The importance of Birmingham

Reader Elizabeth Fradkin alerts us to the October 2007 Journal of Democracy essay on “Iran’s resilient civil society” that makes a particularly good companion to Michael Ledeen’s The Iranian Time Bomb. As the formidable Dr. Ledeen never tires of pointing out, the United States still lacks a policy regarding Iran, as for example in this November 2005 NRO column:

Alas, we have no policy to support regime change in Tehran or Damascus. Indeed, there is no policy at all, four long years after 9/11. A State Department official recently assured me that there were regular meetings on Iran, although there is still no consensus on what to do. Whether this is paralysis or appeasement is hard to say, but it is certainly no way to wage a war on terror.

The Secretary of State of course otherwise occupied at present in a project that cannot help but abet those whom Ledeen characterizes as the terror masters.
Yesterday Secretary Rice visited Bethlehem, which reminds of a not entirely inapposite story about Winston Churchill dating to the late 1930’s:

Malcolm MacDonald, son of Ramsay and minister for the colonies and Dominions under Chamberlain, recalls with discomfort but also amusement how, during a speech on the future of Palestine, he was moved to say that “I cannot remember a time when I was not told stories of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace.” And as he paused for breath Churchill muttered: “I always thought he was born in Birmingham.”

Birmingham, England was of course Neville Chamberlain’s birthplace; Birmingham, Alabama is Secretary Rice’s birthplace.


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