No one likes to be the skunk at the picnic, but there are times when you just can’t help but spray. That’s how I felt when I read a column last week by The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, a smart and sophisticated member of the foreign policy elite. Consider this excerpt:
“President Obama is approaching one of those moments when a big turn in foreign policy is possible. ... There’s no doubt that this is a time of opportunity.”
The evidence for this optimistic assessment? Obama has “talked directly” with Hassan Rouhani “about quickly negotiating a deal to limit the Iranian nuclear program.” Well, yes, he has, but in that brief telephonic conversation the new Iranian president offered not a single concession. Maybe he will, but until he does, how it is possible to conclude that everything is hunky-dory and, what’s more, about to get better? Ignatius adds:
“Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry must communicate that the United States is reaching an inflection point: In the world that’s ahead, Iran must temper its revolutionary dreams of 1979. ...”
Imagine you’re Rouhani or his boss, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Surely you’d wonder: “This ‘inflection point’ that Obama is to communicate -- what makes Mr. Ignatius think it’s coming, and how will the United States be different after it’s been reached? And in the ‘world that’s ahead,’ why must we Iranians temper our revolutionary dreams? No one can force us to veer off the road paved by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of our Islamic Revolution and founder of our Islamic Republic!”
The Ignatius column concludes:
“What’s around the corner is a new regional framework that accommodates the security needs of Iranians, Saudis, Israelis, Russians and Americans.
“This is a great strategic opportunity, but it will require constant, skillful diplomatic guidance.”