The Realist Fantasy
Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seems to have noticed.
On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari’a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.
Hamas’s endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn’t feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem forChristmas.
While Hamas joyously renewed its jihad against Jews and Christians, its overlords in Iran also basked in jihadist triumphalism. The source of Teheran’s sense of ascendancy this week was Britain’s Channel 4 network’s decision to request that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give a special Christmas Day address to the British people. Ahmadinejad’s speech was supposed to be a response to Queen Elizabeth II’s traditional Christmas Day address to her subjects. That is, Channel 4 presented his message as a reasonable counterpoint to the Christmas greetings of the head of the Church of England.
Channel 4 justified its move by proclaiming that it was providing a public service. As a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post, “We’re offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don’t often get the chance to see.”
While that sounds reasonable, the fact is that Westerners see Ahmadinejad speaking for himself all the time. They saw him at the UN two years in a row as he called for thecountries of the world to submit to Islam; claimed that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is divinely inspired; and castigated Jews as subhuman menaces to humanity.
They saw him gather leading anti-Semites from all over the world at his Holocaust denial conference.
They heard him speak in his own words when he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
And of course, over the years Ahmadinejad has often communicated directly to the British people. For instance, in 2007 he received unlimited airtime on UK television as he paraded kidnapped British sailors and marines in front of television cameras; forced them to make videotaped “confessions” of their “crime” of entering Iranian territorial waters; and compelled them to grovel at his knee and thank him for “forgiving” them.
The British people listened to Ahmadinejad as he condemned Britain as a warmongering nation after its leaders had surrendered Basra to Iranian proxies. They heard him – speaking in his own voice – when he announced that in a gesture of Islamic mercy, he was freeing their humiliated sailors and marines in honor of Muhammad’s birthday and Easter, and then called on all Britons to convert to Islam.
Yet as far as Channel 4 is concerned, Ahmadinejad is still an unknown quantity for most Britons. So they asked him to address the nation on Christmas. And not surprisingly, in his address, he attacked their way of life and co-opted their Jewish savior, Jesus, saying, “If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.”
He then reiterated his call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam saying, “The solution to today’s problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets.”
THE FACT of the matter is that Channel 4 is right. There is a great deal of ignorance in the West about what the likes of Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas stand for. But this isn’t their fault. They tell us every day that they seek the destruction of the Jews and the domination of the West in the name of Islam. And every day they take actions that they believe advance their goals.
The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions.
As far as the West’s leaders are concerned, Iran and its allies are unimportant. They are not actors, but objects. As far as the West’s leading foreign policy “experts” and decision-makers are concerned, the only true actors on the global stage are Western powers. They alone have the power to shape reality and the world. Oddly enough, this dominant political philosophy, which is based on denying the existence of non-Western actors on the world stage, is referred to as political “realism.”
The “realist” view was given clear expression this week by one of the “realist” clique’s most prominent members. In an op-ed published Tuesday in Canada’s Globe and Mailtitled, “We must talk Iran out of the bomb,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that given the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the dangers of a US or Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear installations, the incoming Obama administration must hold direct negotiations with the mullahs to convince them to end their nuclear weapons program.
In making this argument, Haass ignores the fact that this has been the Bush administration’s policy for the past five years. He also ignores the fact that President George W. Bush adopted this policy at the urging of Haass’s “realist” colleagues and at the urging of Haass himself.
Moreover, Haass bizarrely contends that in negotiating with the mullahs, the Obama administration should offer Iran the same package of economic and political payoffs that the Bush administration and the EU have been offering, and Teheran has been rejecting, since 2003.
Even more disturbingly, Haass ignores the fact that Teheran made its greatest leaps forward in its uranium enrichment capabilities while it was engaged in these talks with the West.
So in making his recommendation to the Obama administration – which has already announced its intention to negotiate with the mullahs – Haass has chosen to ignore Iran’s statements, its actions, and known facts about the West’s inability to steer it from its course of war by showering it with pay-offs.
Haass and his colleagues in the US, Europe and on the Israeli Left are similarly unwilling to pay attention to Hamas. In an article in the current edition of Foreign Affairs, Haass and his colleague Martin Indyk from the Brookings Institute call on the Obamaadministration to either ignore Hamas, or, if it abides by a cease-fire with Israel, they suggest that the Obama administration should support a joint Hamas-Fatah government and “authorize low-level contact between US officials and Hamas.” The fact that Hamas itself is wholly dedicated to Israel’s destruction and Islamic global domination is irrelevant.
Similarly, Haass and Indyk assume that Damascus can be appeased into abandoning its support for Hizbullah and Hamas, and its strategic alliance with Iran. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s views of how his interests are best served are unimportant. Both Assad’s statements of eternal friendship with Iran and his active involvement in Iran’s war effort against the US and its allies in Israel, Iraq and Lebanon are meaningless. The “realists” know what he really wants.
