The Daily Talking Points

  • The New York Times: Efraim Karsh repeats the argument that the Arab and Muslim world has ceased to care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the sooner the Palestinians realize they’re alone, the sooner they’ll make peace with Israel. Tony Karon, of Rootless Cosmopolitan, offers an excellent critical response to Karsh’s questionable argument and calls attention to Karsh’s use of weak factual evidence. Back in March, General David Petraeus made the compelling case that failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “foments anti-American sentiment.”
  • The Washington Times: Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD) and Peter Vincent Pry, president of EMPact America, float the hypothetical scenario that Iran has already acquired a nuclear weapon. The authors suggest that former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei may have overlooked evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program in order to strengthen his possible candidacy for the Egyptian presidency. Bartlett and Pry also argue that Israel’s nuclear weapons program proves that nuclear weapons-possessing countries no longer need to test their weapons (accounts of a secret joint Israeli-South African nuclear test in 1979 might contradict their assertion). The op-ed concludes with a rehashing of the long-discredited, but never quite dead, myth about the dangers of an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.
  • The Washington Times: Rowan Scarborough makes his case that the military is preparing for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The article quotes Global Security’s John Pike who puts forward the particularly gruesome suggestion that, “Most of [the alleged nuclear facilities] have co-located staff housing. Bomb the housing, kill the staff, set back the program by a generation.” Scarborough finds very little additional evidence to support his thesis that a military strike would be easy or effective, so he turns chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen’s comments on Sunday’s Meet The Press that, “[w]e do” have a plan for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities, into conclusive evidence that, “… Pentagon strategists have updated and finalized a war plan for Iran.”
  • AEI Critical Threats Project: AEI’s Charlie Szrom reports that, “Iran’s nuclear and foreign policies rely upon a worldview that takes confidence from the support lent Tehran by allies in the developing world.” The reports cites as evidence the fact that over the past two years Iran has expanded its trade relationships with Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal. Szrom acknowledges that “a lack of American attention to West Africa” is partly to blame for the Iranian inroads.  While Szrom prefers to emphasize that Iran is fomenting anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments in the Muslim populations of West Africa, perhaps more importantly, the past two years have seen the introduction of broad sanctions against Iran. As these sanctions are implemented, it should surprise no one to see Iran searching for trading partners outside of U.S. and European spheres of influence. The economic concepts of “comparative advantage” and “gains from trade” may shed more light on why Iran insists on soliciting trading partners than an explanation predicated on Tehran’s desire to spread anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments.

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. The Iranians just can’t catch a break. Even expanding trade with other nations is somehow suspect or wrong.

    If we ever decide to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities, including the staff housing with a view towards killing as many scientists, technicians, and workers as possible, then we better issue a formal declaration of war first. Deliberately killing the civilian staff looks like murder to me, absent a declaration of war. It may be a war crime even if war is formally declared. Fortunately, John Pike doesn’t have his finger on the button. I’m not worried so long as Obama and Gates are in power. What may come after them is what concerns me.

    I am amazed at the multitude of voices calling for war with Iran. It seems almost like an infection. The idea is clearly crazy; why then are so many urgently calling for it to be made a reality?

  2. I have seen suggestions that the Israelis tested their nuclear devices alongside French nuclear tests

  3. Jon, Money, money, money! Let’s hope this is nothing but rhetoric. Any question that Congress is so propagandized they are prepared to believe anything? If I take you right, you believe our military are the grown ups at the policy table. I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t do much to limit Israel which can start things off and reasonably expect us to jump into the breach.

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