The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 12th, 2010.

  • Jewish Telegraphic Agency: An American Jewish Committee poll found that “Jewish approval of President Obama is dropping,” according to JTA. On Iran, the poll found “American Jewish confidence in Obama’s approach to Iran also has fallen” to 43 percent approval. Nearly 60 percent of those American Jews polled approved of military action to prevent an Iranian bomb, and a third disapproved. Seventy percent approved of Israeli military action, which just over a quarter of respondents opposed.
  • Commentary: Since Obama seems unlikely to strike Iran, Jennifer Rubin, writing at the Contentions blog, cited the responses to questions about Iran in the AJC poll reported by JTA as the central reason for the overall dip in approval. “In answer to the question of whether anything can wean Jews of their ‘sick addiction‘ to the Democratic Party” — referencing Rachel Abrams — “the answer seems to be ‘Obama,'” she writes.
  • Reuters: Lesley Wroughton reports that on Friday Iran’s Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini accused the World Bank of “discriminatory behavior” in its decision not to authorize new development assistance in Iran. Hosseini said that development and humanitarian assistance were not part of UN sanctions and that the Bank’s refusal to consider a new lending strategy to Iran went against the Bank’s articles of agreement. “The shocking point is that, based on inquiry made from the legal department of the World Bank, the developmental and humanitarian projects are excluded from the imposed sanctions on Iran,” Hosseini said, “in no section of the legal opinion reasons can be found to reduce relations and not financing such new projects.” U.S. lawmakers have pressured the Bank to cut its lending to Iran.
  • Foreign Policy: Iranian analysts tend to use Red China, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to contextualize and predict Iran’s behavior. Carnegie Endowment Associate Karim Sadjadpour looks at those examples, rejects two and chooses one. Using former U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan’s 1947 essay on the Soviet Union, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” as a template, Sadjadpour substitutes references to the former USSR with words related to the Islamic Republic and offers a guide to how the U.S. should manage its Iran policy.  Sadjadpour rejects the China comparison, and the ensuing strategy of rapprochement. He concludes  anti-Americanism is too deeply ingrained in the identity of the Islamic Republic. Instead, the U.S. should put aside fears that Iran is expansionist or genocidal—there is little evidence to support these fears—and accept that U.S. policies might not bring immediate change in Iran. Instead, the parallels to the Soviet Union’s “siege mentality” should help form a new U.S. policy based on Iran’s longterm strategic weaknesses and, ultimately, unsustainable security policies and revolutionary ideology.

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.