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Published on October 2nd, 2010 | by Ali Gharib


Duss on Gingrich’s claim of Iran as ‘Suicidal Jihadist’ nation

Matt Duss continues to be an indispensable daily read for those who want to keep track of what D.C. hawks are saying. He’s on top of every word they utter, offering solid progressive rebuttals for even their most absurd talking points.

Take former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s claim that Iran is a nation of ‘suicidal Jihadists,’ and his demand that should China not acquiesce to participate in  sanctions against the Islamic Republic, then the U.S. should boycott trade with the most populous state in the world.

Duss, using overwhelmingly simple logic and pointing to an actual expert who’s studied Iran and nuclear proliferation, dispatches both points with ease:

I admit it’s not immediately clear which is more ridiculous, the idea that Iran’s leaders would like to commit suicide, or that U.S. leaders would ever seriously consider, let alone carry out, a trade boycott of a country that owns over $770 billion of U.S. debt.

As to which is more dangerous, that’s easy. Unlike a trade boycott on China, there are ostensibly serious people who believe, or are at least willing to say they believe, that Iranians desire martyrdom and are therefore undeterrable in the traditional sense.

But as my former colleague Andy Grotto demonstrated in his article “Is Iran A Martyr State?” last year, this claim is unsupported by anything like actual evidence.

“The martyr state view rests on bold, even radical claims about Iran’s goals and behavior that defy conventional expectations of states’ actions,” wrote Grotto, “but no government in recorded history has willfully pursued policies it knows will proximately cause its own destruction.”

Read the whole post for more details of analysis and history. With all the evidence to the contrary, it’s no wonder it’s so easy to cast off this ridiculous neoconservative meme of ‘Iran as suicide nation.’

As for the bit about a trade boycott of China, this has become another hawkish theme of late: go after countries seen as insufficiently committed to helping the U.S. with its foreign policy priorities. Eli has written about this time and again (with, I’m sure, more to come), but it’s worth noting his conclusion to one of his posts on the subject:

The lengths that neocons will go to to enforce sanctions appear to be growing on a daily basis. If these measures were implemented, so too would the costs.

A trade boycott of China is only the latest — and most absurd — incarnation of this argument.

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About the Author


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.

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