Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cowboy Presidents

After digging my car out of the 21 inches of snow dumped on Columbia, MD yesterday and last night, and after an around the corner trip to Dunkin' Donuts, I settled in to watch the tube. I usually skip the sunday talking heads shows, but I happened upon the beard's Late Edition where the guests were the media's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, and the media's second favorite Republican, Chuck Hagel (maybe John McCain was on one of the other shows) and the discussion I dropped in on was about Iran.

Hagel talked for about five minutes without saying very much--"the administration seems to be going about it (dealing with Iran) the right way", "we need to work with Iran, provide the right kind of incentives, carrots, to dissuade them from going nuke, blah blah blah". I hear a lot about this notion of offering the right kind of inducements to get Iran to back off, but I can't imagine what sort of inducements we could offer, and the Senators, as well as their media hosts, don't usually specify.

Enter Joe Lieberman to say that while inducements are great and we've been trying them, it may come time to use the stick, which in this case Lieberman suggested would take the shape of diplomatic and economic sanctions, but I'm not sure what sort of economic sanctions Lieberman thinks would be meaningful or could be enforced. Diplomatically, I don't think we've had much of a relationship with Iran since 1979 and again, I'm not sure what countries the U.S. government would be in the position of getting to go heavy on Iran.

Which brings us to Iran's neighbor, Iraq. Iraq was a counterbalance to Iran, or at least that's what our government believed for several years until it felt incumbent to flex its muscles after 911 and topple one of the only secular Islamic regimes in the region.

But now, with Saddam Hussein's Baathist Sunni Muslims on the outside looking in as the new Shiite majority prepares to take over, we might wonder what the impact of our Iraq invasion has on our international efforts regarding Iran.

The Beard, in a moment of clarity, asked how the fact that the U.S. government was wrong about Iraq's nuclear and WMD capability affected the Bush regime's efforts to mobilize opposition to Iran's WMD?

Hagel, in an additional moment of insightfulness, responded that the U.S. status in Iraq is about the worst its been (presumably since the invasion) and that this obviously doesn't help the U.S. cause at all. Furthermore, Hagel quipped that from Iran's standpoint, there's a nuclear armed Israel in its locale and substantial U.S. military presence in its neighbor Iraq, so from Iran's point of view, it is undoubtedly acting in its own national security interests in its pursuit of nukes.

Lieberman followed up by complaining about the new (elected) Iranian president and how he had made comments in the line of wondering what the world would be like without the U.S. and of course the fact that he wished Israel to be wiped off the map.

The new Iranian president is a kind of cowboy when you think about it. Shoots from the hip, has this sort of reckless, one of the homeboys image, the kind of guy I bet a lot of Iranians would like to have a drink with. He says a lot of nationalistic, politically incorrect things, campaigned as a kind of reformer, restoring the religious revolution of the old days, would buck international efforts to tell his country what to do.

If we had an independent media in this country, we might hear some of them making comparisons between Iran's cowboy president and our own cowboy president.

And maybe if Iran's president had David Frum working for him, he might have already labeled the U.S., Israel, and Great Britain as the Axis of Evil.

No comments: