May 17, 2006

GO (via Tom Morin):

Don't Talk to the Mullahs: Bush should respond to Ahmadinejad's letter, but he should speak directly to the Iranian people. (Christopher Hitchens, May 17, 2006, Slate)

Bear in mind that almost all Iranians are now within reach of a satellite dish, a cell phone, or a foreign broadcast—and that we have a talented and resourceful Iranian diaspora in Europe and North America. The president could have added two things. The first is that, since Western technology helped to build the Iranian reactors in the first place, there is no need for Iran to go pirating for centrifuges and other techniques on the black market as it has repeatedly been caught doing. If a peaceful nuclear program is truly what it wants, we alone can help maintain and enhance it. The second is that Iran is standing on a cobweb network of earthquake "faults" that will, with absolute certainty, produce yet another devastating chain of earthquakes in the next few years. (So awful is this predicament that, after the total destruction of the city of Bam in 2003, even the mullahs considered removing the wildly overcrowded and dysfunctional capital city from Tehran to Esfahan.) American aid workers performed beautifully in Bam and were very well-received by the inhabitants. And only the United States could help Iran to design some system of preparation against the seismic horror that impends and that will now be still more apocalyptic as it affects secret reactors and covert uranium-enrichment facilities in deep caverns. Humanitarian duty thus matches international responsibility, and the mullahs have meanwhile squandered, on their pointless and dangerous nuclear program, what they ought to have been investing in social self-defense. I predict that there could be a very serious and attentive Iranian audience for such an offer, which is one that we ought to be making anyway.

This is no longer a matter of "public diplomacy" or "image" or "making nice." A wrecked Iran in one form or another is an immediate and urgent danger, and the pathetic religious demagogue at its merely titular summit is of no more significance than a false prophet screeching in a real wilderness. Almost everything that went wrong in Iraq went wrong because we postponed the real decisions until it was almost too late. President Bush has a chance to redeem this by speaking directly to the Iranian people and the international community and bypassing the wicked men who have run a noble country into a swamp of beggary, violence, crime, corruption, and disaster.

Forget broadcasts, go there, as Reagan went to Moscow.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2006 2:11 PM

Sheesh. Doesn't the poor man have enough to do. Forget broadcasts and don't go there. Iran isn't the USSR, even the USSR wasn't the USSR, but that's another story. If Bush has something to say to the nutjob, send the SoS. Diplomacy is her job.

I think the best bet is to let Iranians figure it out for themselves.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 2:39 PM

As Reagan went to Berlin, Bush should go to Iraq.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 17, 2006 3:59 PM

Members of the American Government visiting Iran have unexpectedly had their exit visas revoked in the past.

Posted by: ed at May 17, 2006 4:24 PM

Members of the American Government visiting Iran have quite recently had their exit visas revoked.

Posted by: ed at May 17, 2006 4:26 PM

Send the president to a terror-supporting state run by nutcases who believe the apocalypse is just around the corner and it's their duty to help make it happen? Don't tell the Secret Service this idea, or they'll all have heart attacks.

Seriously, the USSR was a model of sanity and restraint compared to Iran.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 17, 2006 7:11 PM

Hardly. Iran is an imperfect democracy. The USSR was totalitarian. The President would do a world of good there. And it would make up for scurrying around on 9-11.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 7:46 PM

Scurrying around? You are peekish today.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 8:34 PM

The president performed adequately on 9/11. He flew around to preserve the continuity of government just in case there was a followup strike. Once Cheney was buried deep enough, he came home -- about 7-8 hrs after the earliest possible time he could have done so.
I tend to agree that sending Condi or W to Iran makes sense, but not to make up for any past behavior. It is simply time to move with the Iranian people on the regime and the future of relations between the 2 countries. Hitchens had a good column on it. A key consideration is that Iranians, unlike the Soviets, have access to media: they'll hear what we have to say immediately, not via word of mouth. And they'll probably agree after 25 years of theocracy.

Posted by: JAB at May 17, 2006 8:56 PM
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