The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for October 25, 2010:

  • Commentary: Max Boot blogs that, in light of Hamid Karzai’s acknowledgment that he receives $2 million a year from Iran, “the Iranians have attempted similar dollar diplomacy in Iraq, Lebanon, and lots of other countries. No surprise that they should try the same thing with another neighbor.” Boot says Iran’s policy is to give money to both the Afghan government and, allegedly, the Taliban, and its tendency to make contributions in cash is cynical and “seedy.” But the strategy is “not that far removed from conventional foreign aid programs run by the U.S., Britain and other powers.” Karzai’s decision to take Iranian money doesn’t make him a “dupe of Iran,” and he gets far more money from the U.S., says Boot. Instead, Boot takes the lesson that the revelations should be a warning that if the U.S. leaves, “Afghanistan will once again be the scene of a massive civil war, with neighboring states, and in particular Pakistan and Iran, doing their utmost to exert their influence to the detriment of our long-term interests.”
  • Pajamas Media: Michael Ledeen writes that the Wikileaks release shows that Iran is engaging in the “murder of Americans.” Ledeen says the documents show proof that he’s “been pretty much on-target all along” and that his critics owe him an apology. “But the really big apologies are due from our political leaders, who… have failed to respond, either politically (as I have proposed) or militarily,” he writes. He names many officials from the Clinton, Bush and Obama White Houses and says they are “all accomplices to the great evil that is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and calls for overt support of Iranian opposition movements.
  • The Washington Post: Thomas J. Raleigh, a strategic planner at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad since August 2008, opines that while Iraq is building a stable and prosperous economy, “Iran will be feeling increasingly isolated.” Iranian visitors to Iraq will see the benefits of free trade and democracy and will come back to Iran wanting a similar standard of living. “As the Iraqi standard of living rises, Iranian leaders will eventually find themselves confronting an economic ‘comparative crisis’ much like that East German leaders confronted in the 1980s as their people looked enviously ‘over the wall’,” writes Raleigh.
  • The Washington Post: Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl writes that supporting free access to the internet should be better funded by the State Department and describes the success of such firewall breaching firms as UltraReach,  a company which allows internet users to circumvent national firewalls. Diehl writes that the companies’ founders say that with $30 million in funding they could “effectively destroy the Internet controls of Iran and most other dictatorships.” Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner has said that defeating internet censorship would be a “game changer” in countries like Iran. Diehl writes that the holdup in funding such projects is rooted in a fear of offending the Chinese government. “State is polishing its policy and preparing yet more training programs, Iranians and people from dozens of other countries are trying to get free access to the Internet,” concludes Diehl.

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.