The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for November 5, 2010.

  • Foreign Policy: Josh Rogin, writing on Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog, reports that Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arms of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is sending out mailers to Republican senators, urging them to vote against the New START treaty with Russia. One of the mailings raised the question: “’Why did Senator Bob Corker vote in committee to put Russia’s military interests ahead of our own?” This referred to Corker’s vote approving the treaty in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 16. Rogin adds, “With a picture juxtaposing the images of Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mailer alleges that President Obama and lawmakers are using the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress to ram through the New START treaty, which it argues ‘severely weakens our national security.’” The mailer alleges that the treaty, which would primarily reduce the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads, would put nuclear weapons in the hands of “countries that want to destroy us,” like North Korea and Iran. Corker’s Chief of Staff told The Cable that much in the flier wasn’t accurate.
  • National Review Online: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Ali Alfoneh writes that Sobh-e Sadegh’s—an Iranian newspaper with close ties to the IRGC—calls November 4th, the 31st anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy, as “the day of humiliation of world imperialism.” The newspaper’s statements, say Alfoneh, show that “the political alliances which defeated the Shah’s regime required foreign enemies like the United States for internal unification, an essential component of the regime’s survival.” Alfoneh concludes, “[Some of the hostage takers] have themselves become victims of this ruthless political system, which constantly looks for and finds fifth columnists. It is this side of the Atlantic where some are still unwilling to accept reality.”
  • The Weekly Standard: Michael Weiss writes that uproar over the sentencing to death of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, for the crimes of murder and adultery, and Iran’s unclear plans regarding her execution offer an insight into “the theocracy’s preferred method of psychological torture: Will we or won’t we.” Weiss concludes that despite outcry from various Western human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, “Whatever happens to Ashtiani, one can only guess at the psychological torture she and her family have endured because their government takes sadistic joy in treating capriciously the matter of whether she lives or dies.”
  • American Enterprise Institute: Charlie Szrom, a senior analyst and program manager at AEI’s Critical Threats Project, writes that the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation is flawed because it  is used for political purposes. “Two weeks from now, officials from the P5+1 group, consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, hope to meet with Iranian officials for a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program. Did this announcement of Jundallah’s FTO designation occur now as a bargaining chip to encourage Iran to engage in talks over its nuclear program?” asks Szrom. He argues that the FTO designation should be used regardless of the diplomatic and political environment and “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda and its affiliates, threaten American interests and should trigger FTO designation as soon as credible evidence of their status emerges.” Szrom warns that fixing the FTO designation process and the recent designation of Jundallah as a terrorist group, “does not encourage Iran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, which will continue without serious considerations by the United States of all its options regarding Iran.”

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.



  1. Are rightwing sources the only sources on Iran — National Review, Weekly Standard and such?

  2. Eli, who owns the nuclear bomb-making process? I suppose there are mining interests, refiners, processors, and more conventional military contractors. Do you have any info on this?

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