Walt imagines what it might produce:
When trying to make their case, in short, both sides tend to focus solely on the downside. But what about the potential benefits of a successful negotiation? To judge the pros and cons of diplomacy properly, we have to consider not just the downside of failure, but also the potential upside of success. And I don’t mean just the possibility of limiting Iran’s nuclear program (a desirable goal in itself), but also the more important possibility of putting U.S.-Iranian relations on a fundamentally different path (which is what AIPAC, et al are really worried about).
Among the potential benefits he outlines:
[I]f you’re not a fan of the clerical regime, you might want to consider killing it with kindness instead of bolstering it with belligerence. More than half of Iran’s population is under 35, and many are eager for better relations with the outside world (including the United States). Making it easier for Iranians to travel, get educated in the United States, and get exposed to the rest of the outside world will put those aging mullahs in a very awkward position. Have we learnt nothing from the failed Cuban embargo, which has helped keep the Castro Bros. in power for half a century? If we really believe in the transformative power of markets, Hollywood, hip-hop, the Internet, democracy, and free speech, let’s turn ‘em loose on Tehran. If your goal is a more moderate Iran, that approach is likely to work a lot better than ostracism, covert action, and repeated threats of military force, which merely galvanize Iranian nationalism and help justify continued repression by hardliners.
My view is that ignoring the positive potential of this engagement is a betrayal of the Green Revolution. And they do not deserve to be betrayed.