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What to make of President Obama’s interpretation of the Iranian leadership? Challenged by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg to account for the seeming inconsistency of relying on the rationality of a regime that holds a profoundly anti-Semitic worldview, the president denied that the “venomous anti-Semitism” (his words) of the mullahs is a barrier to rational decision making.
Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country . . .
Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest made an important observation: