they

were wrong about Iran’s revolution; they

were wrong about Khomeini’s direction;

and they were wrong about the course of

the Islamic Republic.

True scholars admit it when they are

wrong. The members of the oblivious

group Solomon describes so well, however,

could never admit they were wrong about

anything—despite the obvious reality that

they were. This book is well worth the read

just to follow the misadventures of this


Solomon’s work is a timely reminder

that wrong-headed ideas and those who

propagate themnever go away. After the

efforts of President Obama and Secretary

of State Kerry to find a way with Iran better

thanmutual demoniza-

tion, the new Trump


ing by the statements

of its appointees—is

apparently on course

to revive the thought-

less Iran-bashing that

has brought nothing

but frustration (and

sometimes worse)

for 37 years, and will

delight the most extreme ideologues in


Read Solomon’s book and then, as the

Iranian war chant says,

amadeh bash



JohnW. Limbert served as the first-ever deputy

assistant secretary of State for Iran from 2009

to 2010. He is a veteran U.S. diplomat and a

former official at the U.S. embassy in Tehran,

where he was held captive during the Iran

hostage crisis. He was ambassador to Mauri-

tania from 2000 to 2003 and AFSA president

from 2003 to 2005, among many other assign-

ments. He is the author of

Iran: At War with


(Westview Press, 1987)



hiraz in the

Age of Hafez

(University of Washington Press,

2004) and

Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling

the Ghosts of History

(U.S. Institute of Peace

Press, 2009).

Where Media and

Diplomacy Meet

The Future of #Diplomacy

Philip Seib, Polity Press, 2016, $19.95/

paperback; $9.99/Kindle, 154 pages.

Reviewed By Dennis Jett

Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make

predictions, especially about the future.”

That is especially true when talking about

the impact technological change will have

on the practice of diplomacy. Seib’s look at

what is to come sees a future where public

diplomacy, conducted through digi-

tal platforms, will profoundly affect

how foreign affairs are conducted.

Traditionalists argue that social

media and other technologies are

only a different means of delivering

the message. A bigger megaphone per-

haps, but not a fundamental remaking

of how foreign policy is made. Those

inclined to see technology as an agent

of revolutionary change assert that the

way diplomats normally did business is

dead, and that nothing will be the same.

They struggle to predict what the future

will look like, but are convinced it will bear

little relation to the past.

Through this book, Philip Seib, a

professor of journalism, public diplomacy

and international relations at the Univer-

sity of Southern California, steps into the

debate and lays out his vision. As Seib

states, a central premise of his book is this:

“The future of diplomacy is inextricably

tied to the future of media.”

One problemwith that view is the fact

that today’s dominant media platform

is tomorrow’s technological dinosaur.

Every advance in communications has

had implications for diplomacy, whether

it was the first trans-Atlantic cable, the

fax machine or the internet. And inmany

cases, the prediction that traditional diplo-