The Chickenhawks Are Back

Much has been said and written in recent days about the way the demonstrators in Tehran have been utilizing new kinds of "social media" to challenge the Iranian theocratic regime. Protesters blog, post to Facebook, and most intriguingly, coordinate their protests on Twitter, the messaging service.

On Twitter, young Iranians and their supporters post reports and links to photos from demonstrations along with accounts of street fighting and casualties around the country. So will this revolution be twitted?

Perhaps. But in any case, with all the attention focused on Tehran’s Twitter Revolutionaries, we shouldn’t forget the other impressive group of revolutionaries that has emerged in Washington just as the media started reporting on allegations about a rigged Iranian presidential election and angry protesters were gathering in Tehran.

I’m referring here to the many brave U.S. lawmakers, op-ed columnists, television talking heads, think-tankers, and bloggers who are angry that President Barack Obama has refused to punish the ayatollahs in Iran by, say, bombing Iran into the Stone Age or doing a regime-change in Tehran. Hence Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain – thank God for small mercies – is now criticizing the man who beat him last November for not talking tough with the Iranians like – I kid you not! – former president George W Bush.

"Look, these people are bad people and I know that it was unpopular to call them part of an axis of evil or whatever it was, but we just showed again that an oppressive regime will not allow democratic elections, free and democratic elections," McCain told reporters last week.

Yep. President Obama should follow the footsteps of his predecessor, who certainly knew how to talk tough to Osama bin Laden (and then let him get away to Pakistan) and to Saddam Hussein (and then generate a military fiasco in Iraq) and to Iran (and then help it emerge as a regional power).

So McCain, who during the campaign entertained an audience while singing "Bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of an old Beach Boys hit, is now advising President Obama on doing his version of the "right thing" in Iran.

McCain is at least a war veteran. Most of the other critics of Obama’s policy of maintaining a distance from the political upheaval in Iran are veterans of the battles of the blogs that took place before and during the Iraq War. They are so-called chickenhawks who continue to protect such neoconservative bastions as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Weekly Standard, and who not long ago were promising us that the Iraq War would be a "cakewalk," and that Iraqis would greet Americans as liberators with garlands and sweets.

Now after that Iraqi Mission Not-Really Accomplished, they seem to be coming back to life, showing up once again on all the television news shows and authoring new op-eds for prestigious publications, despite the fact that much of their foreign policy agenda has been bankrupted and is now lying ruined on the sands of Mesopotamia.

Well… never mind. Now they suggest that America should exert all its power to lend a helping hand to former Iranian prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi as he and his supporters attempt to challenge the presidential election results, a move that will only play into the hands of the ruling ayatollahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who hope to portray Mousavi and the protesters as American stooges.

Ironically, these same American critics who now depict Mousavi as Iran’s Gorbachev were warning on the eve of the Iran election that even if Mousavi won, the Americans would have no choice but to confront Iran over its nuclear military program and consider giving Israel a green light to strike that country’s nuclear facilities.

But now they explain that Mousavi’s election will ignite a democratic revolution in Iran and mark the start of a new era in the U.S.-Iran relationship. Trying to make sense of the kind of intellectual gibberish that passes for foreign policy analysis in Washington these days, I recall Tweedledee and Tweedledum, those two silly characters from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass.

The two were known for talking nonsense all the time: "This must be Thursday. Never could get the hand of Thursdays, though on a whole, Thursdays have been pretty good." Their names derived from the expression "twiddling my thumbs," which is to say they had nothing to do, like: "Oh, I’m doing nothing but twiddling my thumbs."

So let’s forget about Twitter. When it comes to the revived chickenhawks of Washington, the revolution will be twiddled.

Copyright © 2009 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

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