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Carter in Reverse?


Say this for him: Barack Obama is not making Jimmy Carter’s mistakes in Iran. Carter arguably didn’t do enough to support an Iranian government faced with a popular revolt; Obama isn’t doing enough to support a popular revolt against an Iranian government. Carter’s foreign policy was achingly idealistic; Obama’s foreign policy is cold-bloodedly “realist.” Ultimately, though, both presidents share a deep naïveté, even if it has slightly different iterations. For all the talk of Obama’s realism, he is pursuing a policy driven by a fantasy about international affairs — that all disputes can be resolved through negotiations and governments can be talked out of their interests. He is giving the Iranian demonstrators the cold shoulder partly because he believes he can deal with Khamenei and persuade him to give up Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. The chances of this happening are quite remote. Fundamentally, then, Obama isn’t turning his back on the protestors out of hard-headedness but on account of a gauzy illusion, although one with a realpolitik veneer.


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