December 5, 2006
On 'Realists' Getting Real On IranTopics: Iran
Realism is an academic theory that holds that nations should, and typically do, conduct foreign policy with greater regard for their interests than their values. But realism is also an ordinary word that tells us that good sense and experience are better practical guides to action than theory.
In spite of the fact that "the U.S. is what chiefly stands in the way of Iran's desire to dominate Iraq through the likes of Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army is responsible for some of the worst sectarian violence," so-called realists say that engaging Tehran is a matter of necessity and ought to be one of choice. In believing that there will be no good outcome in Iraq, or Lebanon and Palestine, without Iranian acquiescence, and that it can only be achieved through face-to-face talks and confidence-building measures, they ignore Iran's 20 year history of deceit and deception. And in the face of such a history, the "so-called realists" even believe that neither the U.S. nor Israel can stop Iran's nuclear ambitions militarily and so they must be dealt with as part of a broader negotiation. Given these realities, one has to question just how real are the "academic" realists when it comes to their approach on Iran:
[...] Both Britain and the U.S. have publicly accused Iran of supplying increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices to anti-Coalition forces in Iraq; IEDs are the leading cause of U.S. military deaths. Now Iran says that a swift American withdrawal from Iraq is the key to peace. That may be music to the ears of Western critics of the war. But it's hardly surprising given that the U.S. is what chiefly stands in the way of Iran's desire to dominate Iraq through the likes of Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army is responsible for some of the worst sectarian violence.Furthermore, please - pray tell, how do you have a rational trusting discussion with a country who's president sends the American people a message that says to dump George W. Bush, allow the Muslims to destroy Israel, and adopt Islam -- or else we will be destroyed? Perhaps its about time that the intellectual elites give academic realism a pass, and get back to common sense by adopting positions of realism in the ordinary sense, finally recognizing that good sense and experience are better practical guides to action than theory - so we can all to live a little longer and do so while practicing the faith of our choice.
Iran actively supports more than a dozen Parties of God (a k a Hezb Allah) in places as faraway as Paraguay and Argentina. Asian regional powers such as India and Pakistan have not sought the long-range ballistic missiles as Iran has through its Shihabs, which can now reach parts of Europe. Whereas India and Pakistan have deployed modest nuclear arsenals adequate to defend against each other, the scope of Iran's enrichment program suggests a desire to construct scores of bombs a year.
Finally, there is the matter of values. One has to wonder about "engaging" a regime whose recent domestic practices include taking a razor to the tongue of labor leader Mansour Ossanloo, whose crime was to have organized an independent union for bus drivers. Realists would have us believe that a country that indulges such barbarism can still be expected to act as a predictable and, under certain conditions, reliable partner in diplomacy.
It's true that we also "engaged" the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but most successfully when Ronald Reagan also spoke candidly about Soviet reality and on behalf of Russian freedom and the U.S. resisted the Kremlin's global designs. We suppose in that sense the Gipper was an idealistic realist. President Bush has spoken repeatedly, in his major speeches and in interviews, about American support for Iranians who aspire to more freedom, which is one reason the U.S. is popular among the Iranian people. What message would it now send those Iranians if the U.S. turned around and embraced the rule of Tehran's mullahs?
Posted by Richard at December 5, 2006 8:34 AM
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