The diplomatic faux pas of the year? The U.N.'s disinvitation of Iran to attend the Syrian peace talks in Switzerland may represent the biggest blunder in diplomacy this year, and the pressure put on the international body by the U.S. and its allies clearly indicates shortsightedness and a failure to consider the advantages of inclusion.

Granted, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has been a diplomatic renegade spewing venomous propaganda and accusations against the United States and its allies. Its venom has been particularly strong against Israel. Hard-liners have dominated Iran's diplomatic stage. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has seemed to prefer possible confrontation to negotiations and compromise.

The election of Hassan Rouhani, however, seemed to usher in a possibility for at least some mutual discussion and possible cooperation.

Rouhani has assumed a more moderate stance toward the West and has at least encouraged the suspension of some of Iran's uranium enrichment, to which the Iranian delegation committed during recent negotiations.

The United States and Europe have, in turn, begun to lift certain economic sanctions and bring relief to many Iranians who have suffered under the sanctions.

Pressure on the average Iranian as opposed to the very rich has been significant under the sanctions and should become much less with the lifting of the restrictions.


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But the disinvitation of Iran represents one step back in the negotiation process and breaks a social convention that should always characterize the United Nations.

It seems to reflect a view of Iran as a nonmember of the congregation of nations and echoes the bullying process that most individuals and groups today detest.

It prevents inclusion, which can promote greater cooperation, understanding and more internationally accepted behavior by the renegade country.

Inclusion holds many advantages for all nations concerned. Through inclusion, a prodigal nation hears a variety of national opinions and probably experiences peer pressure to behave better.

Participating nations can provide role models while learning more about Iran and its motivations and ambitions. Greater understanding and trust can, and probably do, ensue. Iran might begin to consider itself a part of the international community and cease acting like a foreign body.

Exclusion, on the other hand, promotes feelings of isolation or rejection. The expression of exclusion may be subtle or overt but can often lead to aggression on the part of the excluded entity.

The individual or nation experiencing exclusion feels he, she or it has no alternative but to act aggressively.

Inclusion rather than exclusion would seem to be the appropriate way for the Western powers and their allies to deal with Iran while remaining strong on Iran's need to continue the reduction of its nuclear enrichment program.

But the U.N.'s disinvitation of Iran to the Syrian negotiations and the pressure brought on the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to issue the disinvitation represent either missteps or steps backward in a potentially productive diplomatic initiative.

Such steps can encourage Iran, the prodigal nation in this instance, to increase its support of the Assad regime and further its relations with and negative influence over Hezbollah.

It can result in a further deterioration in Iran-Arab relations and greater dissension between Sunnis and Shiites.

Franklin T. Burroughs received his Ed.D. in Middle East Studies and Comparative Education from UCLA. He lived and worked in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon for 15 years and served as a liaison between the then-shah of Iran and President Jimmy Carter. The Walnut Creek resident has published a memoir, "The Pepper Tree Kingdom."