The longest day…

Where am I? My eyes are open and my fingers are moving across the keyboard so I know I am awake. But it feels a little like morning and the sky says night, a little like Asia and the signs say Europe, I woke up in Japan and my next meeting is in Brazil and ...

584830_090616_iran2.jpg
584830_090616_iran2.jpg
TEHRAN, IRAN - JUNE 15: Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate as a woman carries a sign saying "where is my vote" in the streets on June 15, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Crowds of people gathered to protest the re-election of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won a second four-year term in a landslide election victory on June 12. (Photo by Getty Images)

Where am I? My eyes are open and my fingers are moving across the keyboard so I know I am awake. But it feels a little like morning and the sky says night, a little like Asia and the signs say Europe, I woke up in Japan and my next meeting is in Brazil and it will be 72 hours between the last time I slept in a bed and the next time I do.

I saw G.I. Jane. I know how hard it is for Navy SEALs.  But Demi Moore would be curled up in the fetal position if she had to take this trip.  (By the way, for an interesting perspective on the times, watch that movie sometime. No, not for Demi's one-handed push ups or the great chemistry with Viggo. But because when they are trying to break her as she seeks to become the first woman SEAL they actually waterboard her. And when someone complains that it looks uncomfortable, Viggo responds "that's why it's such an effective interrogation technique." Who knew such a cheeseball movie could be so trenchantly topical?)

Where am I? My eyes are open and my fingers are moving across the keyboard so I know I am awake. But it feels a little like morning and the sky says night, a little like Asia and the signs say Europe, I woke up in Japan and my next meeting is in Brazil and it will be 72 hours between the last time I slept in a bed and the next time I do.

I saw G.I. Jane. I know how hard it is for Navy SEALs.  But Demi Moore would be curled up in the fetal position if she had to take this trip.  (By the way, for an interesting perspective on the times, watch that movie sometime. No, not for Demi’s one-handed push ups or the great chemistry with Viggo. But because when they are trying to break her as she seeks to become the first woman SEAL they actually waterboard her. And when someone complains that it looks uncomfortable, Viggo responds “that’s why it’s such an effective interrogation technique.” Who knew such a cheeseball movie could be so trenchantly topical?)

Where was I? Oh, right. The question is where I am? Somewhere between “Where’s Waldo?” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” I think?  Round about there. Actually it looks a lot like the giant human terrarium that is Heathrow’s Terminal Five. But it seems oddly pleasant at the moment. It could be all that Immodium coursing through my system. Or the fact that my last stop was Narita. If I die and awake and the first thing I see is Narita Airport I will know that Higher Powers did not approve of my dissolute life. Narita is the Miami International Airport of East Asia. Just like Mumbai is the Miami International Airport of the subcontinent. And just like root canal surgery is the Miami International Airport of things you can do with your mouth.

I pick up a newspaper to orient myself. Seems like there is still upheaval and unease in Tehran. Still precious little reaction out of the Obama Administration about this. Obama’s brief statement of concern said more with what was left out than what was actually said. I know that Obama will still have to deal with whatever Iranian government is left standing, but I wonder if he’s being a bit too measured or and carefully calibrated for its own good? Sometimes, after all, a little righteous indignation is exactly what’s called for. (And where, by the way is Hillary Clinton these days?) 

I’m of two minds on all this. Which is not so bad considering at the moment I am of about four time zones. On the one hand, I am all for restraint.  Particularly given that the opposition candidate, Mousavi, is not exactly a wonderful guy as far as I can tell and would soon be a big pain in our American arse (wait, I said “arse”…this must be England) even in the best moments of successful engagement. And there’s a lot to be said for a foreign policy that actually involves thinking before acting, especially when the evidence about the election is, well, not really evidence yet. 

On the other hand, I know in my heart that Ahmadinejad, who looks more like a ferret with every passing day, stole the election and I love the vigorous and vital nature of the opposition. Iran has a democracy in it waiting to be allowed to be free and what a great game changer that would be for almost every policy concern we have in the region, especially if a freer Iran was also not as resolutely anti-U.S. as the current crew. I also don’t much like that hanging back has left it to the Euros like Merkel, Sarkozy and Brown to lead in the strong condemnation, summoning ambassadors department. But hey, that’s such a novelty it’s almost as exciting as the real challenge to Ahmadinejad. 

I guess I would rather see the United States vigorously orchestrating a challenge to the apparently stolen election both because it’s right and because they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it if indeed they stole it (which of course, they did) and if indeed the Guardian Council review is a sham (which of course, it will be.) I also don’t think we’re building up a great track record when it comes to how we treat provocations from our enemies (North Korea or Iran) or obscene behavior from our allies (see the CNN piece on the Karzai regime’s violence against journalists.) Reason and cool I like. But I worry that we are a step away from seeming paralyzed by pragmatism.

But really what I would rather see is a bed.

Getty Images 

David Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017. Twitter: @djrothkopf

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.