The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 30 – November 1, 2010:

  • Pajamas Media: Arch neocon Michael Ledeen parses comments made to an AIPAC crowd by Obama foreign policy official Dennis Ross. After lavishing Ross with praise as “one of the best practitioners of the diplomatic arts,” Ledeen goes on to criticize the Obama administration’s policy because of what he sees as a mix of falsehoods and understatements in Ross’s talk. “The central issue is NOT Iranian diplomatic recalcitrance; it’s the murder of American soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” writes Ledeen. “And that is the issue that nobody — not national security officials, not members of Congress, not pundits — wants to talk about. They avoid it with a remarkable single-mindedness, because to acknowledge it means having to respond forcefully, and no president for more than 30 years has been willing to do that.”
  • The Weekly Standard: The American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin writes Iran may be the “most sanctioned planet on earth,” with unilateral sanctions more effective than the UN’s multilateral ones, which require international consensus.  Sanctions are slowly having an effect. Rubin argues the upcoming talks between the P5+1 are a move in the wrong direction. “Certainly, a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is ideal, but under the wrong circumstances engagement could hasten conflict,” he writes. “Against the backdrop of the Islamic Republic’s faltering economy, the worst move for the Obama administration to make is to offer incentives that mitigate pressure on Tehran.” Rubin concludes the Obama administration should impose more sanctions — rather than more diplomatic initiatives — to “delegitimize the Iranian regime in the eyes of the Iranian people.”
  • The Weekly Standard: the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Reuel Marc Gerecht asserts that the latest dump of WikiLeaks documents show that “the Iranians have been wicked in Mesopotamia.” From this, argues Gerecht, the “Democratic foreign policy establishment” should start taking the words of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei seriously when he describes the United States as “Satan incarnate” or “the enemy of Islam.” Gerecht summarizes the Obama administration’s policy towards Iran as: “Obama presumably extended his hand to Khamenei not because the president is slow to anger when aggrieved Third Worlders kill Americans, but because he saw Iranian activity in Iraq, deplorable as it was, as somehow extricable from Iranian foreign policy toward the United States.” For Gerecht, the  problem is “Ali Khamenei and his inner circle really like to kill Americans.” Gerecht concludes if  reports that Iran is supplying anti-aircraft missiles to the Taliban are true, then the United States is only digging its own grave “if we don’t respond militarily to their provocation.”

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.