What does it say about American conservatism that the most reasonable writer around is totally unreasonable? On Friday, David Brooks wrote, The Revolution Lives! It is one of the most disingenuous things I’ve ever read. He starts by asking, “Are the men who control [Iran] more like Lenin or are they more like Gorbachev?” Forget Iran for the moment; since when was Lenin unreasonable and irrational? Brooks is posing the question in such a way that there are “good” enemies who you make deals with and there are “bad” enemies that you don’t. This is what makes Brooks special in the conservative movement. Instead of making patently false statements about never negotiating with enemies, he’s carved out a niche of enemies that may be negotiating with. Of course, in practice, it is all the same.
On Thursday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a big speech where he demanded that all sanctions be dropped as soon as the deal is struck. Instead of seeing this for what it is — part of the negotiating process and Khamenei’s attempt to pacify hardliners in his country — Brooks sees this as proof that Khamenei can’t be trusted. He is supposedly still in the grip of the revolution. He seems to have forgotten the Iran-Contra affair where the sainted Ronald Reagan made a deal with the Iranians when they were much closer to their revolution.
Brooks is also upset that people listening to Khamenei’s speech were chanting, “Death to America!” This is just silly. This is like Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the only deal that we should make with Iran must include Iran’s statement that Israel has a right to exist. In this case, the Iran deal is about nuclear enrichment; it isn’t about America and Iran becoming best buddies. But consider those people chanting, “Death to America!” These are the same as the people here in America who want to “Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran” back to the stone age. Any reasonable person would be more concerned about the latter, more specific, claims.
Another part of Brooks’ argument is that Iran doesn’t trust the United States. Funny that. Why would Iran be suspicious of the United States? Might it be the 1953 coup that we organized against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq? The United States has done a great deal to meddle with Iran and what does the United States have to complain about? An attack of a bunch of college kids on the US embassy in 1979 — something that even 36 years later our country can’t get over?
Regardless, what political leaders say in their own countries do not necessarily have much to do with what they are actually doing in their foreign affairs. And Brooks knows this. He even wrote, “Khamenei’s remarks could be bluster, tactical positioning for some domestic or international audience.” Of course, he throws the idea to the side. He added, “If Iran still has revolutionary intent, then no amount of treaty subtlety will enforce this deal.” Does he really think this way? It was Ronald Reagan who said, “Trust, but verify.” That’s what this deal is about. Not, “Trust, and hope for the best.”
This is Brooks’ ultimate argument, “If President Obama is right and Iran is on the verge of change, the deal is a home run.” What it shows is that Brooks, like all the other conservative loons thinks that we really shouldn’t make deals with enemies. If Iran is about to turn into our ally, then this deal is good. But if that’s the case, we wouldn’t need a deal at all.
Brooks is just a conservative apologist. He exists to make the crazy conservatives sound like there is some reasonable argument for what they think. But there isn’t. David Brooks doesn’t think we should make a deal with Iran for the same reason that hardliners here didn’t think that Reagan should make a deal with Gorbachev. Their analysis was wrong then and his analysis is wrong now. But that is to be expected.