Trump Should Meet with Khamenei, not Rouhani
Donald Trump is right to meet with leaders of countries who are enemies of the United States. As the saying goes, you don't make peace with your friends.
And although we are barely at the beginning of a journey, the summit with Kim Jong-un has already shown some surprising benefits. The Helsinki meeting with Putin, excoriated by our tedious media, may yet prove to have been useful as well
Nixon long ago said "Watch what I do, not what I say." That was undeniable and should be true for any politician. What they say is just palaver, delivered for any of a number of reasons. Their actions are vastly more important. What goes on behind the scenes at the meetings is what counts.
Everyone knows now that Trump's style is to compliment foreign leaders, even despots, publicly while sticking it to them with his actions. He did and continues to do that with Putin and Kim, both of whom are still under heavy sanctions. Whether this approach will work we don't know, but it's new and worth trying.
He mentioned at a press conference Monday that he is open to trying this again with Iran, with no preconditions. Good idea, but he should do that with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as was indicated. Rouhani is in no way Trump's equal. He is only slightly more than a figurehead, elected from a short list vetted by the Assembly of Experts and ultimately by Supreme Leader Khamenei. He is their boy.
When the demonstrators in the streets of Tehran rightly cry "Death to the Dictator," Khamenei is the man they are talking about. Trump must meet with him. Mike Pompeo can deal with Rouhani. (Incidentally, the idea that Rouhani is a "moderate" is eyewash believed only by John Kerry and the editors of the New York Times. He has put more people to death than his supposedly hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)
It's unlikely that Khamenei would want to meet, but the U.S. president sitting down with anyone else would send the wrong message.
What Trump is doing correctly is putting maximum economic pressure on the Iranians. Khamenei and the rest of the ayatollahs are religious gangsters who use their extremist faith for huge personal economic profit.
The supreme leader was said to control a fortune approaching one hundred billion dollars in 2013. That was before the windfall payoffs of the Iran Deal. Imagine what it is now. That money, Obama's donation to the mullahs while students demonstrated for freedom in the streets, has been used to finance Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and their client Hezbollah, leading to the deaths of thousands in Syria, Yemen, and beyond.