Pete Townshend strikes again. For some religious liberals, nothing ever changes. It’s always 1968, and the ramparts are being manned. Or its 1983, and the Mad Bomber in the White House is preparing to nuke Russia (he said so, right on the radio). Or it’s always 2007, and the evil Bushitler is running amok, threatening to destroy the world. Jim Winkler of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society demonstrates the principle nicely by re-running a column of his–from, you guessed it, 2007–to indicate that when it comes to the religious left view of U.S. and Iran, nothing has changed:

The following is a column written by Jim Winkler on March 8, 2007, on Iran/U.S. relations. Many of the players have changed, but the verbal sparring continues. Jim is traveling this week, but suggested this column may provide some perspective on this long-running power struggle.

So: 2007, 2010, Bush, Obama, Cheney, Clinton. It’s all the same, since some people continue to think that saying “pretty, please” might not get the job of keeping the Middle East safe from the Shiite Bomb done.

When Richard Nixon was President of the United States, the U.S. war against Vietnam continued to deteriorate. In frustration, he developed the “madman” gambit.

Nixon had Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser, indicate to allies and foes alike that the president was just crazy enough to use nuclear weapons against the Vietnamese to force an end to the war and gain a U.S. victory.

Nixon’s ploy didn’t work. Today, however, an astonishing array of American politicians is using the “madman” tactic again. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have repeatedly insisted “all options are on the table” with respect to Iran, including the possible use of nuclear weapons.

Well, I guess it’s also always 1970, as well. Bush and Cheney did say that “all options were on the table,” including the use of force. I don’t recall them ever saying in public, whether as a statement of policy or in answer to a question, that that meant we might use nuclear weapons. There was speculation in the press that “all options” might include tactical nukes, but no one in the administration ever said it. Nor would they have–“all options” was sufficiently encompassing, as well as intentionally vague, enough to serve the purpose.

Although evidence is lacking that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, the administration and various lobbies continue to assert they are sure Iran is working on one.

The entire world knows that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Apparently Jim Winkler won’t believe it until they test one over Tel Aviv.

Did you know, though, that John McCain, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also say that “all options are on the table”?

They did, because they were all smart enough to know that international relations ain’t beanbag, and it ain’t Sunday School, either. Whether that remains the case, I don’t know, but if Winkler thinks that it’s possible to deal with a country like Iran according to rules set by the General Board of Church and Society, we can all be thankful that no one pays any attention to him.

It’s pretty sad to live in a nation seen by others as a bully. Ruling through force and intimidation is ugly and not a recipe for long-term success. I’m reminded of the cartoon where two rich old men are reflecting on the past in their gentlemen’s club. One fellow says to the other, “I always wanted to be loved and respected, but hated and feared was as close as I got.”

Once again, we have the obtuse refusal to recognize that interpersonal relationships don’t work the same way as international ones. How would the U.S. go about becoming “loved and respected” by regimes such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, or Zimbabwe? In others words, by nations run by leaders absolutely incapable of seeing the world from any but their own perspective, who kill their own people for engaging in behavior that should be their right, who threaten their neighbors with utter destruction, who fund terrorist groups, who steal every nickel that isn’t tied down? By giving them everything they want, of course. Which is to say by allowing the true bullies to get their way. There’s really something kind of chilling about an American Christian who sees the world the same way that people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashir Assad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jung-il do.

Iran’s leadership is pretty unattractive, too. Iran is ruled by Shi’a Muslim ayatollahs whose views on women and the state of Israel, among other things, are unacceptable to me. I don’t think the ayatollahs are particularly popular among their own people.

Iran’s leadership–which thinks Israel should be destroyed, women treated like chattel, gays executed, dissent criminalized and brutalized, free speech obliterated–is “pretty unattractive.” Yeah, and Mao went a little too far with that Cultural Revolution, thingy, too.

[A]n attack based on the suspicion that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and is providing conventional explosive devices to the Iraqi resistance would be disastrous.

Maybe it would be. I won’t argue that. But the rhetorical equivalent of scare quotes (the use of the word “suspicion” with regard to both Iran’s nuclear program and its unquestionable aid to Iraqi terrorist groups [“resistance”!]) makes this the cherry on the top. In Winkler’s opposition to American foreign policy, it’s always 1968, and nothing ever said in defense of that policy, or in pursuit of American national interests, can ever be believed, not even when it’s right in front of your own, lying eyes.