Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest: ‘Obama, Anti-Semitism, and Iran:’
Mead riffs on Obama statement from this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.
Goldberg and Mead suspect that the anti-Semitism found in some quarters is not rational, and doesn’t lead to rational decisions.
‘The problem here is that the President, ironically enough, doesn’t seem to understand diversity. He thinks diversity is trivial: that people of different religious faiths, ethnic backgrounds and ideological convictions are not all that different in the way they look at the world.’
‘Essentially, Goldberg was asking the President whether his years in the White House have taught him that real diversity exists, and that it matters. He was asking whether the President understands that people from different cultures can sometimes operate on the basis of such radically different presuppositions that their mental world maps are fundamentally incompatible with the norms of reason as the President sees them. He was asking whether the President had considered whether Iranian leaders in particular reason so differently from standard cosmopolitan Washington liberal thinking that they may not, in fact, be approaching these negotiations from what the President, and most Americans, would recognize as a logical point of view’
The ‘rational actor’ model the President relies upon has distanced American interests from many allies, while getting America close enough to try and do business with various non-allies, adversaries, and traditional enemies. It has done so on the assumption that American threat and use of force is part of the problem. It has assumed that Vladimir Putin, the post-1979 mullah State in Iran, and the Castros in Cuba are rational enough to have a hand extended to them during this recent change in diplomacy.
This approach comes with the obvious risk that such a model may not be universally shared, but rather one among many concepts shared by a smaller subset of Westerners with a worldview of their own. It risks trusting that Vladimir Putin and the post-1979 mullah State (the Castros can probably really only hurt the Cubans under their control) will act under the presumption of a certain amount of good faith the ‘rational actor’ model requires. It presumes we can trust these guys enough to reach deals, even without the threat of force, and that we’re on the same ‘plane.’
Of course, it may be just as rational to guide policy based upon actual behavior, expecting such regimes to continue doing what they’ve been visibly doing. Both Moscow and Tehran have deep anti-American sentiment and have held loose alliance between themselves. They are busy maintaining, expanding and exploiting their spheres of influence by means that set themselves and their people against American policy, as well as Western and international laws and much else besides (claiming American policy, international laws and expectations are aggressions and constraints against their interests).
Some other links:
From The New Yorker: ‘Journey To Jihad: Why Are Teenagers Joining ISIS?‘
Informative piece which follows a Belgian jihadi from a Belgian Anjem Choudary wannabe organization to the Syrian desert.
***As to the title, I’m guessing you have to write titles like that at the New Yorker. For some people, understanding is to Terrorism what PTSD can be to War. If we just understand and explain terrorism, it might not go away, but it will get better. If we just have the experts explain why terrorists want to kill us, or why wars happen and how badly people can be affected by them, they might not go away, but it will all get better.
This can be an exercise in reinforcing a set of beliefs about the world rather than what’s going on in the world itself.
This can have political, social and institutional consequences that don’t necessarily make the world any better.
Meanwhile, Iranian backed Hezbollah is still active, of course:
‘Reports out of southern Lebanon tell us that the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah continues to expand its network of tunnels along the border with Israel, preparing for another war. That’s not an accusation by Israeli sources, but a boast by Hezbollah, detailed in a series of recent articles in a Hezbollah-linked newspaper, As-Safir.’
Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’…Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’