Victor Davis Hanson

One of the many bizarre recommendations in the recently released report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group is the call to talk with Iran. A formal dialogue with the present Iranian leadership is, for a number of reasons, as misguided as it is amoral.

Our guides in these scary times of facing aggressive dictatorships still should be Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, not the British prime minister Stanley Baldwin and Joe Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, who leading up to 1939 thought good could come out of talking with the Nazis.

First, the Iranian leadership goes beyond the usual boilerplate anti-Israel, anti-Semitic claptrap of the region. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has serially denied the Holocaust while promising the absolute destruction of Israel. Various mullahs have characterized Israel as a “one-bomb state,” implying a single Iranian nuclear bomb could destroy it. The vicious hatred is so institutionalized in Iran’s state-run media that a science-fiction TV series there depicts the evil alien queen as Jewish.

Why should we give stature to and empower a theocracy that apes the hatred of the Third Reich?

Second, in matters of nuclear proliferation, Iran demands increased vigilance, not dialogue. It possesses enough oil-based energy to meet its domestic needs for over 200 years and thus has no logical reason — other than for weaponry — to develop exorbitantly costly enriched uranium.

Plus, unlike similarly unstable Pakistan and North Korea, Iran has no nearby nuclear neighbors to keep it in check. Iran could rather easily threaten stability in the region — and thus the accessibility of most of the world’s oil reserves.

Third, there is a long history of failed talks with, and appeasement of, the present Iranian government. The so-called EU3 — Britain, France and Germany — “dialogued” constantly and offered concessions while Tehran raced ahead with more centrifuges. The loquacious United Nations experienced the same frustration.

Remember the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986 — a mess that sullied the reputations of some of those now calling for renewed negotiations with Iran. In 1983, Iranian-backed Hezbollah kidnapped Americans in Lebanon. Some in the Reagan administration thought Iran could help free the hostages if we sold it arms. But all they proved was the old dictum that democracies should not eagerly beseech dictatorships from a position of perceived weakness.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.