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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Ahmadinejad shows who is in charge

By Jennifer Rubin

We have heard for years now from pundits on the left that we should essentially ignore the rantings of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, he talks about genocide. Yes, he stole the June 2009 elections. But, liberal pundits caution, he is not really in charge. That, of course, bolsters their view that there are more rational leaders who are "actually" in charge with whom we can do business.

On the other side, scholars and pundits critical of the administration's Iran engagement policy have argued that Ahmadinejad is very much in charge, and his public rantings suggest that talking him out of pursuing nuclear weapons is a dangerous fantasy.

This week we got one more bit of data for the two sides to consider.

Shortly after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went chasing after Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Ahmadinejad canned him. The Associated Press reports:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave no explanation for the change in a brief statement on his website. But the fired diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, is seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And the president may be aiming to install a figure more personally loyal to himself as Tehran resumes critical talks with world powers over the nuclear program that has brought four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

The nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, is one of Ahmadinejad's 12 vice presidents.

Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me this morning that this should be seen as another sign of the "gradual incorporation of Islamic Republic's institutions into the Ahmadinejad republic. Salehi is not the foreign minister of that country; Ahmadinejad and his cronies are."

Michael Singh, a visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, had a more cautious view. In response to my question about the significance of Mottaki's firing, Singh e-mailed:

I view this as just the first move in a power struggle over foreign policy, and it is too soon to tell how it will shake out. Mottaki and Ahmadinejad had clashed recently, and Khamenei appeared to side with Mottaki. Now, it remains to be seen whether sacking Mottaki will result in Ahmadinejad getting the foreign minister he wants and accumulating greater power and control.... The fact that Ahmadinejad had to replace him does not, in my view, speak favorably to his ability to exercise control over his government or foreign policy, which is traditionally an area over which the presidency in Iran has greater authority (relative to say economic or military issues).

Events like this should cause us to reflect on our current policy. Perhaps by negotiating with Iran we have helped to solidify Ahmadinejad's position and discredited his domestic critics. At the very least, he is plainly not as irrelevant as liberal pundits would have us believe. Moreover, don't we now look foolish (even more so than usual) negotiating with the very man who heads Iran's nuclear program? Those who advocate continued engagement, I would submit, have the burden of proof to demonstrate that we are doing more good than harm in continuing to participate in the Ahmadinejad-orchestrated charade. Right now, the weight of the evidence is on the other side.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 14, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Iran, foreign policy  
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Comments

Jennifer, come out and say "let's bomb them!" That's what you're calling for. Why won't you just put it out there???

Posted by: danw1 | December 14, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer...
Ur comments r so ignorant of facts, that one has no other choice than to lecture u...
Obviously, u know nothing about the History of Iran, and neither do u know any pits about Shi'ite Islam. For ur knowledge, u need a combination of those 2 to write about Iran...
OK, remember when Larijani resigned as Iran's Nuclear Negotiator? The idiots at Fox news commented much like u now. Ur idiot Ray Takyeh had equally idiotic comments. Ended up that LArijani resigned to become Parliament speaker...
No fights, and no power struggles. It's just that u know nothing...

Posted by: Kinesics | December 14, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Military Reports indicate that bombing Iran won't do much in terms of effectiveness. They will still build their bombs.


In addition, Iran has well-planned-out retaliations set-up - and that could get ugly.


Also, Iran could already have a few nukes ready-to-go. We know from wikileaks what many have suspected - Iran has missiles ready with warheads which can be fitted with nuclear weapons.


The whole situation is grim.


The best scenario right now is probably deterrence -

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 14, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Well so much for rationality. Danw1 reads an essay that questions the liberal's approach to an important foreign policy issue and concludes that the author favors bombing.

This is just bigotry. And it is tiresome. What is especially tiresome is the tendency of those on the left to engage in such rank bigotry while seeking to claim the moral high ground because "they care". If they cared, the nastiness would be unneccessary.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 14, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

@danw1 | December 14, 2010 1:21 PM: "Why won't you just put it out there???"
__________________

Suppose she does favor bombing. Why do you care whether or not she does "put it out there"??????????

Do you favor bombing? If so (or not so), why don't you just put it out there???????????????????????????????????

Alternatively, why don't you just put it in there (where the sun don't shine)?

