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  • Turns Out, Tyrants Aren’t College Professors

    Posted by Shannon Love on February 1st, 2009 (All posts by )

    Obama’s offer to negotiate with Iran’s authoritarian regime provokes an arrogant, triumphalist tirade against the U.S. by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. [h/t Instapundit]

    Non-leftists predicted such a reaction but leftists are surprised. Despite 3,000 years of multicultural history leftists always assume that making concessions to others produces forgiveness and goodwill. Why do they make that assumption? 

    Easy: Leftists assume that everyone, regardless of culture, ideology or personal history, ultimately views the world in the same exact way as does a left-wing college professor.

    They expect everyone to respond to any action in the same way a lefty professor would. A lefty professor would view the attempt to open negotiations as a sign of strength, compassion and a willingness to coexist. Therefore, the leftists reason, a regime like Iran’s will react in the same way. Likewise, a lefty professor could imagine engaging in acts of terrorism only if compelled to do so by the atrocities committed against his side by some horrific enemy. Therefore, leftists conclude that anyone engaging in terrorism must be suffering horribly. 

    Unfortunately, most humans in the world have their own cultures, ideologies and personal histories that cause them to have world views highly divergent from that of a leftist intellectual. In particular, individuals who owe their positions within their own societies to violence and oppression do not view a willingness to compromise as a sign of strength. People create world models, especially models of human behavior, which justify their own actions. People who murder their way to the top, and stay there by continuous oppression, create a model that justifies violence and oppression and view the willingness to impose them as a virtue. Since clearly it is only moral for those in the right to use such tactics, they also develop a model in which they hold sole moral authority.

    For such people, an individual compromises only when forced to by a superior opponent. Moreover, since their opponents are always evil, any willingness to negotiate on an opponent’s part must come solely from the opponent’s awareness of his own weakness. 

    The mullahs of Iran are not multiculturalist, they do not believe in free-market economics and they do not believe in ideological diversity. They believe themselves completely in the right and therefore justified to use any means to reach their divinely mandated ends. They have no common ground with those of us who seek a diverse and free world. 

    The mullahs view America and the West in general as decadent, godless and predestined by divine will to fall before the righteousness of the mullahs. In their model, when we attack or frustrate them, we prove our evil intention towards them, but when we seek compromise we do so only out of weakness and fear. The mullahs believe they have a sacred duty and absolute right to exploit our weakness by kicking us when we are down. 

    Negotiating with Iran, without breaking them first, only reinforces the internal power of those most hostile to the West. Such individuals can point to our concessions and claim they drove us to concede and that therefore they should have more power to drive us to even greater concessions. 

    Leftists’ egocentrism shows up in all areas of politics from economics to social issues. But it is most dangerous in foreign relations where leftists consistently misjudge authoritarians, whom they insist on treating like leftist intellectuals. Obama will naively go into negotiations with Iran and give away the farm because he assumes they will react in the same way Obama would were he in their shoes. They won’t and the rest of us will pay for Obama’s egocentrism. 

     

    15 Responses to “Turns Out, Tyrants Aren’t College Professors”

    1. Mrs. Davis Says:

      The mullahs’ view America and the West in general as decadent, godless and predestined by divine will to fall before the righteousness of the mullahs.

      Two out of three ain’t bad.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      Agreed. The earlier Obama figures this out the better. It is a good thing the Cold War is over. Making this sort of mistake with the Soviets was potentially a lethal mistake. With Iran, we have more freedom of action and they don’t have thousands of ballistic missiles that can reach us in a matter of hours or minutes.
      .
      I can imagine a Machiavellian scenario, which Obama is probably too nice to actually be doing. Offer to meet with these jokers, knowing they will spit in your face, which sets you up to work hard for the non-kinetic kill, and if necessary more direct measures, later on. The long term aim here is a post-Mullah government in Iran we can actually talk to and work with. Odds are, the people there would like that, based on reliable reports. We want to get there without poisoning that future relationship by killing a lot of Iranians. It would be good to be able to say, “hey, we tried to be reasonable, are YOU guys ready to talk?” In that case, making the offer, and getting repudiated, is best done as early as possible to get it out of the way.
      .
      Is Obama thinking like this? I see no reason to think so. Too bad.

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      In that case, making the offer, and getting repudiated, is best done as early as possible to get it out of the way.

      That’s not a bad strategy except the Mullahs will probably do what the Soviets did, make a show of agreeing, then breaking any agreement instantly and then portraying and conflict as our fault. The people of Iran may fall for this because we can predict with an absolute certainty that leftist in the west will also blame the west.

    4. Fûz Says:

      “I can imagine a Machiavellian scenario, which Obama is probably too nice to actually be doing. Offer to meet with these jokers, knowing they will spit in your face, which sets you up to work hard for the non-kinetic kill, and if necessary more direct measures, later on. The long term aim here is a post-Mullah government in Iran we can actually talk to and work with.”

      This is what Bush should have been working toward post-9/11, instead of taking down Saddam Hussein. In fact, we should have skipped the offer to meet, and gone directly for the destabilization of the regime.

      Alas, a bit too late for that.

