By Daniel Luban
Today’s Washington Post features an unusually honest column by hawkish deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl, in which Diehl confesses disappointment at the fact that the Iranian opposition’s goals do not match up precisely with those of American neoconservatives. It is slightly odd, however, that Diehl is only arriving at this revelation now. After all, there was never any indication during this summer’s protests that the bulk of the “Green Movement” shared the goals of Iran hawks in the U.S. and Israel, most notably the overthrow (rather than reform) of the Islamic Republic itself and a total halt to Iranian nuclear enrichment. As I discussed during the June turmoil, many of the goals attributed to the protesters in the U.S. media simply reflected the projections of hawks in Washington.
Diehl’s column is also a reminder that, despite the Iran hawks’ over-the-top expressions of solidarity with the Green Movement, in actuality nothing would have been more disastrous for them than for Moussavi and the opposition to have triumphed. If Moussavi had taken power and announced that Iran would continue uranium enrichment – which seems extremely likely, given his record of repeated public pronouncements in support of the Iranian nuclear program – this would have put the hawks in the politically untenable position of calling for military action against the same people they had been hailing as saintly voices of freedom and democracy all summer. The same logic that made neoconservatives like Daniel Pipes support Ahmadinejad prior to the election suggested that few were genuinely hoping for a Moussavi victory.
[Cross-posted at The Faster Times.]