President Rouhani and Peace Studies

by Victor Davis Hanson

There is a long history of foreign authoritarians channeling left-wing talking points when they appeal to an American audience, apparently on the theory that they score points against the American establishment. Bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri used to quote back Noam Chomsky to us, and cited everything from global warming to the lack of campaign-financing reform as the sort of goads that drove them to murder Westerners. Vladimir Putin’s recent New York Times letter was full of the same boilerplate, in general alluding negatively to George Bush while resonating with Barack Obama’s earlier warnings on the dangers of claiming American exceptionalism. But the recent Washington Post (Russians get the New York Times; Iranians settle for the Washington Post?) letter to us by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sounded as if it was a co-effort of the Campus Diversity Czar and the head of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies department.

In T-ball fashion, Rouhani warns that “international politics is no longer a zero-sum game.” (I suppose that means both sides get to win in Syria?) We are warned about the dangers of “cultural encroachment.” (Should we ask the millions of Iranian minorities about that?) We are reminded that “a zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss” — as if the disappearance of the Soviet Union due to the Cold War was not everyone’s gain.

The old bogeyman of “root causes,” of course, explains terrorist violence, along with problems of “identity”: “We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity.”

Indeed, a search for “identity” actually explains why Iran is enriching uranium: “The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program. . . . Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved.” Find your proper identity and you too can build a bomb and call it peaceful nuclear energy — in the manner you can rig an election and call it “democracy”?

Iran is a great fan of “dialogue” in Syria — apparently that is why they sent in Republican Guard forces. Rouhani warns that violence is always due “to overarching injustices and rivalries,” not aggression or nationalist agendas, much less an absence of deterrence. “Win-win solutions” are his advice about “world diplomacy.” And in familiar fashion we seek these therapeutic solutions ”for the sake of . . . our children and future generations.”