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Obama, Putin, and Rouhani: The Sources of War

August 9th, 2013 - 9:31 am

Some leaders make history, others are products of their times. Unfortunately, very little of the punditry with which we are afflicted tries to distinguish between the two types.

It’s only natural that “reporting” on, and discussion of, international affairs is so often reduced to psychobabble about personalities. We live in an age when attention spans are short, vocabularies brief, and knowledge of the past is miniscule and subject to constant change. And it’s a lot easier to ponder the psychology of a celebrity than to do the hard work of understanding the world.

But political leaders have to be analyzed in context, not just as case histories drawn from their free associations and recurring dreams. Leaders operate within certain parameters — they have greater or lesser possibilities to reshape their world depending on the content and strength of those parameters, which include the presence and power of countervailing forces.  They are not free to do everything they may desire, and in some (rare) cases they may not be able to do any of the things they wish.

Not that personalities don’t count, especially in international affairs. The Reagan-Thatcher friendship was a major part of the West’s victory over the Soviet Empire; the Bush-Blair friendship was similarly important in the years after 9/11; the Obama-Erdogan friendship has been a key ingredient to American behavior in the Middle East since 2009; the interplay among FDR, Churchill, and Stalin reshaped the world in the last century; and Reagan and Thatcher, along with John Paul II and several others (King Juan Carlos of Spain, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, and Deng Xiaoping), shaped their world.   So it is neither surprising nor improper for us to try to understand the personalities of the day.

Of which three, at least, are currently treated as crucially important: Putin, Rouhani, and Obama.

Of the three, Rouhani has the least ability to act freely.  He is a cog in a machine, not a free agent.  He is not the leader of his country. Even if he were everything his apologists claim — a moderate reformer who wants to have good relations with us and wants a more tolerant Iranian society — he wouldn’t be able to do it on his own. Any fundamental change in Iran requires the say-so of the supreme leader, who doesn’t want good relations with us and doesn’t care about the misery his regime has visited upon the people.

As for the nature of the man himself, there is considerable evidence Rouhani’s credentials are phony. His doctorate seems to rest on a dissertation that appears to have been plagiarized. His nominee for justice minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has been credibly accused of crimes against humanity. There is little evidence he has any interest in good relations with America; indeed, as Sohrab Ahmari wrote in the Wall Street Journal, earlier this year he proclaimed:

We need to express “Death to America” with action. Saying it is easy.

And, as Reza Kahlili shows us, Rouhani has bragged about tricking the West into believing Iran was stopping uranium enrichment, when in reality the project was surging.

In short: Rouhani is not in charge, he is a cog in a machine, and he doesn’t seem to be at odds with the hateful doctrines that have defined the Islamic Republic since 1979. It’s hard to make a convincing case that the United States, or the West in general, should make a major strategic investment in friendship with the new Iranian president.

Putin is the opposite. He has much more freedom to act and he has imposed his will on Russia. Leon Aron has laid out the nature of “Putinism” with admirable brevity and elegance: Putin knows what he wants, both at home and abroad, and he pursues his goals ruthlessly and relentlessly. He truly rules his nation, and there is very little guile in his strategies. With Putin, you get what you see.

The similarities between Putin and Rouhani are doctrinal. Both are contemptuous of democracy, both are resolved to crush opponents of their regime and to eliminate pockets of liberty. Both are therefore profoundly anti-American, recognizing that the very existence of a strong and successful United States is a threat to their own legitimacy.

As with Rouhani, there isn’t likely to be a warm American relationship with Putin. But, it is worthwhile to deal seriously with Putin, precisely because he can deliver if he chooses to.

Putin and the Islamic Republic are enemies, but you can make deals with enemies-who-can-deliver. Which is why it is so strange that Obama strains to make a deal with Iran, but throws a hissy fit with Russia. Logic, as the White Rabbit once said, grabs you by the throat and makes you see what’s what. Except if you’re Obama.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama is small.

Per one of your previous columns, he went to the same types of schools as the cohort of whom you once referred. He would like to tell you that he, too, had been bullied, except it wasn't so. He wants to have a story of coming back from behind, except he never did. Never lost with honor. Never ate the dirt of failure and got back up again. He hates nearly everyone who has a normal story of life's triumphs and defeats, because they remind him of his lack of authenticity.

We run into his type all of the time. Putin can read him like a book.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (20)
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But Obama understands only too well American Exceptionalism.

And he DOES NOT like it. Don't you remember while campaigning for the job of POTUS he, with second from his ever loving spouse, volunteered he was "ashamed of the country"? And that after taking the Chair of Executive of the USA toured the world apologising for this Exceptional America?

Dislikes it so intensely he is determined, in any way possible, to CHANGE it.

To, in contrast to political promises as sops for election to seats on the gravy train of government, to keep his promise to CHANGE, to "Fundamentally Transform the Nation"

Which Change, thanks to the "guardians" in Legislature and Judiciary looking the other way when not actively encouraging and supporting him as standard bearer of the "Democratic Party" intentions, is succeeding apace.

STILL approved, if polls are to be credited, by virtually half of those "exceptional Americans".

