Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Obama With Iran

Time magazine's Scott MacLeod reports that Sergei Barseghian, a columnist for the Iranian reformist newspaper Etemad Meli (National Confidence), notes that in Farsi, the words Oo ba ma would translate as "He's with us."

Iranians are following the American presidential race. In part, because they wish to be rid of President Bush, who branded Iran part of an "Axis of Evil," and because they are taken in by Obama's false hope. According to MacLeod, Iranians favor Obama's hope rhetoric and see a President Obama repairing the U.S.-Iranian relationship:

It's not only the policy expectations that account for Obama's popularity: his Third World ethnic background and the Muslim faith of his father's Kenyan family — even his middle name, Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and a revered figure in the Shi'ite Islam practiced in Iran — offer points of affinity that some analysts believe could give Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the political cover to make a gesture of reconciliation to the country long decried in Tehran as "the Great Satan."

But it's Obama's declared willingness to engage in "aggressive personal diplomacy" with the Iranian leadership that has generated the most interest among senior officials in Tehran, since this would mark a sea-change in Washington's approach. "Obama is a man of engagement, a man of negotiations," one Iranian official told TIME. Amir Mohebbian, an analyst close to Iranian conservative politicians, argues that "the mentality of Iranian decision makers is ready for that." He adds: "I think that the coming of Obama — maybe, maybe — helps to solve this problem, but it needs bravery, from both sides."

MacLeod, fails to mention that the U.S./Iran "30-year Cold War" is the result of Iran's seizure of the U.S. embassy and the subsequent holding of 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days -- the remainder of Jimmy Carter's presidency. Like Carter's failure to free the hostages, Obama's proposed "aggressive personal diplomacy" will also be seen as a sign of weakness that will only encourage this state sponsor of terrorism.

Senator McCain, on the other hand, with his more "Realistic Idealism," is less likely to make nice to the Iranians merely for the sake of making nice.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) — the nation’s largest association of Muslim organizations — tried to persuade McCain to drop the adjective “Islamic” when describing terrorists and extremists:

We’ve tried to contact his office, contact his spokesperson to have them rethink word usage that is more acceptable to the Muslim community. If it’s not our intent to paint everyone with the same brush, then certainly we should think seriously about just characterizing them as criminals, because that is what they are.

Remembering how ineffective our former policy of treating terrorists as mere criminals was in preventing terror attacks against America Senator McCain has rejected ISNA's plea:

Steve Schmidt, a former Bush White House aide who is now a McCain media strategist, told The Times that the use of the word is appropriate and that the candidate will continue to define the enemy that way.

"Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda represent a perverted strain of Islam at odds with the great many peaceful Muslims who practice their great faith peacefully," Mr. Schmidt said. "But the reality is, the hateful ideology which underpins bin Ladenism is properly described as radical Islamic extremism. Senator McCain refers to it that way because that is what it is."

Realistic Idealism indeed.

The failed policy of merely criminalizing terrorism brought us to 9/11. Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 because the organization thought we didn't have the stomach to fight. Following many attacks on Americans in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s culminating in the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, America withdrew. Our response to attacks during Bill Clinton's presidency -- withdrawal, angry words occasionally accompanied by a few cruise missiles resulted in attack after attack. Mogadishu in 1993, the 1993 attack on World Trade Center, the attack on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, the attacks American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the near sinking of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

I prefer the current approach to fighting the war the Islamic extremists continue to wage against us and McCain's "Realistic Idealism" to the false hope of Obama's "aggressive personal diplomacy."

1 comment:

Gary G. Swenchonis said...

I agree with your post sir. As the father of one of the murdered sailors from the USS Cole I cannot understand why anyone would vote for Obama, and or Hilary. It would be open season on Americans again. Its been over seven long years since our son was murdered. Clinton told us the same thing he told all the other terrorist victims, "We will get them. We want tolerate these murders." He lied again. But we still fight the Yemeni regime everyday. Thanks for keeping the Cole and all the other victims of terrorist attacks in peoples memories!

Gary G. Swenchonis, Sr