Patterico's Pontifications

12/25/2008

Ahmadinejad and Obama’s Iran Policy

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 9:58 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

NRO’s Michael Rubin notes the irony of Iran’s response to the British media and Christians while Iranian President Ahmadinejad responded to Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Day broadcast:

“The irony of Britain’s channel 4 giving Ahmadinejad the pulpit in the name of free speech is that as he was speaking, Iranian authorities raided and closed down the BBC’s Tehran offices and, separately, in the spirit of goodwill to man, ordered Christmas trees banned from Iranian kindergartens…”

Obama originally advocated talking to “friends and foes” without preconditions but as recently as November he was having second thoughts on talking with Iran. Meanwhile, today’s change.gov policy “supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”

I don’t see a lot of difference between “talking” without preconditions and “diplomacy” without preconditions but maybe I’m unable to grasp the nuance of Obama’s plan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates must be lacking, too, since he has rebuffed calls for diplomacy with Ahmadinejad because his positions are too hardline.

— DRJ

52 Responses to “Ahmadinejad and Obama’s Iran Policy”

  1. Obamadictionary: nuance – blanket term covering every ephemeral or ill-defined policy statement.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  2. Knowing that all Obama statements are subject to change, I’m not that concerned that his blindingly stupid rookie “no preconditions” policy said largely to differentiate himself from other Democrat candidates will actually be implemented. I have every confidence it will morph into something more nuanced, allowing him to use his now trademarked phrase which indicates he is lying, “as I have consistently said…..” regarding talks with unfriendly countries.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  3. Again, the Leftist dictionary has no actual definitions in it. They get to just make up meaning as they go along.

    JD (ba27e7)

  4. If the first two comments are any indication, somebody should start compiling an Obama dictionary.

    DRJ (30954e)

  5. Has he ever said anything consistently?

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  6. “Has he ever said anything consistently?”

    Icy – No, that’s why you know when he uses that phrase, it’s a certainty he is lying.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  7. If the first two comments are any indication, somebody should start compiling an Obama dictionary.

    How is that possible, DRJ? To actually compile any definitions is suggesting they are static, which, of course, they are not.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (ed9791)

  8. From the Dictionary of Hope & Change: policy — term used by PEBHO (President-elect Barack Hussein Obama) as an all-encompassing reference to what he might do once in office. [See also, pol-UH-cy — same term when uttered south of the Mason-Dixon line.]

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  9. I think it comes down to popularity for him. He floats out — thru the mechanism of “anonymous source” surrogates — various position changes, most of them in the mode of becoming a centrist; and then, depending on the level of outrage expressed by the left, backtracks as much as he deems necessary. Hence, the “as I have consistently said . . .” statements.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  10. Obama originally advocated talking to “friends and foes” without preconditions but as recently as November he was having second thoughts on talking with Iran. Meanwhile, today’s change.gov policy “supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”

    Aw, Obama has no idea what his is talking about in this arena. Face it: He is in way over his head. What he is doing now — same as he has been doing the last nine months — is to throw a bunch of (often contradictory) ideas against the wall and see what sticks, i.e., see what the liberal media and academic elite seem to accept on that particular day. That becomes the policy of the moment, subject to change when circumstances warrant. Who would ever have thunk it, but us conservatives are left with hoping that Hillary Clinton brings some stability and clarity to the foreign policy of this new administration. Left to Dear Leader, it will just lurch from posture to posture in an aimless and self-defeating manner.

    JVW (fa317f)

  11. Yeah! Let’s see him send the Secrertary of Dodging Sniper Fire over to Iran without preconditions.

    Pass the popcorn!

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  12. Rubin supplies no links.
    And of course, Iran is more free than Saudi by far, especially for women. There are no christian or jewish members in the Saudi Parliament, since there are no jews or christians, and parliament isn’t elected.
    Egypt is run by a dictator etc.. etc. And when was the last time Mubarak spoke on British or American TV? And Prince Bandar?
    Christman in Tehran

    sleepy (6b0755)

  13. The latest Troll du Jour (hat tip/Eric Blair) seems to have a difficult time understanding the terms of strawmen and irrelevant analogies. But no matter – let us watch it beclown itself further with more inanities.

