Negotiating with Iran: who's the real enemy?
Even back when I was a liberal, I don't think I ever was out of touch with reality about the nature of our enemies.
For example, when the ayatollahs came to power in Iran and launched their PR campaign by taking over the American Embassy and making the Carter administration look like impotent fools, it was clear what we were dealing with. The repressiveness of the new Iranian regime (particularly vis a vis women) was clear from the start, as was its aggressive intent and its uncompromising tyranny.
This was how the crisis began:
On November 1, 1979 Iran's new leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged his people to demonstrate against United States and Israeli interests. Ruhollah Khomeini was anti-American in his rhetoric, denouncing the American government as the "Great Satan" and "Enemies of Islam".
Well, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. There are few regimes around that represent such models of consistency over time.
Yes indeed, as I've said before, one can rightfully disagree on what to do about Iran. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record I will repeat: the intent of the Iranian leadership is clear, because they have made it clear. These are not people with whom one can expect to negotiate and reach any sort of favorable outcome, or indeed any outcome at all that isn't a sham.
So the solutions lie elsewhere. They might be strategic: working with other nations to apply the screws in various ways, such as economically. They might be clandestine: working to help Iranians themselves change the regime. And of course they might be military, the solution hated most by liberals, leftists, and pacifists.
And in fact that latter solution--the military one--is also most hated by me. I would imagine it's most hated by almost everyone on the right as well as on the left, because most people on earth are actually not eager for war if other solutions have a good chance of success. Those who advocate a military solution do so because they tend to consider it the least bad of a host of possible bad solutions, and risky ones at that.
I personally still advocate a combination of the strategic and clandestine solutions, holding off a military one till if/when it may be absolutely necessary. But in any event, I don't think it's best to take any possibility off the table.
I believe that I would feel the same way if I were still a liberal Democrat. Some would take that as evidence that I never was a liberal Democrat in the first place, but they would be wrong. The truth is that there have been tremendous changes in the last few decades in the stance of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (and perhaps "wing" isn't a good word, since the entire party has shifted enough that I'm not sure there's much of a moderate wing remaining).
When I take a look at blogs of the liberal persuasion writing on the topic of Iran, I can't help but feel that a sea change has occurred of such major proportions that I simply don't recognize my own former party.
Here's a case in point--not so much the post itself, but the comments that follow. The most common attitude I see there is that the enemy is bloodthirsty and is on the brink of starting a war, and the enemy must be stopped.
So, what's wrong with that, you say? Only this: the enemy in question is the Bush administration. The other enemy--Iran--is given all the benefit of the doubt, and Bush is given none.
Iran's motives are seen as, if not noble, then as understandable reactions to the threats of others. Its history and its own stated aims are ignored. Its ability to actually make a weapon is doubted; the longest possible time frame for such a possibility is accepted as the earliest possible time frame. And on and on...
Historical context? Fagettabout it.