- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

As Iran turns

It would be a pleasant surprise to be optimistic about events in Iran. The president has clearly decided against any military intervention or even pressure. He has enough to deal with in Iraq. Europeans claim that engagement with the religious thugs who run the country will work wonders. We’re told that Iran is in transition toward a more democratic society. We’re assured that the mullahs’ agreement to cooperate on nuclear inspections is a good sign. All of this is twaddle.

Iran is still a dictatorship. No reformer has any power. The “elections” that are about to be held are completely phony, and the protests that the reformers have recently made about them have had no effect whatever. The “reformers” promised that they would boycott the elections, rendering them inoperable, or try to prevent them from happening at all. But in Thursday’s New York Times, we hear that “resistance among reformers seemed to evaporate this week after [“reformist”] President Khatami bowed to an order by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and announced that the elections would go ahead.”

It’s clear who really runs the show. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported yesterday something even more ominous: “United Nations inspectors have found a new type of centrifuge design in Iran and other experiments that Tehran has failed to declare, despite its claim in November that it had fully disclosed its nuclear programme.”

Can you believe it? The theocrats lied to the Europeans. Prediction: Europeans will keep appeasing the liars.

Carnage in Iraq

The news of Wednesday’s latest suicide bombing is grim indeed. The strategy is so obvious it barely rewards repeating. Al Qaeda and Qaeda-like Islamists target innocent Iraqis involved in the rebuilding of their country’s security and infrastructure. They kill dozens. Then they infiltrate and help spread rumors that it was actually some kind of bizarre plot by Americans to kill people they need to win over. The aim is to keep the reconstruction off-kilter, fuel anti-coalition feeling and destabilize the place enough for it to be used as a base for Islamofascist revolt.

Then you have this chorus, as reported in The Washington Post: “There is no God but Allah. America is the enemy of God,” the protesters chanted. “Hell to the Americans. Hell to the Jews.”

The Jews? How did they get involved? Ah, yes. Of course they are involved. For fascists, it’s always the Jews. If anyone thinks this war is over, they need to get real. We needmoreresources in Iraq, not fewer. We need to think of July as the beginning of our new engagement, not the end of a war and occupation.

And yet while this country is at war, some are trying to make the president’s NationalGuardservice decades ago a real issue; others want to split the country in two with a constitutional amendment to bar homosexual couples from any civil rights or benefits. We have lost sight of the central issue of our time. We owe it to the dead to remember again — and press on.

Edwards’ chance

In both Southern primaries Tuesday, John Kerry won close to a half of the votes and John Edwards won around a quarter. But more interestingly, as Will Saletan pointed out in Slate, Mr. Edwards beat Mr. Kerry on the question of whom they supported more on the issues and among those in the more moderate wing of the party, i.e., those who were less angry with President Bush and more in the “satisfied but not enthusiastic” camp. Mr. Edwards won more prowar voters as well. I infer that most voters so far have been conned into voting for the idea of Mr. Kerry, not the reality. And the idea is that he is more electable. And that has become almost self-fulfilling. Mr. Edwards is right to stay in. More Democrats like his views than like Mr. Kerry’s (whatever they are today), and more middle-of-the-roaders support him. The vast majority of delegates has yet to be decided. In a clear two-way race, it could get very interesting. Now we’ve gotten rid of former Gen. Wesley Clark, the media needs to create a new dynamic. The possibility of a Kerry intern sex scandal only heightens the need to keep this race competitive. I’m with the Economist magazine on this: Give Mr. Edwards a chance. Mr. Kerry is far less than meets the eye.

Bait & switch

“Mr. Bush said repeatedly that he went to the United Nations seeking a diplomatic alternative to war. In fact, the United States rejected all diplomatic alternatives at the time, severely damaging relations with some of its most important and loyal allies.” — New York Times editorial. Feb. 9, 2004.

“Yesterday’s unanimous vote at the United Nations Security Council sends the strongest possible message to Baghdad … This is a well-deserved triumph for President Bush, a tribute to eight weeks of patient but determined and coercive American diplomacy ? Only if the council fails to approve the serious consequences it now invokes — generally understood to be military measures — should Washington consider acting alone.” — New York Times editorial, Nov. 9, 2002.

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