In a smug, self-important article about trolling as a form of diplomacy, Professor Daniel Drezner, defines trolling as “writ[ing] something that provokes a target into an angry or emotional response.” Drezner fancies himself a “realist,” which is very fashionable these days. He is especially bothered by Senator Tom Cotton’s recent exchange with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) used Twitter to goad [Zarif]. Cotton tweeted at him: “I hear you called me out today. If you’re so confident, let’s debate the Constitution.” Cotton followed up with [three] other tweets describing Zarif as cowardly. The Iranian foreign minister replied that “serious diplomacy, not macho personal smear, is what we need.”
Mr. Zarif is Iran’s foreign minister, one of the vilest leaders in an evil regime, and its chief negotiator in the nuclear weapons talks. Mr. Zarif’s chief amusement at these talks has been to heap humiliating abuse upon John Kerry. His outbursts are so explosive that his supreme leader, who is not known to be a wuss, was embarrassed enough to ask him to tone it down a notch or two.
Drezner obviously admires Zarif, but he curiously omits the Iranian’s concluding sentences: “Congrats on Ur new born. May U and Ur family enjoy him in peace.”
My dear Professor Drezner, you moral idiot! That was a threat against the life of Tom Cotton’s child!
But moral idiocy is what passes for realism these days. Heaven forefend that we should be beastly to the Iranians. “Sometimes these new platforms can be a source for good, and sometimes they can be used for making mischief,” Drezner admonishes us. He is a professor of international politics at Tufts University, where he holds the Benghazi chair in international relations.
Thing is, when you get a death threat from an Iranian official, you should take it seriously. In May, 2012 the Washington Post reported about a broad “campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. The targets have included two Saudi officials, a half-dozen Israelis and… several Americans.”
More recently, in January, 2015, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman who, for the past ten years had been investigating the 1994 Iranian bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which had left 85 dead and 300 injured, was found dead in his apartment . This was only hours before he was to testify before an Argentine congressional hearing on the collusion between Iran and Argentina’s president Kirchner. Nisman accused Kirchner of ordering intermediaries to negotiate a secret deal with Tehran offering immunity for the Iranian suspects of the Jewish community center bombing in exchange for Iranian oil.
Kirchner’s corrupt Justice Department has tried to cover up Nisman’s murder, but no one believes them. Rack it up to another murder by Iranians, who we know had made death threats against Nisman.
For an American government determined to cut a deal with Iran at all costs, these kinds of stories could be a little embarrassing. But not so for the administration’s realists, like Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett was born to American parents in Shiraz, Iran, where her father, a physician, ran a pediatric hospital. She lived there until the age of 5, and speaks Farsi. So it’s understandable that she might have an easy and joking relationship with Iranians. One such Iranian is Ali Akbar Velayati, formerly a pediatrician and also Zarif’s predecessor who, by the way, is implicated in blowing up the Buenos Aires Jewish community center. Jarrett is reported to have met with him in 2012 to lay the foundation for the nuclear weapons deal, at which time she made ha-ha by telling him that she was to be the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and suggesting that “it would be wise for Iranians to invest in US real estate.”
So Jarrett is not a stranger to shaking hands with the devil. She famously advises Obama to get onto “the right side of history,” and we’re beginning to understand just what that means. It asks us to betray our friends, to cower before our enemies, and to forsake any shred of moral decency. For some members of the foreign policy community that’s called realism, but in reality it’s the foolish idealism of the profoundly naïve. It’s also an abandonment of the moral clarity that used to characterize American foreign policy.
This sort of “realism” has taken hold even amongst the commentariat on the right. These are folks, like Peggy Noonan, who profess to be uncomfortable with the idea of moral clarity, a concept that has acquired a bad rap of late. For Peggy Noonan, it smacks of neoconservatism, and she uses this to beat up on Marco Rubio. Appearing before the Council on Foreign Relations, Rubio’s talk of American core values made Noonan squirm: “He urged America to ‘think big,’ to ‘advance the rights of the vulnerable’ who are ‘persecuted.’’ He said “The American people hear their cries, see their suffering . . . and desire their freedom.” But Peggy wanted “something more steely-eyed.”
Something more steely-eyed? This from the woman whose gushing endorsement of Obama in 2008 reached orgasmic heights:
He [will] change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts.
Obama was the realist we’d all been waiting for. And change the direction and tone of our foreign policy he did indeed. With bells on top. But just how has that change worked out for us? In the run-up to the 2008 elections, America had no urgent foreign policy issues. The future of democracy looked rosy. Today the American train has gone off the rails and the world is a mess.
“When did America forget that it’s America?” asks Natan Sharansky. He contrasts U.S. negotiations with the Soviets—where every concession was given only upon extraction of a commitment with respect to human rights—to today’s negotiations with Iran, where the U.S. pleads with a tyrannical, repressive regime to accept our largesse without conditions: money, international legitimacy, a nuclear arms deal which practically guarantees protection against an Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities.
Iran has publicly executed 1,000 people over the past year, according to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency. But we mustn’t raise this detail in a deal which will vastly multiply the homicidal regime’s power.
In the past, our moral clarity served as a beacon for enslaved people the world over. What’s changed, Sharansky says, is America’s “loss of moral self-confidence.” We no longer have the courage of our convictions. He issues a warning and a plea:
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.
Of course, more than moralism is required in the conduct of foreign policy. One also needs the realism to recognize the limits of American power and our ability to make things better. But realism without moralism is dangerous. In the past we had a moral clarity that allowed us to succeed both at home and abroad. We need to get back to that place. We need to believe once more in the great American narrative: that for so long as we continue to a moral nation, God will continue to bless us. If we can regain that belief the world will follow.
And apropos of moral clarity and the courage necessary to pursue it, earlier this month Marco Rubio introduced a Resolution to the Senate calling for an investigation into Alberto Nisman’s death. In it he names the Iranian officials implicated in the bombing that Nisman spent 10 years investigating. Amongst those named is Valerie Jarrett’s buddy, Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Iranian Foreign Minister.