News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 15th, 2010.
- Foreign Policy: David Rothkopf charges that Roger Cohen’s recent New York Times op-ed totally disregards the threat posed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Instead, Rothkopf endorses Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren’s New York Times op-ed demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. “As unproductive as the Israeli stance on settlements has been, the Palestinian stance on the nature of the Israeli state, and its ability to continue operations as conceived and sanctioned by the United Nations nearly six and a half decades into its modern existence is just as unconstructive and indefensible,” writes Rothkopf. He concludes with a variation of the debunked reverse-linkage argument, arguing that “[Ahmadinejad’s] grandstanding and inflaming crowds on Israel’s borders with the language of obliteration is not just rhetoric. It is part of a systematic and thus far effective effort to exacerbate dangers and, not secondarily, to prolong the misery of the Palestinian people whose right to a free, independent state created in their own image is, of course, every bit as great as that of the Israelis.”
- The Washington Times: Eli Lake writes that Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon adds pressure to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to withdraw his support of a UN investigation to determine who killed his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “I think it’s clear that Ahmadinejad’s visit is intended to show support for Hezbollah at a time when it’s facing the prospect of indictments in the murder of Hariri and is engaged in a campaign to undermine and derail the tribunal,” said Ash Jain, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Lake’s article went to print before it was known whether Ahmadinejad would travel to the Israeli border—he did not—but he writes that such a visit “would signal Iran’s proxies were on Israel’s border.”
- FrumForum: Brad Schaeffer, an energy derivatives broker writing for the blog of neoconservative pundit David Frum, lines up three scenarios (best, mid,and worst case) on what could happen to oil prices should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Best-case results in only a small, temporary spike in prices and the Iranian leadership uses the strike to turn the “military lemon into PR lemonade” by playing “victim” without retaliation. A mid-level escalation would result in small to medium spikes, for a more sustained period, and attacks against Western forces. Worst case would mean an all out war (and closing the Strait of Hormuz) and the doubling of oil prices from their current levels.
- Time: Tony Karon describes Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to Lebanon as emblematic of a U.S. policy failure in the region. The visit makes clear three difficult realities the U.S. is facing: “First, Iran is not nearly as isolated as Washington would like; secondly, the Bush Administration efforts to vanquish Tehran and its allies have failed; and, finally, the balance of forces in the region today prompts even U.S.-allied Arab regimes to engage pragmatically with a greatly expanded Iranian regional role.” Ahmadinejad met with Lebanon’s Christian president and Saudi-backed Sunni prime minister, notes Karon, and “he also appears to be placing a heavy stress on Lebanese unity and the need to avoid division” — rather than focus solely on Iran’s Hezbollah beneficiaries.