Against Jen Rubin’s belligerent ‘Iran Reset’

You can take the blogger out of Commentary, but you can’t take Commentary out of the blogger. So we learn from Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post‘s new neoconservative blogger. As recounted in our Daily Talking Points on Monday, Rubin had two big posts on Iran policy. In one of them Rubin actually fleshes out an entire Iran policy. And guess where it ends up? Exactly where you might expect: Reliably in the ‘bomb Iran’ column.

I won’t bother going over her recommendations and rebutting them, because so many have already done it for me:

Matt Duss at the Wonk Room, whose entire post is a definite must-read:

What’s Farsi for ‘Cakewalk’?

…Maybe there are Iranian democrats who support the U.S. bombing their country, I’d love to hear from them. But I think we’ve gotten far too casual about proposing these sorts of attacks. If we’re going to talk about it, let’s at least talk about it seriously, recognizing that very many people will very likely die. They deserve a lot better than than you know, if everything goes just right, it just might work!

Justin Elliott at Salon:

Rubin wants the United States to make human rights a central theme in its Iran policy — and to indiscriminately assassinate civilian scientists.

…The “car accident” line in her post is a clear reference to the bombing of two scientists’ cars last month in Tehran. Here is a BBC account of those attacks, carried out by unknown men on motorbikes. One of the scientists was killed and one was wounded. Both of their wives were also reportedly wounded. Another nuclear scientist was killed in a similar bombing earlier this year.

No one has argued that any of these men could be considered combatants. It’s also still unclear who was behind the attacks, though Iran has accused the United States and Israel of having a role. But even the U.S. State Department referred to these attacks as acts of terrorism, which would make them antithetical to any serious concept of human rights.

At Mondoweiss, Philip Weiss picks up on this same inconsistency, but has a broader point about the Post:

The Washington Post has replaced the American Enterprise Institute as the primary hub of neoconservative arguments for U.S. aggression in the Middle East. AEI served  a Republican administration, and cannot perform that role for Democrats. So the Post is now doing the job, percolating militarist ideas for the Obama administration. Old wine in a new bottle. Jennifer Rubin is the latest hire, fresh from Commentary magazine, arguing for an attack on Iran…

Later on Weiss comes back to the issue, and points us to a Huffington Post piece by David Bromwich, who calls it “barbarous dialect”:

There was nothing like this in our popular commentary before 2003; but the callousness has grown more marked in the past year, and especially in the past six months. Why?

Bromwich focuses on President Barack Obama’s decision to assassinate a U.S. citizen who preaches violent extremism against the U.S., and the fact that even the president can joke about “drone strikes” — that is, shooting missiles down on villages from on high. Bromwich:

A joke (it has been said) is an epigram on the death of a feeling. By turning the killings he orders into an occasion for stand-up comedy, the new president marked the death of a feeling that had seemed to differentiate him from George W. Bush. A change in the mood of a people may occur like a slip of the tongue. A word becomes a phrase, the phrase a sentence, and when enough speakers fall into the barbarous dialect, we forget that we ever talked differently.

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.



  1. Why? Because the neocons, in the darkness of their rooms at night, have to admit to themselves that Israel is barreling down the road of self-destruction. Hence the increasingly callous talk. It’s a bizarre reenactment of the vow uttered by a man long dead.

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