    Dmac (e30284)

  14. Iran is more free than North Korea for both men and women!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  15. Wow, “sleepy” sure does like the same type of “argument” as the asshat that commented under the names “parsnip” and “alphie”.

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

  16. in re: ” irrelevant analogies”
    Is Saudi Arabia a friend or a foe? Follow the link before trying to answer.
    And Gates works for Obama, now, or he will in a few weeks. We’ll see what happens.
    None of this is a defense of Ahmadinejad, though it should be noted that he is not the supreme leader of Iran, and has no control over foreign policy.

    “Troll”? For what, not following the herd? Am I supposed to celebrate your ignorance?

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
    JM Keynes.

    Sorry to come off as a schmuck, but I’m not sure how else to respond.

    sleepy (6b0755)

  17. “Sorry to come off as a schmuck, but I’m not sure how else to respond.”

    — Self-awareness, both of what one has done as well as of ones limitations, is a good first step.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  18. DoH&C (Dictionary of Hope & Change): MSNBC — acronym for Mostly Sycophants Naive Beyond Categorization. see separate entries: Olbermonkey, Maddyke*, Chris “thrill up my leg” Matthews.

    [*denounce myself]

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  19. Correct my errors where you can. Tell me some facts I’m not aware of. Until then this “discussion” is more like the class drone saying “2+2=4″ and then getting upset when the idiot squad says “No it’s not! Nyah! Nyah!”
    Thank god this isn’t the Simpsons and I’m not Milhouse.
    Bye bye now children.

    sleepy (6b0755)

  20. Ah yes, ad hominem attacks and condescension.

    And numbers . . . eleventy!!!

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  21. Correct my errors where you can. Tell me some facts I’m not aware of.

    This post is about Ahmadinejad, Iran and the new administration’s policy. It is not about Saudi Arabia, nor comparisons of relative levels of freedom in various Muslim majority countries. If it were, Iraq would be notable.

    Pablo (99243e)

  22. Wow, “sleepy” sure does like the same type of “argument” as the asshat that commented under the names “parsnip” and “alphie”.

    Aw man. Not yet another sequel of Staunch Brayer.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (ed9791)

  23. “None of this is a defense of Ahmadinejad, though it should be noted that he is not the supreme leader of Iran, and has no control over foreign policy.”

    The old “he’s not really in charge” gambit. But the regime loves to throw him out there as a spokesperson and would cut him off at the knees if he strayed too far from approved policy.

    Not buying that line of argument, sleepy. Can we call you dopey instead?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  24. “But the regime loves to throw him out there as a spokesperson and would cut him off at the knees if he strayed too far from approved policy.”
    Finally a real response, if to a side-point.

    It’s not that simple. He does go off the reservation now and again. There are internal divisions among the conservatives in Iran: Khamenei vs Yazdi. And Ahmadinejad is Yazdi’s boy, not Khamenei’s. Yazdi more of a nutjob, and we should be grateful that his and Ahmadinejad’s power is on the wane. Khamenei on the other hand is considered a very intelligent “rational actor” someone we have to deal with guardedly but seriously. Since any open election in Iran would bring the reformers back in, many people argue for patience and soft pressure. If you want corruption “Mad Mullahs” instability in a country lacking a popular stable reform movement look to Saudi Arabia. Still the place where AQ gets most of its money.

    My response to the post was to its simplistic descriptions of friends and foes. Maliki in Iraq is now balancing between Iran and the US, and no his sectarianism is not a harbinger of future stability any more than Hariri’s [Lebanon] ass kissing to both Saudis and the US is.

    Direct communication with Tehran makes sense.

    sleepy (5d921c)

  25. “Finally a real response, if to a side-point.” – Could you get to your real point, please?

    “Since any open election in Iran would bring the reformers back in” – Back in? Who would notice? I guess it’s all a matter of degree. Do you think “reformers” actually intend to nrmalize relations with the Great Satan?

    “Direct communication with Tehran makes sense.” – Without preconditions?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  26. Ahmadinejad is being taken way too seriously. In reality he’s only a third-tier politician and the mouthpiece of the ones in power (aka the Guardian Council). One needs to understand that he is also pandering to the religious right in Iran (you mean not all Iranians are the same!?!) when listening to his speeches.

