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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Semantics

I don't think any rational person will mistake Iran's mullahs for being terribly, well, rational, at least by secular western standards, but characterizing Khamenei's response to Obama's Persian New Year overture as a "rebuff" seems to be a fundamental misreading of the situation.

"We do not have any record of the new U.S. president," he said in a live television broadcast. "We are observing, watching and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago."

....

Khamenei said that lifting economic sanctions and retracting "hostile propaganda" would be among the welcomed shifts in U.S. policies.

"For you to say that we will both talk to Iran and simultaneously exert pressure on her, both threats and appeasement, our nation hates this approach," he said.

....

To improve America's standing abroad, Khamenei advised Obama, "avoid an arrogant tone, avoid arrogant behavior, avoid bullying behavior, do not interfere in nations' affairs, be contented with your own share, do not define interests extraterritorially all over the world."


This is actually more reasonable that one might have come to expect from the weekly "Death to America" rallies (which, as every knowledgeable person on the area from Juan Cole to Fareed Zakaria has pointed out, is far more of a mob chant; individual Iranians are mostly pro-American).

Of course, Iranian funding of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism has to cease, and might actually be a better place to focus on than nuclear empowerment for now. The two groups are not likely to be snuffed out, but they probably can be steered toward a Sinn Fein type of political compromise, which will not satisfy past victims, but will help prevent future ones.

Some of this is generational also, and as some of the old hardliners who still harbor bitter memories of the excesses of the White Revolution die off, normalization of relations can advance. But it's not just about the anti-Zionist rhetoric that Tehran uses to stoke its revolutionary guff, it's the fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies as well, and that even if Tehran tore down the Isfahan nuclear facility tomorrow, planted a nice red-white-and-blue community garden in its place and named it after George Washington, the Saudis would probably calibrate that situation against their own relationship with us.

The Saudis probably wouldn't mind having nukes either, whether or not Iran gets them (they will) and their populace has a much greater anti-American, fundamentalist whackjob undercurrent. So it's more than just the usual tone present in the article, it's that no one really seems to follow that trail of geopolitical relationships all the way through to how dependent our foreign and domestic policies are on that balance.

3 comments:

Talitha Halostar said...

Helicopter Ben Bernanke is swamping us with Massive Quantitative Easing....The Undertow is likely to destroy us all!

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Joe Blow said...

I am not so sure that Iran is an active sponsor of terrorist attacks. They have funded hizbollah for years, as fellow shittes. but HB attacks outside of lebanon are very rare. and mostly tied to Shabba farms. HB was one of the only organizations able to help people in lebanon after the civil war.

and while Iran has said nice things about Hamas, it is unclear whether they are big supporters.

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=22599&prog=zgp&proj=zme

and so far, the last NIB says that Iran does NOT have a nuclear weapons program. that it was cancelled after we invaded iraq. I can tell you that if I was Iran and Saddam was in charge I would definately be working on nukes.

I don't think it would take much to achieve good relations.

and the idea that Iran is going to attack europe and thats why we need antimissle basis in poland is a complete crock.

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