The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 21-24:

  • The Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin blogs, after the conclusion of the P5+1 talks in Istanbul, that “Instead of talking to an Iranian regime that has shown no interest in negotiations — and, at the same time, derives legitimacy from the negotiations — maybe there are more fruitful actions that we and our allies could be taking.” Such actions include “stressing that the military option remains on the table; making regime change the official policy of the U.S.; working to isolate Iran from international bodies and heightening the focus on Iran’s human rights abuses.” She concludes that the administration “has to stop trying to engage a regime that refuses to be engaged.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: Amir Taheri opines that sanctions are squeezing the Iranian economy — “much of Iran’s industry depends on imported parts, many of which are now on the U.N.’s forbidden list because of suspected dual use” — and sanctions are slowing the nuclear program. Taheri argues that sanctions are far more effective than typically thought and “the evidence is that [sanctions are] hurting the economy and could weaken a regime that is also facing a tenacious internal opposition for the first time since 1981.”
  • The Jerusalem Post: Tovah Lazaroff excerpts former British prime minister Tony Blair’s comments before the British investigative panel on the Iraq War. Blair said, “The West has to get out of this – what I think is a wretched policy, or posture of apology, for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing. We are not [causing this].” Lazaroff looks for Israeli responses to Blair’s remarks and reports, “an Israeli official noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had said on a number of occasions that a military option with respect to Iran should be on the table.” Lazaroff continued, “Netanyahu is of the opinion that for Iran’s nuclear program to be halted, Teheran must believe there is a credible military option, the official told The Jerusalem Post.”

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.



  1. It seems clear that while sanctions are biting, Iran is not going to collapse or surrender on the nuclear issue as a result. While some key technologies are being withheld through sanctions, essential needs are being met by “illicit” trade coming into the country from Asia and elsewhere.

    Engagement is certainly possible, but only if we adopt a completely fresh approach. I don’t see, however, that you can get such a policy turnaround in the face of the Lobby. The best we can do, unfortunately, is build up a policy of deterrence, while hoping for internal change brought about by the Iranian people (without any outside interference). The fact remains that U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is a key to U.S. success in Iraq, the Gulf generally, and Central Asia. Yet we deny ourselves all these benefits in order to support an apartheid regime in Israel-Palestine.

  2. Speaking of the Lobby, why don’t the talking points get into Jen. Rubin’s comments regarding the Al Jazeera leaks? Is this the Iran blog? I though this was geared toward the Middle East. If you’re gonna focus so sharply on Iran, while ignoring other highly relevant events in the Middle East, where neo-cons are active, then I don’t understand the thrust of this blog.

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