Dodd and other Democrats call for "robust" diplomacy to deal with Iran. But Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker already has held meetings with Iranian officials to urge them to stop arming Shia militants with deadly, explosively formed penetrators. Iran has only been sending more munitions to Iraq. For her part, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice broke with decades of U.S. policy to offer to negotiate directly with the Iranians -- together with our European partners -- if they would suspend their uranium enrichment. The Iranians have since boasted of spinning 3,000 centrifuges.
Liberals like to say of the Bush administration's allegedly militaristic foreign policy that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Likewise, if the only tool you have is dialogue, everyone looks like a reasonable interlocutor.
So it is that Columbia University could invite Iranian President Ahmadinejad to come speak on campus for, as President Lee Bollinger put it, "academic purposes." As if Ahmadinejad were merely a vehement participant in the graduate seminar "Jews and Arabs: Approaches Toward a Problem." The Iranian inevitably blustered and lied, and probably enjoyed the legitimacy conferred by the visit, even if Bollinger did scold him.
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the Democratic Party's foreign-policy views curdled from the expansive vision of John F. Kennedy to an inward-looking disposition tinged with paranoia about our own government. The Iraq War has had the same effect on Democrats, many of whom seem to consider the Bush administration a greater threat to peace than the mullahs in Iran. Can you imagine MoveOn.org ever attacking Ahmadinejad in a full-page New York Times ad, let alone as harshly as it denounced Gen. David Petraeus?
Out in the real world, Iran is a deadly enemy of the United States. Diplomacy might change its behavior, but only if backed by serious sanctions, and perhaps the credible threat of force. That's the hard reality. The Iran exception cannot stand.