News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for February 19-22:
- The Wall Street Journal: The Journal’s editorial board writes that the Obama administration needs a “new freedom agenda,” and should take notes from George W. Bush’s second inaugural address. They accuse Obama of “[O]ffer[ing] no support for Iranian demonstrators after [the June 2009] fraudulent elections” and calls on him to “meet publicly with dissidents from places like Libya, Syria and Iran, as Mr. Bush did in Prague in 2007, to lend a Presidential seal of approval to their struggle.” (See Jim Lobe’s blog post on the 2007 Prague conference.) The administration could be more supportive of the Green movement by authorizing the CIA to “provide Iranian workers with a strike fund—hard cash smuggled into the country to allow Iran’s workers to sustain a strike—thereby replicating the conditions that brought down the Shah.” The editorial endorses the administration publicly backing the Green movement’s leaders and suggests, “The Administration could also assemble prominent exiled leaders of the Green movement to sign a declaration of principles against the regime.”
- Commentary: American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin opines on Iranian claims over Bahrain and warns that Iranian authorities have “repeatedly spoken of Bahrain in the same manner in which Saddam Hussein once spoke about Kuwait,” and, “When Iranian officials talk about their desire to transform the Persian Gulf into a Persian lake, they envision sending Bahrain’s Sunni ruling elite packing and returning Iranian dominance to Bahrain in order to rid the region of American influence.” Rubin says that Iran will never gain the upper-hand in Bahrain because “Whenever the Iranians have supported Shiite insurrection and riots, Saudi troops have quietly crossed the causeway to help Bahrain authorities put down the uprising.” He concludes that the U.S. should back constitutional reforms in Bahrain but preserve the monarchy.
- The New York Times: Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, asks, “will Egypt be a partner in peace?” and warns, “We have seen what democracy without tolerance and openness can yield — in Gaza, Lebanon and Iran.” Oren reminds readers of the Iranian threat, writing, “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran hailed the Egyptian revolution as a step toward creating a Middle East ‘without America and the Zionist regime,’ and celebrated by dispatching warships to the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Iran continues to spin out enriched uranium — ‘producing it steadily, constantly,’ according to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency — to achieve nuclear military capacities.”
- National Post: Former George W. Bush administration speech writer David Frum opines, “The obvious thing to worry about in Bahrain is that the current unrest could invite meddling by fellow Shiites across the Gulf in Iran. (And in fact Iran has meddled in Bahrain since the days of the shah.)” He observes, “Always and ever: Iran is the big play in the Middle East. A democratic Iran may not be an entirely congenial presence,” and advocates for democratic reforms in both Iran and Bahrain. “But a more democratic Iran would be a less dangerous place for everyone, including its own people, than today’s theocratic, terrorism-supporting Iran. Every regional decision has to be measured against the test: Is this moving us closer to — or further from — a positive change in the Iranian political system?”