Chuck Peña, listen up: Iran provides an excellent illustration of the difference between liberal internationalism and neoconservatism. Traditional neoconservatives would reject negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, engage in brinkmanship, and put unilateral airstrikes and/or regime change at the top of their agenda for Iran. Liberal internationalists would desire more economic integration between the US and Iran, would want to negotiate an end of the nuclear program, and would want to work on the issue through institutions and alliances. At first, Bush took the first tack, as evidenced by his tough talk and by the attack plans Sy Hersh reported on. But now he’s trying liberal internationalism. And what results he’s getting:
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Friday that his country was seriously considering an international proposal to resolve the dispute over its uranium enrichment program.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s vague but conciliatory remarks, made here at the end of an Asian summit meeting, came with veiled taunts of the United States and statements of solidarity with China and Russia, the leading powers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the regional group that convened the gathering.
“My colleagues are carefully considering the package of proposals of the six countries, and in due time they will give them a response,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. At another point in a news conference, he said, “Generally we regard the offering of this package as a step forward,” adding that his country “supports constructive talks on the basis of equality.”
This is a guy who just a few months ago was striking a fierce and defiant pose to the West, denying the Holocaust, and calling for Israel to be pushed into the sea. Now he appears willing to accept the incentives offered by the U.S., Europe, China, and Russia. Of course, the mullahs hold the true power. But this is startlingly good progress. And note what got us here: a multilateral coalition of all the world’s major powers, and a desire to compromise and negotiate. This is liberal internationalism in action, and it’s a hell of a lot different from neoconservatism.