The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for February 18:

  • The Weekly Standard: Hudson Institute Visiting Fellow Lee Smith blogs on the Iranian plan to send two naval ships through the Suez Canal, and observes that the Iranians are conducting “a test, and not just for Egypt’s military regime.” “The Iranians are also probing the Egyptian population to see where it stands on resistance—the ships were headed to Syria, another pillar of the resistance bloc lined up against Israel—for in the end the Iranians are testing Cairo’s peace treaty with Jerusalem,” says Smith. He goes on to say that Mubarak’s departure is a major coup for Iran.“For better or worse, Mubarak was an American asset and with him off the board the Iranians believe they are one step closer to undermining Washington’s position in the region—and since that position is anchored to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, you can be certain that the Iranians will keep pushing on it.” He concludes that Egypt’s participation in upholding Arab-Israeli peace might be under threat as a new Egyptian government takes power and the Egyptian military seeks to avoid a conflict with its own people.
  • Commentary: Alana Goodman opines on reports that Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi will stand trial for sedition. Goodman sees the crackdown on opposition leaders as a potential boost for the Green Movement: “Like many offenses, sedition is punishable by death in Iran. And while the Iranian government has expressed an eagerness to prosecute Mousavi and Karroubi, such a trial could also result in a backlash against the government and serve as an even greater rallying cry for the Green movement.”
  • National Review Online: Victor Davis Hanson lists “The Many Paradoxes of Barack Obama” and observes that the central paradox in the Middle East is “The relatively pro-American authoritarians (in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and the Gulf) are more vulnerable than the anti-American and far more savage totalitarian regimes (Iran, Syria, Libya, etc.), at least for now, because the latter are more willing to blockade the international media and to use brutal force to crack down on popular protests.” Hanson decides that the Obama administration must be pursuing a strategy of “[C]onsider[ing] the more anti-American regimes more sustainable, untouchable, and authentic, and their protesters tainted with Westernization.” He continues, “I don’t know how else to explain the administration’s otherwise inexplicable failure to support Iranian dissidents in 2009, or its harsh attitude toward Mubarak versus its mild treatment of Ahmadinejad, or its efforts to reach out to a rogue Syria while pulling back from a democratic Israel.”

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. Given the horrors of Mubarak’s mukhabarat, it’s simply ludicrous to entertain the notion that Mubarak was loathe to use brutal force.

    The counter argument is that anti-American regimes have more legitimacy than those that have subsumed their own national interests to those of the US and Israel. Further, as American allies’ interests diverged from those of its citizenry, American allies became more repressive, something that Bush green-lighted with GWOT and policy of security-uber-alles.

  2. “The relatively pro-American authoritarians (in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and the Gulf)… than the anti-American and far more savage totalitarian regimes (Iran, Syria, Libya, etc.)”

    Have to admire the usage of the word ‘Gulf’. Possibly because he couldn’t get himself to call Saudi Arabia a less savage, less totalitarian regime than any other.

    If they could, they’d make us believe that Wahhabism is Iran’s most potent export and the all the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Iranian citizens..

  3. Ok, remember the gassing of the Kurds? We blamed BOTH Saddam and the Iranians for that. There were a couple of other incidents who’s culpability was fungible. It’s hard to have a memory in a world of Sophists.

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