It was little surprise when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff panned a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel. The Obama administration has been squishy on its relationship with Israel from the start, and fears an Israeli strike devolving into a crisis for which the White House is even less prepared than the current drama.The Iranian mullahs have no intention of resolving this peacefully, except on their terms. They want nuclear weapons and they plan to use them.
It was jarring, though, to see Gen. Martin Dempsey give far too much credit to the ability of this Iranian regime to be an equal negotiating partner.
In an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Dempsey was asked by the host if he viewed Iran’s behavior as “highly irrational” and “sort of unpredictable,” or whether they are “fairly calculating.”
“I’ll tell you that I’ve been confronting that question since I commanded Central Command in 2008,” Dempsey said. “And we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor. And it’s for that reason, I think, that we think the current path we’re on is the most prudent path at this point.” That’s the path of sanctions and “open-hand” negotiation that has proven fruitless thus far, and brushing aside talk of the option of military action while claiming that all options are still on the table.
Any country that has made “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” chants part of their repertoire since 1979, that held three young American hikers on laughable charges for two years after plucking them off the Kurdish border, that operates off an apocalyptic view that “the Jews should be fought against and forced to surrender to prepare the way for the coming of the Hidden Imam” (Ayatollah Hussein Nuri Hamdani, 2005) is not operating rationally. The degree of calculation by which they buy time for their nuclear program walks hand-in-hand with, not in conflict with, Tehran’s irrationality and unpredictability.
So why the insistence that Iran is, somewhere deep inside, willing to play by the rules toward America’s preferred resolution? Not just from Dempsey, but take White House spokesman Jay Carney at today’s press briefing: “We feel as I’ve said and others have said, as, most importantly, the president has said, that there is time and space for diplomacy to work, for the effective sanctions to result in a change in Iranian behavior, an agreement by Iran to live up to its obligations, to engage in negotiations and resolve this matter peacefully.”
Arguing anything else is idiocy.