The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for October 20, 2010:

  • The National: Mohamad Bazzi, former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday and current adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes while the Obama administration has portrayed Hezbollah as having questionable loyalties to Lebanon, the Shi’a political party plays a valuable role for Shiite community in Lebanon. “There is a long tradition of the Lebanese state leaving Shiites to fend for themselves and waiting for religious or charitable groups to fill the vacuum. […]Hizbollah’s “state within a state” was possible because successive governments left a void in the Shiite-dominated areas of southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut.” He notes that while Hezbollah is reliant on Iran for financial, military and political support, it is mischaracterized as “purely an Iranian proxy” by western and Arab policy makers.
  • The Hill’s Congress Blog: Mark D. Wallace, President of United Against Nuclear Iran, opines that new U.S. sanctions, which took effect on September 29, “closes a significant loophole found in previous U.S. sanction provisions by covering not only U.S. companies and financial institutions but foreign firms and subsidiaries as well.” Wallace, a former ambassador to the UN and the Bush-Cheney ’04 Deputy Campaign Manager, argues against the criticism that the new sanctions law  oversteps “extraterritoriality.”  He concludes, “Iran’s flagrant defiance of international norms should be reason enough for corporations to cease their business dealings in Iran. Now the U.S. government is presenting companies with a reasonable choice should they refuse to do so: do business with Uncle Sam or with the mullahs in Tehran.”
  • The New York Times: Despite some distortions demonizing Iran, such as repeating the mistranslation Ahmadinejad’s statement that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” columnist Tom Friedman explicitly endorses linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other problems that hamper the U.S. in the Middle East. “At a time when the president has made it one of his top priorities to build a global coalition to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon, he took the very logical view that if he could advance the peace process in the Middle East it would give him much greater leverage to get the Europeans and U.N. behind tougher sanctions on Iran,” writes Friedman. In light of this, he declares Israel is behaving like a “spoiled child,” pointing to that nation’s intransigence in the peace process.

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.