Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The New Realism

Even the most sympathetic spinners and Obama fans can no longer keep a straight face. Successful engagement with the despotic Iranian regime bent on acquiring nuclear weapons to further its hegemonic interests was always a long shot. Now — and especially since the events of June 12 — it has become laughable. Ben Smith reports:

But even analysts sympathetic with Obama’s careful approach to Iran have begun to doubt whether any engagement with Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can be sustained, regardless of what the White House says now.

“The incremental rhetoric, the trying to position America to be in a place to have options regardless of the outcome may not work,” said Aaron David Miller, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center “If the regime is left in place more nasty, besieged and insecure than ever, do you think it’s going to matter that Barack Obama tried to cultivate a middle road through it?”

“The time may have come and gone when he needs to put America’s views on the record. He’s about to miss a moment here,” he said.

Well, it’s nice to have corroboration from our friends on the Left. The real challenge now for Obama is to rethink not only his Iran policy but his entire approach to our adversaries. Until now his foreign policy was premised on the mistaken notion that fundamental differences with despotic regimes were going to melt once he arrived on the scene and engaged in “smart” diplomacy — which consisted primarily of trying not to antagonize them. In North Korea and Iran that has proven a failure. He will need to regroup and figure out Plan B.

Step one would be to do everything within our power to help the Iranian protesters prevail. Democracy and regime change can be the most realistic way forward in dealing with a totalitarian state bent on defying international norms, brutalizing its own people, developing weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorism.