"I don’t think anyone seriously disputes that one thing the Bush administration was hoping to achieve was to intimidate Iran into complying with American demands. "
Red flag. Bull. I seriously dispute that claim. For one thing, the invasion of Iraq did intimidate Iran into trying to comply with American demands. I don't think that anyone who was paying attention seriously disputes that Iran sent a clear message that they were willing to discuss all open issues with the USA and that not only President Khatami but supreme leader Khameini supported this initiative.
Glenn Kessler reported
a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.
The Bush administration rejected the overture and so now not only President Ahmedinijad but also supreme leader Khameini has not time to negotiate anything with the USA.
The did not want to intimidate Iran any more than they sincerely tried to intimidate Iraq. Real men go to Teheran. They wanted to conquer Iran too.
Any sign of flexibility by foreigners was interpreted by the Bush administation as weakness and therefore a reason to be inflexible. Any sign of inflexibility was interepreted as a refusal to bargain and a reason to be inflexible.
They didn't do negotiation so, while I'm sure they enjoyed intimidating people, they refused to accept yes for an answer. Always.