Is Iran retreating?
It is widely held that Hezbollah's survival after the monthlong Israeli military action is a triumph for Iran. That's certainly plausible, and I don't want to entirely reject that interpretation. But there's another way oflooking at where we stand in the Middle East now.
"We are ready to discuss all the issues, including the suspension. There is no logic behind the suspension of Iran's activities. We are ready to explain this to them," Mr. Mottaki said.
This is in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution passed last month that called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and open its nuclear program to international inspection by the end of August. The five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany have offered Iran
a package of energy, commercial, and technological incentives in exchange for halting its program.
The foreign minister's concession seems limited. Yet evidently Iran's rulers feel some pressure to indicate a willingness to negotiate. Perhaps they fear the condemnation of "world opinion" if they do not appear to cooperate in the kind of multilateral negotiations "world opinion" always seems to favor. But perhaps they fear something else.
What could that be? Well, take a look at this opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post by Michael Freund, a writer I have not previously heard of. He concedes that Israel may have made blunders in its military action against Hezbollah. But he argues that the biggest blunder was made by the rulers of Iran.
Inevitably, the trouble they have stirred up in the region over the past month is bound to boomerang right back at them.
Indeed, by transferring advanced rockets and weaponry to Hezbollah, Tehran, and Damascus they have just unwittingly proven one of the Bush administration's central contentions regarding the need for pre-emptive action against rogue states in the global war on terror.
The two countries have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to share missile systems with a terrorist organization, thus strengthening the case that they must be prevented from obtaining weapons of mass destruction at all costs.
He goes on to quote George W. Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy last October, in which Bush says that we cannot let evil regimes have nuclear weapons-especially evil regimes that cooperate with terrorist entities.
Through their actions, Iran has just made the case, better than the most eloquent of Washington press spokesmen ever could, as to why they pose a grave and immediate threat to the entire free world with their obstinate pursuit of nuclear weapons. And it is this very same argument, which the Iranians have just unwittingly bolstered, that Bush may one day soon choose to make in justifying the need for possible military action against Iran to stop their drive toward nuclear weapons.
Freund's article brings to mind the words I quoted from former Bush chief speechwriter Michael Gerson earlier this week.
There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement, and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iran--and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a line--someone who says, "This much and no further." At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American "cowboy diplomacy" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
"Cowboy diplomacy," not military action; yet the phrase "cowboy diplomacy" suggests diplomacy with a credible threat of military action behind it. Is this what Iran is responding to now?
I certainly don't know. I don't know if the threat of using force is credible, given the current problems in Iraq. I quail at the possible effect of military action to take out Iran's nuclear program: It certainly threatens to reverse the apparent current pro-American views of the vast majority of the Iranian people, and it holds open the possibility of an open-ended war in a country with three times the square miles and three times the population of Iraq. I have read a lot about how Iran has hidden and dispersed its nuclear program to the point it's not clear that it could be destroyed by airstrikes, as Iraq's nuclear program was when Israel took out its Osirak installation in 1981.
I remember how Israel's strike at Osirak was criticized in virtually all quarters around the world, including the Reagan administration. My attitude at the time, though I was considerably more liberal on issues then than I am now, was that it was almost certainly a good thing to deprive a tyrannical regime of nuclear weapons. Today that seems to be a widespread reaction, at least when anyone gives the Osirak strike a thought: Would we have been able to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991 if he had had nuclear weapons? He might have ended up in control of most of the world's oil supply. And that was before we were concerned about tyrannical states providing nonstate terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. Depriving Iran's mullahs of nuclear weapons would be a good thing too-if it could be done without too much in the way of adverse consequences and side effects.
The evil of multiculturalism
"Multiculturalism is to blame for perverting young Muslims" is the headline of an article by Michael Nazir-Ali, Anglican bishop of Rochester, in yesterday's Daily Telegraph.
So how does this dual psychology--of victimhood, but also the desire for domination--come to infect so many young Muslims in Britain? When I was here in the early 1970s, the practice of Islam was dominated by a kind of default Sufism or Islamic mysticism that was pietistic and apolitical. On my return in the late 1980s, the situation had changed radically. The change occurred because successive governments were unaware that the numerous mosques being established across the length and breadth of this country were being staffed, more and more, with clerics who belonged to various fundamentalist movements. . . .
It is clear, therefore, that the multiculturalism beloved of our political and civic bureaucracies has not only failed to deliver peace but is the partial cause of the present alienation of so many Muslim young people from the society in which they were born, where they have been educated and where they have lived most of their lives. The Cantle Report, in the wake of disturbances in Bradford, pointed out that housing and schools policies that favored segregation, in the name of cultural integrity and cohesion, have had the unforeseen consequence of alienating the different religious, racial, and cultural groups from one another.
As Glenn Reynolds says, read the whole thing, and take a look at the comments that-both pro and con-are revealing.
For we have a multiculturalism problem too. For more than a generation, multiculturalism has become the default mode of thinking among too many in the elites in Britain and in this country too. By multiculturalism, I mean the idea that all cultures are of equal moral worth, except for western culture, which is imperialist and racist and oppressive and insufficiently respectful of other cultures. This line of thought has been taught relentlessly in our universities and seldom challenged in mainstream media. It follows that in any conflict between the West and representatives of the Third World, the evil oppressors of the West are presumed to be wrong and the virtuous victims of the Third World are assumed to be right. That presumption is rebuttable: Few go so far as to defend the perpetrators of 9/11 or the 7/7 London bombings. But it is regularly applied to the situation in Iraq, in which the West is depicted through the lens of the Abu Ghraib misdeeds, and the terrorist tactics of the insurgents routinely go uncondemned.
At home we have not gone so far as Britain and other European immigrants in segregating our immigrants and encouraging them to retain the culture and language of their countries of origin. And we do not have the masses of Muslim immigrants, set off and segregated, that you can find in Britain and France and the Netherlands. But, as I argue in my book The New Americans, the paperback edition of which was published late last month, we have too often adopted policies that do some of the same thing-"bilingual education" and teaching American history with all the good parts left out and only the bad parts left in.
This suits the multicultural prejudice that the West is worse than all the rest. But it doesn't accurately depict American history and it doesn't give immigrants' children the essential tool-mastery of the English language-they need to rise on the economic ladder and to contribute creatively to this country. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has some suggestions on how to eliminate the worst evils of multiculturalism in Britain. We ought to be thinking about how to undermine the multiculturalist project in this country.