What to do about Ahmadinejad’s letter

Dan Drezner had another great tidbit on h

By Alec Brandon

Dan Drezner had another great tidbit on his blog today, about a Slate article by Fred Kaplan about how Bush should deal with the letter he received earlier this week from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

President Bush should publicly respond to the letter—at length and in detail. Daffy as the letter is, it does contain one clue that Ahmadinejad might really be seeking a dialogue. More to the point, many people and governments in the world, especially (but by no means exclusively) in the Muslim world, are taking the letter seriously and believe that it deserves a reply.In short, it provides a perfect opportunity for Bush to do what he should have been doing for the last few years—to lay out what America stands for, what we have in common with Muslim nations, and how our differences can be tolerated or settled without conflict.If such a reply leads nowhere—if it turns out that Ahmadinejad’s letter is as empty as it seems on the surface—no harm will have been done. Bush can continue to step up pressure on Iran’s nuclear activities. In fact, civil correspondence with the Iranian president could be touted as a sign of Bush’s good intentions and his desire for diplomacy. [Emphasis and link added]

While this is never going to happen (of course I know this honest president who definitely would have followed this suggestion), it certainly seems like an appropriate move from a president whose biggest international failing has been his unwillingness to engage the international community. Now he finally has an opportunity to engage the international community and in doing so establish his view of the world (which can just be the basic liberty and rights for all bit, which has played well over the past couple hundred years).Seems like too great of an opportunity to pass up, but why engage the world when you can rule from on high? It has worked so well thus far.