Lula may be trying to one-up Obama and win a Nobel Prize as he leaves office. But what is wrong with that? Bill Clinton had a Nobel in mind when, in his final days, he went all-out for a Palestinian peace.
And Erdogan leads a country that cannot wish to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons. For Shia Iran shares a border with Sunni Turkey, and the two are rivals for influence in the Islamic world and Central Asia.
Moreover, an Iranian bomb would force Turkey to consider a Turkish bomb. Erdogan thus has every incentive to seek a resolution of this crisis, to keep Iran free of nuclear weapons, and avert a war between yet another neighbor and his NATO ally, the United States.
If Obama refuses to take the Iranian offer seriously, it would appear a sure sign that the War Party has taken him into camp and he is departing the negotiating track for the confrontation track that leads to war.
Months ago, Time's Tony Karon asked the relevant question: "What if Ahmadinejad is serious?"
And there are obvious reasons why he might want a deal.
First, Iran runs out of fuel this year for its reactor that produces medical isotopes. And despite Tehran's braggadocio about making fuel rods itself out of its existing pile of uranium, there is no evidence Tehran is technically capable of this.
Iranians dying of cancer because Ahmadinejad failed to get those fuel rods would create enmity toward him, as well as hatred of us for denying them to Iranian cancer patients.
Second, as the U.S. intelligence community yet contends, there is no hard evidence Iran has decided to go nuclear. For this would instantly put Iran in the nuclear gun sights of the United States and Israel. And what benefit would Shia and Persian Iran, half of whose population is non-Persian, gain by starting a nuclear arms race in a region that is predominantly Arab and Sunni?
Third, Ahmadinejad leads a nation that is united in insisting on all its rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty, including the right to enrich. But his nation is deeply divided over his regime's legitimacy after last June's flawed, if not fixed, election.
If the United States were to accept Iran's counter-offer, it would be a diplomatic coup for Ahmadinejad.
Maybe that's the problem. The powers that be don't really want a deal with Iran. They want Iran smashed.