Cognitive Dissonance and Terrorism
Fully five years after America engaged in the War on Terror - one that had been declared against her over twenty years prior - it is nearly impossible to clearly define the Bush Administration's strategy for Iran, the epicenter of International Terrorism. What messages are heard making their way from Washington's corridors are often inconsistent and, at times, even incongruent with each other.
In a Bret Stephens interview with Condoleezza Rice can be found a microcosm of the recent history of self-conflicting Administration statements and stances.
Seemingly with his arms in the air and eyes rolling, Michael Ledeen reacts to the latest frustrating diplomatic media dance and calls it what it is: Cognitive Dissonance.
Stephens, shocked that Rice apparently thinks there are legitimate interlocutors in power in Tehran, presses her, and she responds, “I do not believe we’re going to find Iranian moderates... The question is, are we going to find Iranian reasonables?”
As Stephens dryly remarks, there are lots of Iranian “reasonables.” They comprise upwards of 80 percent of the population. But we are not supporting them; instead we are dithering around in negotiations designed by Europeans whose greatest fear is not Iranian terrorism, but American action in the Middle East. And when Secretary Rice starts talking about diplomacy, there is a change in focus. She’s no longer talking about the war, she’s talking about the nuclear program.
In short, she has no serious intention of challenging the Tehran regime.
To be sure, there are no palatable options when it comes to Iran. Decades of not addressing the situation have led us to this point. But furthering the charade that the answer is whatever option lies behind Curtain #3 in the International Security edition of "Let's Make a Deal" is most certainly not the solution.
For instance, The Iranians have told the world directly that their nuclear program is non-negotiable and that they seek negotiations but "will not compromise." Are we then to negotiate their sponsorship of terrorism globally? In simple terms, we are embracing a wide receiver who will not run.
But the nuclear issue is truly secondary, yet it takes popular center stage. As we have said in this space many, many times: There is a reason that Iran receives a different reaction than did India or even Pakistan with regard to nuclear ambitions and achievement. The difference is Iranian state sponsorship terrorism.
Here we are five years into a War on Terror, yet we tap-dance around the uncomfortable truth that Iran is the most clearly distinguishable state sponsor of terrorism. Yet America's engagement - having already been attacked by Iran directly multiple times and indirectly through their sponsored terror groups nearly incessantly - somehow requires IAEA and UN entanglements regarding 'nuclear rights.'
Dare we say it?
It's the terrorism, stupid.