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It's Iran--not Obama--that Must Return To The Real World

If Barack Obama's diplomacy with Iran succeeds--which is to say, Dennis Ross' diplomacy--the world would be a safer place. The stakes are high: the stability of Iraq, the immunity of Israel from nuclear attack, the safety of the Sunni monarchs and bureaucracies (not dreamworks but better than anything anyone can imagine now), the easing of the intensity of the Muslim wars. There is much that even an economically challenged West can do to put Iran back into the well, let's say the twentieth century. (Nothing can yet bring it to the twenty-first.)

But there has to be a deal on two fronts: the front on which Iran relates to its neighbors and the world and the front which separates the regime and the people. Dare we recall that, as difficult as the Shah's regime was, it did not traffic in human depradation on the scale and to the extent that the regime of the mullahs has, really every since 1979 when we saw Jimmy Carter at his symptomatically most craven. He and Cyrus Vance and--oh, yuk--Warren Minor Christopher, (what an apt middle name), the dead man who gave George W. Bush his presidency.

Roula Khalaf and Najmeh Bozorgmehr have written a piece in this morning's FT showing the opportunities Iran has and the madnesses that would impede the country taking them. And, surprise, surprise, Israel is an obsession of the Basij and Ahmadinejad's unwired mind. It is not of any real and concrete interest to the people.