Reality is complicated, and the use of historical analogies is always somewhat limited. But even this superficial comparison shows that what the United States saw fit to demand back then from the most powerful and dangerous competitor it had ever known is now considered beyond the pale in its dealings with Iran.
Why the dramatic shift? One could suggest a simple answer: Today there is something the United States wants badly from Iran, leaving Washington and its allies with little bargaining power to demand additional concessions. Yet in fact Iran has at least as many reasons to hope for a deal. For Tehran, the lifting of sanctions could spell the difference between bankruptcy and becoming a regional economic superpower, and in slowing down its arms race it could avoid a military attack.
I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides’ respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.Read the whole thing.
I often wonder if Americans have really bought into the moral diffidence of their current government, or whether that lack of conviction is the sole province of those currently running its government. Certainly, the fact that Obama was reelected in 2012 would seem to indicate that the American people have bought into his agenda of degrading America and making it no better than any other nation. And I worry that with all of the illegal immigrants Obama has made citizens, many of whom either have no clue what being an American is about, or wish to destroy what America was, another Obama-like leader will be elected in a year and a half.
As an American ex-pat and as a lover and admirer of all America represented until January 20, 2009, I can only hope and pray that Americans will see the light and elect a different kind of leadership in November 2016.