Foreign policy realists (myelf included) have long maintained that, if “only Nixon can go to China,” then logically only a hardliner like Ahmadinejad can come to America. You have to understand that, if Moussavi had been slimly elected, the knives would have come out immediately regarding any potential opening with Obama, who is proving — again, in Reagan-esque fashion — to be an ideological nightmare for the regime…

But Ahmadinejad, with his record — again, in Nixon-esque fashion — for doggedly hating the regime’s avowed enemies (Israel and America), could likewise employ a Nixonian reversal under the right conditions. Just as Beijing’s paranoia with the Soviets in the early 1970s left China isolated and internally conflicted, Iran faces a conflict with Israel that it cannot win, even as it might temporarily rally the public around the flag. Moreover, the regime’s emerging economic sponsor and largest importer of its oil and gas — China, again — has zero interest in seeing its future supplies put at danger by war.

What would those conditions entail? At best, we might talk Iran into curtailing its nuclear program to a point just shy of open weaponization, in exchange for an ending of economic sanctions and the normalization of ties with the United States. That might not be enough to stave off Israeli strikes, but Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guard must realize how much this display of crippling internal weakness has empowered the region’s anti-Iran Sunni coalition (led by Saudi Arabia), so beggars can’t be choosers.