That's what Larry Wilkerson, former US deputy secretary of state, suspects Dick Cheney said back in 2003 when Iran made a very positive overture to the US.
Iran was offering to help the US deal with Iraq, to be open about its nuclear program, to stop supporting Palestinian militants, and even to reduce support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. And all they wanted in exchange was a working relationship with the US and for Bush to take back his characterization of Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil."
That is, Iran was offering the US pretty much everything we wanted -- and our government refused to talk with them.
I didn't find this information in the US press. I heard it on the BBC program "Assignment," which happens to play at 4 AM on Saturday morning in Washington, D.C. -- not exactly prime time. (I only heard it because I'm in the habit of switching on the radio when I wake up too early.) The specific show is titled "US - Iran Relations" and you can listen to it here. It's a 30-minute show and well worth your time.
Here are a few other facts I gleaned from my second listen (when I was more awake):
1. Iran was very supportive of the US after September 11. The people held vigils and the government sent expressions of sympathy.In other words, the idiots who run our government had an opportunity to turn an enemy into an ally and they blew it. I'm not sure if this was just neocon ideology or if it had something to do with controlling the oil fields, but whatever the reason, we screwed up what could have been a powerful alliance.
2. Iran approved of our invasion of Afghanistan. They had their own problems with the Taliban. At one point they offered to help train Afghani soldiers, but we didn't reply.
3. Despite such shows of support, they were labeled part of the "Axis of Evil." They were shocked. One Iranian official observed, "The US had such short memory and was so ungrateful."
4. The US response to this was classic: "They said worse things about us." How third grade can you get?
5. When they made the offer outlined above, the US was sitting pretty in Iraq and figured we didn't need them. In fact, some US officials wanted to invade Iran -- and still do.
6. The inability of the reformist government in Iran to cut a deal with the US was one of the factors that led to the more hardline regime they have now, meaning that now when we could really use their cooperation, we don't have anyone to talk to.
We rebuffed the Iranians as evil, even though they had the same enemies we did, yet we bullied Pakistan -- not exactly a democracy either and a country that was much less comfortable about fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda than Iran -- into an alliance. And as for dealing with evil, look at our friendly relationship with Uzbekistan. I think even the pro-torture types in our government might have trouble with boiling people alive, but the Uzbeks are our friends.
Like hell we don't speak to evil.