Pejman Yousefzadeh trolled what he expected might be the Andrew Sullivan/Walt & Mearsheimer response to any failure in talks with Iran: The Israel Lobby.
Sullivan responds, by clarifying that he’s not an anti-semite, but rather believes conditions on ground in Israel are leading it rightward, and that his position is one of realpolitik, tempering what are usually Left-Of-Center ideals with the reality of what’s possible:
Peace with Iran is possible:
‘My support for an agreement with Iran that grants it the right to enrich uranium at low levels and subject to routine, tough inspection regimens is also a function of dealing with the world as-it-is and not as I would like it to be’
But isn’t the theocratic, thugocratic regime of state-sponsored terror-mongers in Tehran not to be trusted? Isn’t that the world as it is, too?
Why ally with Tehran more closely than with a Netanyahu-led Israeli government that while heading right, and admittedly playing us for its own interests, at least still has a functioning democracy?
‘The Green movement proved that Iran’s younger generation is on the side of freedom, not theocracy. And yet that movement, like the regime, also insists that the country has a right to enrich uranium. On this, all of Iran is united.’
To be fair, few Western journalists have supported the Green Revolution in Iran as much as Sullivan has. This could really shift our fortunes in the region…but note…that’s ‘could’.
Wouldn’t Obama’s failure of strategy, leadership, and basic competence in Syria lead one to pause?
What have we gotten in exchange for doing business with Assad & Putin?
What about the instability we’re seeing with the Turks and Saudis as we reduce our influence in the region…and as we basically ignore many of their interests as well as those of Israel, in order to pursue peace-talks with Iran?
These are bumps in the road for Sullivan. Iran’s newly-elected President Hasan Rohani is a man we can do business with, or at least try and do business with. The Iran of today is analogous to the Soviet Union of the 1980’s (when our foreign policy was led by actual realists, not liberal internationalists and Obama’s coalition).
Iran is rotting from within, ready for a strong breeze to lift the lid and unleash the forces of history, freedom, prideful self-determiniation and Persian democratic statehood.
‘We found a way to rescue the country from its regime, by engagement after a ramping up of opposition. I hope Obama and Rouhani can become the Reagan and Gorbachev of this moment. ‘
That’s a lot of hope, to say the least.
Just as Obama’s foreign policy makes us ever smaller, and drifts us into ever more limited strategic corners while promising lofty ideals and goals, Sullivan seems to have followed this logic where it leads and attached his fortunes to it.
If only that pesky Israel lobby weren’t getting in the way!
We’ll see what happens.
As noted on this blog, the neo-conservative coalition (quite ok using our military to promote our ideals, often formed out of people with liberal backgrounds mugged by reality) is lacking fresh ideas and leadership, but not necessarily the passion of its convictions and the continued support of its many stale policy prescriptions (bomb Iran…really…that’s it?).
Frankly, the Republican foreign-policy establishment doesn’t seem up to the level it was with James Baker’s realism in the 80’s either. Much of this establishment is out of gas and hasn’t dealt with the reality of our budgets, the surge of isolationism at home, and the deep structural changes going on throughout our society and on the ground in the Middle-East. We’re in transition, to say the least.
But the Left seems even more ideological and rudderless, seeking even loftier ideals through grubbier street politics and re-runs of bad feminist, civil-rights style coalitions with back-room dealing and bad laws.
A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.
-Many Europeans, and many European leaders traffic in an easy anti-Americanism, but also with rising percentages of Muslims in their societies and combined with their own histories, an easy and virulent anti-Israeli sentiment & anti-Semitism. When even Bernard Henri-Levy has been warning of this dangerous trend, it might be worth paying attention.
See Adam Garfinkle’s piece on the potentially changing dynamics between the U.S. and Israel:
‘In truth, however, the relationship consists of a metaphorical triangle linking American Jewry with the governments of Israel and the United States. In the natural course of political events, all three actors intermediate between the other two, for good and ill. For example, even as American Jews lobby for Israel in American politics, Israeli governments sometimes get between American Jews and their own government’
Related on this site, see: John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’
2 thoughts on “Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-Semitism”
The recent brouhaha over striking Syria suggests that a lot of Americans (and more than a few Congresspersons) have no interest in another Middle Eastern war, which is good news for those who favor diplomacy. But that episode also suggests that Obama doesn’t have a lot of clout on the Hill these days and that any attempt at a genuine détente with Iran is bound to face a lot of vocal opposition up there. Nor does the administration’s handling of the Syria business give one confidence that it knows how to orchestrate a complicated, protracted process that will involve negotiations with a prickly adversary while simultaneously building support for that policy at home. I may be underestimating the administration, but that’s what the record shows so far.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
That’s well said.