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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 6/14/09

US/Israeli Neocons Celebrate Ahmadinejad Victory as Iran Burns

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Sickened at the prospect that a victory for reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi in the Iranian presidential election might have led to better relations with the United States, neoconservatives here and their fellow war hawks in Israel are celebrating the dubious victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Yes, this is true: Right-wingers in America and Israel don't want peace with Iran, nor do they want anyone to get the impression that President Obama's efforts at engagement with Iran might actually work, nor do they give a damn about the Iranian people. Mad Mahmoud is the man neocons love to hate, and they're as happy as clams that their guy found a way to steal the election.

Had Mousavi won the Iranian election as many in Iran and around the world hoped, it would likely have signalled a new and more positive direction for U.S.-Iranian relations as well as providing support for the "Obama Doctrine" of engagement with Iran and others in the Muslim world with which America's relations have been troubled. Such a development would at the same time have undercut the neocon attitude of hostility and suspicion toward Iran, as well as undercutting the right-wing Israeli government's aggressive stance toward Iran. As we know, neocons can tolerate peace only when it is imposed with an iron fist or the heel of a jackboot, and the prospect of peace through diplomacy in the Greater Middle East must surely have given them nightmares the rest of us could scarcely imagine.

In the run-up to the Iranian election last week, Daniel Pipes of the right-wing Middle East Forum came right out and admitted in a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation that he would actually vote for Ahmadinejad if he were allowed to vote in Iran (video). This speech was followed by a June 12 blog post by Pipes in which he reiterated that he was "rooting for Ahmadinejad" based on the twisted logic that the fundamentalist clerics who really rule Iran will always be our enemies and it's better to have an Iranian president we can really hate than "a sweet-talking Mousavi" who lulls us into thinking we can be friends. Never mind the aspirations or even basic human rights of the Iranian people; never mind anyone's desire for peace in the Greater Middle East. I've long had a pretty strong distaste for Daniel Pipes, but following this admission I'm more convinced of his utter vileness than ever. This is, after all, a man who has publicly advocated for the profiling and internment of Muslims in America and who considers Israeli and Palestinian existence mutually exclusive (see Sourcewatch). As we leave the age of the neocons behind, I look forward to watching Pipes and others like him slide into the bitter, drooling irrelevance and oblivion they deserve.

The American Enterprise Institute's equally malignant Michael Rubin likewise told Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review that it might be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a Mousavi win might give Obama and the rest of us the impression that diplomacy was actually working. Painting Iran as inherently and hopelessly evil, Rubin said of the Iranian election that should Mousavi win "it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger." James Taranto strikes a similar tone in the Wall Street Journal, warning against the "eagerness to see Obama's feel-good foreign-policy approach succeed."

Now that the Iranian election appears to be over, right-wingers will be tripping over themselves in the rush to use Ahmadinejad's victory against Obama. In fact, once and future Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has already piped up, saying that Ahmadinejad's win is proof that Obama's "policy of going around the world and apologizing for America is not working." These losers obviously have nothing left but the hope that Obama will fail, or can at least be said to have failed. I look forward to watching Romney and his party lose again in 2012.

Right-wingers in Israel, meanwhile, have been making noises very similar to their American bedfellows, and appear to see nothing good for themselves in any warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as observed by M.J. Rosenberg at TPM. From Israel in the run-up to the Iranian election Yaakov Katz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that members of the Israeli defense establishment were "silently praying" for an Ahmadinejad victory, fearing that a Mousavi win would result in decreased pressure on Iran and its nuclear program. Now that Ahmadinejad appears to have successfully stolen the election, Israeli officials and their allies in America are calling for renewed pressure on Iran. Meanwhile, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff write in Haaretz that an Ahmadinejad victory is actually preferable for Israel because a Mousavi win would only "paste an attractive mask on the face of Iranian nuclear ambitions."

I suspect we'll hear more of this in days to come from eager neocons on both sides of the Atlantic. Obama's policy of engagement will work, however, and is working, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his Cairo speech, by the Lebanese election results, by the reform movement in Iran, and by the likelihood that Ahmadinejad kept his office only through vote-rigging, suppression, and intimidation. Obama will succeed, and once he has neocons like Daniel Pipes can take up residence in the dustbin of history where they belong.

Mark C. Eades

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Mark C. Eades is an American writer and educator currently based in Shanghai, China. He has taught at Fudan University, Shanghai International Studies University, and in the private sector in Shanghai.
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