Our two presumptive candidates are sparring on what to do with bin Laden. As I have said often enough, I think he’s dead, so the “debate” is beside the point. Still, it’s interesting to parse Obama’s remarks on Nuremburg, about which he doesn’t seem to know very much (he seems to think that the Nazis had American Constitutional protections, including habeas corpus, which they didn’t). Which brings me to another of my favorite themes: our elite schools aren’t educating their students. And an ignorant elite is very dangerous for us.
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Iran expert, Vali Nasr, admits that Iran has taken a shellacking in Iraq, but then (of course) argues that this is (the latest) reason for us to negotiate with them. He even says that “Engaging Iran now could even influence who wins the Iraq debate in Tehran.”
Mr Nasr has some interesting theories about that “debate in Tehran,” which seems to me to be over the best way to kill Iraqis and Americans, drive the Coalition out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and impose an Islamic Republic on the poor souls. But Mr Nasr has a different impression:
Tehran will find it difficult to regain lost turf in Baghdad or Basra, or to go back to happily supporting Shiites both at the center and in the militias. It will have to choose whether it is with the state or the sub-state actors.
One wonders just why the mullahs have to make such a choice. I would think that Supreme Leader Khamenei would want it both ways. He wants to support murderous Shi’ites and try to intimidate the Iraqi Government by killing its supporters as often as he can. And above all, he dreads the thought of an independent and politically free Iraq that has an American security umbrella. Which, as the Washington Post editorialists rightly argue, is exactly what is happening, and exactly what Maliki told the mullahs:
He assured his Iranian hosts that Iraq would not be a launching pad for an American attack on Iran. But he pointedly told a press briefing that negotiations on the strategic partnership would continue. He repeated that commitment on Friday, even after warning that the talks had “reached a dead end.” In effect, the Iraqi prime minister was saying that his country does not want to become an Iranian satellite but an independent Arab state that would look to the United States to ensure its security.
That is why the Supreme Leader must try to intimidate Maliki at the same time he has his killers slaughter Iraqis. Any Iraqis, neither their cult nor their ethnicity interests him in the least. There’s abundant evidence that he is doing precisely that. First, the London Times informs us that the latest car bomb (which, interestingly, has not been called a “suicide attack,” perhaps because it was remotely controlled) that killed so many Shi’ites in Baghdad a few days ago was essentially an Iranian operation. As American Lt.-Col. Steven Stover pout it, our people are convinced that “this atrocity was committed by a Special Groups cell,” language that is used to describe groups closely tied to Iran.
Please notice that this is not the celebrated sectarian conflict that has been so shamelessly promoted as the cause of nearly all violence in Iraq for so many years; this is Shi’ites blowing up other Shi’ites, with Iran pushing the buttons. And I am sure when all is said and done, we will find that Iran has sponsored violence on all sides, Sunni and Shi’ite, Kurd, Turkoman, and so forth.
And as for Mr Nasr’s quaint notion that Iran wants to play some sort of “constructive” role in Iraq, the wonderful Caroline Glick, whose new book, The Shackled Warrior, should be on the top of your reading table, tells us everything we need to know about that.
On Tuesday, the day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki completed his three-day visit to Iran, his envoy to the Islamic Republic received a care package – delivered to his front door. When Iraqi Ambassador Muhammad Majid al-Sheikh’s driver opened the package, he discovered it was a bomb.
In their best Farsi imitation of the Godfather, Iranian police spokesmen claimed that the package was not a bomb – but aquarium equipment. And in a way, they were right. The package was supposed to help Sheikh “sleep with the fishes.”
I think Mr Nasr has the context entirely wrong. Iran is not a normal state, its rulers are not normal politicians, and its policy is not based on our models of “conflict resolution.” They are waging war against us, as they have for nearly thirty years, and will use all means to win it.
Mr Nasr concludes that this is a great time to negotiate with the mullahs. To be fair, it is hard to remember a time when he didn’t think conditions were right for talking to Iran, so this is nothing new. Nor has he ever seemed to notice that we are in fact negotiating right now, and we have been talking to them ever since Khomeini seized power in early 1979.
This is classic Council on Foreign Relations silliness. Their self-important experts told us all during the Cold War that we should be nice to the Soviets, that we shouldn’t support the dissidents, and that Reagan was a militaristic lunatic. So today they tell us to be nice to the mullahs, remain silent on the massacre of decent Iranians, and Bush is a militaristic lunatic.
Plus ca change…it’s the usual.