Why there is no outrage at Iran

Rich Lowry:

Iran wants to quit the international community, but the international community won’t let it. No act of warfare against the civilized world, no defiance of the United Nations, no violation of international norms, no brazen lie is ever enough to mark Iran as unworthy of outreach, dialogue and the art of sweet persuasion.

When the Iranians seized 15 British sailors in a blatant hostage-taking, the commander of the British ship purred that it might be a “simple misunderstanding.” If so, Iran is cursed with terrible luck. Another such misunderstanding lasted 444 days back in 1979-81. In the latest incident, the accident-prone Iranians have had the misfortune of showing the captured British sailors on television and of telling provable lies about where they seized them.

Showing the captives and coercing a confession out of one of them (a woman the Iranians have thoughtfully outfitted in a head-covering to protect her virtue) are violations of the laws of war, not to mention holding them in the first place. Where are the human-rights groups expressing their outrage? The liberal filmmakers readying their scathing documentaries? The European opinion-makers condescendingly tut-tutting? Nowhere to be found, because they never want to give up their pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Engagement.

If talking with the Iranians doesn’t work, it is because we aren’t talking to them enough, or the wrong people (i.e., not the U.S.) are talking to them, or when we’re talking to them, we aren’t saying the right things, or we haven’t talked to them long enough, or maybe they don’t realize just how very sincere we are in our talking. But, surely, sometime soon, if we just keep talking and offering to talk, all these “misunderstandings” will fade away.

In deterrence theory, this is called “mirroring,” judging someone else’s intentions by looking at your own. James Baker — the head of the late, great Iraq Study Group — concluded that Iran wants stability in Iraq and is amenable to negotiations, no doubt partially because he himself wants stability in Iraq and is amenable to negotiations. Indeed, there is no dispute that can’t be worked out by haggling with James Baker, but he has never taken any hostages, denied the Holocaust or claimed to have had a halo — all exploits of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The old saw about a liberal being someone who won’t take his own side in a fight applies here....

The Iranians want stability in Iraq like Hitler and Stalin wanted stability in Poland. The delusional belief that something is to be gained by talking to someone whose conduct demonstrates bad faith is like trying to save a marriage between a lying abusive spouse and their victim. It is not only a waste of effort it is dangerous. Democrats are still engaged in conscience avoidance when it comes it Iran and its intentions. For them it all comes back to Bush being the real enemy.


  1. "While the British may hope that their timid, deferential approach will avoid inflaming the crisis and antagonizing Iran, they are accomplishing the opposite. The spectacle of Western nations bowing in submission is an encouragement to Iran and Islamic totalitarians worldwide.

    "Iran and other evil regimes grow stronger and more threatening precisely because the morally good nations, who should defeat Iran's regime, are cowardly, apologetic, and meek."



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