Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Who Are the Guilty Men on Iran?
I think most Americans instinctively understand that most of politics is theater. That’s part of the reason why Donald Trump’s unpredictable stand-up act is so popular since we never know what he will say. But Congress is doing its part too to keep us entertained. That’s the only way to interpret the hearing held today by the House Oversight Committee. The reason for this hearing was the continuing fallout over the New York Times Magazine profile of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in which he boasted of having successfully spun a docile Washington press corps into helping the administration sell its Iran policy. While Republicans led by Representative Jason Chaffetz wanted to use the session to explore the topic of how the Obama administration misled the American people about the Iran deal, committee Democrats preferred to use their time talking about whether the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq was based on lies. The result was another pointless partisan brawl the only purpose of which was to reassure each party’s base that House members were doing their best to make the other side uncomfortable.
In other words, it was business as usual on the Hill. But before we file this dispiriting piece of political theater in the proverbial circular file, it’s important to point out that the topic of the path to appeasement on Iran is one that I think future historians will view with more seriousness. Ultimately, that may mean Rhodes could go down as one of his generation’s “guilty men,” a title that was given to those British politicians that enabled appeasement of Nazi Germany before World War Two. Whether that it is true or not will depend on whether the administration’s long shot bet on the Islamist regime in Iran moderating before it ultimately gets a nuclear weapon after the deal Rhodes championed expires in a decade. If it doesn’t — and there’s little reason other than wishful thinking to believe that it will — we will view exhibitions such this House hearing with even less tolerance than we to today. But before we get to that point, it’s important to point out exactly what Rhodes is guilty of and what responsibility Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — must shoulder for that result.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 1:32 AM