- at base criticism of US-Iran detente is that it is morally unacceptable e.g. @michaeldweiss with h/t to @Doranimated https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/522760-the-invisible-rider-on-the-deal …
In this way, whether from Weiss or from Republicans in Congress or from your average unreconstructed terror warrior with a blog, the level of “direst assessment” and the level of the morally impermissible converge in the form of a threat that manages somehow to be both “existential” and non-existent at the same time, a matter of belief or perhaps of honor rather than, say, of quantifiable losses – thus also the common insistence on historical analogies that implicitly ask us to view the Islamic Republic as a rough equivalent for the Third Reich. By now, the invocation of Munich is treated as laughable, both for its disproportionality and for its laziness, by seemingly everyone outside of the hawk or neoconservative camp, but for the hawks any concession to the new Hitler, to (“the axis of”) evil itself, puts America – or the West – or America, the West, Israel, and every other ally of the last best hope – in a fight for its moral survival, or already defeated in principle, with punishment sure to follow. As Israeli columnist Caroline Glick put the matter, in a one-sentence summary paragraph, “The worst is still very much before us.”
Next to Glick’s reaction, which culminates in a holiday-timed call for a renewed alliance of “Pilgrims and Maccabees,” Doran and Glassman’s invocation of a secular American ideal, “for freedom and against religious tyranny,” comes across as understated, though it also asks us to forget their immediately preceding sentence on the the primacy of relations with “Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Sunnis in general” – relations, in other words, with the Jewish state, the guardians of Mecca, and one of the two major branches of Islam. Though hints of equivalence between Israel and the Islamic Republic may still be rejected out of hand in mainstream American discussion (if less quickly today than the day before yesterday), sustaining a political comparison in favor of the House of Saud against late revolutionary Iran, to say nothing of certain other tendencies that fit under the heading of “Sunnis in general,” may prove difficult even on a tilted playing field. Trade-offs and other complexities will, however, remain irrelevant to those convinced they are facing “the worst,” or who claim to believe, like Yossi Klein Halevi in the New Republic, that “it may well be up to Israel to save the world from itself.”
Of course, Kissinger might also as well have been speaking of Communism, another ideology of unbounded ambition, though not one which he is recalled for quarantining away from the negotiating table, but on a more fundamental level his concept of unlimited objectives will not withstand close scrutiny. Applied solely to particular adversaries of Western liberalism-democratism or democratic capitalism or Americanism, it will stand as obviously one-sided, but so will the reciprocal condemnation of the West as “the global arrogance.” (The Iranian “hardliner,” quoted in the Wall Street Journal article linked here for a second time and well worth reading, may be right that an unresolved ideological conflict tends to foreclose far-reaching negotiations, but his faith in his own ideology suggests a form of idolatry.) Either way, ascribing unlimited objectives to Nazism, to Communism, to revolutionary Islamism, and even or especially to Americanism, tells us nothing. Every major political philosophy propounds its own worldview with its own eternal verities. Foreign policy derives from worldview, worldview derives from belief, and American neoconservatism, liberal internationalism, geopolitical realism, and loosely speaking libertarianism (an inherently unstable compound), whatever their differences with each other, all quietly aspire to illimitability, and the same can of course be said, if it does not go without saying, for the great religions and every other belief system worthy of the name. The Western or originally Western belief systems, under the extended reign of the Enlightenment, explicitly declare the universality of their precepts, as sometimes also joined to divine provenance, sometimes to the rule of reason, sometimes both.