MUSLIMS AREN’T the only ones whose views and actions are dismissed as irrelevant by these foreign policy wise men. The “realists” ignore just about every non-Western actor. Take Iran’s principal Asian ally, North Korea, for example.
This week North Korea’s official news agency threatened to destroy South Korea in a “sea of fire,” and “reduce everything treacherous and anti-reunification to debris and build an independent, reunified country on it,” if any country dares to attack its nuclear installations.
North Korea made its threat two weeks after Kim Jung Il’s regime disengaged from its fraudulent disarmament talks with the Bush administration. Those talks – the brainchild offoreign policy “realists” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill – were based on the “realist” belief that the US can appease North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal. (That would be the same nuclear arsenal that the North Koreans built while engaged in fraudulent disarmament talks with the Clinton administration.)
After Pyongyang agreed in February 2007 to eventually come clean on its plutonium installations (but not its uranium enrichment programs), and to account for its nuclear arsenal (but not for its proliferation activities), Rice convinced President Bush to remove North Korea from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror and to end its subjection to the US’s Trading with the Enemy Act this past October. And then, after securing those massive US concessions, on December 11 Pyongyang renounced its commitments, walked away from the table and now threatens to destroy South Korea if anyone takes any action against it.
North Korea’s behavior is of no interest to the “realists,” however. As far as they are concerned, the US has no option other than to continue the failed appeasement policy that has enabled North Korea to develop and proliferate nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. As the Council on Foreign Relations’ Gary Samore said, “I think we’re sort of condemned to that process, because we don’t really have any alternative.”
Samore and his colleagues believe there are no other options because all other options involve placing responsibility for contending with North Korea on non-Western powers like China, South Korea and Japan. More radically, they involve holding North Korea accountable for its actions and making it pay a price for its poor behavior.
As the “realists” claim that the US has no option other than their failed appeasement policies, back in the real world, this week military officials from the US’s Pacific Command warned that North Korea may supply Iran with intercontinental ballistic missiles. These warnings are credible given that North Korea has been the primary supplier of ballistic missiles and missile technology to Iran and Syria and has played a major role in both countries’ nuclear weapons programs.
Defending Channel 4’s invitation to Ahmadinejad, Dorothy Byrne, the network’s head of news and current affairs, said, “As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”
When you think about it, broadcasting Ahmadinejad really would have been a public service if Byrne or any of the delusional “realists” calling the shots were remotely interested in listening to what he has to say. But they aren’t. So far from a public servicefor Britain, it was a service for those who, unbeknownst to most Britons, are dedicated to destroying their country.
Mark Steyn adds to this “Reality” with his column today:
A couple of days after Hamas voted to restore crucifixion to the Holy Land, their patron in Teheran (and their primary source of “aid”) put in an appearance on British TV. As multicultural “balance” to Her Majesty The Queen’s traditional Christmas message, the TV network Channel 4 invited President Ahmadinejad to give an alternative Yuletide address on the grounds that it was a valuable public service to let viewers hear him “speak for himself, which people in the west don’t often get the chance to see”. In fact, as Caroline Glick pointed out in The Jerusalem Post, the great man “speaks for himself” all the time — when he’s at the UN, calling on all countries to submit to Islam; when he’s presiding over his international conference of Holocaust deniers; when he’s calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map” — or (in his more “moderate” moments) relocated to a couple of provinces of Germany and Austria. Caroline Glick forbore to mention that, according to President Ahmadinejad’s chief adviser Hassan Abbassi, his geopolitical strategy is based on the premise that “Britain is the mother of all evils” — the evils being America, Australia, Israel, the Gulf states, Canada, and New Zealand, all of which are the malign progeny of the British Empire. “We have established a department that will take care of England,” said Mr. Abbassi in 2005. “England’s demise is on our agenda.”
So when Channel 4 says that we don’t get the chance to see these fellows speak for themselves, it would be more accurate to say that they speak for themselves incessantly but the louder they speak the more we put our hands over our ears and go “Nya nya, can’t hear you.” We do this in part because, if you’re as invested as most western elites are in the idea that all anyone wants is to go to university, get a steady job and settle down in a nice house in the suburbs, a statement such as “England’s demise is on our agenda” becomes almost literally untranslatable. When President Ahmadinejad threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map, we deplore him as a genocidal fantasist. But maybe he’s a genocidal realist — look at the threads linking North Korea to Iran and to Iran’s clients in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza — and we’re the fantasists.
One response to “The Cognitive Dissonance of the “Realists” in the West Towards Jihadists”
A very interesting website and a very interesting article. I would just like to know how we should deal with Iran and such, as ‘realists’ got it all wrong. Invading a country doesn’t work (Afghanistan and Iraq) and tens of years of boycotting doesn’t work (Iran and Cuba). So what other options do we have?