Should war with Iran erupt, you can bet the 2012 election that the Obama administration hopes the national press will conveniently forget Ambassador Ryan Crocker's September 2007 reply to Rep. Tom Lantos' belittling question regarding U.S.-Iranian diplomacy. The American people shouldn't.
Recall the memorable scene. Leading left-wing elites (e.g., Harry Reid) had declared the Iraq war lost. The Democrat-controlled Congress brought then-Iraq ambassador Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus to Washington to crucify. As part of an orchestrated left-wing political campaign to destroy them, The New York Times published the disgusting -- but so tellingly juvenile -- MoveOn.org ad dubbing Petraeus "General Betray-Us."
Lantos asked Crocker if the U.S. would pursue diplomacy with Iran. Lantos' question was of a piece with subsequent Obama 2008 campaign charges that the Bush administration didn't seek diplomatic options, which in itself was a rehash of Cold War left-wing charges that Republicans desired war with the Soviets. Crocker replied that he had met with Iranians and "the conclusion I came away with ... was that the Iranians were only interested in the appearance of discussion, of being seen at the table with the U.S. instead of actually doing serious business."
The Bush administration had sought negotiations to resolve disagreements. Iran's dictators, however, rebuffed them. Iranian "soft" diplomacy provided spongy camouflage for the hard diplomacy of war -- at a moment of Iran's choosing. The ayatollahs used diplomatic theatrics to buy time to build nuclear weapons while making covert war in Iraq and in Lebanon.
In 2007, Iran's regime was involved in at least 18 armed conflicts. That fact was available to Lantos and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Yet all three expressed an arrogant disdain for Crocker and Petraeus, and of course, President G.W. Bush.
Disdain was symptomatic of a disease savaging the American left: Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). The afflicted spewed "talking point" symptoms like Iraq is blood for oil, Guantanamo Bay's prison is an American shame and Haditha was a war crime promoted by Dick Cheney. Creepy Truther allegations that Bush staged 9-11, a charge exploited by DNC Chair Howard Dean in 2004, peppered the worst BDS harangues -- likewise the charge that Bush planned to attack Iran to no conceivable good.
What flapdoodle. Gitmo remains open, because terrorists are the real shame. Haditha was a tragedy, but not a crime. If Bush staged 9-11, then Obama's strike on Osama bin Laden would be a genuine war crime.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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