In his excoriating critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier describes the Obama era as the “day of the extended hand,” characterized by “hollow phrases” and now naively (and predictably) reaching out in “bizarre warmth” to the “new” Iran—which is exactly as much of an enemy to the United States as the old Iran.
With all its foreign policy blunders, perhaps the most disturbing is the major shift in America’s political relationship with Iran. Apparently, now we’re friends...
The American government is no longer disgusted by the Iranian government, if ever it really was: in 2009, during the democratic rebellion in Iran, we certainly kept to ourselves, to use Kennan’s words, our views about its domestic political institutions and practices; or rather, we uttered hollow phrases of routine condemnation and moved on. But we are partners now, Washington and Tehran, and not only in the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program.
Wieseltier highlights the administration’s blind hopes to partner with Iran for a diplomatic solution to Syria, a solution he argues clearly does not exist: “It is now a war to the death between secular tyranny and religious terrorism—the predictable, and often-predicted, consequence of leaving Syria alone.”
Citing the “wariness on both sides” of the seemingly ever-mounting tension between the two countries, Wieseltier points to the recent development of a “bizarre warmth” between the nations, “a climate of practicality and cordiality” that is supposed to be a new page, “as if the ugliness of those relations were based only in illusion and misunderstanding.”
There is a new government in Tehran, isn’t there?
No, there isn’t. There is only a new president.
Wieseltier argues that though Rouhani is an “improvement” over Ahmadinejad by the simple fact that he is not entirely insane, and actually does not deny the Holocaust happened—“which for the Islamic Republic counts as a breakthrough in enlightenment”—Rouhani is unequivocally no friend to America.
But it is important to remember, during this explosion of good feelings, that Iran is still the Islamic Republic, a theocratic tyranny ruled by a single man, a haughty cleric who subsumes the state beneath religion and his interpretation of it, and maintains his power by means of a fascistic military organization that brutalizes the population and plunders the economy—liberticide and prey, as a poet once wrote about another dictator. This same mullah-king supports the murderer in Damascus and the murderers in Lebanon and Gaza, and remorselessly pursues a foreign policy animated by anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and intra-Muslim hatred. We may have extended our hand, but the Supreme Leader—the title itself is repugnant to decent modern ears—has not unclenched his fist. The smiles of his president and his foreign minister must not blind us to the scowl that is the true face of this cruel and criminal regime.
The result of this naive and dangerous newfound "friendship"? False and precarious partnerships and, worse, the destruction of longstanding political friendships with those who truly share our ideological goals.
Our friends doubt us, our enemies play us. We stand for too little and we stand for too few. The post-American world is here: behold it and weep.