October 29, 2005

Beyond the Pale...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments about Israel, that is. Such hugely irreponsible and inflammatory rhetoric, of course, forces a reassessment of my previous call to explore opportunities for limited dialogue between the U.S. and Iran. That's most definitively on the back-burner again, at least until such statements are repudiated more forcefully than they have been to date. Blair is pissed, of course, as he has to continue running the Euro-troika ball in the midst of such obscene comments by Ahmadinejad. Meantime, Iran is attempting some damage control. But forgive me if this spin...:

Ahmad Nateq Nouri, a senior conservative cleric and member of the Expediency Council who spoke at the ceremony Friday, tried to play down the president's comments, too, saying, "What the president meant was that we favor a fair and long-lasting peace in Palestine."

....er, doesn't jibe with such succinct (and reckless) utterances:

"Israel must be wiped off the map."

"Long lasting peace" indeed...

This episode will put a bit more wind in the sails of reformist elements in Iran, doubtless, as more Iranians realize their President may be, shall we say, not quite qualified for prime time:

It is becoming more and more clear that among both reformist politicians and some of his own supporters that Mr. Ahmadinejad has neither the political experience nor the knowledge to run the country," said Issa Saharkhiz, a reformist politician and journalist in Tehran.

Meantime, State is right that you don't simply kick a state off the U.N. roster for such odious comments, per the Israeli request:

Iran is a member of the United Nations," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "What I think we would encourage instead is Iran to start behaving in a responsible manner as a member of the international community."

Interestingly, Bolton punted on a similar question. He'd do better to get on the same page as Foggy Bottom. There are going to be major deliberations on the Iranian (and Syrian fronts, of which more soon) at the UNSC in the coming weeks and months. I still think a strong voice like Bolton will be helpful to us there (he has reportedly described the stakes to fellow Ambassadors by brandishing a hand-scrawled map of the Middle East without Israel on it, a not ineffective attention-grabbing visual aid). But, given the stakes, now is not the time to egg on any Beltway parlor games about whether there is any daylight between Bolton and State on issues of such immense import--particularly with the White House tottering of late and seemingly rather overwhelmed (Bush still hasn't even made a Blairite comment on the Iranian leader's comments, as far as I'm aware, nor even Condi--though they will doubtless soon, beyond the 'outlaw regime' soundbites). The U.S. government must speak with one voice. Again, this is most assuredly not the time for protracted internecine sniping, intermural intrigues and mixed messages emitting from USUN and State. The stakes are just too high right now. Yes, Iran of course stays a member state of the U.N. But Ahmadinejad must be made to understand very, very cleary that such rhetoric imperils the chances of a peaceful outcome to the Iran stand-off. A final irony? Ahdadinejad's comments, at the end of the day, are actually consistent with long-held post-Khomenist Iran policy on Israel. It just hasn't been said--so directly, brutishly, offensively--in a long time. Thus the international outcry, but I suppose we really shouldn't be all that shocked. We've just heard the policy stripped down and laid bare without all the Persian niceties and obfuscations. A useful reminder, you might say.

Posted by Gregory at October 29, 2005 08:57 PM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

You remind of a little boy who finally gets a taste of the real world. The "hawks" have been telling you the "real story" but alas they are not thinkers but crude cowboys. Another reminder is Turkey's recent reaction to your forefather's history that surfaced in their bid to join the EU. Compare that with Germany's reaction with the holocaust . Who are the civilized ? That is why , the only intelligent answer is democracy, not theocracy or socialism.But it is going to take a long time for that to take place . In the meantime be thankful for those smart bombs, F-15's, and all the other technological advantages the US has because that is what is keeping you safe in the near term.

Posted by: Moose at October 29, 2005 05:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Certainly an impressive list of flag officers, but I have to argue that Senator McCain is not particularly well thought of amongst those military folks that I see and visit with on a daily basis. McCain loves himself and the media far too much. They can like him as much as they want, but it is meaningless in a GOP primary.

Posted by: Skywalker at October 30, 2005 05:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moose (as well as a whole bunch of coolaide drinkers) says, "..the only intelligent answer is democracy..."

So then they'll just vote to wipe Israel from the globe.

Oh, and didn't the Iranians just vote Ahmadinejad into office. There were other candidates on the card; some more moderate than Ahmadinejad.

And one more thing, Turkey is a democracy.

Yes, it would be nice if there was a magic pill like "democracy" to fix what ails the region.

Unfortunately neither you nor Dan Darling nor Greg can explain why democracy would make a difference in the region.

Hoping real hard is not an explanation.

Posted by: avedis at October 31, 2005 03:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1. Iranian democracy - real democrats were kept off the ballot in Iran. Rafsanjani was cleverer than Ahmadinejad, but hardly a real alternative. And even at that, the election may have been stolen.

2. Turkey has a movement among its intellectuals to recognize the Armenian genocide. The government has not yet listened to them. If Turkey were like most ME countries, those intellectuals would be in jail. If it were like Iraq under Saddam, theyd be dead.


Greg,

welcome back. I agree with most of what you have to say.

Posted by: liberalhawk at October 31, 2005 04:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If Turkey were like most ME countries, those intellectuals would be in jail."

You mean like Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink?

Oh wait, nevermind, they are in jail. Maybe Turkey, contra their propaganda line, isn't quite so different after all...

Posted by: Sephiroth at November 1, 2005 07:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If Turkey were like most ME countries, those intellectuals would be in jail."

You mean like Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink?

Oh wait, nevermind, they are in jail. Maybe Turkey, contra their propaganda line, isn't quite so different after all...

Posted by: Sephiroth at November 1, 2005 07:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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