Please, pretty please come to our party

A State Department spokesperson said yesterday that the Obama administration is not considering revoking invitations to Iranian diplomats around the world for vaious Fourth of July celebrations:

QUESTION: Do you think it’s still appropriate to have Iranians come to these July 4th parties under the circumstances? I mean, is there any thought being given to like, rescinding invitations?

MR. KELLY: No, there’s no thought to rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats.

QUESTION: It’s appropriate to have a social dialogue with them if they come?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran, and we tried many years of isolation and we’re pursuing a different path now.

QUESTION: Have they said yes?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know.

Some adminstration critics claim that President Obama’s foreign policy has been driven by little more than the impulse to do the opposite of what President Bush did or would do. I have been unwilling to assume that the president’s decisionmaking could be that mindlessly crude. But the exchange above makes me wonder.

It’s a good thing that during the Cold War no president (not even Jimmy Carter) reasoned that, having tried an arms race with the Soviet Union for decades without either bringing down our adversary or changing its behavior, the next step was to try unilateral disarmament.

Bush administration policy towards Iran wasn’t very successful. However, Iran’s isolation, and the economic woes that stem in part from that isolation, have likely contributed to the regime’s current difficulties.

In any event, the president’s craven, suck-up policy isn’t the only alternative to Bush’s approach. One can always be either more aggressive or less aggressive.

With the regime apparently in some difficulty — and facing problems that won’t vanish if the current uprising fades — increasing the pressure seems like a better alternative than relieving it, however slightly, by treating the murderous regime’s lackeys as if they were esteemed diplomats. Obama has said he does not want to take sides in the current power struggle. But by having U.S. officials break bread with the regime’s thugs, he is doing just that.

Fortunately, it’s far from clear that the Iranian regime will allow its diplomats to party with ours. Thus, we may be spared what would otherwise be a day of infamy.

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