The Daily Talking Points

News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 18th, 2010:

Washington Times: In an editorial, the über-hawkish DC daily echoes John Bolton (referenced in our last entry here) and calls for a strike against Iran’s Bushehr reactor before fuel rods are inserted in the plant. Their revised timeline gives the United States or Israel just two days to act — though they state that it might not be so bad to wait because the radiation-fallout that Bolton seeks to avoid would be a way for a potential strike to “hinder Iranian attempts to get it back up and running.” The editors opine that “action is needed,” but admit that it’s unlikely.

NY At the Opinionator blog, Robert Wright offers a nuanced reading of Jeffery Goldberg‘s recent Atlantic story on the likelihood of an Israeli military strike on Iran in the coming year (50-50, Goldberg says). Wright says that while there is a “bit of channeling” Bibi Netanyahu, “the piece is no simple propaganda exercise.” Wright concludes that while the piece is, if anything, a poor piece of war propaganda, it is instructive because it answers questions about the weak Israeli public (and private) reasons for bombing, and also offers the United States a map for constructing a plan to avoid that scenario, especially given that the piece offers “no sound rationale for bombing Iran.”

Arms Control Wonk: Joshua Pollack, an occasional U.S. government consultant, laments that the arms control community — “nuke nerds” — are not playing a big enough role in discussions over what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, often only speaking amongst themselves in acronym-heavy jargon. So he offers, in plain English, a little parsing about the different views of Iran’s nuclear goals: What, for instance, does “going nuclear” even mean? “If Iran is going to achieve breakout capability at a hidden facility somewhere — call it Son of Qom — then bombing Natanz won’t address that problem,” write Pollack. “The name of the game today isn’t bombing, it’s intelligence.” (Hat Tip to Laicie Olson)

Washington Post: On the anniversary of the 1953 coup d’etat that unseated the democratically elected and secular Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh (and re-installed the dictatorial Shah), Council on Foreign Relations fellow Ray Takeyh examines the events and offers an unusual account that places the blame for the failure of democracy fifty-seven years ago squarely on the same societal forces responsible for last summer’s squashing of democratic expression: Iran’s clerics.

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. You might offer a crib note on some of the authors, Robert Wright and the author of “the Looming Tower” Lawrence Wright are different people–I had to google that. What’s so right with the Wrights?

    Ray Takeyh’s piece is repugnant in the same way as Asia Times contributor Spengler who says Americans hate Muslims for their barbarity–even stooping to kill each other. Both these authors ignore the American role in fomenting civil war, meddling in foreign countries. Imagine, countries in civil wars rend themselves with violence and persecutions of suspected collaborators and traitors. What adolescent and sophomoric “analysis.”

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