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rouhani or anyone else in Iran who promises change in regime's behavior must meet 2 qualifications: 1- Have the political/ideological will to bring the type of change and 2- have the authority to deliver change. Even IF Rouhani is not deceiving the west and the Iranian people and he honestly wants to fundamentally change the regime's 33 years of hostile policy toward the west and oppression of Iranian people, he does not have the constitutional authority to deliver the promises, after all if he was someone who'd seek to fundamentally change IRI or in other words challenge Khamenei and regime's think tanks' long held policies, he wouldn't be prequalified by Khamenei from 1000s of other presidential candidates who didn't meet the qualification ! He is 100% loyal to Khamenei and is one of the 5 among the 10,000s of candidates that Khamenei trusted as his handpicked candidates for the Iranian people to chose from and it was obvious that the regime wanted Rouhani to win. So it all depends on what Khamenei wants Rouhani to do on his behalf, not what Rouhani wants and if Khamenei desired change in regime's policies in the past, he had as much control over the regime during Ahmadinejad and Khatamai as now had during Rouhani's presidency. The REAL head of state is Khamenei AKA supreme leader, not the president, an IRI president has less authority than foreign ministers of some nations in many ways, no matter who he appoints as members of his cabinet, still Khamenei has the final say on almost any matter in the country and Khamenei's advisers other than the Russian ones are some of the most fanatical Islamists
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem with dealing with Putin is that the one dealing with him would be 0bama.

Consequently, stasis is best for all concerned.

Even Putin has figured that out.

=======

Red China already has more throw weight than America and Russia combined, making any further atomic reductions ruinous for world peace -- and the borders of Russia.

The creation of a ballistic missile submarine fleet, by Beijing, is entirely predicated upon getting their atomic echelon out from under the proximate shadow of the Russians.

It has zero utility against either the Japanese navy or the USN.

Naturally, it's a top, top, top, priority program for the PLAN.

Do the math.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm trying to picture ANY American leader following the lead of a Canadian or Australian politician. I can't imagine it, even among past presidents. It's even harder to conceive with the know-it-all presently occupying the White House.

The problem with American exceptionalism is that it tells us that we are almost better and smarter than people who aren't American. Who's going to listen to someone who ISN'T American? Look, the Canucks and Aussies seem nice enough but they're second- or third-rate powers. Are we really going to take their advice when we are the greatest power in the world?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, I meant to post that as a reply to DavidWLincoln.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe, if when Obama was still a young boy, he had been involved in a fight, the kind that so many young boys have in their developing years; and he had gotten his butt kicked, got back up and proceeded to beat the tar out of his opponent. Maybe he would have learned a few lessons about courage, perseverance, honor, defeat and victory. But he known none of those things. He led a privileged life going to private schools, tutored by a communist pedophile. We can only hope that the country can hang on for three more years.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He was traumatized by his GRANDMOTHER* -- not any playground bully.

Punahou doesn't have any.

He didn't get his hair mussed in Indonesia, either.

* This explains his relationships with women -- particularly his wife and Valerie girl.

The woman that raised him throughout his teenage years was a first class b h: louder than Lee Emory, (DI of Full Metal Jacket) Capice?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
BLT Marxism hates white America, and Jews.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Michael, I submit that the strengthening of the US will involve the United Kingdom again.

To what extent did the Iron Lady stiffen the spine of Reagan?

The likelihood isn't all that great that Cameron would strengthen that aspect, or those aspects, of Obama, that you call for being strengthened.

So, the option is, what about the rest of the top tier of the Commonwealth?

I submit that Harper, and Abbot of Australia (who could be Prime Minister of Australia on September 7), have what it takes for more to progress in the right direction.

Have you seen http://www.commonwealthtrade.info ? I submit that report gets to the heart of the matter, and if it doesn't, it comes close.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Please see my reply elsewhere on this page.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree with you that Putin is: "a crook you can do business with".

I disagree about Iran and Obama. I think domestically Obama is a Hugo Chavez.

I think "foreign" Obama is, and represents, the "Muslim Brotherhoods" but Obama has a sweet spot for all things Islime: including Shia.

I think Americans owe a huge debt of gratitude to Putin for masterminding the civil war in Syria that has the Shia terrorist and the Al Qaeda-esque terrorist wiping each other out...and I assume Erdogen is in Putin's...

Thank you Vladimir!


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think B. Hussein understands that America is exceptional, he just does not wish for that to be so.

Everything Obama has done since assuming the role of President has had a detrimental effect on the country. This is by design. He is deliberately causing as much destruction as he can from the top down.

The reasons he wishes to destroy this country are probably many. A lot of it is no doubt racism. Not America's racism, but his own. Obama hates his white half the same way Hitler hated his own Jewish ancestry.

Another factor is no doubt the socialist's lust for power. He knows that to create the socialist police state, he must first destroy the republic that is here now.

Whether this republic survives the next three years is really in doubt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama is small.

Per one of your previous columns, he went to the same types of schools as the cohort of whom you once referred. He would like to tell you that he, too, had been bullied, except it wasn't so. He wants to have a story of coming back from behind, except he never did. Never lost with honor. Never ate the dirt of failure and got back up again. He hates nearly everyone who has a normal story of life's triumphs and defeats, because they remind him of his lack of authenticity.

We run into his type all of the time. Putin can read him like a book.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You mean "read him like a pamphlet."

Barry is a Reactive Dependent: a Gonnabee of the first water.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"read him like a pamphlet."

Perfect.

T
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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