The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 19:

  • The Wall Street Journal: Johns Hopkins Professor and Hoover Institution fellow Fouad Ajami opines, “The Bush diplomacy had declared an open ideological assault against the Iranian theocracy. Mr. Obama would offer that regime an olive branch and a promise of engagement.” Ajami declares this swing toward diplomacy a message to “the despots in the region that the American campaign on behalf of liberty that Mr. Bush had launched in 2003 has been called off.” The op-ed describes Obama’s slowness to speak publicly about the 2009 Iranian election as a “break of faith with democracy” and “deference of the pre-eminent liberal power to men who had unleashed the vigilantes on their own people.” Ajami praises Clinton’s speech last week in Qatar, in which she criticized Arab leaders: “For a fleeting moment in Qatar, George W. Bush seemed to make a furtive return to the diplomatic arena.” He concludes, “He was there, reincarnated in the person of Hillary Clinton, bearing that quintessential American message that our country cannot be indifferent to the internal arrangements of foreign lands.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: Joshua Muravchik reviews Abbas Milani’s book “The Shah” and highlights “The shah’s tolerance of religious minorities—notably Bahai and Jews—and his advancement of women’s rights brought him to daggers with Iran’s clergy, led by Khomeini… The paradox of the fall of the Shah,’ Mr. Milani says, ‘lies in the strange reality that nearly all advocates of modernity formed an alliance against the Shah and chose as their leader the biggest foe of modernity,’” quotes Muravchik.  He concludes, “The Iranians have already paid dearly for this folly. What price the rest of the world will pay remains an open question.”
  • Commentary: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Benjamin Weinthal, writing on Commentary’s Contentions blog, responds to the Der Spiegel magazine cover story about Israeli involvement in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Weinthal mentions that “…the magazine, like most German media, has a peculiar obsession with Jews and Israel,” and goes on to accuse the magazine of helping to propagate “anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish sentiment.” “Take as an example the headline of the article in the current issue documenting a chronology of the planned hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his posh Dubai hotel,” writes Weinthal. “It screams out ‘An eye for an eye, a murder for a murder.’” He concludes, “The cheap wordplay on a section from the Hebrew Bible further reinforces widespread European prejudices against Jews.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.