Democrats angered at American casualties in Iraq can’t summon more than pro forma denunciations of one of the main forces responsible for them. It’s the Iran exception: Because our intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons was flawed and the Iraq War devilishly hard, Iran has practically carte blanche from half the American political spectrum to develop a nuclear weapon, kill Americans in Iraq, pledge to wipe a nearby country off the map, arm dangerous militants throughout the region and take Westerners hostage.
These Iranian depredations usually evoke a steely Democratic resolve — to oppose whatever measures that the Bush administration might be contemplating in response. Sen. Dodd, a Democratic candidate for president (if you hadn’t noticed), wrote President Bush a letter a few days ago complaining about “increasingly bellicose public statements by United States officials.” What was this reckless saber rattling?
Liberals like to say of the Bush administration’s allegedly militaristic foreign policy that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Likewise, if the only tool you have is dialogue, everyone looks like a reasonable interlocutor.
So it is that Columbia University could invite Iranian President Ahmadinejad to come speak on campus for, as President Lee Bollinger put it, “academic purposes.” As if Ahmadinejad were merely a vehement participant in the graduate seminar “Jews and Arabs: Approaches Toward a Problem.” The Iranian inevitably blustered and lied, and probably enjoyed the legitimacy conferred by the visit, even if Bollinger did scold him.
Dialogue is a wonderful tool--as a psychiatrist, I use it all the time; but when you are not in the presence of a "reasonable interlocutor" it is a relatively worthless one. Someone who is out of touch with reality cannot be reasonable; and someone who is a pathological liar--chooses not to be.
Someone who thinks the Holocaust is a myth perpetrated by a Jewish/Zionist conspiracy and holds a "scientific" conference to prove that it doesn't exist is delusional.
Someone who claims "There are no homosexuals in Iran" with a straight face after being responsible for the execution of hundreds--or more, is a psychopathic liar. And, he is either a grandiose liar or a rather stupid one, if he imagined that his words would automatically accepted by a gullible audience.
By definition it takes two people to have a dialogue. But the one person in that conversation who is deeply invested and committed to "dialogue" even if the other person is not, is in danger of hearing only what he wants to hear--no matter what. His psychological investment in the success of that one strategy quickly becomes disconnected with reality.
The old joke, "how many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one--but the lightbulb has to really want to change", is applicable. Anyone who imagines that the dysfunctional leaders of Iran really want to change, needs to question his or her own connection to reality.