The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for February 11:

The Weekly Standard: Stephen Schwartz writes on “Iran’s Conspiracy Industry” and observes that “conspiracy theories have long flourished in the lands of Islam.” Schwartz offers a rundown of recent anti-Semitic television programming in Iran, warning, “all of this might seem like nothing more than typical, daily insanity in Iran.”

The Washington Post: Charles Krauthammer writes, “Of course, yesterday it was just George W. Bush, Tony Blair and a band of neocons with unusual hypnotic powers who dared challenge the received wisdom of Arab exceptionalism – the notion that Arabs, as opposed to East Asians, Latin Americans, Europeans and Africans, were uniquely allergic to democracy.” Krauthammer goes on to identify the new totalitarianism as “Islamism” and argues, “as in Soviet days, the threat is both internal and external. Iran, a mini-version of the old Soviet Union, has its own allies and satellites – Syria, Lebanon and Gaza – and its own Comintern, with agents operating throughout the region to extend Islamist influence and undermine pro-Western secular states.” He concludes, “We are, unwillingly again, parties to a long twilight struggle, this time with Islamism – most notably Iran, its proxies and its potential allies, Sunni and Shiite.”

The Washington Post: Michael Gerson asks, “Do Egypt’s protests mean American decline?” He warns, “The emergence of a Sunni version of Iran in Egypt would be a major blow,” and “There’s a reason shahs are sometimes followed by mullahs – because religious extremism is the opiate of a humiliated people.”

National Review Online: The Foundation For Defense of Democracies’s Benjamin Weinthal blogs, “The failure of the West to energetically confront Iran’s bellicose policies might very well be revealed in the post-Mubarak era.” He argues, “Iran’s understanding of a new Egyptian political system mirrors the fiercely anti-democratic goals of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.” Weinthal segues the jubilation over Hosni Mubarak’s resignation into a call for tighter sanctions on Iran, writing, “If the West, particularly the Obama administration, is serious about the business of democracy-promotion in Egypt and in the Muslim world, then an accelerated round of hard-hitting sanctions ought to be implemented against Iran’s energy sector… Crude-oil sanctions targeting Iran serve the twin goals of advancing democracy in Egypt and perhaps contributing to the demise of the Iranian regime.” He concludes, “In short, democratic change in Egypt is arguably contingent on blocking the spread of revolutionary Iranian Islam in the Middle East.”

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. Why the neocons keep on harping on Iran? This keeps them employed and it removes the gaze of the nation away from where it should be :i.e Israeli behaviors inside and outside Israel.

  2. All these folks are saying “we” and “America” and “the West”, but what they are thinking is Israel, Israel, Israel. They try to sell their view by projecting the perceived dangers to Israel upon the rest of us. Radical Islam is not equivalent to Nazism or Soviet Communism. The latter truly were threats to America and the West. Militant Islam is an irritant in comparison. Islamic terrorism is not the Wehrmacht or the Red Army. We suffer from terrorism largely because we insist on interfering in the Muslim world. Whether or not it represents a real threat to apartheid Israel should be a matter of indifference to Americans.

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