By Slater Bakhtavar
Barack Obama has said that he is inclined to meet with the internationally controversial Iranian President at the right time after due preparation and advance work by US diplomats. Contrary to mainstream media views, the President of Iran is virtually powerless. Any candidate for the presidency of Iran must first be vetted by a hard-line group of twelve clerics who are controlled by the un-elected Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei. During the recent election for President of Iran the members of the Guardian Council disqualified over ninety-eight percent of the candidates, including all female candidates and virtually every single reformist. Hence, although Iran has elections, these elections are simply fodder for the mainstream media, providing straw figures to distract foreign politicians like Barack Obama.
Many of Barack Obama's national security policies are sideways, backward-looking and retreads from the Carter Administration. During the 1970's, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had ascended to the monarchist governmental leadership role present throughout Iran's history, nonetheless implemented economic, educational and social reforms. In 1978, in the midst of democratic reforms, the Shah and the Iranian people celebrated 2,500 years of Persian Monarchy. Thereafter, the Carter Administration, awkwardly wielding a contorted rhetoric of "human rights" thoughtlessly encouraged the overthrow of the Shah and thereby hastened the arrival of an exiled and obscure cleric Ayatollah Khomeini, and with him the Islamic Republic of Iran.
President Carter's misguided approach to raising human rights (catered to fundamentalists and communists) in the context of US-Iran relations, led to the Shah's fall. Iran then became a theocratic abyss, whose radical fundamentalists tolerated far more abuse and torture of political prisoners than the Shah ever had, and supported a stream of terrorist acts and causes. The individuals who comprise Iran's theocracy are now the world's, as well as the vast majority of the Iranian people's, greatest enemies.
Now, Obama is sounding a line on Iran similar to the disastrous approach of Carter. Obama supports direct negotiations with the Iranian theocracy, opposes support for pro-Democracy Iranian groups, and advocates open lines of relation with the most corrupt members of the regime. All this works to legitimize the dictatorship.
The signature moves of Obama are to be too noble for mere politics, but the team of foreign policy security advisers that his administration looks likely to field is the constellation of advisers and policy staff that will render him just another "high-toned liberal" doomed to failure. The Obama team is composed of a combination of the young and inexperienced, and a few predictable retreads from of the Carter and Clinton Administrations, lofted up from poorly grounded gray matter of liberal universities and think tanks. The team members may be united by with good intentions; but without appropriate grounding, they are likely on the road to disappointment and failure.
Among the few prominent figures are Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter's National Security Adviser and a veteran of multiple failures in Iran; Lt. General Merrill McPeak, designer of untimely Air Force retrenchment and stillborn change during the Clinton Administration; Gregory Craig, aide to Ted Kennedy and an exuberantly creative Clinton partisan who defended his President at the impeachment; and Susan Rice, the black hole of talk and inaction.
Bush has consistently reached out to the Iranian people, a nation that Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute dubbed the "most pro-American in the entire region, if not the world", and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times called "the ultimate red state.", while the un-elected anti-American government wields anywhere from 15-20% of support.
Although we are unsure whether Obama merits to be judged by the company he keeps, his advisers appear to adhere only to the obvious immature foreign policy proffered by Jimmy Carter. In Iran, The Carter Administration helped bring down what was one our greatest allies and initiated the growth of modern terrorism, due to its naive understanding of foreign policy.
The lack of intellectual and moral clarity about global threats and how America and the freedom seeking people of Iran and other Middle Eastern nations should respond will make Obama and his team incapable of acting on the crucial deeper game.