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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 13, 2003

Iran and Iraq differ

Fouad Ajami writing in the WSJ thinks American policy is just right and that there is a potentially good outcome for Israel. He sees the possibility that Iran will choose to go with America and Israel. Let's hope.
Patience, deadly and dangerous, in dealing with Iraq (in my view), could work in Iran's case. In this regard, the policy of the Bush administration has been on the mark. There has been no urge to court Iran. The zeal with which the Clinton administration pursued an accommodation with Iran's rulers has been cast aside. This has been one of the lessons of Sept. 11: Why court hated rulers if this only gets you the enmity of their resentful populations? It was in this vein that President Bush pitched his policy on Iran in his State of the Union address. A distinction was made between the Iranian theocracy and Iraq: "Different threats require different strategies." The regime in Iran was put on notice for its support of terror and its pursuit of weapons of destruction. But the people of Iran and their "aspirations to live in freedom" were embraced.

In one vision of things, Tehran would barter the influence it has in Lebanon, through its sponsorship of Hezbollah, for a deal with Israel and a return to that covert understanding that once bound the Jewish state to Iran. In this vision, there would be a gradual accommodation with the U.S., an acceptance of America's primacy in the Persian Gulf. In the rival vision, Iran would continue to muddle through, alternating terror and diplomacy, hinting at moderation and then pulling back, offering its betrayed people more sterility, and a diet of anti-Americanism at odds with the fixation of young Iranians.