Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charm Offensive: Next Mission

Last week, we heard President Obama's popularity alone just might be enough to make formerly opposed foreign countries agree to start taking the rabble from Guantanamo Bay off of our hands.

Still waiting on that to pay off. (tick tick tick tick tick) But I'm keeping hope alive.

Now, we have a story on Obama's recent interview on an Arabic TV network. He addressed, among other things, our country's rather contentious relationship with Iran. The purpose, according to Politico:

The interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president's international popularity
It would almost be worth having Obama as President if he could accomplish on the international scene, in pursuit of US interests, what his worshipful admirers in the Democratic party have been assuring us he can do, through the power of his presence alone.

Imagine, getting beyond the stale, intractable politics of the past and putting aside childish things (minor items like taking our diplomats hostage, killing our soldiers in Iraq, funding terrorism around the region, etc.), and getting Iran to drop its ambition of acquiring nuclear weapons, just because they like his face.

BTW, here's the face he chose for this particular charm offensive:

President Barack Obama presented a humble and conciliatory face of America to the Islamic world Monday in the first formal interview since he assumed office, stressing his own Muslim ties and hopes for a Palestinian state, and avoiding a belligerent tone -- even when asked if America could "live with" an Iranian nuclear weapon.
I can see why our avowed enemies might like that particular face.

Less clear is at what point that leads them to buckle in their decades long ambitions to do such things as wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.

I guess the theory, grossly simplified, is that Iran and company only want this because the US has been mean (belligerent) to them. If we are conciliatory and humble to them, they will behave likewise and we can talk out all of our disagreements.

Sounds great in a third grade dispute at recess sort of way. But before you schedule your summer vacation for Tehran, lets get a closer look at the second party we are attempting to engage in this foreign policy therapy session.

From today's Wall Street Journal, an article by Ze'ev Maghen on the nature of modern Iran:

Chanting "Death to America! Death to Israel!" has been the way Iranians applaud for over a quarter-century. When the soccer team from Isfahan scores a goal against the soccer team from Shiraz, its fans cheer wildly: "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

At the end of an exquisitely performed sitar solo, the genteel audience in a concert hall in Tabriz shows its appreciation by loudly heaping imprecations upon "International Arrogance" (the USA) and "its Bastard Offspring" (the Jewish state).

Even during the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Iranian participants have replaced their traditionally pious ejaculations of "I am at your service, O Lord, there is none like unto you!" with responsive Persian cursing sessions aimed at the Hebrew- and English-speaking enemies of everything that is holy.

Like the daily "Two Minutes Hate" in George Orwell's "1984," this venom-spewing is the mantra upon which an entire generation of Iranians has been raised.

Yes, but what is 25 years of a culture being indoctrinated in venom and hatred toward the US, compared to the presence of Barack Obama?

On this one, I'm more than happy to join the enthusiasm of 53% of my fellow Americans and get behind the hope that only Barack Obama can bring. Get ready Iran, change is coming.

Any time now.

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