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The Iranian Presidential Election and the Syrian Gambit

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The Wall Street Journal runs an interesting story on the election dynamics of Iran’s presidential race, including the maneuvers by so-called “moderates” to dump Ahmadinejad.

As I discussed yesterday with Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, however, it is important to note that while the defeat of Ahmadinjead would be a good thing, Iran’s radical theocracy is run by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and Khamenei is the one who has been pushing for nuclear weapons for years before Ahmadinejad rose to prominence. Ahmadinejad simply gives voice to Iran’s rulers’ radicalism in a way that has given the West every opportunity for clarity about the mullahs. If he is defeated it will tell us only that those allowed to vote don’t want him speaking so aggressively and angrily to the world. (The photo above comes from the Surpeme Leader’s web site, and shows Khamenei and Ahmadinejad meeting with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari.)

Ahmadinejad’s defeat would not herald an era of “reform” in Iran. Every account of the presidential election that fails to note this basic, undeniable fact is at best incomplete.

By contrast, Bret Stephens comprehensive overview of U.S.-Israel-Syrian relations in the latest issue of Commentary Magazine is an amazing piece of journalism and history and should be spread from desk to desk in the White House, State and the Pentagon. The dangers of a naive approach to Syria and of the wholly fantasy-like expectation of splitting Syria from Iran are covered in detail by Stephens, but only after he patiently reconstructs decades of failed initiatives to the Assads, senior and junior. Please read and reread this article and send around to your friends.

Especially if they are part of Team Obama.


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