Comparing current U.S. negotiations with Iran to American dealings with the Soviet Union from the 1950s through the 1980s, Natan Sharansky notes a key difference: during the cold war, the U.S. was willing to walk away from the table in response to Soviet aggression, demanded substantive concessions from Moscow, and took a stand for the human rights of Soviet citizens. When it comes to Iran, not so:
While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: the loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course—before the effects grow more catastrophic still.