The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for October 22, 2010:

  • Jerusalem Post: Israeli President Shimon Peres endorsed linkage—the concept accepted by many in the Obama administration and military leadership that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will help the U.S. pursue its longterm strategic objectives in the Middle East—at a conference of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute on Thursday. According to the Jerusalem Post, “Peres said that, “for our existence, we need the friendship of the United States of America,” and “…the president said Israel could be of help to the US by enabling an ‘anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East, and the contribution will not be by declaration, but if we stop the secondary conflict between us and the Palestinians,’ in order to allow the US to focus on the Iranian threat.”
  • The Race For Iran: Peter Jenkins endorses Gareth Evans post which lays out why Iran’s leaders will not pursue nuclear weapons, but adds that while pressure and persuasion may help deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it may also have the opposite effect. Jenkins suggests that Western powers start focusing on addressing broader regional concerns about a nuclear weapons possession and the impact on the regional balance of power. “Now that most of the evidence points to Iran having opted for self-denial, a new policy is needed, a policy that gives priority to allaying Israeli and Arab fears that a threshold capability will enhance Iran’s regional status and self-confidence,” he concludes.
  • Commentary: Evelyn Gordon writes on the Contentions blog that the incoming Congress must do everything it can to support the Iranian opposition. She says “Swiss cheese sanctions” won’t work. “That leaves two choices: a military strike, which everyone professes to oppose, or regime change — which probably wouldn’t end the nuclear program but would mitigate the threat it poses,” she writes. She says this entails “vocal and unequivocal moral support,” and “technological support.” She concludes: “What Congress must do is find out from movement organizers themselves what they need — and then give it to them.”
  • The Guardian: Foreign affairs columnist Simon Tisdall writes that “neither sanctions nor diplomacy can wholly obviate the dread possibility of military confrontation unless something fundamental changes soon at the heart of Iran’s fundamentalist regime.” Tisdall points to some of the effects of sanctions, but says their overall impact inside is difficult to know, noting comments from Iran’s finance minister that the country’s cash reserves are enough to withstand the pressure. He also mentions resistance to the program from China, Turkey and Iraq. He says that while Iran is due to come to the negotiating table next month, it will likely limit the talks. “[T]here is little or no evidence so far that Iran’s top leadership is willing, or can be forced, to fundamentally change its ways,” he writes. “And so the dread juggernaut of direct, physical confrontation rolls ever closer.”
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Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.