Iran Is Not Our Friend – Leon Wieseltier (New Republic)
The American government is no longer disgusted by the Iranian government. We are partners now, Washington and Tehran, and not only in the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. The administration hopes for an Iranian contribution also to a diplomatic solution to the Syrian excruciation.
There is a bizarre warmth between the governments, a climate of practicality and cordiality, as if a new page has been turned in a history of ugly relations, as if the ugliness of those relations were based only in illusion and misunderstanding.
Hassan Rouhani is an improvement over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does not deny that the Holocaust happened, which for the Islamic Republic counts as a breakthrough in enlightenment. But it is important to remember that Iran is still the Islamic Republic, a theocratic tyranny ruled by a single man, a haughty cleric who subsumes the state beneath religion and his interpretation of it, and maintains his power by means of a fascistic military organization that brutalizes the population and plunders the economy.
This same mullah-king supports the murderer in Damascus and the murderers in Lebanon and Gaza, and remorselessly pursues a foreign policy animated by anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. We may have extended our hand, but the Supreme Leader – the title itself is repugnant to decent modern ears – has not unclenched his fist.
I appreciate the need for a diplomatic exploration of the Iranian nuclear challenge, but believing we must choose between a nuclear-free Iran and a tyranny-free Iran is a false choice.
In the twentieth century, Soviet missiles threatened the U.S. infinitely more than Iranian centrifuges threaten us now, but arms control was not permitted to eclipse human rights in our policy toward the nuclear dictatorship; and we learned that human rights had vast strategic implications.