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The Soft Line on Iran
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Well, I can't agree with him all the time. Here's Christopher Hitchens arguing that we throw our arms wide open and embrace the batshit-crazy Iranian regime.

His argument? That sanctions and negotiations won't rid Iran of nukes (probably right). That Iran has learned from the mistakes of others and smartly dispersed and hardened its nuclear program, making it nearly impossible to disarm them with strategic airstrikes (probably right).

What's left, according to Hitchens?

So, picture if you will the landing of Air Force One at Imam Khomeini International Airport. The president emerges, reclaims the U.S. Embassy in return for an equivalent in Washington and the un-freezing of Iran's financial assets, and announces that sanctions have been a waste of time and have mainly hurt Iranian civilians. (He need not add that they have also given some clerics monopoly positions in various black markets; the populace already knows this.) A new era is possible, he goes on to say. America and the Shiite world have a common enemy in al-Qaida, just as they had in Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban, and the Iraqi Baathists. America is home to a large and talented Iranian community. Let the exchange of trade and people and ideas begin!

Holy shit...come on, man.

Now I've argued in the past that the US is in a no-win situation when it comes to foreign policy. If we do nothing, we're charged with neglect and self-interest. If we intervene militarily, we're charged with imperialism and self-interest. If we engage economically with shitty regimes, we're charged with propping up dictators and self-interest. So what's a hyperpower to do?

How about what's right? Hitchens just wrote a review of Francis Fukuyama's book in which he concluded:

Fukuyama's essay betrays a secret academic wish to be living in "normal" times once more, times that will "restore the authority of foreign policy 'realists' in the tradition of Henry Kissinger." Fat chance, Francis! Kissinger is moribund, and the memory of his failed dictator's club is too fresh to be dignified with the term "tradition." how is allying with a country who's leader is a Holocaust denier, just because the other options look bad not Kissinger-esque?

I'm personally sick of American hypocrisy, of our foreign policy aimed at playing enemies against each other and cozying up to scumbags (like Pakistan), just because they can help us with our dirty laundry.

Hitchens is talking about something slightly different here...engagement with the hope of infiltration (of democratic and capitalistic ideals). But does this actually work? Is China our buddy now? Is the internal economic and social revolution underway there? Don't think so.

Meanwhile, one of the big beefs among those in the Muslim world is that we say we value democracy, then our President has BBQ with the leaders of Saudi Arabia at his ranch. What the fuck?

So yes, Hitchens, the other options aren't great. But I'd personally favor the continued hard line on Iran, if for nothing else than consistency to our own ideals. If we say regimes are reprehensible, and Iran's is, then we shouldn't hug them and give them multi-billion dollar trade agreements. This makes us look like fucking hypocrites.

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