PER­SIAN PER­PLEX­ITY

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

“Pres­i­dent Barack Obama did not ‘lose’ Iran,” writes Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Jour­nal. “This is not a Jimmy Carter mo­ment. But the for­eign pol­icy ed­u­ca­tion of Amer­ica’s 44th pres­i­dent has just be­gun. Hith­erto, he had been cav­a­lier about other lands, he had trusted in his own bi­og­ra­phy as a bridge to dis­tant peo­ples, he had be­lieved he could talk rogues and ide­o­logues out of deeply held be­liefs. . . . Mr. Obama of­fered it an olive branch and waited for it to ‘un­clench’ its fist.

“It was an odd, deeply con­flicted mes­sage from Mr. Obama. He was at once a her­ald of change yet a prac­ti­tioner of realpoli­tik. He would en­tice the crowds, yet as­sure the au­to­crats that the ‘diplo­macy of free­dom’ that un­set­tled them dur­ing the pres­i­dency of Ge­orge W. Bush is dead and buried. ...

“But in truth Iran had never wanted an open­ing to the U.S. For the length of three decades, the cus­to­di­ans of the theoc­racy have had pre­cisely the level of en­mity to­ward the U.S. they have wanted — just enough to be an ide­o­log­i­cal glue for the regime but not enough to be a threat to their power. Iran’s rulers have made their way in the world with rel­a­tive ease. No White Army gath­ered to re­store the do­min­ion of the Pahlavis. The Cold War and oil bailed them out. So did the false hope that the revo­lu­tion would mel­low and make its peace with the world. ...

“Iran’s or­deal and its ways shat­tered the Carter pres­i­dency. Pres­i­dent Obama’s Per­sian tu­to­rial has just be­gun.”

Sean Lengell can be reached at slen­gell@ wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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