The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for February 8:

  • The Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin blogs that, in Israel, “dissent is celebrated, not suppressed.” She bolsters this assertion by citing yesterday’s Herzliya Conference panel on Iran’s nuclear program, characterizing the panel as “arguments between those who see [Iran’s] nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel (as does the government) and those who indulge in the fantasy that this isn’t anything to worry about.”
  • The National Review: Hudson Institute visiting fellow and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith defends George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda,” writing that Obama is “repudiating his freedom agenda” and “threw the baby out with the bathwater.”  He continues, “Rather, in its national-security approaches to Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, and the Arab states, it downplayed human rights and democracy concerns or discarded them altogether.” Feith charges, “when Iranian demonstrators bravely defied imprisonment, torture, and death to protest their government’s electoral fraud in June 2009, Obama’s frigid detachment shocked even many of his own political supporters.”
  • The New York Times: The America Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin writes on the NYT’s “Room for Debate” forum that “Egypt is not Iran,” and observes, “many current and former officials worry that any withdrawal of support for Egyptian President Mubarak will reverberate through the region much as did President Carter’s abandonment of the Shah of Iran.” Rubin argues, “The problem with Carter’s approach was not the shah’s fall, but White House dithering in its aftermath,” and advocates that the Obama administration “support establishment of a technocratic transitional government, use their soapbox to help it make the necessary legal changes to ensure a smooth election according to a set time line, and then welcome Egypt’s new democratic order.”

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. Rubin’s assertion is something that does not need to be discarded as exercise in self patting on back. But needs to be understood in terms of the effects. Will a cogent argumnet will stop Israel from orchestrating violence against Iran? Will an effective argumnet against chronic debilitating Israeli fascination aginst Iran will stop it from persuing sinister exercises in UK,Germany,USA?
    Rubin celebrates diaglogue for the sake of existence of dialigue. People of substances dont. If dialogue does not lead to its logical conclusion at the level of concrete steps then its a child play, a Hollywood production for 90 minutes time out from reality. Rubin may appreciate all the actors and the costumes but people with brains wont care. Saddam would have allowed all kind of demonstration and freedom of press were sure of two things that these demonstrations would shape a postive image of him and would bring more US Tax dollars for all his pet projects including settlemnts in Shia nd Kurd dominated lands by Sunnis , never would threat him anyway.

  2. Feith is playing the democracy card because he thinks that’s the best way to influence the Obama administration’s policies. Democracy in Iran or the Arab world is important to him only insofar as it promotes Israeli interests. If he decided tomorrow that autocrats are likely to stay in power and remain Israel-friendly, he’d come down on their side against the democrats.

    Michael Rubin’s point regarding Iran is debatable, but his recipe for Egypt is probably sound — that is, it’s probably the best the U.S. can do, though the upshot remains very much in question.

    Jennifer Rubin’s assertion requires no rebuttal; it speaks for itself. (Or, to put it another way — consider the source.)

  3. Jennifer Rubin’s argumnet is not new.This has been common refrain : i.e Israel is vibrant democracy Arabs are not.There is truth to this claims but the fcat of the matter is there is possibly democracy in Saudi Royal house which does not extend beyond 30,000 members .There is always some kind of democracy in military junta so limited to their upper echelon.
    Freedom of expression is tolerated in Israel but same expressions here in UK or US would be called antisemitism by same folks like Rubin.

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