Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leslie Gelb’s Strange Iran Syndrome

Leslie Gelb
“Whoever is not with [my enemy] is [with] me.”

--paraphrasing Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:30)

Leslie Gelb, 77, was Council on Foreign Relations president following a long, distinguished career practicing or writing about foreign affairs. For such a wise man, Gelb seems unusually fascinated by the possibility that the U.S. might develop a working relationship with Iran.

In 2009, he was wildly off-base in predicting that Iran’s presidential election would yield up a regime friendly to then-new U.S. president Obama.

Now, having learned nothing from his past experience, Gelb is calling for making Iran--which he branded “the most stable presence among major Muslim countries”--our Middle East “potential partner.” After all, Gelb says, “large numbers of Iranians are pro-American,” and “can make Tehran a reliable partner against the clear and present jihadi danger.”

What??!! Iran’s revolutionary regime, driving for nuclear-tipped long-range missiles, is easily the major “jihadi danger” the U.S. and our Israeli ally face today. Iran, a nation the size of Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Benelux, Switzerland, and Austria combined, is the chief supporter of Bashar al-Assad’s bloody Syrian regime, of Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon which threatens Israel from the north, and Hamas terrorism in Gaza, which threatens Israel from the south (Hamas, unlike the other terrorist organizations allied with Iran, is Sunni not Shiite, but wholly dependent on Iran now that the new Egyptian leadership is no longer a Hamas supporter). Iran also has a presence in western Afghanistan, and is the major backer of Muqtadā al-Ṣadr’s militant Iraqi militias.

To Iran and its jihadi allies, we are “the great Satan.” Given the lesser threat the Sunni, al Qaeda-linked terrorists pose today, along with the better relations we enjoy with Sunni Egypt, Sunni Saudi Arabia, Sunni Jordan, the Sunni Gulf states, and largely Sunni Turkey--all of whom share a concern about Shia Iran’s rising power--why would we turn to Iran?

Gelb won’t say, but I guess for two very bad reasons: 1) Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran, and has an Obama-like belief in her ability to turn around Iran’s misogynist leaders, and; 2) Democrat Gelb was on the outside looking in when Henry Kissinger pulled off the original “enemy of my enemy is my friend” triumph--the opening to China in 1971--so Gelb would love to be part of a similar, seismic foreign policy shift.

And for Jarrett and Gelb, time is running out.

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