    As for diplomacy…I really don’t understand the “no precondition” fuss. It’s not like we will be recognizing Iran as a state – Iran already is a state! No one says we will have to accept their term if we open up diplomatic talks. That’s what these talks are for.

    Milo (6d5899)

  27. “Direct communication with Tehran makes sense.”

    Yeah, as long as we’re communicating with 500 lb. bombs.

    Dave Surls (ef70fa)

  28. Correct my errors where you can.

    Your errors are listed under the hallowed Troll tradition called threadjacking, sweetheart. Do us a big favor and look it up before your next Great Thought.

    Bye bye now children.

    …said the childish intellect.

    Dmac (e30284)

  29. sleepy and milo,

    It’s fine to expand the discussion but let’s be clear (and hopefully even agree) on the substance of the post:

    1. It is ironic that Britain gave Ahmadinejad a Christmas forum to speak freely to the West at the same time Iranian officials closed down the British media in Ahmadinejad’s country and prevented the display of Christmas trees.

    2. I don’t see a difference between “talking without preconditions” and “diplomacy without preconditions,” although Obama apparently won’t do the first but will do the second.

    DRJ (30954e)

  30. There are no conservatives in Iran, there are only more, or less, radical “Mad Mullahs”.

    Anyone of a temperate nature within the political structure of Iran has either been banished, killed, or neutered.

    Another Drew (who will be known as AD in the coming year) (14f1e0)

  31. “1. It is ironic that Britain gave Ahmadinejad a Christmas forum to speak freely to the West at the same time Iranian officials closed down the British media in Ahmadinejad’s country and prevented the display of Christmas trees”

    As I said first off no links were supplied in either case, so I supplied a link to a christmas tree display in Tehran
    (If things have changed there in the past week let me know.)

    I continued with questions concerning our relations with Iran and other countries in the region.
    You want juxtaposition? Here’s “Bandar Bush” and here are The Saudi Religious Police
    Sorry if the timeline is somewhat general.
    I think it makes more sense to have a discussion of the underlying issues, but they don’t interest you I guess. So I’ll just apologize for “hijacking the thread” and leave it at that.

    sleepy (6b0755)

  32. sleepy,

    I don’t have personal knowledge that any of these reports are true but here’s one link from Monday:

    “The Iranian Intelligence has recently learned that the BBC was not in Iran to report the news, but to operate an espionage ring sanctioned by the British Embassy,” Muhammad Karim Abadi, of the Iranian Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy, was quoted by several Iranian publications as saying.

    According to Abadi, the Iranian Intelligence has been able to ascertain that employers of the BBC sent to Tehran “were in fact cooperating with several intelligence agencies.”

    This espionage theory, he told Iranian media, was supported by evidence the likes of BBC journalists using aliases to book hotel rooms. A quick investigation, he added, revealed that the broadcasting giant “intended to launch a spy network in Iran… luckily, the Iranian Intelligence manages to arrest several teams and others are being investigated.”

    You can also subscribe to the Iranian News Update if you are so inclined.

    DRJ (30954e)

  33. Thank you. And thanks for the news link.
    I prefer this one.

    sleepy (6b0755)

  34. Since any open election in Iran would bring the reformers back in, many people argue for patience and soft pressure.

    I’d argue for open elections.

    Pablo (99243e)

  35. sleepy,

    I haven’t seen that website before. Thank you for the link.

    DRJ (30954e)

  36. sleepy – Please elaborate on what you expect the “reformers” to be able to do if they are elected, especially given your point about the elected government not being the real power in Iran.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  37. It’s late, where I am so I’m not going to add much now. But I didn’t say the elected government has no power, the president has a lot of it, but foreign policy is something else. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Iran

    The people are impatient. They want change. But they’re also proud and most are in favor of nuclear power. Their popular position on weapons I don’t know. They’re also not so fond of Israel, though Iran has the largest population of Jews in the middle east outside of Israel. I’m not going to go into that debate now, but here are two photographs. Look at them closely.
    Neither Israel nor the US has taken the first-strike option off the table. And when the Shah fell and we took him in, Iranians were worried that we would try to install him again, as we had before. Our government does not have a history of support for democracy in the middle east.

