News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for December 4-6, 2010:
- National Review Online: American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Ali Alfoneh opines that expectations should be “subzero” for the P5+1 talks, continuing today in Geneva, since “the Iranian negotiators in Geneva represent the Ahmadinejad government and possibly Khamenei, therefore they cannot deliver what they may promise.” Alfoneh says the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and not the civilian leadership represented in the Geneva talks, is responsible for most aspects of the nuclear program and “has a vested interest in a low-intensity diplomatic crisis between the Islamic Republic and the United States, as it would pave the way for expansion of the IRGC’s power within the Islamic Republic.”
- The Weekly Standard: Senior Foundation for Defense of Democracies Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht warns that negotiations with Iran “will never work.” “You cannot talk about Iran’s nuclear program without understanding it within a religious context,”writes Gerecht. “Secularism has transformed Western culture—or, as Ahmadinejad and Khamenei would say, has permanently debased it.” Gerecht predicts that when the P5+1 meet in Geneva, “If the Obama administration and the Europeans actually understood the opposing side, they would realize the sanctions now on the books are not nearly enough to make Khamenei blink.” In a subtle call for military action, Gerecht concludes “Islamic history is littered with defeated religious militants. But they were defeated. They didn’t arrive at a new understanding of their faith through diplomacy and negotiations.”
- FrumForum / National Post: David Frum writes an anti-linkage piece describing how Arab capitals don’t care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are instead consumed with Iran. “Governments in the region do not in fact care very much about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute,” he writes. “They are transfixed by Iran. They are terrorized by the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.” He suggests the United States should follow their lead and drop the Israeli-Palestinian conflict altogether until the Palestinians are ready to acquiesce to many of Israel’s demands. On Iran, Frum is alarmed by the WikiLeaks revelations: “WikiLeaks confirms and underscores the intransigence and belligerence of Iran.” Frum adds that Iran is “even more dangerous” than most analysts thought.
- Weekly Standard: Stephen Hayes and Foundation for Defense of Democracies fellow Thomas Joscelyn (formerly of the Claremont Institute) write about the links between Al Qaeda and Iran in an article called “The Iran Connection” for the print edition of the Weekly Standard. The two combed through WikiLeaks revelations in order to showcase accusations by Arab leaders that Iran has been visited by relatives of Bin Laden and harbors Al Qaeda members and their families. The article also point to the alleged support of extremist groups and anti-U.S. fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq. It notes that while the P5+1 talks will focus on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, “the United States is concerned about the Iranian nuclear program not just because of nuclear weapons, but because of what the Iranian leadership plans to do with them.” The authors conclude by invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States: “Nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, not only do we have abundant evidence that Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror, supports al Qaeda. We also have evidence that Iran actively assists terrorists and insurgents targeting our soldiers and diplomats in two war zones.”
Alfoneh’s argument is interesting. Anybody out there with a real knowledge of Iran care to comment on its possible accuracy?
I find it interesting (literally) that David Frum and Flynt Leverett are best (or at least very good) friends, despite the fact that their views on Iran are basically irreconcilable.
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