Morning Report: 2008-11-09

The 44th President will face challenges from Iran. Here's a preview.

Obama, Bush to meet. AP via JPost: 'Barack Obama heads to the White House for his first postelection meeting with President George W. Bush this week, as Americans await signals of how their new leader will confront the overwhelming array of challenges facing the United States.' You can read the rest of the AP's drivel at the link.

US, EU officials met with Arab leaders on Iran. AP at JPost again: 'US and European representatives on Sunday met with representatives from Arab countries worried about Iran's influence in the Mideast, a senior US official said.' Rice, Solana, and Kouchner were there. YNet says: 'A senior US official says American and European representatives have met with Arab countries worried about Iran's influence in the Mideast, particularly about any potential deal on Iran's nuclear program that would give the Persian country more power in the Mideast.'

Obama's Iran comment irks regime. Debka:

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said Saturday, Nov. 8, forcefully rejected US president-elect Barack Obama’s comment Friday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was unacceptable and its support for terrorist organizations cease. “This signifies the same erroneous policy as the past, said Larijani. “If the United States wants to change its standing in the region it should send good signals."
Most of Obama’s first news conference after election was devoted to the economic crisis.

Speaking of economic crises, the goons in Tehran are dealing with one of their own.

On Blair and Shreidan. Tom the Redhunter has an outstanding piece on the dangers and possibilites of the present age.

Commentary. Two pieces in Commentary magazine's Contentions - one by Peter Wehner and the other by David Hazony - focus on the moral and strategic foreign-policy choices confronting the incoming Obama administration. Wehner takes on a piece by paleocon Craig Shirley advocating a return to "realist" foreign policy. Wehner writes:

Perhaps the place to start is by pointing out that the projection of American power during the Bush years was to protect American interests. There were two “projections of American power” during the Bush years. The first involved a military response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. Presumably Mr. Shirley supported the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but perhaps not.

The second instance was the Iraq war. Of course, the reason the majority of the country, the Congress, and conservatives alike supported the Iraq war was because the United States believed, along with the rest of the world, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Beyond that, Saddam was the most ruthless and aggressive dictator in a region that that (a) has its share of awful ones and (b) is of enormous interest to the United States. His invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s was the triggering event for the first Gulf War. The implication that Iraq and what happens in the Middle East has nothing to do with American interests is silly.

As for the notion that “the internal affairs of a sovereign nation were not of concern to conservatives unless that nation threatened America:” Shirley is (again) wrong. Is it his view that conservatives should be utterly indifferent to genocide unless it occurs in a nation that threatens America?

The internal affairs of sovereign nations is our business if that nation is engaging in persecution, oppression, and mass death. ...

Wehner goes on to quote Ronald Regan, whom Shirley had invoked:

While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them. We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings…. Democracy already flourishes in countries with very different cultures and historical experiences. It would be cultural condescension, or worse, to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy….

And I wholeheartedly agree. So does David Hazony:

On Thursday, former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky assailed Egypt’s treatment of [Abdul Kareem Nabil] Soliman, as rallies were held near Egyptian embassies around the world.

This is a new example of an old problem. On the one hand, the righteousness of the Cold War was based not only on the Soviet threat to the West, but also on grotesque Soviet human rights violations. On the other hand, the insistence that American alliances in the Middle East be connected to human rights has been dismissed, in recent years, as neocon agitation. Egypt is a major recipient of American foreign aid. And there are many who consistently propose going soft on Egypt, in part because of its role as intermediary with Israel, and in part because of the fear that the regime is always at risk of being overrun by powerful Islamist forces.

New names, old problem.