The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 28:

  • The Atlantic: Jeffrey Goldberg lists his observations on the ongoing events in Egypt and mentions that friends of his, like FDD fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, advocate that democratically elected Islamist governments might be part of a “long-term process of gradual modernization.” But Goldberg is “not so sure” and suggests that not all democratically elected governments are worth ending “fifty years of peace” which have “meant propping up dictators for fifty years.” “I support democratization, but the democratization we saw in Gaza (courtesy of, among others, Condi Rice) doesn’t seem particularly worth it,” he writes.” Goldberg then tries to deny the importance of “linkage”—despite its embrace by the military establishment and the Obama administration—and concludes, “these uprisings are offering proof that Israel isn’t the central Arab preoccupation. Wikileaks showed us that Iran is the obsession of Arab leaders, and these mass demonstrations are showing us that the faults of Arab leaders are the actual obsession of Arab people.” (Jim Lobe and I took a closer look at those cables and found a very different message.)
  • The National Interest: Ben-Gurion University professor Benny Morris writes, “The regimes that have crumbled or appear to be on the verge of crumbling, are those linked to the West, and they are regimes characterized by a relatively soft authoritarianism, and are commonly perceived as weak, if not downright flabby, well past their prime.” He contrasts the end of Ben Ali’s rule and the escalating situation in Egypt with the suppression of protests by the Iranian government in 2009. “All of this stands in stark contrast to the Iranian regime’s successful suppression of last year’s street rebellion, triggered by the fraudulent elections that left President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in power,” he writes. Morris concludes, “What is clear is that the West, as usual, is faring poorly among the Muslims of the Middle East, where real savagery—sadly—wins respect, and irresolution, a kick in the pants.”

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. Anger? I’m not angry. If the price of oil goes to $200, I’ll figure out something. I worry more about my neighbors, many of whom are already living on the edge in this no-growth, high-tax state. My point was that I’m more concerned about my family and fellow citizens than I am about the Egyptians.

    Oil supplies will be affected immediately by the unrest, in that fear and speculation will drive prices up. That’s a passing phenomenon. But if Egypt should go Islamist, ferment throughout the region will be ongoing, and the price spike will last longer.

    As I said, if it gets America out of the Middle East, I’d be pleased on that score. But if you think unemployment in America is bad now, wait until oil goes through the roof.

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