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Moral Unclarity

By Matthew Yglesias

"Moral Unclarity"

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Peter Beinart’s right about this:

That doesn’t make Iran benign. But it does raise questions about whether the claim Arendt made about totalitarian regimes–that their messianic character made them inherently expansionist–fits Ahmadinejad’s, too. A war against Islamic totalitarianism has clear boundaries: It means a struggle against violent salafis. A war against Islamofascism does not, and that is precisely the point: It lets the Bush administration add enemies–first Iraq, now Iran–while implying that they share Al Qaeda’s ideology and represent the same kind of threat. That’s not true, and five years after September 11, it has left Americans increasingly confused about who we are fighting, and increasingly skeptical that we can win.

Quite so. My level of worry about a war with Iran, meanwhile, has just gone up several notches. Was speaking to what’s got to count as one of your more dovish Israeli politicians, someone eager to make peace with a genuinely independent Palestine that would have Jerusalem as its capital city, who kept saying repeatedly that he thought another war between Israel and Iran in the not-too-distant future is all but inevitable. Hezbollah, in his view, is nothing but a “commando division of Iran” and Hassan Nasrallah “is a division commander of Ahmadenijad.” He dismissed a question about a looming Iraq-Iran alliance by saying Iran is simply taking control of the government in Baghdad and that “this is another good reason to topple the regime in Teheran.” I suppose I see where he’s coming from, but a person who thinks that sort of regional dynamic is going to be — of all things — conducive to a comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict isn’t thinking very clearly.

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