Daniel Larison is an oft-trenchant observer, but he and I always seem to disagree on foreign policy. The other day he took me to task for saying that Rick Santorum has at least a little momentum after the Iowa straw poll, but mostly spent time criticizing Santorum’s foreign policy. I won’t belabor the issue of whether President Bush 43’s policies in the Mid-East and Afghanistan were “disastrous” — I think they were a mix of success and failure — but I do want to point out this sort of strange line from Larison:
Santorum’s statements last Thursday were typical of someone hostile to Iranian national interests, but one who nonetheless insists on presenting himself as a friend of the Iranian people. He insisted that “Iran is a country that must be confronted.”
Larison clearly means this as a slam on Santorum. But how, pray tell, is it wrong for Santorum to present himself as a friend of the Iranian people while opposing its murderous regime? Hell, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of the Iranian people tried to rise up against that same murderous regime not too long ago, specifically because that regime itself is anything but a friend to its own subjects. In response, the regime murdered many of the protesters, while Barack Obama sat and watched.
Yes, Iran is indeed a country that must be confronted. And yes, one can oppose the regime while befriending the people. Indeed, to say that one is doing both is almost redundant. For many years now there has been a very sizable percentage in Iran, especially among younger Iranians, who admire the West and yearn for freedom. Santorum is right to want to help them achieve that freedom, while sending Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some of the extremist mullahs to their eternal rest amidst 72 malevolent and demonic succubi.