“Been there, done that” is the title of a piece about Iran by Zbigniew Brzezinski. The title is intended to evoke a comparison between the current debate over whether to attack Iran and the debate of a few years ago about Iraq. Brzezinski apparently is unable to distinguish between an invastion followed by an occupation and bombing strikes. Similarly, he can’t detect the difference between a regime that indisputably had chemical weapons at one time but claimed to have destroyed them and a regime that does not yet have nuclear weapons but indisputably is working diligently to develop them, and making excellent progress.
Nonetheless, Brzezinski’s title is apt because we have “been there and done that” when it comes to Iran. Brzezinski should know because he was there doing “that.” It was he and his feckless boss President Carter who saw no cause for concern in a potential Iranian mullocracy, and hence no reason to back the Shah of Iran who stood in the mullahs way.
Now, more than 25 years on, the old foreign policy hand is still assuring us that we have little to fear from the mullahs. He seems to take it as a given that, through negotiations, we can talk them out of developing nukes. Alternatively, he assumes that the mullahs won’t be around much longer. Indeed, in the familiar “blame America first” tradition of his party, Brzezinski suggests, without presenting any evidence, that the mullahs were on their way out until the U.S. gave them a lease on life by being so confrontational. If only we would “treat Iran with respect,” our problems with that country would work themselves out.
Wishful thinking is a powerful force in the human psyche, but the Carter years confirmed that it’s a recipe for disaster in foreign policy. But all these years later, wishful thinking is all Brzezinski has to offer.