Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On offensive policy:

I’ve been too busy to blog lately (though not too busy to fume silently!) so this will have to go under the heading of better late than never.

A few weeks back, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad visited the U.S. and requested that he be allowed to pay his respects at Ground Zero. He was refused by U.S. officials and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

As a human being, the man deserved the basic decency it would have taken to honor this request. As the president of another nation, he deserves the shiny black car, the cadre of press and the respect granted to any visiting dignitary. As president of the nation that’s been framed as our arch enemy of the moment, he deserves handling with kid gloves too.

I know some people can’t believe a Muslim can feel compassion for Americans regarding 9/11. I know some people are incensed that someone from one of the countries that perpetrated the atrocities of that day would show up and try to set foot on that sacred ground. But wait a minute—Iran wasn’t involved in 9/11! Iraq wasn’t involved. Real Muslims believe murder is wrong just like Christians do!

I think what Ahmadinejad really wants is for Iran to be taken seriously as a player on the world stage and he’s willing to be pretty belligerent to make sure he isn’t ignored. If that is the case, then why piss him off for no particular reason? Why not give him lots of respect when he’s trying to do the right thing? Why not bank some diplomatic points for when the going gets tougher? Like when we’re trying to convince him not to build a bomb, for example.

But maybe his motives weren’t pure. A more cynical view is that he was looking for PR or to make the U.S. look bad. So what if he got some positive press? How would it have hurt us to let him look good? We’d have ended up looking good too. And if he was trying to make us look like the bad guy, we ended up playing right into his hands.

Another offensive policy decision from the administration that brought you preemptive war.

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