[Margaret Toston, giving Bruce Babbitt a piece of her mind, Maryville University, 2003]My department chair at the Naval Academy once told me that I "present a complicated text to the world." Frankly, I think it was a left-handed compliment. There was always tension between us over my refusal to conform to his stereotypical notions of what a Marine should be like. Also, I didn't know my place. Before I got there, the token Marine officer was always marginally qualified to teach on the college level and was therefore expected to be appropriately deferential and humble. I expected to be treated like an academic.
But, truth be told, I suppose I am somewhat complicated. Liberal that I am, for instance, I found myself in agreement with John McCain today when he was railing against our longstanding wishy-washy, timorous approach to Iran.
It's not that I subscribe to Bush's notion of an "axis of evil." It's just that I've always thought it was a grave mistake to allow Iran to humiliate us on the world stage embassy in 1979. There have been strategic, theater-wide repercussions for our failure to act decisively and aggressively when "Iranian students" stormed our embassy and held the staff hostage. The example was not lost on Muslim extremists far and wide.
More recently, the Iranian government's brutal crackdown on the current generation of "Iranian students" suggests that Obama's constructive engagement approach is doomed to fail. Let's face it: our permissive culture is a threat to their theocracy, and in age of instant mass communication, it is nearly impossible to cloister the Iranian people. We're still the "Great Satan" as far as Iran's theocratic leaders are concerned, and that makes reaching a modus vivendi rather difficult.
Complicated guy that I may be, I admit to being somewhat conflicted right now. I'm certainly not one of McCain's fans. I didn't support his presidential bid, and I'll never forgive him for launching Sarah Palin's political career. But when McCain's right, he's right. It's time to get tough with Iran. The current regime is never going to like us. We had better make sure they respect, and maybe even fear, us. --EFP