'Moderate' win in Iran is the worst possible outcome

Many opinion makers and shapers in the West already seem to be in a swoon over Hassan Ruhani's victory in Iran's presidential election.

After all, in the six-man field (no women allowed), Ruhani was the only "moderate" or "reformist" and the most likely to give heartburn to Supreme Leader Khamenei.  In fact, some mavens go so far as to call the election outcome a resounding rebuke to Khamenei by Iranian reformers.  Ruhani, with his electoral "mandate" might weaken or soften Khamenei, they postulate. 

So what's not to like?

Plenty.

For starters, under Iran's two-level governing regime, the Supreme Leader calls all the shots on security and foreign policy matters.  Ruhani's win no withstanding, Khamenei will continue with Iran's genocidal agenda against Israel, the rush to acquire nuclear weapons, a determination to attain supremacy in the Middle East over more "moderate" Sunni-led regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and extensive sponsorship of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

For his part, Ruhani will be left with only a domestic portfolio, akin more accurately to a prime minister's function, while the fanatical mullahs hold sway over Iran's imperial ambitions and quest for Shiite domination throughout the region.

Where Ruhani's victory really matters, however, is in providing propaganda fodder to modern-day Chamberlains in the West who are averse to confronting Iran's existential threats and now will have some ammunition to counsel more patience, more talks, more quixotic "engagement"  with Tehran.  Their argument will be that there now may be an Iranian "spring" worth exploring -- with the West needing to show  patience and  not confronting Khamenei and his co-horts.

In the meantime, Iran's growing arsenal of centrifuges will continue to spin and proceed unimpeded toward production of weapons-grade nuclear materials for atomic bombs.

The irony is already palpable.  The "moderates"  with their victory in Iran, actually will make it easier for Iran to become a nuclear power.   A victory of any of the five other "hard-liners" on the ballot might have put some starch in the spine of the White House and other Western chanceries.  With Ruhani as Iran's new poster boy, however, Khamenei can relax and exploit even more Western weaknesses.   

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

Many opinion makers and shapers in the West already seem to be in a swoon over Hassan Ruhani's victory in Iran's presidential election.

After all, in the six-man field (no women allowed), Ruhani was the only "moderate" or "reformist" and the most likely to give heartburn to Supreme Leader Khamenei.  In fact, some mavens go so far as to call the election outcome a resounding rebuke to Khamenei by Iranian reformers.  Ruhani, with his electoral "mandate" might weaken or soften Khamenei, they postulate. 

So what's not to like?

Plenty.

For starters, under Iran's two-level governing regime, the Supreme Leader calls all the shots on security and foreign policy matters.  Ruhani's win no withstanding, Khamenei will continue with Iran's genocidal agenda against Israel, the rush to acquire nuclear weapons, a determination to attain supremacy in the Middle East over more "moderate" Sunni-led regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and extensive sponsorship of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

For his part, Ruhani will be left with only a domestic portfolio, akin more accurately to a prime minister's function, while the fanatical mullahs hold sway over Iran's imperial ambitions and quest for Shiite domination throughout the region.

Where Ruhani's victory really matters, however, is in providing propaganda fodder to modern-day Chamberlains in the West who are averse to confronting Iran's existential threats and now will have some ammunition to counsel more patience, more talks, more quixotic "engagement"  with Tehran.  Their argument will be that there now may be an Iranian "spring" worth exploring -- with the West needing to show  patience and  not confronting Khamenei and his co-horts.

In the meantime, Iran's growing arsenal of centrifuges will continue to spin and proceed unimpeded toward production of weapons-grade nuclear materials for atomic bombs.

The irony is already palpable.  The "moderates"  with their victory in Iran, actually will make it easier for Iran to become a nuclear power.   A victory of any of the five other "hard-liners" on the ballot might have put some starch in the spine of the White House and other Western chanceries.  With Ruhani as Iran's new poster boy, however, Khamenei can relax and exploit even more Western weaknesses.   

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

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