The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for February 12-14:

  • The Washington Post: On her “Right Turn” blog, Jennifer Rubin asks “Will Obama now reverse course on Iran?” “We should re-evaluate the ongoing, useless talks with the Iranian regime on its nuclear weapons program, which have the effect of legitimizing the regime and depressing the opposition,” says Rubin. “Instead, in international bodies and with allies we should pursue a full court press to isolate the Iranian regime and highlight its dismal human rights record.” The neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative’s Jamie Fly tells Rubin “If the administration is serious about regime change, it is going to have to give up its hopes of a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
  • Commentary: Abe Greenwald writes about the reports on protests in Tehran and the house arrest of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. “Given the regional political temperature, the Iranian regime’s historical inclination to absolute security, and the new suspicion that Washington is content to be a witness to atrocity, there could be a perfect paranoid storm brewing in the minds of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Amadinejad.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: Melik Kaylan opines on Iranian official’s decision to “outlaw Valentines Day” and observes, “The state, for its part, continues to respond with a Whack-a-Mole approach to any social ripple not dreamt of in its philosophy.” He goes on, “[W]ith mosque and state firmly conjoined, there’s no stray detail of daily life so arcane that the scriptures can’t be mobilized to rein it in.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: The Journal’s editorial board writes, “The hard men of Tehran are now seeking to tap into Egypt’s revolutionary fervor, hailing Hosni Mubarak’s downfall as “a great victory,” but acknowledge that the Iranian government is concerned about the upsurge of pro-Democracy movements in the region. “Clearly the mullahs are nervous about contagion,” they conclude.

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. I hate to give the appearance of agreeing with Jennifer Rubin, but it just might be time to ratchet up the pressure on the current Iranian regime, in the hope of helping to bring about its downfall.

    It remains to be seen whether the revolutionary forces sweeping the Middle East will be strong enough to bring down all the tyrants in the region. If I had to guess, I’d say that the forces of repression will win out, despite the powerful example of Egypt. But if there’s anything we can do to help get rid of these regimes, we shouldn’t hesitate. U.S.-Iranian relations could enter a whole new phase — a fresh start — if the current regime goes. I doubt it will happen, at least at this time, but if we can do something other than stand by and watch, we should. A moment like this may not recur for years, decades.

  2. Of course Jon, you ignore that anything we do will be counterproductive. So Iranian activists were gathered across from the Fed. courts building yesterday. I walked up and asked what they want, they said “democracy and freedom in Iran.” I asked, ok, what do you want to US to do about it, any help we give will tarnish the Green movement.” He agreed and many others voiced their agreement. We talked a bit more, they we just trying to raise awareness, they didn’t want help either.

    This jibes with what the opposition movement leaders have all said, so, in light of that, what should we do Jon? I think I share your attitude of wanting to seize the moment, but what to do.

  3. Oh, I would be guided by what the opposition wanted the U.S. to do. If they say do nothing, then fine, we do nothing.

    Obama did a pretty good job as events unfolded in Egypt. I’d trust his judgement.

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