Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No-Bomb Iran

Leon Wieseltier hammers President Obama for his one-world naivete:
People admire Obama, at home and abroad, because his America is like their America; which is to say, they admire Obama because they admire themselves. The beautiful souls gave him a Nobel Prize for being a beautiful soul. We will soon discover that the popularity of an American president is a fact of minor strategic consequence. Anti-Americanism around the world is deep and tough and various. Most of it will not be dispelled by a black face and a Muslim name and a progressive smile. Multiculturalism is not a foreign policy. And enmity is the regular fate of states, and of superpowers, and of democracies.
Criticizing Obama for being too solicitous of Europeans and Muslims is one thing. There's no question he's overdone it. But Wieseltier's only example of Obama's perilous course has to do with Iran:
We have common ground with the Iranian regime, or so Obama insists, in our desire to avert a nuclear catastrophe. And we have common ground with the Iranian resistance, in our desire to promote liberty. In his policy toward Iran, Obama has so far honored one commonality and dishonored the other. His "engagement" with the illegitimate theo-fascist rulers in Iran, even as their show trials proceed, represents a decision to scant ostentatious differences in favor of dubious similarities.
This analysis has two glaring flaws. The Iranian regime is no less legitimate than the communist regimes in Moscow and Beijing when Richard Nixon improved relations to defuse mounting Cold War tensions and try to help end the Vietnam war. If detente with Iran is also in our interests, then the U.S. should by all means pursue it, no matter who's in power there.

Wieseltier's real howler is suggesting that our obligation to promote political freedom in Iran is anywhere near as important as our (and Israel's) interest in preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Neocons and non-neocons may differ about the advisability of additional regime-change adventures. But I'd prefer a non-nuclear tyrant in Tehran to an atomic democrat any day.

Hat tip to Mike Cheever

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