Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kerry Tells Iran What It "Must" Do

One of the things one constantly notices about U.S. policy nowadays is how often the most basic concepts of diplomatic skills are lacking. I find it annoying when people talking about the triumph of “Realists” in Washington nowadays, as these are not Realists who Hans Morgenthau, the creator of this school of thinking, would recognize.

Actually, in this regard, there's good and bad news.

The good news is that they don't think Arab dictatorships will quickly be transformed into democracies.

The bad news is that they think that anti-American dictatorships and radical Islamist movements will quickly be transformed into moderates who aren't anti-American.

Senator John Kerry—who if you can forgive me for being cruel but honest, is no more intelligent then George W. Bush but since he’s a Democrat and liberal no one notices—has said that the United States no longer seeks “regime change” in Iran. He then demanded:

“Our efforts must be reciprocated by the other side: Just as we abandon calls for regime change in Tehran and recognize a legitimate Iranian role in the region, Iran's leaders must moderate their behavior and that of their proxies, Hizballah and Hamas."

Must? Must! Well, one could argue that Iran could claim to have brought about a regime change in Washington. It is still seeking regime change in Lebanon (which might happen next month), Jordan, Iraq, Israel, and the West Bank among other places. It is not going to change.

One of the precepts of Realism is that you don’t give up something unless you get something. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in that sense, is a consummate Realist but the word used for him in the Western media is “hardliner” for taking such a stance.)

What will the United States do if Tehran doesn’t moderate its behavior, much less that of Hizballah and Hamas (at least he called them Tehran’s proxies which is a good sign)? Return to the Bush policy which the administration views as discredited? Stop seeking engagement?

How long will the United States wait to find out whether Tehran will do so perhaps after the regime has nuclear weapons?

And if engagement with Iran and Syria are such good ideas—and will make the United States popular in the region again—why do Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have to spend so much time reassuring horrified, relatively moderate Arab leaders that it isn’t selling them out?

This kind of talk from Kerry isn’t part of the Realist school of international affairs but rather the “Let’s Pretend” elementary school of diplomacy.

But then we are talking about some people—not all by any means—who blather on about how they will split Sryia from Iran as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is received in Damascus like a conquering hero. Guess who he is supposed to have conquered?

Don’t people like Kerry realize that their enemies in the Middle East are laughing at them? No, I guess they don’t.

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