Michael Barone

As a candidate, Nixon wrote a 1967 Foreign Affairs article saying "we cannot simply afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations." But he called that a long-run goal, dependent on China "accepting the basic rules of international civility."

In office, Nixon and Kissinger listened to Chinese officials' denunciations of the Soviets and Soviet diplomats' alarm over China. But only after they observed a Soviet arms buildup and armed clashes on the China-Soviet border did they actively pursue communications with China through intermediaries.

Iran's mullah regime has been sponsoring armed attacks on Americans for 35 years. Its assaults on al-Qaida-type terrorists have been limited, so far as the record shows, to a bit of help in Afghanistan a decade ago.

The second difference between Iran now and China then is that Obama and Kerry, in Kaplan's account, place much stock in Rouhani as a change agent who will modify the character of a regime hostile to the U.S. for 35 years.

Previous administrations have seen earlier Iranian presidents as change agents too. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his book "Duty" notes that every president since Jimmy Carter has tried to reach out to Iranian leaders "and every one of them has failed to elicit any meaningful response."

The reason is that the firmly anti-American supreme leaders, Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, hold the real power, not the occasional smiling front-man president.

Nixon and Kissinger did not rely on some internal reformer to turn China around. Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms started four years after Nixon resigned, and his name does not appear in Kissinger's memoir "The White House Years."

The Nixon-Kissinger opening did not rely on regime change -- Kissinger's account portrays them as puzzled by internal Chinese politics -- but on a demonstrated common interest in cabining in the Soviet Union.

Do Obama and Kerry really believe that we share such a common interest with the mullahs' Iran?


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


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