Reading Rouhani

Staying over at a friend’s home on Long Island in the summer of 1969, I overheard my friend’s father blowing a gasket late one night as he contended with his youngest daughter on the telephone. At the end of his rope, he lashed out into the phone (please forgive the vulgarity): “That’s the goddamndest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever heard.” It was more than 40 years ago and I can hear it in my mind as though it was yesterday.

Whatever my friend’s father was hearing from the other end of the line, it can’t have exceeded the BS slung by Hassan Rouhani last week at the United Nations. As Iran’s new frontman for the mullahs, Rouhani’s mission is simple. Kill time while Iran achieves the breakout capacity it seeks for nuclear weapons while reducing the sanctions to which Iran’s nuclear program has subjected it.

Reuel Marc Gerecht takes a look at “The new Rouhani (same as the old Rouhani)” in the Weekly Standard. He asks: “After so much time and evidence, why in the name of Allah are so many Western journalists, academics, and think-tankers welcoming him, as they once did his patron [Rasfanjani], as a white-turbaned hope?” Well, as Saul Bellow observed, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.” Especially when the will to believe the illusion is so great. Gerecht recalls:

It’s perhaps a peccadillo to point out that Rouhani has consistently lied about the nuclear program, claiming that it’s always been peaceful and observant of International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines. Rouhani headed the nuclear negotiations from 2003 to 2005, at their most challenging time. In late 2002, Iran’s clandestine nuclear program was exposed, and George W. Bush, whom Tehran feared, was massing men and weapons for an invasion of Iraq. Rouhani did what he could—very successfully in retrospect—to keep the nuclear program going without angering the West, especially the Americans. The temporary suspension of enrichment showed flexibility in the face of overwhelming military might. So did Khamenei’s decision to temporarily suspend weaponization research at the Parchin military facility.

If you haven’t read Rouhani’s United Nations speech — I found the full text at the Times of Israel — please take a look. It is in part New Age BS propagated on behalf of the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today:

Our world today is replete with fear and hope; fear of war and hostile regional and global relations; fear of deadly confrontation of religious, ethnic and national identities; fear of institutionalization of violence and extremism; fear of poverty and destructive discrimination; fear of decay and destruction of life-sustaining resources; fear of disregard for human dignity and rights; and fear of neglect of morality. Alongside these fears, however, there are new hopes; the hope of universal acceptance by the people and the elite all across the globe of “yes to peace and no to war”; and the hope of preference of dialogue over conflict, and moderation over extremism.


At this sensitive juncture in the history global relations, the age of zero-sum games is over, even though a few actors still tend to rely on archaic and deeply ineffective ways and means to preserve their old superiority and domination. Militarism and the recourse to violent and military means to subjugate others are failed examples of the perpetuation of old ways in new circumstances.

There is much more along these lines along with the usual BS about “Palestine” (“the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people”), new BS about Syria (you’d never that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are mowing them down on behalf of Bashar Assad: “Syria represents a painful example of catastrophic spread of violence and extremism in our region”), gibberish about the “natural domain” of “regional players,” and this jingle for the Co-exist Crowd: “Propagandistic and unfounded faithphobic, Islamo-phobic, Shia-phobic, and Iran-phobic discourses do indeed represent serious threats against world peace and human security.” I’m not sure we can squeeze it onto a bumper sticker.

Here is Rouhani on Iran’s nuclear program:

Iran’s nuclear program – and for that matter, that of all other countries – must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes. I declare here, openly and unambiguously, that, notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been, and will always be, the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions. Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

“In this context,” Rouhani explains, “the Islamic Republic of Iran, insisting on the implementation of its rights and the imperative of international respect and cooperation in this exercise, is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.”

Why from Iran’s perspective the talks need to be “time-bound” when Iran has only a peaceful nuclear program requires an explanation only if you buy the BS on offer. My guess is that it has something to do with the desire to have the sanctions removed some time soon rather than to keep Iran from breaking out into a nuclear capacity for which it claims to have no program.