“We Bring Hope and Change” by Attila the Hun 4

The New York Times (the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Izvestia ) published an op-ed written or ostensibly written by the president of Russia, KGB man Vladimir Putin.

He urinated on Obama from a dizzy moral height. (Please – we’re not complaining, only pointing out an hypocrisy.) He explained that it would be wrong for the US to invade Syria, wrong to invade any country if yours was not being attacked and without the agreement of the UN Security Council:

Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

He laughed up his sleeve when he got his shirt on. But the people of Georgia who were subjected to a Russian invasion in 2008 and had a province or two stripped from them, did not join in the laughter.

Now the Washington Post ( the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Pravda), not to be outdone, publishes a similarly beguiling piece: an op-ed “by Hassan Rouhani”, the name of the president of Iran.

Here – in a figurative petri dish – we proffer some specimens from it.

The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.

The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.

Yes, it does say “terrorism”. And “extremism” and “foreign military interference”. Iran is the biggest financier of terrorism in the world. If the mullahs who run Iran are not “extreme”, nobody is. And not only did Iran launch Hezbollah in Lebanon, its Revolutionary Guards are training Shia rebels in Syria. You see, the Post is quite as capable of poker-faced irony as the Times.

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. …

We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program.

Interpretation: “We’re big and important and we want you to say we are, and because we ‘e big and important we must have nuclear … energy.”

To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved. …

“If you don’t say we’re big and important and as entitled to develop nuclear energy as you are, we won’t talk to you, so there!”

First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. …

“We’re unclenching our fist, Obama, as you asked us to, and we’ll clasp the hand you hold out to us, if you say we’re big and important.”

We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.

“Except Israel, of course.”

As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

“We, Russia, and you. And we and Russia will be calling the shots.”

Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions.

“By overarching injustices we mean the existence of Israel. By rivalries we mean no more stopping us being a nuclear power too.”  

A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions. …

After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.

This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot.

“You’ll force us to use our bomb when we get it if you don’t say we’re big and important now.”

But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action.

“What we want is for you to say we’re big and important. And to annihilate Israel.”

This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.

Rouhani wrote that op-ed like your great-grandmother wrote  “War and Peace”. It could not be more glaringly obvious that it was an American Obama-supporting professional political writer (very possibly an Obama speech writer or two) who plonked down all the clichés. Or are such as these common in Persian parlance? – “constructive engagement”; “zero-sum game”; “counterintuitive”; “win-win outcomes”; “unilateralism”; “a key driver”; “diversifying our energy resources”;  “about who Iranians are as a nation”; “facilitate dialogue”; “commitment to constructive interaction”; “the same dynamic” …

The version in his own language, which was read to him for his approval, would have been close to the interpretations we’ve given in italics. So he approved, of course.

“Yes. Let the Americans think I want to clasp the hand and everything. As long as they understand they must first admit we’re …  Sure. You can say I said all that. ” 

Rouhani once boasted that he could deceive the West into thinking he was against nuclear arms while his country went ahead building a nuclear arsenal. He spoke the truth that time.

  • rogerinflorida

    I get the impression that you are still itching to kick this hornet’s nest over. You won’t be satisfied until the (maybe nuclear) bombs are falling and unimaginable misery afflicts millions. Just as an aside, Merkel warned GWB about Saakashvili, telling GW that the man was mentally unstable, this was proven when he launched an unprovoked attack on a Russian populated part of Georgia and expected the US and the rest of NATO to back him up. That is why Russia responded.
    Iran has the same rights as any other nation to nuclear power, and boy do they need it, the last time I was in Tehran (mid 70s) you could cut the air with a knife the pollution was so bad, I can’t imagine what it is like now.
    What is wrong with giving the diplomatic process a chance, as Churchill said, better jaw-jaw than war-war. unless of course you have another agenda?

    • Jillian Becker

      I want Israel to bomb the nuclear facilities of Iran. Yes. I ache for that to happen. I do not want the misery of millions. What have I ever said that gives you that idea? If you don’t think that Iran is intent on acquiring a nuclear arsenal, or that the mullahs do not mean it when they say they intend to annihilate Israel – and attack the US if and when they can – you are not the well informed, widely experienced, thinking sort of person I took you for.
      As for what happened in Georgia, did you click on the link I provide with the words “Russian invasion”? If not, please do – unless you are not troubled by human misery. And many Russians living in a province of Georgia does not make the region rightfully Russian. The Germans under Hitler used the excuse of there being many Germans in a part of Czechoslovakia to invade and conquer that country. You think that was okay?
      The US has been talking to Iran for years and years and getting nowhere. Churchill saw very clearly when diplomatic measures had failed and war had become necessary.

      • rogerinflorida

        The problem with Israel striking Iran is that Israel does not have the conventional military capability to hit Iran hard enough to end the conflict with a few blows. True, Israel could hit Iran with a nuclear first strike, and that is IMO about their only real option. Anything less than the destruction of Iran would make what is now speculative; a general Iran/Israel hot war, a certainty. Israel would probably lose that that war and so would fire their nukes from the ashes of Israel.
        Far better than this is to delay conflict through diplomatic means, even sometimes carrying on what may seem pointless negotiations, until war is no longer a real option. Due to Iranian demographic problems this situation will come about in 15-20 years. Meanwhile we should be making an international concerted effort to topple or at least weaken the Islamic regime in Tehran by supporting the secular opposition, of which there is plenty in Iran. But this is not happening because Obama, horrible black liberation socialist, racist and muslim that he is, is actually bent on empowering the forces of radical islam.
        As for the conflicts in the Caucasus region, we should stay clear, they are all mad.

  • liz

    Wow. So much dazzlingly shameless hypocrisy on display at once, the glare is blinding. Hard to say who would win in a contest, but they’re giving Obama a good run for the money.
    He is, after all, the new kid on the block among Third World dictators, and they are letting him know it. But he’s been doing such a great job so far at bringing us down to their distinguished level, I’m confident he’ll be up to speed in no time.