For nearly thirty years–ever since the Islamic Fascist Revolution that overthrew the shah, and the Ayatollah Khomeini declared war on the United States (a.k.a. “The Great Satan”) — American presidents have convinced themselves that the mullahs were secretly willing to normalize relations and live with us in peace. To that end, president after president, whether lefty or righty, Republican or Democrat, opened negotiations with the Islamic Republic. For the most part these negotiations have been secret, with occasional public initiatives such as the current talks in Iraq. Channels to Tehran have been repeatedly used by the Bush Administation; the most recent known example being in September, 2006, when Secretary of State Rice dispatched former Spanish President Felipe Gonzales (who had performed similar service for the Clinton Administration) to Tehran to explore the possibilities of a modus vivendi. The Iranians, in the person of Ari Larijani, thumbed their noses at the initiative. If one reads the tea leaves in the daily press, it is evident that similar back channels are in use today (as in Secretary of Defense Gates’s remarks on the Iranian smuggling of bombs into Iraq).
Nonetheless, a gaggle of presidential wannabees are now demanding brave new negotiations with the mullahs. Obama is the latest, and the New York Times gives him front page space to announce his intention to strike a grand bargain. As Ed Morrissey correctly notes today, neither Obama nor the Times seem to know that this sort of thing has been going on for three decades. Ed points out that the core of Obama’s proposal was indeed formally presented to the mullahs a couple of years ago, and was summarily rejected.
As I have said before, this sort of behavior fulfills Einstein’s definition of madness: continuing to do the same thing, hoping for a different outcome. Obama is not alone in this asylum; Senator Chuck Hagel has written to the president to call for negotiations, and now some 28 Democratic-plus-one-”independent” Senators are thumping their navels, telling the president that they have not authorized “war” with Iran.
But there is war with Iran. That war started in 1979 and has been waged non-stop ever since. By them. If the Senators want to pursue appeasement, they’re entitled. But they at least should be honest about it. Instead of saying that they don’t want us to wage war against the Islamic Republic, they should say they don’t want us to defend ourselves against Iranian aggression.