The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

The Persian Mind – are they Carpet Weavers or Bazaar Merchants?

Hmmm - another good series of reasons why "we" "lost" Iran - this gem too:

GIVEN THE PERSIAN NEGOTIATOR'S CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS, HE 
IS GOING TO RESIST THE VERY CONCEPT OF A RATIONAL 
(FROM THE WESTERN POINT OF VIEW) NEGOTIATING PROCESS.

WIKILEAKS:
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEHRAN 08980

E.O. 12065: GDS 8/12/85 (TOMSETH, VICTOR L.) OR-P
TAGS: PEPR IR
SUBJECT: NEGOTIATIONS

1. (C – ENTIRE TEXT).

2. INTRODUCTION: RECENT NEGOTIATIONS IN WHICH THE
EMBASSY HAS BEEN INVOLVED HERE, RANGING FROM COMPOUND
SECURITY TO VISA OPERATIONS TO GTE TO THE SHERRY CASE,
HIGHLIGHT SEVERAL SPECIAL FEATURES OF CONDUCTING
BUSINESS IN THE PERSIAN ENVIRONMENT. IN SOME INSTANCES
THE DIFFICULTIES WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED ARE A PARTIAL
REFLECTION ON THE EFFECTS OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION,
BUT WE BELIEVE THE UNDERLYING CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
QUALITIES THAT ACCOUNT FOR THE NATURE OF THESE DIFFICULTIES
ARE AND WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY CONSTANT. THEREFORE,
WE SUGGEST THAT THE FOLLOWING ANALYSIS BE USED TO BRIEF
BOTH USG PERSONNEL AND PRIVATE SECTOR REPRESENTATIVES
WHO ARE REQUIRED TO DO BUSINESS WITH AND IN THIS
COUNTRY. END INTRODUCTION.

3. PERHAPS THE SINGLE DOMINANT ASPECT OF THE PERSIAN
PSYCHE IS AN OVERRIDING EGOISM. ITS ANTECEDENTS LIE
IN THE LONG IRANIAN HISTORY OF INSTABILITY AND INSECURITY
WHICH PUT A PREMIUM ON SELF-PRESERVATION. THE PRACTICAL
EFFECT OF IT IS AN ALMOST TOTAL PERSIAN PREOCCUPATION
WITH SELF AND LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR UNDERSTANDING POINTS
OF VIEW OTHER THAN ONE’S OWN. THUS, FOR EXAMPLE, IT
IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO AN IRANIAN THAT U.S. IMMIGRATION
LAW MAY PROHIBIT ISSUING HIM A TOURIST VISA WHEN HE HAS
DETERMINED THAT HE WANTS TO LIVE IN CALIFORNIA.
SIMILARLY, THE IRANIAN CENTRAL BANK SEES NO INCONSISTENCY
IN CLAIMING FORCE MAJEURE TO AVOID PENALTIES FOR LATE
PAYMENT OF INTEREST DUE ON OUTSTANDING LOANS WHILE THE
GOVERNMENT OF WHICH IT IS A PART IS DENYING THE VAILIDITY
OF THE VERY GROUNDS UPON WHICH THE CLAIM IS MADE WHEN
CONFRONTED BY SIMILAR CLAIMS FROM FOREIGN FIRMS FORCED
TO CEASE OPERATIONS DURING THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION.

4. THE REVERSE OF THIS PARTICULAR PSYCHOLOGICAL COIN,
AND HAVING THE SAME HISTORICAL ROOTS AS PERSIAN EGOISM,
IS A PERVASIVE UNEASE ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE WORLD IN
WHICH ONE LIVES. THE PERSIAN EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN THAT
NOTHING IS PERMANENT AND IT IS COMMONLY PERCEIVED THAT
HOSTILE FORCES ABOUND. IN SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT EACH
INDIVIDUAL MUST BE CONSTANTLY ALERT FOR OPPORTUNITIES
TO PROTECT HIMSELF AGAINST THE MALEVOLENT FORCES THAT
WOULD OTHERWISE BE HIS UNDOING. HE IS OBVIOUSLY
JUSTIFIED IN USING ALMOST ANY MEANS AVAILABLE TO EXPLOIT
SUCH OPPORTUNITIES. THIS APPROACH UNDERLIES THE SOCALLED
“BAZAAR MENTALITY” SO COMMON AMONG PERSIANS, A
MIND-SET THAT OFTEN IGNORES LONGER TERM INTERESTS IN
FAVOR OF IMMEDIATELY OBTAINABLE ADVANTAGES AND COUNTENANCES
PRACTICES THAT ARE REGARDED AS UNETHICAL BY OTHER
NORMS. AN EXAMPLE IS THE SEEMINGLY SHORTSIGHTED AND
HARASSING TACTICS EMPLOYED BY THE PGOI IN ITS NEGOTIATIONS
WITH GTE.

5. COUPLED WITH THESE PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS IS A
GENERAL INCOMPREHENSION OF CASUALITY. ISLAM, WITH ITS
EMPHASIS ON THE OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD, APPEARS TO ACCOUNT
AT LEAST IN MAJOR PART FOR THIS PHENOMENON. SOMEWHAT
SURPRISINGLY, EVEN THOSE IRANIANS EDUCATED IN THE
WESTERN STYLE AND PERHAPS WITH LONG EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE
IRAN ITSELF FREQUENTLY HAVE DIFFICULTY GRASPING THE
INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF EVENTS.