    Also something to consider is the relation of rich urban liberals and rural religious conservatives- they don’t get along much in this country either. But if I understand conservative anger there then I should to understand it here as. The reformers in Iran in the 90’s did very well for themselves and Ahmadinejad was elected in a populist backlash against the perceived and also real corruption of the capital elite.
    There are dangerous lunatics in the world and dangerously unstable countries. Iran does not top my list of immediate fears. I worry about it a bit more than I worry about China or Russia- a serious adversary if you want, but not a mad dog. I admit though, I despise the Saudis.
    I’m tired. that’s it for now. a beer and a bed.
    goodnight

    http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=12836
    something else

    sleepy (6b0755)

  38. “But I didn’t say the elected government has no power, the president has a lot of it, but foreign policy is something else.”

    sleepy – I just want you to make up your mind. Your trying to play the typical liberal game, the gambit I referenced above of saying that Imadamnutjob doesn’t have any real power so we don’t need to worry about what he says. Then you turn around and say, but wait, some real reformers might be voted in and that might be good for us but don’t explain how or if they will have the power the nutjob lacks. You can’t have it both ways, which is what I see you trying to argue. Try again in the morning when you are “less tired.” Heh.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  39. “Direct communication with Tehran makes sense.”

    Yeah, as long as we’re communicating with 500 lb. bombs.

    you misspelled “every munition we can launch, drop or fire at them.’

    redc1c4 (27fd3e)

  40. ” the gambit I referenced above….”
    I wasn’t making a “gambit.” I said Ahmadinejad was backed by Yazdi who is in a power struggle with Khamenei.
    No one person controls Iran.
    Wall Street Journal

    “The economy is becoming a sore point for the populist Mr. Ahmadinejad, who came to power promising to bring the country’s oil money to the people, and faces new elections in June. ‘What has the government done with $200 billion in oil revenues?’ was the headline on one daily newspaper in Iran this week.”

    “Yeah, as long as we’re communicating with 500 lb. bombs.
    you misspelled “every munition we can launch, drop or fire at them.’”

    Iran the “Great Satan.”

    sleepy (6b0755)

  41. sleepy – You’ve said it is important to have direct communications with Iran, but you dodged the question of whether there should be preconditions.

    Should there be preconditions to our talks with Iran? If so, what should they be?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  42. sleepy said….Our government does not have a history of support for democracy in the middle east.

    But, surely you would acknowledge that your statement is not a reflection of current U.S. policy re the establishment of democracy in countries that are subject to totalitarian/authoritarian misrule?

    Have we imposed another strong-man on the people of Iraq to replace Hussein?
    Has the West imposed a strong-man in Lebanon to replace Assad and the Syrians?
    Is Musharraf still President of Pakistan?

    It seems that your view of U.S. actions is discolored by your distaste for the House or Saud, and the real-politik of its’ relations vis-a-vis the United States.

    Another Drew (who will be known as AD in the coming year) (56c081)

  43. “But, surely you would acknowledge that your statement is not a reflection of current U.S. policy re the establishment of democracy in countries that are subject to totalitarian/authoritarian misrule?”

    The US continues to support the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian dictatorship. We supported Musharraf against last year’s revolt of lawyers’ and judges, resulting in accusations of hypocrisy. The administration’s defense was a need for stability. We are now supporting a Shiite sectarian leader in Iraq and are going back and forth in supporting Sunni tribesmen. In Iraq there’s been no consistent logic one way or the other and the country is a mess. Our preference for “stability” has consistently trumped the defense of democratic values, in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere but I’m not arguing as an idealist against realpolitik -Saints end up martyrs- I’m arguing that our policies have not been based on realism at all but on pomposity, bluster and panic, and the desire for short term gain.

    As to Iran and preconditions, they’d just make things more complicated at the start. Iran could always demand quite reasonably that the US and Israel make a public statement of no first-strike. So far both have refused and Iran is under threat of assault at any time.

    sleepy (6b0755)

  44. The US continues to support the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian dictatorship.
    — So? [Oh, and feel free to define “support”.]

    We are now supporting a Shiite sectarian leader in Iraq and are going back and forth in supporting Sunni tribesmen.
    — To support any leader in Iraq is to support a sectarian. [Is it the mere fact that we support anybody that is the problem?]

