It’s not difficult to understand why…
There are many reasons for such failures.
The first is the fact that we have two Irans: one is Iran as a nation-state with the normal interests, fears and aspirations of any typical nation-state, and the other is Iran as a revolution with the irrational dreams and ambitions of all revolutions.
Iran: The French Soufflé Fails to Rise
According to those in the know in Paris, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is a smart soft-soaper capable of persuading a mule out of its hind legs.
A provincial politician, Le Drian emerged from relative obscurity towards the end of President François Hollande’s much-maligned presidency. As Defense Minister in Hollande’s government, Le Drian was quickly established as the star of a moribund administration.
While other ministers turned round vacuous illusions, Le Drian won a reputation as a “doer” (in French faiseur) by winning huge contracts for the sale of the latest French combat aircraft, the Dassault Rafale, to a number of countries including Brazil, Egypt and India, thus providing some good news for Hollande’s bad-news tenure.
Le Drian was Socialist enough to survive several Cabinet reshuffles but not too Socialist to remain on board as the party’s sinking ship.
Knowing when to abandon ship, Le Drian was the first senior politician to jump on Emanuel Macron’s presidential bandwagon at a time few rated the young aspirant’s chances above that of a snowflake in June.
When Macron won against all odds, Le Drian was upgraded to Foreign Minister with the understanding that, as the new regime’s elder statesman, he would have a say in other aspects of domestic and foreign policies.
So, this week as Le Drian headed for Tehran for what some described as “crucial talks”, the consensus in Paris was that if anyone can persuade the mullahs to temper their ardor it would be the Breton miracle-worker.
According to sources in Paris and Tehran, in talks with Iranian officials, Le Drian used his hitherto successful method of “give-and-take”.
The method is simple.
The Frenchman asks his interlocutors what is it exactly that they want.
Once that has become clear he would raise the question of how much of what they want is achievable, how and when? The trick is to keep the interlocutors focused on real, tangible things rather than chimeras and abstractions. The next step is to link what the interlocutors want to what the French want and show a high measure of compatibility, leading to a deal that gives both sides most, if not all, of what they want.
By all accounts Le Drian’s recipe failed in Tehran.