The trouble is, neither Obama nor the State Department view Iran as a terror regime; they see it as a regime that has relations with terrorists which it could be reasoned out of. That's why every time the Iranians do something nasty — like murdering American troops — via one of their instruments (the IRGC, the Qods force, the Hezbos, Sadr, the Assads ...) we get this hilarious hair-splitting about how maybe these "independent" forces were acting without the knowledge of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, et al.
It was the stated purpose of the Bush Doctrine, as originally articulated, to eliminate this nonsense. Terror sponsoring regimes were (ostensibly) given a choice — with us or against us, convincingly renounce terrorism or be treated like we (intended to) treat terrorists. No more dancing on the head of a pin to avoid acknowledging that, for example, Iran was behind the 1996 Khobar Towers attack (19 US Air Force dead) — as the Clinton administration had done because, well, when you acknowledge such a thing you then have to do something about it, and Clinton had no intention of doing anything about it.
Alas (there's that word again, which becomes like a mantra when recounting the Bush administration), it was just words. Whether there's a Republican or a Democrat administration, the State Department is the State Department. Dancing on the head of a pin is what it does. While Bush talked "with us or agin' us," State (with lots of help from the commentariat, including on the Right) refurbished the Bush Doctrine into an effort to eradicate terrorism through democratization — as if the lack of democracy rather than an interpretation of Islamic doctrine were the cause of Islamic terrorism.
What you will find is that the State Department way is something into which Obama blends seamlessly. So, for that matter, does McCain. We can quibble about "preconditions" — and it really is quibbling: What "preconditions" did the Bush State Department demand before negotiating directly with Iran? — but the fact is that at the Nuance U they run at Foggy Bottom there is no contradiction between saying you won't negotiate with terrorists and saying you are prepared to negotiate with Iran.
Posted on 05/16/2008 8:04 AM by Andy McCarthy