Just as some Republicans view tax cuts as the answer to all domestic problems, the Washington Post's neoconservative editors see "regime change" in hostile Muslim nations as the only acceptable option, ignoring the slippage in U.S. influence in the Middle East that has resulted from following that approach in Iraq and elsewhere.
The Post was at it again on Tuesday with an editorial about the latest round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program. Noting the lack of progress -- and apparent failure of new economic sanctions to soften up Tehran -- the Post's editors were dreaming again about "regime change" in the form of helping the "Green Movement" topple President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"By doing more to support the Iranian opposition, the United States could press the regime where it actually feels threatened," the Post wrote. "It could also send an important message to Iranians: that the international coalition seeks not to punish them but to weaken the government they despise."
But the Post's position reflects a narrative of recent history that is so full of neocon distortions and fallacies that it is hard to know where to begin. Indeed, the Post's predictable embrace of "regime change" again demonstrates the danger to U.S. national security and world stability that comes from having the foreign policy "elite" of a major superpower live in a fantasy world.
Instead of dealing with facts -- such as the clear evidence that Ahmadinejad actually won the 2009 election and the reality that his government was willing to agree as late as spring 2010 to relinquish nearly half its supply of low-enriched uranium -- the Post's editors simply shifted into a different narrative, one aligned with neocon propaganda.
In that world, Ahmadinejad stole the 2009 election; the Islamic government is a dictatorship despised by Iranians who are on the edge of revolution; and Iran's negotiators deceived the world last year about their readiness to trade low-enriched uranium for isotopes needed to run a medical reactor.
Yet, whatever one thinks of the blustering Ahmadinejad, the Post's narrative is simply not real. For instance, there's the troublesome fact that virtually all available evidence indicates that -- contrary to Western hopes and desires -- Ahmadinejad won the June 12, 2009, election in Iran and that his chief challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi didn't even come close.
As an analysis by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes discovered, not a single Iranian poll -- whether before or after the election, whether conducted inside or outside Iran -- showed Ahmadinejad with less than majority support.
These polls also showed a consolidation of support behind the government after the election, despite demonstrations by Mousavi's supporters seeking to overturn the results. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "Ahmadinejad Won, Get Over It!"]
Then, there were the efforts in spring 2010, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Ina'cio Lula da Silva, to get Ahmadinejad to agree to relinquish Iranian control of nearly half the country's supply of low-enriched uranium.
This initiative revived a plan first advanced by President Barack Obama -- and the Turkish-Brazilian effort had his private encouragement. However, after Ahmadinejad accepted the deal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. hardliners switched into overdrive to kill the swap and insist instead on imposing harsher sanctions against Iran.
Clinton's position was endorsed by editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times, who mocked Erdogan and Lula da Silva as inept understudies on the international stage. If anything, the Post and Times argued, the United States should take an even more belligerent approach toward Iran, i.e. seeking "regime change." [See Consortiumnews.com's "WPost, NYT Show Tough-Guy Swagger."]
As Clinton pushed for the new round of United Nations' sanctions last spring, Lula da Silva even released a letter from Obama that had urged the Brazilians to press forward with the swap arrangement. However, with Washington's political momentum favoring another confrontation with a Muslim adversary, Obama retreated and lined up behind the sanctions.
Now, it appears that the sanctions have only served to harden Iran's negotiating position, with Ahmadinejad's emissaries refusing to even consider a modified swap arrangement unless the sanctions are lifted as a precondition.
So, predictably, the Post's editors have returned to their favorite default position, "regime change," via covert U.S. support for the Green Movement. It is the same kind of "tough-guy" wishful thinking that led the Bush administration to believe that the invasion of Iraq would be "a cakewalk" with Iraqis welcoming U.S. troops with flowers and candies.