American neoconservatives have often used the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to bolster their case for aggressive action against Iran. So the assumption might be that they would be rooting for Iranians to take care of the problem themselves by electing reformer Mir Hossein Mousavi in today's vote..
Instead, they're rooting for the anti-American bogeyman to stay in power.
Middle East Forum Director Daniel Pipes said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation that he would vote for Ahmadinejad if he could:
American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin suggested to National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez it might be better for Ahmadinejad to win, because a loss might give Obama the impression that diplomacy was working.
LOPEZ: Should we want Ahmadinejad to lose the election this weekend?
RUBIN: The Obama administration tends to conflate advocacy with analysis. They see in the Islamic Republic what they want to see, not what the Iranian leadership's intentions really are. As such, should someone more soft-spoken and less defiant -- someone like former prime
minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi -- win, it would be easier for Obama to believe that Iran really was figuratively unclenching a fist when, in fact, it had it had its other hand hidden under its cloak, grasping a dagger. What Ahmadinjead did was to expose the ideology of the power
holders in Iran for what it actually is. Holocaust denial, for example, is nothing new to the Islamic Republic. Both Rafsanjani and Khatami also encourage it. Ahmadinejad's bluntness, however, forced even the Europeans to react.
[Ed. note: Michael Rubin insisted via email that he was not rooting for Ahmadinejad to win. The quote and link to the interview is above. You can judge for yourself.]
Other neocons, worried a shift in power will signal a fresh start relations with Iran, are already deflating a Mousavi win. The same pundits who constantly point out Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, and nuclear ambitions as reasons to confront Iran now argue that the president doesn't matter. Martin Peretz wrote at the New Republic, "We've known for a long time that elected leaders do not carry the weight of those who have been anointed." Ilan Berman seconded at the American Spectator, "Whoever ends up becoming president will have little real power -- and even less influence over Iran's geostrategic direction."
In fact, Mousavi does disagree with Ahmadinejad on a key policy point. Unlike the current president, he would back nuclear talks with Iran and United Nations Security Council members.
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