Pat Buchanan

The Obama policy of extending an open hand to Iran is working and ought not be abandoned because of the grim events in Tehran.

For the Iranian theocracy has just administered a body blow to its legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people and the world.

Before Saturday, the regime could credibly posture as defender of the nation, defiant in the face of the threats from Israel, faithful to the cause of the Palestinians, standing firm for Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful nuclear power.

Today, the regime, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is under a cloud of suspicion that they are but another gang of corrupt politicians who brazenly stole a presidential election to keep themselves and their clerical cronies in power.

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What should we do now? Wait for the dust to settle.

No U.S. denunciation of what took place in Iran is as credible as the reports and pictures coming out of Iran. Those reports, those pictures are stripping the mullahs of the only asset they seemed to possess -- that, even if fanatics, they were principled, honest men.

Like Hamas, it was said of them that at least they were not corrupt, that at least they did not cheat the people.

No more. Today, in the streets of Tehran and other cities, they call to mind "Comrade Bob" Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will never recapture that revolutionary purity he once seemed to possess as the man of the people who was elected president in the upset of 2005. Today, he appears, as The New York Times puts it, "as the shrewd and ruthless front man for a clerical military and political elite that is more unified and emboldened than at any time since the 1979 revolution."

There are other reasons Obama should not heed the war hawks howling for confrontation now.

When your adversary is making a fool of himself, get out of the way. That is a rule of politics Lyndon Johnson once put into the most pungent of terms. U.S. fulminations will change nothing in Tehran. But they would enable the regime to divert attention to U.S. meddling in Iran's affairs and portray the candidate robbed in this election, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as a poodle of the Americans.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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