US embassy cable - 79TEHRAN8980

NEGOTIATIONS

Identifier: 79TEHRAN8980
Wikileaks: View 79TEHRAN8980 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tehran
Created: 1979-08-13 04:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PEPR IR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 130458Z AUG 79
FM AMEMBASSY TEHRAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3182
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. 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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