January 5, 2018

ELI LAKE: What a Soviet Dissident Sees in Iran’s Unrest.

Now would be a good time for Macron and other European leaders to seek new counsel and listen to Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician. In an interview this week, Sharansky told me Macron’s response to the Iranian unrest reminded him of the appeasement crowd during the Cold War. It was the kind of thinking that led former president Gerald Ford to refuse a meeting with the Soviet author of “The Gulag Archipelago,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

“It reminds me of the arguments against Reagan,” Sharansky told me. “All those battles we thought we already won, we have to fight them again.”

For Sharansky, Macron and the other European leaders have gotten the Iran moment backward and once again failed to understand the nature of the Iranian regime with whom they desperately want to deal — just as some in the West were motivated to see the Soviet regime as reasonable.

Macron believes that Western solidarity with Iranians who seek an end to their tyranny will anger the tyrants and lead to war. Engagement with the regime instead will, theoretically, create opportunities for Iranians to gradually open up their society over time.

But what did engagement with Iran actually get us?

Don’t answer that — it’s unseemly to cry over your lunch.

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