Monday, June 22, 2009

Annus horriblis

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Fouad "Bush of Arabia" Ajami compares Barack Obama's supposed naivete about the possibility of rapprochement with Iran to that of Jimmy Carter vis-a-vis the USSR --

We had betrayed our principles in the course of the Cold War, he said, "fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is quenched with water." The Soviet answer to that brave, new world was the invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979.

To say the least, there was a lot going on in 1979 and presenting it as a simple Soviet slap in the face to a hand of peace is a tad simplistic. By the time the USSR forces were in Kabul, the year had already seen an Egypt-Israel peace treaty (and thus Egypt out of the Nasserite Soviet orbit), the revolution in Iran, the Islamist siege at Mecca, some dude named Saddam Hussein coming to power in Iraq, and a Polish anti-communist Pope visiting Poland. But that context -- of a USSR seeing both green and western encroachment in its satellites, is missing from Ajami's analogy.

The alternative possibility is precisely that Obama has looked at 1979 and decided that if you poke too many beehives at once, you're headed for trouble. Unless you actually want chaos in the Middle East. The worse, the better, and all that.

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