The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for December 8, 2010:

  • The Washington Times: Ilan Berman, vice president of the hawkish American Foreign Policy Council, writes that the WikiLeaks cables “demolishes a number of sacred cows relating to American policy towards the Islamic republic” and brings the United States “one step closer to [a military] strike on Iran.” Berman claims that WikiLeaks has proven that: many Middle Eastern leaders are willing to support military action against Iran (this assertion has been widely questioned); Iran has acquired Russian designed missiles from North Korea which can reach Western Europe (significant doubt has been raised about this allegation); and “if Iran is allowed to cross the nuclear threshold, others in the Middle East invariably will follow suit.”
  • Voice of America: VOA includes comments made by Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in its wrap up of the P5+1 Geneva talks. Jalili says Iran will never give up its nuclear rights. Simon Henderson, at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told VOA that “it does not make sense for Tehran to say it needs nuclear technology for power purposes…that is one of the reasons why there is such suspicion that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.”
  • Tablet Magazine: Lee Smith, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute and columnist at Tablet, writes that analysts who argue that hawkish comments made by Arab leaders in the WikiLeaks cables might not always tell the truth to U.S. diplomats, indirectly raise a point about the relationship between Arab leaders and the United States: “Perhaps it is helpful to think of the Wikileaks cables in lay terms as a transcript of a guy (in this case, the Saudis) trying to pick up a pretty girl (the Americans) at a bar. What the boy says to the girl may or may not be true. What is most significant is the effect he means to produce, which is to convince the girl to go home with him.” Smith concludes that much of what is said in the cables about Iran is just “noise” and “it should not matter one whit to U.S. policymakers whether Iran is a danger to the Arabs or, for that matter, to Israel: Tehran represents a major strategic threat to American interests.”

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.


One Comment

  1. Tehran only represents a major strategic threat to American interests if WE will it so. Iraq can be stabilized under its current form of government (as opposed to a radical Shia, Sadrist regime) if the U.S. and Iran work together there. The Afghanistan problem would appear in an entirely different (and brighter) light if the U.S. and Iran were cooperating there. Iran would love to get U.S. technology and technical help in several areas, including refining. The nuclear program only represents a potential (and minor) threat to America if hostility between the two nations continues. Reaching out to Iran should be a priority for America. Together we could ensure the security of the Persian Gulf in perpetuity (and remember, all the major oil areas in the Gulf (except Kuwait, which is a U.S. client anyway), including the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, are majority Shia. U.S. friendship with Turkey and Iran guarantees stabilty in Iraq, a quiet Syria, and the complete opening up of Central Asia for U.S. corporations and the military. U.S.-Iranian friendship would form cornerstone of any plan to block Han Chinese expansion westward, as well as a base from which Chinese control of Sinkiang and Tibet could be destabilized. In short, we have everything to gain from a rapprochement with Iran. Confrontation is desired by Israel, and that’s whose strategic interest Smith is really thinking about.

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