Skip to main content

Ten Things That Won’t Be on the Agenda in Tehran

Walter Russell Mead

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Tehran today for a one-day gathering of gas-exporting nations, where he was set to meet with both Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. Plans for Syria and the future of Bashar al-Assad are likely atop the agenda, but the larger backdrop for the trip will be deepening economic ties between Russia and Iran. In honor of the increased cooperation between the two nations, we’ve drawn up a list of ten subjects they won’t be discussing:

1. Rueful acknowledgement of President Obama’s foreign policy genius.

2. Chagrin that President Obama has taken the lead on the climate change talks, relegating both Russia and Iran to a runner-up role in this vital international conversation.

3. Sorrowful contemplation of their own helplessness: “We’re just a couple of 19th-century potentates in a world of 21st-century moral heroes.”

4. Careful enumeration of all of President Obama’s red lines in the region, with earnest promises to each other not to infringe on any of them, given the certainty of swift retaliation if they do.

5. Envious speculation about how President Obama is able to dominate global affairs simply by his earnest pursuit of the moral high ground.

6. Putin lamenting to the Supreme Leader that the swift and certain American response to his invasion of Ukraine has “destroyed Russia’s credibility” and marginalized it in Europe.

7. The Supreme Leader complaining to Putin that America’s deft alliance politics has left Iran flatfooted in the Middle East, with nowhere to turn.

8. Earnest mutual congratulations that, since the U.S. Constitution forbids President Obama a third term, they will soon face a much weakened and less formidable United States.

9. Mournful calculations of just what concessions it will take to escape the unbearable pressure that the United States is imposing on both countries.

10. Discouraged listing of the enormous accomplishments of American statecraft in the last seven years: President Obama’s successes in bridging the gap between the U.S. and Islam, in making such irresistible progress on nuclear disarmament that global denuclearization is just a matter of time, in closing Guantanamo (thereby making the U.S. the moral envy of the world), in forcing both Russia and Iran to drop their hostility to the U.S. by courageously pursuing resets and negotiations until they have no choice but to give up, in elevating Turkish President Erdogan to the leadership of the rising forces of Islamic democracy, in establishing democratic stability in Libya, in pursuing a brilliant series of Afghanistan strategies….the list goes on.

Blind and obtuse as these backward leaders are, hopelessly trapped in the obsolete 19th century, they won’t be discussing these and other triumphs of American strategy and statesmanship under President Obama.

Related Articles

Transcript: US Withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s Return, One Year Later

Husain Haqqani

Husain Haqqani and a panel of experts discuss the aftermath of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan...

Continue Reading

A Year Later, the Afghanistan Withdrawal Causes Enduring Pain

Husain Haqqani

Husain Haqqani discusses the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan...

Continue Reading

Counterbalance | Ep. 45: The Arc of a Covenant

Walter Russell Mead & Michael Doran

This week's episode features audio from a public event hosted at Hudson Institute...

Continue Reading