Politics & Policy

Obama Is Still Buying What Rouhani’s Selling

Rouhani speaks at the U.N. General Assembly. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Despite the reality of what Iran has done, Obama still trusts Rouhani’s rhetoric.

My government’s principled policy is to work towards constructive interactions with our neighbors on the basis of mutual respect and with emphasis on common interests. The notion that Iran seeks to control other Muslim countries in the region is a myth fanned in the recent years in the context of an Iranophobic project.

— President Hassan Rouhani of Iran at the U.N. General Assembly, September 25, 2014

President Rouhani’s U.N. speech was similar to his 2013 General Assembly address — in that it was equally absurd.

Blaming the West for the Islamic State, wailing about Western colonialism and imperialism, and lecturing the West on morality, Mr. Rouhani showed little interest in conciliation.

Why would he? After all, I noted last September, President Rouhani has skillfully deluded the U.S. government into thinking he’s an effective moderate, and nothing appears likely to shake that perception.

Consider President Obama’s General Assembly speech, on Wednesday. In that long address, he offered just one short paragraph on nuclear negotiations with Iran. His language was conciliatory and devoid of credible deterrence. Mr. Obama trusts Mr. Rouhani.

Meanwhile, Iranian extremism is on the march. With Russia’s support, Tehran sidesteps international sanctions. Its leaders detain an American journalist as a negotiating pawn, whilst passing lashing sentences against young musicians. At numerous nuclear facilities, IAEA deadlines are ignored at will. Blowing past “red lines,” the ayatollah has learned that rejectionism reaps rewards.

Iran proudly supports Bashar Assad as he starves and barrel-bombs hundreds of thousands into early graves, as he fills the lungs of children with hydrochloric acid.

But while the scale of Iran’s mayhem is new, its form is not. Iran’s leaders have always used violence to purchase allies and destroy democracy. It reaches beyond the broken borders of the Middle East. In 2011, sensing an opportunity to covertly attack America and Saudi Arabia, Iran tried to blow up a Washington, D.C., restaurant.

Some suggest that Iran could be enlisted in the fight against the Islamic State. Practically and in the short term, they’re right. But the underlying reality renders this idea absurd. Iran’s leaders have no interest in cooling the sectarian conflict that fuels the group’s jihad. Rather, Iran’s security forces seek to expand Ayatollah Khamenei’s power, a cause completely at odds with Sunni empowerment, let alone a functional Iraq.

President Rouhani has been crucial to implementing Iran’s very clever PR strategy.

At the U.N., after a meeting with the British prime minister, and meetings between the Iranian foreign minister and Secretary of State Kerry, Mr. Rouhani gave a master class in false preaching. He told the nations of the world he harbors “genuine hope that this year’s session of the General Assembly brings the world, in its current critical situation, a step closer to security and tranquility of human being, which is of course a fundamental goal of the United Nations.”

Iran’s leaders are no agents of peace or friends of the West. They’re despots who find “security” in enslaving innocents in theological totalitarianism and “tranquility” in murdering those who resist.

When will America stop pretending otherwise?

Tom Rogan is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute. He is based in Washington, D.C., and tweets @TomRtweets.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

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