Monday, September 23, 2013

There is a history of the most ruthless dictators making moderate noises to improve relations with the West. Historically, these moves are met with skepticism on the pages of the New York Times, or as tactical, cosmetic moves.

Historically, the skepticism was well-founded.

September 29, 1946. Stalin's moderate statements are received skeptically.

September 7, 1957: Nasser's moderate statements are received skeptically:

February 16, 1971: Qaddafi's moderate statements are received somewhat skeptically.

July 30, 1978: Saddam Hussein's attempts at sounding moderate are treated skeptically as well.

Now, the NYT reports on Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, with no skepticism whatsoever:

Iran Moves to Mend Ties With West

Iran’s supreme leader seemed to put his authority behind Iran’s moderate new president on Tuesday, calling for “heroic leniency” in navigating the country’s diplomatic dispute with the West.

The president, Hassan Rouhani, was elected in June on a moderate platform of ending the nuclear standoff with the West and increasing personal freedoms. In a speech to the Revolutionary Guards, considered stalwarts of the conservative wing of the government, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said he was “not opposed to proper moves in diplomacy.”

Enlarging on that theme, he said, “I agree with what I called ‘heroic leniency’ years ago, because such an approach is very good and necessary in certain situations, as long as we stick to our main principles.”
Perhaps the NYT should look in its own archives more often.

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