Nor are the Iranians apt to respond dramatically to any easing of the sanctions that have so far failed to persuade them to moderate. Moreover, recognizing Iranian ascendancy means legitimizing Hamas and Hezbollah while weakening America's allies in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.
Radical Shiite militias would also be empowered, eroding America's recent gains in Iraq and impelling Sunni states to procure their own -- possibly nuclear -- means of defense. The U.S. could abjure any hostility toward Iran. But with its forces in the area already overstretched, such promises would invariably ring empty.Rather than improving U.S.-Iranian relations and enhancing Middle East stability, any American offer to dialogue with Iran is liable to be interpreted as a sign of American weakness, and not only in Tehran.
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