The England-based American author, Gerald Meyer, taking note of the moderation and friendly gestures of the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, rightly remarked that the U.S. government "doesn't really welcome his overtures, finds the whole thing rather distasteful and wishes it would go away."
Most Americans who actually have knowledge of Iran, its people and its history, immediately recognized Rouhani's unexpected victory in the recent election as an opportunity for President Obama to stop bullying Iran and engage in actual diplomacy. Now that both presidents will be attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, these knowledgeable Americans are urging them to meet face-to-face. So far the nearest thing is that Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to get together with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, perhaps for a game or two of mah jongg.
Even this modest first step toward civilized, meaningful engagement seems to have scared the very excrement out of Bibi Netanyahu's neocon hawks in Washington. Mein Gott! Rouhani is making nice and Washington is sort of paying attention!
All a-tremble, the hawks turned to their propaganda minister sans portfolio, David Sanger of the New York Times. "Unless a good deal of the current infrastructure is dismantled," Sanger wrote just the other day, "Iran will be able to maintain a threshold nuclear capability -- that is, it will be just a few weeks, and a few screwdriver turns, from building a weapon."
A FEW WEEKS! A FEW SCREWDRIVER TURNS! GET UNDER THE DESKS, CHILDREN!
Sanger as usual offers absolutely no evidence. Not even his usual unidentified sources among the most war-mongering officials in the Israeli government have gone that far. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz says Iran is still at least six months away from building The Bomb -- and nobody among the international community's weapons experts takes that seriously. Last March, Obama said, "Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon."
Right now, the Great Bogeyman in this charade is a single fact: Iran is enriching uranium. But its enrichment program stops at 20 percent, enough for medical or domestic energy purposes, but far short of the 90+ percent required to make weapons. The Islamic republic has said repeatedly that it has no interest in making nuclear weapons. Rouhani not only reiterates that policy, but he does so from a background of credibility and respected service in international diplomatic circles. To rebuff his overtures is for the United States to shed the last pretenses of sincerity in the quest for Middle East peace. As a lawyer might put it, Obama goes to the United Nations with unclean hands.
Mr. Meyer, seeing these affairs through the clearer air of rural England, offers a tongue-in cheek suggestion for Rouhani and Javad Zarif:
"The U.S. so prefers to deal with countries on which it has had a reasonable opportunity to expend some of its munitions, thereby creating the need to manufacture some more munitions. Which brings up the subject of cruise missiles. They're so much more expensive than mere bombs, and therefore so much more constructive. Iran should let Uncle Sam have a prolonged cruise-missile orgasm, its best since the good old days of shock and awe, after which the two sides can have the equivalent of a post-coital cigarette (what would that be -- some cluster bombs maybe?) and plan their future together.
"Better yet, let israel send the cruise missiles. That way we eliminate the middle man, and everybody will be happy!"
Scary thing is, that's exactly what might happen.