“Death to America,” says Obama’s peace partner

Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets yesterday to chant “Death to America.” According to the Washington Post, it was Iran’s largest anti-American rally in years. So it goes with the Obama administration’s latest “peace partner.”

The main speaker was Saeed Jalili, who lost the recent presidential election to Hassan Rouhani. Jalili is a senior adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei — Iran’s “supreme leader” (as President Obama supinely calls him) and the real source of power in Iran.

In other words, Jalili may have lost the battle to Rouhani, but he’s far from losing the war. The scope of the “Death to America” rally and his role as the main speaker make this clear enough. Rallies like the one in Tehran yesterday don’t occur without Khamenei’s blessing.

The White House’s comments on the event are equally clarifying. Here’s Jay Carney:

As the president has said, the history of mistrust between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran is deep, and it will not be erased overnight. But what we are doing now is not about trust.

It’s difficult to know which sentence is more deplorably ridiculous. In the first, Carney expresses a moral equivalence between the U.S. and Iran. In fairness, this is an improvement on his boss’s view. Recall that during a debate with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama said he would negotiate with Iran without preconditions in order to overcome Iran’s distrust of the U.S. stemming, in his view, from U.S. arrogance.

In the second sentence, Carney embraces an absurdity — the notion that trust is irrelevant to preventing Iran, via negotiations, from obtaining nuclear weapons. As Ronald Reagan recognized, trust and verification are both essential to this sort of endeavor.

Nor was Carney content to rest on two absurdities. He continued:

We believe that the vast majority of Iranians would prefer a better relationship with the West and would prefer the benefits of that better relationship with the West, including economic benefits of rejoining the international community, to the current status quo.

Of course. But our ability to negotiate Iran into giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions doesn’t depend on what the vast majority of Iranians prefer. It depends on what the “supreme leader” prefers.

The supreme leader prefers a charm offensive for U.S. consumption and a hard line for domestic consumption. Only a fool would place more weight on what a despotic regime tells a U.S. president than on what it tells the shock troops on which it depends to maintain its grip over an oppressed population. Only a charlatan would pretend to do so.