There's so much wrong with Leon Wieseltier's op-ed in this morning's WaPo that it leaves me wondering how such a piece - which amounts to little more than a non-sequitur assault on Fareed Zakaria - even got published. I've already addressed the Zakaria article in question - which, incidentally, was rather spot-on - and I'll gladly leave Wieseltier's bizarre, straw man assault on Realism to those more invested in the school of thought than yours truly.
But this snippet regarding Sen. John McCain's position on regime change in Iran is rather telling:
Zakaria expressed alarm that an excessive American concern for the resistance in Iran will lead us to war. He said he has found proof of such danger in "The Iranian Resistance and Us," a piece by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that was published on the Web site of (we are so bad!) the New Republic this month. Zakaria said the article proves that as president McCain "would have tried to overthrow the government of Iran" because of his desire to "unleash America's full moral power" against the regime. This is outrageous. McCain's piece called on the United States "to support Iran's people in changing the character of their government -- peacefully, politically, on their own terms, in their own ways." Is even this a liberal heresy?
Mr. Wieseltier pretends as though Senator McCain had never taken a position on Iran prior to his TNR piece. But we of course already know that the very thought of attacking Iran was once so effortless, even comical to McCain, that he casually joked about the idea while campaigning for president back in 2007 (see video above). We also know McCain has, for years now, advocated keeping a military option against Iran's nuclear ambitions as a "last option," and that he would like President Obama to officially support regime change in Iran as U.S. policy. (How did that work as stated policy in the past, incidentally? Iraq Liberation Act, anyone?)
But how does one mobilize such change? Wieseltier never says (nor does McCain, for that matter). What should Obama actually do that isn't already being done? Do Wieseltier and McCain truly believe that the Green Movement is one shipment of digital video cards away from toppling the regime? I highly doubt it.
Three years ago, the very suggestion of bombing Iran was comical; now, the charge is apparently "outrageous." Critics such as Wieseltier - much like other cynical, latter day advocates of Iranian "freedom" - would have us believe that American "moral power" is suddenly their preferred weapon of choice.
I think we can probably excuse Mr. Zakaria for his incredulity.