The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It’s Natural

A revealing op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle allows the reader to better understand the Left’s reticence to perceive evil intent in any adversary. It’s author, Barbara Slavin writes:
There is no doubt that Iran's reach has increased considerably since 2001. Toppling Hussein and the Taliban eliminated Iran's worst enemies and allowed it to build on long-standing ties with Shiite co-religionists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has benefited from the failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute to forge new ties with Hamas and to deepen its relationship with Hezbollah. After the Bush administration rejected offers to negotiate with Iran without preconditions in 2003 and 2006, Tehran accelerated a nuclear program that could give it the material to make bombs.

According to Slavin, the three decades since the invasion of the US embassy in Tehran don't count. Our problems with the Mullahs are due to the toppling of Saddam and the Taliban, and of course, our reticence to negotiate without preconditions somehow enabled Iran to accelerate it nuclear program. As usual, all negative geopolitical events are inherently our fault.

She conveniently forgets that the EU-3 has been negotiating with Iran (with our blessing) for the last four years and has accomplished – nothing. In fact, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has indicated repeatedly that no amount of negotiation would cause Iran to give up its nuclear aspirations. It appears that Slavin is perfectly willing to discount the words of Iran’s leaders when they don’t fit the meme.

Slavin continues:
Those who fear a rising Iran tend to see a few patterns, not the whole tapestry. Thus they miss the fact that Iran's goals appear to be largely defensive: to achieve strategic depth and safeguard its system against foreign intervention, to have a major say in regional decisions and to prevent or minimize actions that might run counter to Iranian interests.

Ahhh … Iran is taking a largely defensive position. I wonder, is that why its President, Mahmoud Amadinejad, repeatedly advocates the annihilation of Israel, a country that has never attacked Iran. Is that why he implies that the first use of Iran’s nuclear capability will be against the “filthy bacteria” that is Israel. Oops, I forgot, we have to discount the words of Iran’s leaders when they don’t fit the meme.

So, according to Slavin, our concern for Iran is hyped. Their nuclear ambitions are defensive only. Their support for terrorist groups that kill our military and threaten our allies are a direct reaction to our poor diplomatic skill … nothing more. We need to negotiate without preconditions .. yeah, that’ll do it.

It may very well be true that those on the Right overstate Iran’s threat, but those on the Left try very, very hard to understate it. For example, in a recent speech Barack Obama suggested that Iran’s threat is “tiny.” Hmmm.

Caroline Glick comments on the Left’s penchant to minimize Islamist threats and focus on process (i.e., negotiating) as a positive outcome in and of itself, rather than a technique that should be used only when it is likely to product a positive outcome. She writes:
In many ways, Obama and his allies call to mind the influential American newspaperman H.L. Mencken. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Mencken was the most influential writer in the US. He was an anti-Christian and anti-Semitic agnostic, a supporter of Germany during World War I, and a fierce opponent of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. He also opposed American participation in World War II.

In his biography of Mencken, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, Terry Teachout argues that the reason Mencken did not think it was worth fighting Hitler's Germany was because Mencken simply couldn't accept the existence of evil. He could see no moral distinction between Roosevelt, who he despised, and Adolf Hitler who he considered "a boob."

There are strong echoes of Mencken's moral blindness to Hitler's evil in the contemporary Left's refusal to understand the nature of the threat posed by Iran and its terror proxies. And Bush made this clear in his speech to the Knesset when he said, "There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong."

Barack Obama is likely a good and decent person who appears to share the Left’s penchant for process over outcome. Whenever he is confronted with the harsh realities of the adversaries we face, he counter-attacks by suggesting that statements of those harsh realities are nothing more than the “politics of fear.”

For the Democratic front-runner, it's natural, but it could be deadly wrong.