Ships in the night
The UK Times reports that supreme Ayatollah Khamenei will soften Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's bellicose policies in an effort to ease international pressure on Iran. "Alarmed by mounting US pressure and United Nations sanctions, officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favour the appointment of a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities." But perceptions can differ depending on where one stands. The New York Times reported that Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Friday sharply criticized the Bush administration's increasingly combative stance toward Iran.
The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday sharply criticized the Bush administration's increasingly combative stance toward Iran, saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who took control of the committee this month, said that the administration was building a case against Tehran even as American intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran's internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East.
"To be quite honest, I'm a little concerned that it's Iraq again," Senator Rockefeller said during an interview in his office. "This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre."
While it might be bizarre, it nevertheless seems to be true that certain factions in Iran have no compunctions about moving against the US. The UK Times article suggests that such belligerence is by no means unanimous. And they are probably correct. From anecdotal evidence there is no widespread anti-Americanism in Iran. But the Groundhog Day that Senator Rockefeller fears will only happen if we step off the learning curve, curl into a ball and reset everything. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with rebooting foreign policy for so long as the good threads pick up once everything is online again. But the challenge of dealing with the terrorist/state supporter combo is not one which the West has satisfactorily learned to deal with. Not in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Western Europe. One can readjust positions, but to think it is possible to opt out of the larger struggle is probably an illusion.