In the years right after World War II, when the United States was striving to negotiate a deal between the Nationalist government of China and the insurrection, the Communist leader Mao Zedong formulated the strategy known as "fight fight talk talk"writes Richard Bernstein in The New York Times, as he describes Iran's negotiating strategy today and, effectively, Saddam's three years ago and that of tyrants always. Indeed, their being by definition not the negotiating type, the Times inadvertently puts the lie to all the hoopla about having negotiations bring about a workable, everbody-wins compromise in the Iraqi crisis. Bernstein adds that, with regards to Mao,
It was a brilliant success.
The idea was that even as you seek opportunities to make gains on the battlefield, to expand your territory and gain in strength, you keep on negotiating even though you have no interest in a compromise solution and intend to win complete victory. The talk-talk part of the strategy gives mediators the sense that they are doing something useful, while, by holding theoretically to the possibility of a negotiated solution, you deter great-power military intervention in support of your adversary. Iran seems to be following a similar strategy, and it has been working for the simple reason that the European/American plan provides no way effectively to counter it.