When it comes to Iraq and Iran, I am as ignorant as a swan. But then ignorance is relative, and there aren’t too many people who know anything of value.
With a small group of people, I was brought in 2007 to the White House, where we were asked about Iran. A senior administration official told us that the U.S. wanted to beginning talking to the mullahs, and didn’t know where to begin. “We have no contacts there, and when someone from Iran comes to the UN or to the West we have to rely on friends in other countries to act as go-betweens.” Do you know, he asked us, where we might find people to talk to? The other people in the room knew no more about Iran than I did, and I came away amazed that the country’s senior foreign policy experts were so pathetically out of-touch as to look to us for advice. It was right out of Evelyn Waugh.
I will say this for the Bush people, however. They knew the difference between the country’s friends and enemies, between allies and neutrals. There’s nothing more basic in foreign policy, and the present crowd seems incapable of making even these distinctions. A Secretary of State that treats Israel and Hamas as equal partners in the peace process, a government that sides with Argentina over Britain over the Falklands, the “reset” with Russia, it would all too easy to ascribe this to treachery but for the impervious arrogance and naïveté of the Obama administration.
Which gets me to the present government of Iraq. The administration has signaled its displeasure with Prime Minister Maliki. My question is: does that mean that he’s a good guy? Like Karzai? Like Diem?