Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's rejection of President Barack Obama's offer of an informal meeting at Tuesday's United Nations gathering represents a "diplomatic humiliation," according to a Wall Street Journal editorial
The Obama administration tried to put the onus on Iranian politics for Rouhani's snub, with a senior official telling reporters that the Iranians "have an internal dynamic that they have to manage."
"That's one way of putting it," the Journal observed. "Another way is that Iran's ruling clerics and Revolutionary Guard Corps remain ideologically incapable of reconciling themselves to the Great Satan."
The Journal said the rebuff of Obama's overtures should have been no great surprise, given the 34-year-history of Iranian dismissals of U.S. diplomacy, the editors say.
The Journal noted that in the days leading up to the U.N. gathering, White House aides played up the possibility of an Obama-Rouhani meeting in one form or another. That was a mistake, the newspaper said, because "having thus turned down the lights and turned up the mood music, it made the snub that followed especially potent.
"What the Administration is trying to spin as a function of complex Iranian politics was, in blunt fact, an expression of lordly contempt for what Iranian leaders consider to be an overeager suitor from an unworthy nation."
The editorial went on to say that Iran's hard attitude was highlighted in Rouhani's U.N. speech Tuesday that followed Obama's own in which he extended an olive branch to Tehran, but insisted that the U.S. would "not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction."
"It could not have been lost on the Iranians that Mr. Obama is in the process of tolerating exactly that in Syria," the Journal observed.
Rouhani used the speech to blast international sanctions as "violence, pure and simple" and railed against the influence of "warmongering pressure groups" intent on stopping Iran's nuclear development program.
The bottom line is that "politics in the normal sense doesn't exist in Tehran, where the rules are set and the players chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who is accountable to nobody," the editorial concluded.
"What Iran's leaders do understand is how to humiliate adversaries they consider to be weak. We hope Mr. Obama appreciates how he has been schooled."
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