55°
Light fog
SUN
 80°
 54°
MON
 90°
 53°
TUE
 90°
 58°
WED
 80°
 56°
THU
 79°
 55°

Vote for the Best of Sonoma County finalists: Best place to get married, best fundraising event and much more!

Two Views of Iran: Real questions about Iran's 'moderate' leader

The search, now 30 years old, for Iranian “moderates” goes on. Amid the enthusiasm of the latest sighting, it's worth remembering that the highlight of the Iran-contra arms-for-hostages debacle was the secret trip to Tehran taken by Robert McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security adviser. He brought a key-shaped cake symbolizing the new relations he was opening with the “moderates.” We know how that ended.

Three decades later, the mirage reappears in the form of Hassan Rouhani. Strange resume for a moderate: 35 years of unswervingly loyal service to the Islamic Republic as a close aide to Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. Moreover, Rouhani was one of only six presidential candidates, another 678 having been disqualified by the regime as ideologically unsound. That puts him in the 99th centile for fealty.

Rouhani is Khamenei's agent but, with a smile and style, he's now hailed as the face of Iranian moderation. Why? Because Rouhani wants better relations with the West.

Well, what leader would not want relief from Western sanctions that have sunk Iran's economy, devalued its currency and caused widespread hardship? The test of moderation is not what you want but what you're willing to give. After all, sanctions were not slapped on Iran for amusement. It was to enforce multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding a halt to uranium enrichment.

Yet in his lovey-dovey Washington Post op-ed, his U.N. speech and various interviews, Rouhani gives not an inch on uranium enrichment. Indeed, he has repeatedly denied that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons at all. Or ever has. Such a transparent falsehood — what country swimming in oil would sacrifice its economy just to produce nuclear electricity that advanced countries like Germany are already abandoning? — is hardly the basis for a successful negotiation.

But successful negotiation is not what the mullahs are seeking. They want sanctions relief. And more than anything, they want to buy time.

© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View