In the Arena

Uh Oh

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The resignation of Ali Larijani as Iran’s chief negotiator in the nuclear talks is really bad news. It signals that the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is closer to the hardline views of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than he is to the moderate-conservatives like Larijani and former president Rafsanjani. It does not indicate that Khamenei wants to wipe Israel from the map, however–just that he probably wants a nuclear bomb to match Pakistan’s. (The desire for a nuke is a popular position, a matter of pride, even among Iran’s large, well-educated reform movement).

Meanwhile, next door in Pakistan–the number one threat to global stability, mishandled by the Bush Administration. Bush was right on September 14, 2001, when he said: “Our enemies are those who fund terrorism and harbor terrorists.” Pakistan was, and is, the single worst harborer of terrorists. And one wonders why the neoconservatives and others who spend so much time worrying about Iran and Iraq and have absolutely nothing to say about the terrorist training camps in Waziristan. The argument against targeted, discrete special forces attacks on those camps has been our relationship with Musharraf, clearly a failed policy. A few months ago, Barack Obama suggested it might not be a bad idea–if we actually are at “war” against “terorists”–to eliminate those camps (and, implicitly, not stick around–no large occupying force necessary here). One wonders why, in this most witlessly bellicose of Administrations, a military action that actually makes sense hasn’t been taken.

But there’s some good news from Iraq.