The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 27:

  • The Wall Street Journal: L. Gordon Crovitz opines that Ahmadinejad’s statements and interviews over the past week, which twist or deny accepted truths—such as no one is in prison for participating in protests—makes him “an information pariah” needing to be taken seriously. “A leader who mocks all questions is thumbing his nose at core beliefs of our era, including that information wants to flow freely and that no one is above this law of increasing openness. What to do with an information pariah?” asks Crovitz. Borrowing a familiar neoconservative talking point, he concludes Winston Churchill knew the real nature of evil when he “…blamed his countrymen for adopting policies based on the hope that Hitler was not for real.”
  • Reuters: The Russian decision to ban the delivery of the S-300 air defense system to Tehran last week were done in compliance with UN sanctions. Moscow remains opposed to unilateral sanctions against Iran, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. “If we work jointly, and if our Western partners are saying all the time that it is necessary to maintain a consolidated position on Iran, we need to decide whether we will have a consolidated position on all issues… but if something cannot be achieved, individual states will do it beyond agreements reached with the Security Council,” Interfax cites Lavrov as saying.
  • The Weekly Standard Blog: Jamie Fly, the Executive Director of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative, asks “Is Obama up to the task?” of stopping Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Fly, who appears to have completely disregarded the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough writes, “…the fact that President Obama went to New York even thinking that there might be some progress on the diplomatic front with Iran raises serious questions about his strategy for preventing a nuclear Iran.” Fly considers Obama’s efforts insufficient, aimed only at getting Iran back to the bargaining table rather than halting its alleged nuclear weapons program. Referencing Bob Woodward’s description of Obama in “Obama’s Wars” as “an indecisive president uncomfortable with his role as commander in chief,” Fly ends by questioning whether Obama can take on Iran.
  • The Weekly Standard: Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argues the west  fails to grasp that “…the Iranian president lives in a parallel universe.” Gerecht, who made the case for an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in July, warns: “When we see Ahmadinejad solicit the arrival and “victory” of the Mahdi, who will usher in the end of time and paradise, our instinct is to pass over such words as a personal eccentricity or a pro forma invocation that must be a matter of politesse for pious Iranians…The General Assembly for him is the most important bully pulpit—a dais built by infidels who must give him, a devout Iranian peasant, the chance to speak for Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali and his descendents, and the glorious Iranian nation, the great bulwark against unbelief and Western oppression.” Gerecht argues, that is impossible for Ahmadinejad or Supreme Leader Ali Khameni to make peace with the U.S. since it would go against their belief that they are, “insan-e kamil, ‘the perfect person,’ an age-old Islamic philosophical ideal.” In a rather ominous and cryptic final sentence, Gerecht concludes, “Perhaps before Obama leaves office, we will get to see whether ‘perfect men’ handle nuclear weapons better than capitalists and Communists.”

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.