It seems that sometimes we are so eager to find a compromise and avoid conflict that we trick ourselves into believing something we should know is false. It is when emotions override rationality, when a desire Ė like a desire for peace Ė overwhelms our understanding of politics, history, and security. Needless to say, this phenomenon is both common and dangerous. Unfortunately, we are going through a textbook episode right now: unwilling to engage in another conflict in the Middle East, many in the United States are tricking themselves into thinking that Iranian President Rouhani is a viable partner for peace, that he represents real change in Iranian policy towards its nuclear program and Israel. Indeed, a spell is being cast over us whereby we believe that Iran is finally interested in peace.
The changes we are witnessing are cosmetic, a change of rhetoric, but Iran has done little to alter its modus operandi. And here is where we get fooled: because the regime has a softer face, it is more difficult to attack it and convince people of its intentions. But make no mistake, we are getting fooled, and Iran is as dangerous and malicious as ever.
The best way to test Rouhaniís word is to compare it to his past actions. While Rouhani denounces Assad in Syria, Iran continues to be one of Assadís last supporters, even after he used chemical weapons on his own people. Rouhani the hypocrite.
Rouhani has denounced terrorism, yet Iran still supports Hezbollah, and has reportedly resumed its support of Hamas. Rouhani also denounced using proxies to destabilize the region, but what are Hamas and Hezbollah if not just that? Not to mention its efforts in Bahrain and other Middle Eastern states. Rouhani the hypocrite.
Rouhani claims Iran will never develop nuclear weapons, but for 16 years he was secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, which formulates Iranian nuclear policy. This means Rouhani played a direct and influential role in getting Iranís nuclear program where it is today. Rouhani the hypocrite.
He furthermore claims Iran wants to develop a constructive dialogue, but during his tenure as secretary, Iran assassinated opposition leaders in Berlin, blew up a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, and blew up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which resulted in the death of 19 American soldiers. Rouhani the hypocrite.
A trend is emerging.
All the while that Rouhani is making these claims, Iran has done nothing to reverse its old ways. Acknowledging that the Holocaust happened and that it was bad means very little if you are actively working to secure a second Holocaust. Likewise, promising peace does the world no good if you still support a barbarous regime, fund terrorists groups, and work to develop nuclear weapons. A change of rhetoric is just that, and it means nothing.
What I want to point out is that all this should be obvious. All one needs to do is listen to Israeli PM Netanyahuís speech at the UN, and check his assertions via a basic internet query. Sources abound! With a modicum amount of research, one will find an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests Rouhani is not a genuine reformer, but rather he offers more of the same.
Many believe that Rouhani is an instrument of peace because they want to believe it. If coming to terms with the truth means that you also have to come to terms with the possibility of a military commitment, there are many who would prefer to ignore the truth. But this is obviously dangerous. As we are tricking ourselves that the Iranians want peace, the Iranians will be getting closer to a completed nuclear weapon. Yes, war is bad. But perhaps it is unavoidable.