Ahmadinejad's Useful Idiots

In an Op-Ed for the Wall St. Journal, Bret Stephens provides an interesting argument that, despite superficial evidence to the contrary, Ahmadinejad's presidency has achieved a great deal for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Stephens describes how, without Iran "bending an inch toward the West" in its negotiating position on nuclear arms,
the Bush administration has gone from refusing to negotiate, to offering conditional negotiations, to pursuing low-level negotiations and now, lately, feeling its way toward tacit diplomatic normalization.

Above all, [Ahmadinejad,] you have given the world time to digest the notion that Iran will inevitably become a nuclear power, and that nothing can be done to stop it -- at least at any kind of acceptable price. Will Americans agree to open a third military front in the Middle East? ... How will the U.S. afford its epic Wall Street bailouts if you shut down the Straits of Hormuz?

Of course, this bleak picture raises the obvious question of where the fault for this lies. Is he some sort of magician, a super-statesman, or have the Bush administration and the American policy-makers and intellectuals conceded without a fight? Stephens answers:
Surely [Ahmadinejad,] your enemies will take no such risks. Which is why you're pleased that the more far-seeing Americans are coming around to your point of view. Look at former CIA spy Robert Baer. Mr. Baer has a new book arguing that the U.S. ought not "to stand in the way of Iran's quest to dominate Islam." He thinks Israel's nuclear arms should be put under U.N. supervision. He believes the U.S. and Iran are ripe for the kind of alliance Nixon forged with Mao.

It cannot surprise you that such ideas are now taking root with the American intelligentsia; useful idiots always contribute to the revolution. [bold added]
In our battle with the Islamists, it is clear that we are our own worst enemy. If capitalism and egoism were the guiding principles of our country -- not pragmatism and cultural relativism -- the sheer impotence of the threat from Islamists would be clear. In protection of our interests and the rights of American citizens, we could easily and righteously deal with the threats and wipe them off the map.

What we are left with instead is political and intellectual leadership that values international cooperation over individual rights, world opinion over justice, and the instant gratification of pragmatism over principles. When we abandon the ideas at the core of our defenses, even a backward and savage group of mystical thugs ceases to be impotent against us.

Those Americans who influence US foreign policy, from the State Department to academia, are faithfully following the pragmatist's playbook -- appease, appease, appease, OH NO! CRISIS!, appease some more -- and Iran just sits back and reaps the rewards. "Useful idiots" is tragically accurate.

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