Posted by: HenriLeGrand | December 14, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

If we or Israel don't act, Iran will soon have nuclear weapons, or at least have a program so advanced and so dispersed that it can't be stopped. Then Hamas and Hezbollah will have a nuclear shield. Israel's survival will be in doubt, either from direct nuclear attack or from stepped up terrorism and increased rocket attacks. Our allies in the Middle East will desert us to appease the new hegemon.

I can't understand the complacency of the administration and the public. This is by far the greatest threat we face today.

Posted by: eoniii | December 14, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

@Kinesics: Wow, "u" really convinced me "u" know what "ur" talking about there. Truly one of those rare posts that I swear actually reads like it was written in crayon.

A little tip: if "ur" going to lecture someone about how allegedly ignorant they are, the least you can do is take the time to spell out the words completely. Let's give the webspeak a rest, shall we?

Not that Ms. Rubin needs the likes of me defending her, but if you're going to insult somebody's intelligence, it's best not to sound like you're bringing a knife to a gunfight. I mean, really. No fights? No power struggles in the Iranian government? What planet are you from exactly? But kudos on working in the standard-issue leftist dig at Fox News, even if the example you give really doesn't detract from the original post in any substantive way that I can see.

Posted by: easttenndoc | December 14, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

"Military Reports indicate that bombing Iran won't do much in terms of effectiveness. They will still build their bombs."

You're right about the effectiveness fo bmobing, wrong about Iran building bombs. They haven't built any and are not planning to.


"Also, Iran could already have a few nukes ready-to-go. We know from wikileaks what many have suspected - Iran has missiles ready with warheads which can be fitted with nuclear weapons."

False on all counts.

1. Iran has no nukes, because they haven't even tried to produce any. Unless you are suggesting they purchased some.

2. The sol called missiles from North Korea turned out to be a debunked theory. The CIA and the Russians knowcked that one on the head.

The whole situation is grim if we attack.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 16, 2010 4:41 AM | Report abuse

"If we or Israel don't act, Iran will soon have nuclear weapons, or at least have a program so advanced and so dispersed that it can't be stopped."

Based on what evidence December? Teh US intelligence community has concluded that the worst case scenario is that Iran as not decided to even try making nuclear wepoans.

And no, there is nothing advanced about the Iranian program. They are stil struggling to maintain enrichment to 3.5% without their cascades breaking down.

"Then Hamas and Hezbollah will have a nuclear shield."

Absolute rubbish. One would have to be delusinal to believe that iran would risk producing nukes only to hand them over to Hamas and Hezbollah.

"Israel's survival will be in doubt, either from direct nuclear attack or from stepped up terrorism and increased rocket attacks."

False again. Israel can avoid rocket atatcks by:

a) staing away from Lebanon
b) observing ceasefires with Hamas rather than breaking them

"I can't understand the complacency of the administration and the public. This is by far the greatest threat we face today."

Really? Were threatened by a country that hasn't attacked on inavded anyone in 300 years?

Your paranoia is almost as alarming as your ignorance.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 16, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

"Those who advocate continued engagement, I would submit, have the burden of proof to demonstrate that we are doing more good than harm in continuing to participate in the Ahmadinejad-orchestrated charade. Right now, the weight of the evidence is on the other side."

Quote the contrary. You have it backwards as usual Jennifer.

Our engagement has been a sideshow from the day Obama gave his wrm and fuzzy speech. The same day that Obama was sending well wishes to the Iranians, US diplamts were doing the rounds in Europe and Britain, promising to tighten the screws on Iran (meaning sanctions).

When Iran requested permssion to purchase fuel for it's US built research reactor, we twsited the IAEA's arm into saying no. Thsi forced Iran to enrich to 20% to for the purpose of producing nuclear isotopes to flfill the medical needs of 800,000 Iranians.

When Iran accepted the October 2009 offer in November, the US rejected it as a ploy by the Iranians.

When Turkey and Brazil responded to a request by Obama to salvage the 3rd party enrichment deal, the US publicly rebuked both states when they delivered a proposal.

Yo've become far to accustomed to preaching to an ignorant audience Jennifer. This isn't Commentary magazine. Pick up your game.

Posted by: AndreDeAngelis | December 16, 2010 5:07 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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