[THIS PART IS SIMPLY TOOOOO FUNNY – I DONT UNDERSTAND,
I thought they were patient carpet weavers who understand interrelated events?

“WITNESS A YAZDI RESISTING THE IDEA THAT IRANIAN BEHAVIOR HAS CONSEQUENCES ON THE
PERCEPTION OF IRAN IN THE U.S. OR THAT THIS PERCEPTION
IS SOMEHOW RELATED TO AMERICAN POLICIES REGARDING
IRAN. THIS SAME QUALITY ALSO HELPS EXPLAIN PERSIAN
AVERSION TO ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE’S OWN
ACTIONS. THE DEUS EX MACHINA IS ALWAYS AT WORK.

6. THE PERSIAN PROCLIVITY FOR ASSUMING THAT TO SAY
SOMETHING IS TO DO IT FURTHER COMPLICATES MATTERS.
AGAIN, YAZDI CAN EXPRESS SURPRISE WHEN INFORMED THAT THE
IRREGULAR SECURITY FORCES ASSIGNED TO THE EMBASSY REMAIN
IN PLACE. “BUT THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE TOLD ME THEY
WOULD GO BY MONDAY,” HE SAYS. AN MFA OFFICIAL REPORTS
THAT THE SHERRY CASE IS “90 PERCENT SOLVED,” BUT WHEN
A CONSULAR OFFICER INVESTIGATES HE DISCOVERS THAT NOTHING
HAS CHANGED. THERE IS NO RECOGNITION THAT INSTRUCTIONS
MUST BE FOLLOWED UP, THAT COMMITMENTS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED
BY ACTION AND RESULTS.

6. FINALLY, THERE ARE THE PERSIAN CONCEPTS OF INFLUENCE
AND OBLIGATION. EVERYONE PAYS OBEISANCE TO THE FORMER
AND THE LATTER IS USUALLY HONORED IN THE BREACH.
PERSIANS ARE CONSUMED WITH DEVELOPING PARTI BAZI–THE
INFLUENCE THAT WILL HELP GET THINGS DONE–WHILE FAVORS
ARE ONLY GRUDGINGLY BESTOWED AND THEN JUST TO THE
EXTENT THAT A TANGIBLE QUID PRO QUO IS IMMEDIATELY
PRECEPTIBLE. FORGET ABOUT ASSISTANCE PROFERRED LAST
YEAR OR EVEN LAST WEEK; WHAT CAN BE OFFERED TODAY?

7. THERE ARE SEVERAL LESSONS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD NEGOTIATE
WITH PERSIANS IN ALL THIS:

– –-FIRST, ONE SHOULD NEVER ASSUME THAT HIS SIDE OF
THE ISSUE WILL BE RECOGNIZED, LET ALONE THAT IT WILL
BE CONCEDED TO HAVE MERITS. PERSIAN PREOCCUPATION WITH
SELF PRECLUDES THIS. A NEGOTIATOR MUST FORCE RECOGNITION
OF HIS POSITION UPON HIS PERSIAN OPPOSITE NUMBER.

– –SECOND, ONE SHOULD NOT EXPECT AN IRANIAN READILY
TO PERCEIVE THE ADVANTAGES OF A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
BASED ON TRUST. HE WILL ASSUME THAT HIS OPPOSITE
NUMBER IS ESSENTIALLY AN ADVERSARY. IN DEALING WITH
HIM HE WILL ATTEMPT TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS TO HIMSELF
THAT ARE IMMEDIATELY OBTAINABLE. HE WILL BE PREPARED
TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL, INCLUDING
RUNNING THE RISK OF SO ALIENATING WHOEVER HE IS DEALING
WITH THAT FUTURE BUSINESS WOULD BE UNTHINKABLE, AT
LEAST TO THE LATTER.

– –THIRD, INTERLOCKING RELATIONSHIPS OF ALL ASPECTS
OF AN ISSUE MUST BE PAINSTAKINGLY, FORECEFULLY AND
REPEATEDLY DEVELOPED. LINKAGES WILL BE NEITHER READILY
COMPREHENDED NOR ACCEPTED BY PERSIAN NEGOTIATORS.

– –FOURTH, ONE SHOULD INSIST ON PERFORMANCE AS THE
SINE QUA NON AT ESH STAGE OF NEGOTIATIONS. STATEMENTS
OF INTENTION COUNT FOR ALMOST NOTHING.

– –FIFTH, CULTIVATION OF GOODWILL FOR GOODWILL’S SAKE
IS A WASTE OF EFFORT. THE OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE AT ALL
TIMES SHOULD BE IMPRESSING UPON THE PERSIAN ACROSS THE
TABLE THE MUTUALITY OF THE PROPOSED UNDERTAKINGS, HE
MUST BE MADE TO KNOW THAT A QUID PRO QUO IS INVOLVED
ON BOTH SIDES.

– –FINALLY, ONE SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR THE THREAT
OF BREAKDOWN IN NEGOTIATIONS AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT AND NOT
BE COWED BY THE POSSIBLITY. GIVEN THE PERSIAN
NEGOTIATOR’S CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS, HE
IS GOING TO RESIST THE VERY CONCEPT OF A RATIONAL
(FROM THE WESTERN POINT OF VIEW) NEGOTIATING PROCESS.

LAINGEN

CONFIDENTIAL

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

November 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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