The more Iran pretends to change, the more it stays the same

Yesterday, as Scott notes, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani placed an op-ed in the Washington Post wherein he explains “why Iran seeks constructive engagement.” Rouhani’s punditry follows on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s, which appeared in the New York Times.

I’ll take Putin’s effort (or that of his PR firm) over Rouhani’s any day. Snark always makes for better reading than saccharine.

But Iran’s interests — buying time so it can finish developing nuclear weapons — call for saccharine. Once Iran has nukes, there will be time enough for a return to snark — the least of the indignities it will heap upon us.

In the meantime, let me add to Scott’s commentary by noting two passages from Rouhani that caught my eye.

The Iranian president opens by advising Americans that “the world has changed.” Rouhani thus echoes a statement made recently by his boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but he omits the key qualifier.

Last week, according to AEI Iran Tracker, Khamenei told a meeting of the Army of the Guardians of the Iranian Revolution (IRGC): “Though the world has changed, that cannot be a justification for the change of ideals, goals, or the correct path.”

Precisely. Iran has not changed its ideals, goals, or path. Its ideals are jihadist; its goals encompass (but are not limited to) regional domination, and its path includes the development of nuclear weapons.

Rouhani assures us, however, that “gone is the age of blood feuds.” Yet last week, while his PR folks were crafting his “let bygones be bygones” message for consumption in American, Rouhani ordered the establishment of a commission to investigate “the legal-political role and the interventions of America and England in the 1953 coup” and to provide recommendations to Parliament on strategies “to pursue spiritual and material compensation” to Iran.

The age of “blood feuds” may be gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a grudge.

As Michael Rubin points out, however, Rouhani’s Islamist teachers and predecessors supported the 1953 coup. So the regime’s grudge is artificial. The grudge we should be holding over the 1979 hostage taking is not.

Rouhani’s message of “constructive engagement” is as meaningless as Putin’s professed willingness to help us rid Syria of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, President Obama pretended that Putin’s offer is serious and may very well pretend the same with respect to Rouhani’s message.

The incentive for Obama to do so is the same in both cases — to avoid the use of force (even if only bombing or only by another nation) where force is needed.


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