There he goes again: Ken Pollack says the Iranian people will trust us over their own leaders
One of the rewards of the AIPAC policy conference was the ability to watch liberal hawk Ken Pollack up close for an hour. Pollack is a key figure in our policy mess in the Middle East. A smart, goodlooking liberal Jewish Democrat, married into mandarin Washington (Ted Koppel's daughter), Pollack was granted a platform in the New York Times in 2002-2003 to push for the Iraq war. At that time, Pollack failed to anticipate an insurgency and said that, downside, the war-plus-rebuilding Iraq might cost us as much as $30 billion over ten years.
In person, Pollack seems like a nice guy. Affable, reasonable. Journalists I talked to said he always tries to answer even adversarial questions. He struck me as equivocal, saying both tough things and soft things to try and please both sides of the house. For instance, he said that while he was all for the Congress voting tough sanctions to inflict real economic pain on the Iranians, he said with real feeling that the actual penalties should not be imposed, because he doesn't want babies starving-- that was a public relations disaster during the Iraqi sanctions of the '90s for good reason.
Then Ilan Berman, his co-panelist, of the American Foreign Policy Council, said that the big mistake of both Bush and Obama administrations was their belief that the "faultline" is between reformists and conservatives in Iranian government, when in fact, it’s between the regime and the Iranian people, who don't want the Iranian regime. Well that is good ole neocon religion: Regime change. And what did Pollack say?
"Actually Ilan I completely agree with that, I think you’re absolutely right in your analysis," he said. For while he approved the Obama approach by and large--working through back channels to reach out to the Iranian government to make it feel comfortable--
"What they’re potentially missing is this critical divide between the regime and the people. And that ultimately one of the things we need to convince the regime of is that we are going to appeal over their heads to the people if they’re not going to come to the table with real compromises."
Pollack said that we should publicly offer the Iranians a light-water reactor to deal with energy needs, a "technology consortium" to deal with high-tech needs, and security guarantees to deal with those concerns. And in that way we can win the Iranian people over to us by promising them "a better economy, a better relationship with the world."The unreality of Pollack's statement is that he leaves out the enormous fear that the Iranian people have of us and "democracy" ever since we destroyed their neighbor, Iraq. Would they really trust us? ... And of course Pollack always leaves out the Palestinian issue. Yes Ahmadinejad seizes it and uses it. But to suggest that it doesn't represent a real grievance to Muslims across the region, and they don't blame the problem on us--that's ideology talking, and ideology of a religious character, pro-Zionist. "It's always wonderful to be back at this conference," Pollack said at the start.