Thursday, February 01, 2007

Clock Is Ticking on Iran

"Were our goal to persuade the Iranian regime to hasten its nuclear race while binding it more closely to a weary and discontented populace, it is hard to see how we could be more effective."

- Jacob Weisberg, editor,

Stressing the importance of diplomacy with Iran, the wise Jacob Weisberg has little good to say about the current position of the Bush administration:
Jeane Kirkpatrick, who died in December, first became famous for an article she wrote arguing that former president Jimmy Carter’s emphasis on human rights helped bring down the shah and usher in the Iranian revolution. As ambassador to the United Nations during Ronald Reagan’s first term, Ms Kirkpatrick herself eloquently challenged the legitimacy of totalitarian regimes. After the fall of communism, opposition leaders throughout eastern Europe and the Soviet Union testified that western encouragement – including from the BBC and Radio Free Europe – had advanced their struggle for liberation.

Mr Bush pays lip service to such sentiments, often hailing the greatness of the Iranian people and endorsing their assumed desire for freedom. But, for the past three years, the president has failed to mention in public the name of Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Prize-winning human rights lawyer. Ms Ebadi is the closest thing Iran has to an Andrei Sakharov, but she is also a critic of the US administration. Because of sanctions, it took a lawsuit against the Treasury department for her to publish her memoirs in the US. No one in the White House raised a finger on her behalf.

But perhaps it would be worse if they had. Mr Bush, who has managed to make democracy a dirty word in many parts of the world, may at this point retain only the ability to taint by association liberal heroes who fight tyranny.

The only encouraging news is that Mr Bush’s own clock, with just 103 weeks left to run, is ticking even faster than the other two.

[Financial Times LINK]