The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for December 20, 2010:

The Wall Street Journal: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes that Afghanistan is costly and “a strategic distraction,” and that U.S. military resources could be better used by preparing for a conflict with North Korea and Iran. Haass says an important factor is, “[T]he increased possibility of a conflict with a reckless North Korea and the continued possibility of a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. U.S. military forces must be freed up to contend with these issues.” While “total withdrawal is not the answer,” he concludes that “The perception that we are tied down in Afghanistan makes it more difficult to threaten North Korea or Iran credibly—and makes it more difficult to muster the forces to deal with either if necessary.”

New York Post: An editorial in NY’s Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid picks up on the threats of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps general that Iran will retaliate for the assassinations of its nuclear scientists. “It may sound like an empty threat, or an unhinged response,” write the Post editors. “But the threat is dead serious — proof of how hellbent Iran is to split the atom.” They add: “For Iran, nukes are its foreign policy — along with the terror it exports to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.” They add the threat of nuclear war looms large if Iran gets the bomb: “An atomic Iran could launch traditional military and terrorist attacks and tie the world’s hands by threatening nuclear war when any nation moves to fight back. By then it won’t have to rattle its sabers — it can aim its nukes instead.”

Pajamas Media: Foundation for Defense of Democracies scholar Michael Ledeen writes that last week’s terror attack in Southeastern Iran wasn’t a terror attack at all, but was “against the symbols and enforcers of the Shi’ite regime: Revolutionary Guards, Basij, and Quds Force fighters.” Ledeen cites internal political wrangling and suggests that the regime is in a “death spiral.” He concludes by making a case for regime change as a means of “reverse linkage” in the most sweeping manner seen yet: “If only there were a Western leader with the prescience and courage to support the Greens, we would find many terrible problems a lot easier to manage: Iraq and Afghanistan would go better, the tyrant Chavez and his ‘Bolivarian’ Axis of Latin Evildoers would be weakened, and the misnamed ‘peace process’ might even have a chance.”

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.