Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, June 22, 2009

  Fouad Ajami, tutor to presidents

Almost everything that neocon Fouad Ajami writes is good for a laugh. Typically he serves up a preposterously incoherent mix of half-digested stray facts, heavily larded with a peculiar kind of incomprehension and preening about his own brilliance. His op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal is no exception. Perhaps I've already said too much about this once influential ninny, but it's hard to resist taking a stick to Ajami's latest excretion.

The central point, if there is one, appears to be that Ajami is smarter than Barack Obama, whose Iranian policy he considers to be weak and naive. He wants the President to be confrontational with the Iranian leadership. Ajami holds up Ronald Reagan as the model for clear-minded and hard-nosed foreign policy in the Middle East. Apparently Ajami forgets that Reagan sent that Bible and cake to the mullahs in Iran – oh, yeah, and a whole bunch of arms too. Hmmm...maybe it was Reagan's support of Saddam Hussein's attack on Iran, or perhaps his alleged October Surprise, or the Lebanon debacle, that impressed Ajami so much.

But that's just one of the many inconsistencies that render his 'argument' incoherent. Ajami can't decide whether Mousavi actually won the election, or was defeated by a popular Ahmadinejad. Even so, though he can't quite bring himself to say so explicitly, Ajami seems to think that Obama needs to take a strong stance against the Iranian regime and support the street protesters. Obama, he thinks, is subject to delusions about the possibility of a new detente with Iran.

But in truth Iran had never wanted an opening to the U.S. For the length of three decades, the custodians of the theocracy have had precisely the level of enmity toward the U.S. they have wanted -- just enough to be an ideological glue for the regime but not enough to be a threat to their power.

I wonder how many people in Washington are unaware that Iranian hardliners employ anti-Americanism to their own advantage? Anyway, try to reconcile the foregoing with this:

We must rein in the modernist conceit that the bloggers, and the force of Twitter and Facebook, could win in the streets against the squads of the regime. That fight would be an Iranian drama, all outsiders mere spectators.

If the struggle in Iran will be decided by the Iranians themselves, as of course it will be, then how could supportive rhetoric from an American president be of much assistance to the demonstrators? What's more, since Ajami admits that whipping up anti-Americanism helps the hard-liners to hold onto power, wouldn't it be counter-productive for Obama to declare that the demonstrators have US backing?

Yet Ajami dares to complain about "the administration's incoherence".

A final point: Ajami descibes President Carter as having "lost" Iran, as if that country ever belonged to the US. It's the same arrogance he displayed in the spring of 2003 when Ajami declared that "We are now coming into acquisition of Iraq". Ajami is so damned confused that he can't even distinguish between "ours" and "theirs".

crossposted from

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