    Our preference for “stability” has consistently trumped the defense of democratic values, in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere
    — Not true, but don’t let that little fact stop you.

    I’m arguing that our policies have not been based on realism at all but on pomposity, bluster and panic, and the desire for short term gain.
    — Lacking a coherent explanation, that argument amounts to nothing but a multi-point non sequiter.

    As to Iran and preconditions, they’d just make things more complicated at the start.
    — So? Negotiate from a position of strength; that means (among other things) setting the rules.

    Iran could always demand quite reasonably that the US and Israel make a public statement of no first-strike. So far both have refused and Iran is under threat of assault at any time.
    — Poor Iran! Please explain how this is a reasonable demand.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  45. We supported Musharraf against last year’s revolt of lawyers’ and judges, resulting in accusations of hypocrisy.

    Cite, please.

    Pablo (99243e)

  46. What an assclown. Iran has been sodomizing the US for the past thirty plus years. They continue to send troops to Iraq and supply terrorists with special bombs to blow up American GIs. And so we should listen to them threatening another Holocaust and still assure them we will never attack first? Metinks sleepy is just another incarnation of the idiot bastard’s son who frequents this site under other aliases. Dude has the IQ of a parnsip in any case.

    aoibhneas (0c6cfc)

  47. #45 “Cite, please.”
    here , and again. On questions of general policy vis-a-vis Pakistan see this.
    (yes the guy being interviewed is now working for Obama.)

    “Iran has been sodomizing the US for the past thirty plus years.”
    A man sodomized by a chihuahua?

    We helped install the Shah, and Saddam Hussein. We supported Hussein’s attack on Iran.
    To what end?

    sleepy (6b0755)

  48. Folks – arguing with sleepy is like screaming at a brick wall. No matter what you say, the brick wall just ain’t going to arrive at any rational thought.

    JD (92549f)

  49. If sleepy has an argument against US policy, it isn’t with GWB, but with the career FSO’s at State. It is their policy to promote “stability” within the region.
    As to “supporting” the Egyptian Gov’t….
    We do have a treaty obligation dating from the Camp David Accord that provides monetary support to that regime.
    I find it humorous that sleepy condemns the US for “imposing” the Shaw on Iran, yet in the same breath, condemns us for not interfering in the internal political process in Egypt, or in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia.

    The non-consistency of Liberals is always amusing…

    and another thing…
    By all known international conventions, a state-of-war has existed between the United States of America, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, since the take-over of the embassy in Tehran in November of 1979.
    Whatever we do not do to Iran is a gift.

    Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) (8cf528)

  50. We helped install the Shah, and Saddam Hussein. We supported Hussein’s attack on Iran.
    To what end?

    — What should we have done, oh wise sage?

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  51. The US continues to support the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian dictatorship.

    Oh, good point! Therefore, we really do need to make amends for our past and try to rectify matters.

    So it’s good we went in and dumped Hussein and are trying to stabilize Iraq. It’s good we’re not mindless enablers to regimes that perceive Palestine as milk and honey and Israel as mean and power hungry.

    So it’s better to be, say, somewhat imperfect than 100% imperfect. Or would you rather be completely, utterly incompentent, totally selfish (or maybe that should be “selfish”), totally imperialistic (or maybe that should be “imperialistic”)?

    Then again, it’s so much more fun to “blame America first!”

    Mark (411533)

  52. Actually, to say that we “installed” Hussein is close to a “blood libel”.
    The Baathist Party, which Hussein took over without any help from us and which is one of the closest iterations of the NAZI Party in the ME, installed Hussein as leader of Iraq, after he killed, or had others kill for him, those in the Party hierarchy above him.
    This entire meme is flimsily supported by the fact that an envoy from the White House (Donald Rumsfeld) met with Hussein after he took power.
    For anyone who has looked at the true facts of the matter (sleepy, of course, has never looked at a true fact in his never-ending adolescent existence) knows the history of the Baathist Party in Iraq (and in other countries of the ME) and laugh at such accusations.
    Ha-Ha!
    A Maroon, and An Ignoranimus!

    Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) (8cf528)


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