The Daily Talking Points

News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 12th, 2010:

  • Foreign Policy: Michael Eisenstadt and David Crist, both fellows at the AIPAC-formed and often hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, write that President Obama must “convince Tehran that his outstretched hand can be formed into a fist.” Eisenstadt and Crist argue that some “key” Iranian leaders are likely to instigate a confrontation with the United States, “unless Washington, acting with both caution and firmness, moves to avert such an eventuality.” They call for a warning that the United States will “not necessarily respond in a symmetrical or proportionate manner to Iranian provocations,” citing the example of the failed containment effort against Iraq in the 1990s.
  • The Washington Post: While not specifically addressing an Israeli strike against Iran, Columnist George Will fortifies the talking point of a weak Obama and a determined Netanyahu, with the Israeli prime minister’s “focus firmly on Iran.” Will, writing from Jerusalem, draws a caricatured contrast between the two: “Netanyahu, the former commando and fierce nationalist, and Barack Obama, the former professor and post-nationalist.” He ends with an anecdotal boast about Netanyahu’s unwillingness to bend to Washington: “Netanyahu, whom no one ever called cuddly, once said to a U.S. diplomat 10 words that should warn U.S. policymakers who hope to make Netanyahu malleable: ‘You live in Chevy Chase. Don’t play with our future.'”
  • The Atlantic: Robert D. Kaplan makes the case that containment might be the best strategy to deal with a nuclear Iran.  Basing his argument on Henry Kissinger’s writings on limited nuclear war, Kaplan concludes that the costs of stopping Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program is dangerously high while the real risks posed by a nuclear-weapons-possessing Iran is lower than many would acknowledge. The numerous shared interests between Shiites and the United States, and the demographic and likely positive ideological and philosophical shifts underway in Iran lead Kaplan to conclude that, “Given this prognosis, and the high cost and poor chances for success of any military effort to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program, I believe that containment of a nuclear Iran is the most sensible policy for the United States.”
  • Reuters: Russia’s LUKOIL oil company together with China’s state-run energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong are resuming gasoline sales with Iran. Chinese companies have provided half of Iran’s gasoline imports in recent months.

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. Could this be the same Netanyahu who has no control over his cabinet, or the IDF? Who appears to be a blustering bully, but who caves in to anyone who threatens his position as Prime Minister of Israel?

    Netanyahu is a weak, ineffectual PM, whose main concern is not to lose his job.

    Obama is a poker player. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not in a presidential context, but it’s worth bearing in mind. He might just be waiting for Bibi to overplay his hand, before giving him the drubbing he so richly deserves.

  2. We’re isolating ourselves. We got no oil out of Iraq, save the Hunt deal in Kurdistan. This could breed enmity with Turkey. The little shtetl of Israel is worthless, in fact a liability. China and Russia are hoping we’ll bomb Iran, that will bankrupt us and bring a return of skepticism military adventures. I’m hoping this happens before we bomb Iran. But we’ve worn out our welcome and are resented, our brand is fading. We can’t afford the marketing/propaganda to rehab ourselves much less this adventurism.

  3. sec Bird, you say that about Obama based on zero evidence. I haven’t seen any evidence that Obama is anything but wishy-washy. When does he play his hand to prove he’s a poker player? I hope you’re right, (and am a bi-partisan hater) but I’ve yet to see Obama argue passionately for anything. I’ve started calling him the “great compromise(r)”

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