    5. Ginny Says:

      Shannon, You appear to be arguing (I suspect correctly) that the average academic has little ToM – this is, of course, what they think others lack. But the ability to think that others think what they do for reasons that are consistent with their vision of the world, values, etc. and yet that is quite different from what we think is what we gain in maturity. I think you are implying (unfortunately also correctly) that some are caught in a kind of sixteen-year-old narcissism. They think, however, they are crediting others in a way that those idiots who take their freshman classes and reside in flyover territory do not. This is questionable. Of course, I’m often guilty – I assume that most people do not want their kids to grow up impoverished and as cannon fodder, I assume that most people would like a voice in their government. I still suspect there is some truth to that but leaders can & do their subjects as cannon fodder & have little interest in hearing their voices. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen how either Pap or Col Grangerford view their children in Huck Finn (realism at its most bitter). But it is hard to shake our own world view. (And all the lit in the world doesn’t make us wise at gut level.)

    6. renminbi Says:

      These are people who live in their own minds,only. Here we have a lawyer who never tried a case, a professor who never published a paper ,indeed someone who has never run anything but his mouth and indeed has never done anything productive in his life. How can anyone expect anything from such? How can anyone expect a system that elevates such to be viable in the long run?

      Someone had better figure out how to make republican government work because,as it stands now, we have a Lord of the Flies situation with our political class.

    7. james hurley Says:

      Slow down. Too anxious to badmouth liberals. Obama has done nothing other than say he would be willing to speak to Iran leaders. He has offered nothing and said nothing thus far beyond that and yet on that rather simple offer he gets depicted as some sort of dope? the comment above mine is spot on: we lost out by dumping Saddam. He was a counter-veiling force to Iran; with him gone and America mired in Iraq, Iran took over leadership in the region. Bush goofed. And now you want to jump on Obama for what has not been done, stated, or even suggested other than meeting to discuss things?

    8. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Professor Richard Landes explains the Honor Shame dynamic between PBHO and President a_madras_dinner_jacket

    9. Shannon Love Says:

      James Hurley,

      Obama has done nothing other than say he would be willing to speak to Iran leaders.

      Okay, this isn’t some kind of whacky sitcom mixup that can be fixed by the principle sitting down clearing up misconception. It is a strawman to say that we are not talking to Iran now. We are in constant communication with them both directly through their UN representative and through third parties and informal channels. We know what they want and they know what we want. The fact that Obama appears to believe otherwise indicates that he is either naive or duplicitous.

      The only reason to sit down with them in a formal meeting is to make concessions and they know it. They will refuse to negotiate until Obama gives them something they can brag about back home. Then they will demand even more when they show up and Obama will have to give them something or go away looking empty handed and foolish.

      I predict this will be Obama’s behavior based on his foreign policy statements, the foreign policy academics he refers to as well as his foreign policy advisors. His has staked his position on being the opposite of Bush i.e. all talk and no fight. The Iranians will play him like a fiddle just like they did Carter.

    10. fred lapides aka james hurley Says:

      [deleted]

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      James Hurley,

      … do not presuppose what will happen in a manner that suits what you believe might happen.

      Did you not read the linked article? It has already happened. The Iranians have taken just Obama’s willingness to open wider negotiations as a sign of weakness. At the very least, they have already scored an internal propaganda victory just by Obama opening his mouth.

      You need to turn the problem around. If “talking” to the Iranians is so costless then why has the Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 42 administrations refused to do so?

      You can always say: NO NO NO, no deal whatsoever. and then you have a record for the world to view and see how you made an honest effort but that the other side was stupid and unyielding.

      Yeah, that only works in movies. The Iranians and western leftist will spin it as our fault. More importantly, a conference serves no purpose because we already understand each other. The only reason to do so is political theater. Leftist just have a political fetish for negotiating. They think that just talking is a virtue regardless of the side effects or the likelihood of success.

      Did you pre-judge Pres Bush in this manner at every turn?

      Yes, when I voted. That’s what you do.

    12. Sean Pelette Says:

      It is a myth that Saddam Hussein was an indispensible counter to Iranian ambitions. He was nothing of the sort. His war with Iran wrecked his country, and the only way he managed to eke out a marginal ‘victory’ over Iran was through massive material and financial support of outside powers coupled with the isolation of Iran from those same powers, plus the eventual military intervention of the US against Iran.

      The effective counter to Iran was and is the US. That won’t change anytime soon.

    13. david foster Says:

      JamesH…”You can always say: NO NO NO, no deal whatsoever. and then you have a record for the world to view and see how you made an honest effort but that the other side was stupid and unyielding”…I might believe this was the objective if the context was different..for exampe, if Obama was entering these negotiations while simultaneously supporting missile defense and the expansion of bunker-buster weapons capabilities. But he isn’t.

      Even Neville Chamberlain hedged his policy of appeasement by fuding a massive increase in the Royal Air Force and the creation of a radar-and-communications-based air defense system.

    14. Marty Says:

      I hope Lexington’s scenario is accurate, but like him, I doubt it. Nothing in Obama’s past to suggest he understands he is dealing with people from a really different culture than the post-Vietnam American liberal academic one with which he is familiar.

      It IS amusing to note that those who talk the most about multiculturalism show the least interest, knowledge or perception regarding true cultural differences, and just think everyone looks at the world the same way they do.

      Total ignorance of history, both the grand sweep and the telling details, helps.

    15. Jonathan Says:

      The Richard Landes blog post linked by Robert Schwartz is excellent.