The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 11th, 2010.

  • The Washington Post:  In an editorial, WaPo’s Jackson Diehl writes the Obama administration’s foreign policy strategy is marked by public and highly choreographed “process” and timelines. On Iran, Diehl points to the administration’s statement last spring that Iran was two to five years away from producing a bomb. Whether the sanctions approach will be successful is still unclear, says Diehl, but it has set a clock ticking. The scheduled drawdown of troops in Afghanistan by July 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ goal of creating a “framework agreement” by next September, and the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, all are on timelines and will be put to a test before the 2012 presidential election. He concludes, “Process is always important to good policy — and yes, the Bush administration sometimes demonstrated what can go wrong when there are no deadlines. Yet in the Obama administration, the timetable is becoming an end in itself. It reflects a president who is fixed on disposing of foreign policy problems — and not so much on solving them.”
  • The New York Times:  In his oped, Roger Cohen reflects on his breakfast with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and concludes that he is ultimately, “odious” but not dangerous. Cohen points out that hyping the threat of Ahmadinejad has become a U.S. and Israeli pastime, with estimates for when Iran will acquire an atomic bomb ranging from 1999 to 2014. “There is a dangerous pattern here of Israeli and U.S. alarmism,” he writes. Iran is a “paper tiger,” says Cohen. “One of the things there’s time for, if you’re not playing games with the Iran specter, is a serious push for an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough that would further undermine the Iranian president.”
  • The Daily Beast: Reza Aslan writes that Farsi1, a Farsi-language satellite station broadcasting in Iran, is among the most popular in the banned-but-tolerated Iranian satellite TV market. But Farsi1 is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewCorp, which operates a slew of right wing American outlets like the New York Post and Fox News Network. Several officials in the Islamic Republic have denounced it as a tool of the West’s war with Iran, as they have done with BBC Persian and Voice Of America (which are operated by the British and U.S. governments, respectively). “Part of why the government is so wary about these satellite programs is that they are usually filled with overt political propaganda against the Iranian regime (this includes BBC and Voice of America),” writes Aslan. “But what controversy exists about Farsi1 is focused on the main man behind the project, Rupert Murdoch,”whose Fox News has fed “anti-Islam hysteria.”

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.